Monday, May 31, 2010

Monday Morning in Belle Harbor: Memorial Day Parade at St. Francis de Sales Church on Rockaway Beach Boulevard

We were on Rockaway Beach Boulevard down the street from St. Francis de Sales this morning for the 2010 Memorial Day Parade.

It was a surprisingly hot day even just a block from the beach in Belle Harbor. Here's the start of the parade, which is, we think, run by the Daniel M. O'Connell Post 272 of the American Legion.

The Knights of Columbus Rockaway Council 2672 also had a lot of members there, and lots of people and flags lined the boulevard too.

Generally big parades freak us out, but Rockaway parades always seemed intimate enough to enjoy.

We think more city firefighters live in Rockaway than anywhere else. They are, after all, New York's Smartest.

The oldest vets rode in vintage cars.

Others just marched.

Then there were the drums

and woodwinds

and cheerleaders.

There were marchers from First Congregational Church,

and students from St. Francis de Sales School

and Scholars' Academy Seawolves, along with other Rockaway groups we didn't get decent pics of.

This was the tail end of the parade as it made its way down Rockaway Beach Boulevard.

Behind us was the St. Francis de Sales Prayer Garden, also a memorial - to those members of the parish who died on September 11 and November 12 of 2001.

Thirty years and three wars ago we lived in Belle Harbor, in a studio apartment (#5J) right off the boardwalk at 129 Beach 118th Street and we watched 1980's Memorial Day parade too.

Our apartment view back in the day wasn't the beach but the bay, and the ship's-bottom houses of Belle Harbor, St. Frances de Sales, the two bridges into Rockaway and the jets - twice a day the supersonic Concorde - flying by. But we could just basically fall out of bed, down the elevator, and onto the beautiful beach on a morning like today.

But we didn't pass this pretty garden at the end of the block in those days. It's maintained by this hard-working woman

and a couple of her friends

and it too is a memorial - to another local hero who gave his life for his country: FDNY Battalion Chief John Moran, who died in the 9/11 attack.

We were on the beach pretty early this Memorial Day morning but it took us forever to get there.

We'd left Williamsburg at 7:15 p.m. and so were at the Junction with the earliest-bird beachgoers at the bus stop to get out to Rockaway.

The Q35 finally came but we had serious time to wait in front of this poster for next Saturday's play Serious Business at Tilden High School and wish we had the $45 to see this Jamaican church satire with Keith 'Shebada' Ramsay. At its Kingston premiere a few months ago, The Gleaner said the performers "had the capacity-size audience convulsed with laughter."

But eventually found ourselves walking up the beach block of Beach 126th Street, where we'd often visit our friend Brant Matises' family in the 1970s. The west end of the Rockaway boardwalk is here.

And we got to have a couple of hours of fun on the beach where we grew up a long, long time ago.

Later we went to a parade.

After lunch, back on the beach, we still had the souvenir we'd been handed on the boulevard courtesy of the wonderful folks who made today's Rockaway Memorial Day Parade . . .

and also courtesy of, um, the good old USA's number one trading partner.

Happy Memorial Day!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tuesday Night in Bed-Stuy: Chillin On Da Corner Film Series Intro at Stockton Playground by P.S. 297

It was a gorgeously warm evening to walk from Williamsburg to the Stockton Playground in Bed-Stuy

for the spring preview and introduction to a great new neighborhood outdoor summer film series, Chillin On Da Corner & Beyond,

organized by actor and community activist Ephraim “Fetti” Benton,

who was being interviewed by TV along with his associates in putting together Chillin On Da Corner.

We got to Stockton Playground by P.S. 297 - on the block bounded by Marcy and Tompkins, Park and MLK Place - just before 8 p.m., when it was still light out.

Until it got dark enough to show the movies, only a few people sat in the audience.

Later on there wasn't a chair in sight. Probably several hundred people were around, though we're not good at estimating crowds.

Fetti thanked Rooftop Films for the screen and lots of other people and neighborhood organizations for helping to put the event and the series together.

It was such a great evening to be out in the playground. Other films this summer will be at other Bed-Stuy playgounds and Von King Park.

Before the film, kids were swinging behind P.S. 297, which also houses the Ethical Community Charter School.

Also there were basketball players,

climbing kids,

and people eating hamburgers and hot dogs off the barbeque.

Some say the world will end in fire, some say in ices; some will just eat burgers and helado.

It finally started getting dark enough so that we could discern the moon.

Ephraim Benton introduced the series and gave props to a whole crowd of people who helped with Chillin On Da Corner

among them Community Board 3; the NYPD; Xosha Roquemore; Dr Kim Best, President of the 79th Precinct Community Council; the Brooklyn Cooperative Federal Credit Union; Brooklyn Bodega's BIDH, Beyond Influencing Da Hood; and Black and Brown News; and closed with "I love you, Mommy."

The first film was the short trilogy of three stories Shades of Brooklyn Volume 1 by Sunshowa Films, directed by Daoud Abeid and Dahkil Hausif and shown on HBO. It's part of a forthcoming longer series of 18 slice-of-life stories about Bed-Stuy.

We found it both funny and true to life, with great dialogue. In the film's first section, "Temporary Insanity," boisterous teens bumrush a Brooklyn bound subway train and coerce their reluctant friend to dish his girl problemss. Meanwhile, in "Karma," on a Bed-Stuy stoop, an immature father is trying to refute the advice of an older friend after he explains how he blundered his way through a sex talk with his six-year-old daughter, and "The Longest Walk"

is a brilliant interior monologue by 17-year-old Allison (played by Xosha Roquemore, the character may be the girl of the same name mentioned by the boy in "Temporary Insanity") who has gotten all dolled up for the first time and discovers that the world no longer sees her as a little girl, but as a grown woman. The film was beautifully and skillfully shot in sepia and made us anxious to see more by the directors. After watching a piece on the Latino Film Festival, we all watched the amazing feature which premiered there in 2009 as Best Film: Inside A Change,

directed by BET Awards video director of the year nominee Rik Cordero
, which he co-wrote with Aaron F. Schnore and which stars Ephraim Benton, Karen Chilton, Donté Bonner and Darrell Vanterpool.

Check out this review at HipHopDX and you can buy the DVD here. Anyway, too tired to walk back to Williamsburg that late, we merely went up past the Marcy Houses down to the Flushing Avenue G train stop, where a cop greeted us at the entrance. Downstairs we saw why.

There was a wanted poster for the guy who robbed a woman last night at this station.

Anyway, we're really grateful to Fetti and everyone else who put together Chillin On Da Corner and Beyond, a great addition to Brooklyn's summer outdoor film series.