Friday, October 28, 2011

Early Friday Evening in Williamsburg: Harvest Festival at P.S. 132 The Conselyea School

With Halloween just around the corner, we walked down Conselyea Street to the corner of Manhattan Avenue for the annual P.S. 132 Harvest Festival.

Our wonderful neighborhood elementary school featured festive decor, good food, lots of activities, costumed children (and parents), and lots of fun among the boos and ghouls.

Pumpkins and ghosts were a major motif.

There was face painting, of course, for those Williamsburg kids too young to get tattoos.

We patiently waited on line to get in to the school.

A skeleton greeted us as we walked in the building. (That used to happen to us every day at P.S. 203 back in the 1950s!)

We saw spiders but not Spidey.

And we saw lots of people, young and not so young, enjoying themselves on this very chilly late October evening -- with possible snow (yikes!) tomorrow.

You could get as many $1 tickets as you wanted, good for admission, food,

various activities, and the haunted house on the third floor, which we were too scared to visit.

Although we had to leave early to have dinner with some neighbors,

we're very grateful we got to attend this evening's Harvest Festival at P.S. 132.

Thanks to everyone who must have worked really hard to make it a success.

Friday Morning in Cobble Hill: Track Inspection Car at Bergen Street F/G Subway Station

We've been riding the subways for more than a half a century, but not until this morning did we ever see a track inspection car, which stopped at the Bergen Street subway stop around 9:45 a.m. as if it were some futuristic, scary new F or G train.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Friday Afternoon in Williamsburg: Distiller Promo CMJ Marathon Day Party at The Knitting Factory

Around 3:45 p.m., we went over to The Knitting Factory for the second Distiller Promo CMJ Marathon Day Party.

Running from noon to around 6 p.m., the party had a lineup of eight bands. We got to see two great sets, starting with The R's from Brsscia, Italy, consisting of Pierluigi Ballarin (vocals, guitar), Gaetano Polignano (drums), and lead Pietro Paletti (bass, vocals).

Formerly The Records, they made their U.S. debut this spring here in the city and at SXSW and their new album is De Fauna Et Flora, which Indie Eye called "Un microcosmo raccontato in 13 storie di ordinaria follia, sia questa espressa dalla quotidianità della city o dall'accidia del vivere casalingo" (roughly: "13 stories told in a microcosm of ordinary madness, expressed in the everyday urban life of mundane sloth.")

The R's were a lot of fun: poppy, fizzy, a little wild and more than slightly off-kilter, making us smile with their songs about hipster disappointments and "juicy girls." Of the tracks from the new album, we especially liked "I Love My Family."

Next up was the estimable WATERS, the new project of Van Pierszalowski, formerly of Port O'Brien, whose debut record Out in the Light (TBD) is just out. Stereogum said "the material retains Van’s knack for scruffy and rambunctious, catchy melodies, but here with a high-gain college radio guitar and just one loud, rousing voice."

A month ago, WATERS' song "O Holy Break of Day" was Song of the Day on NPR, and it was great to hear it live. Will Butler called it "one of the slow-burners, simultaneously reveling in second chances and throwing caution to the wind. The song ends in a deluge of distortion, a downpour that can't help but sound like a fresh new start." That "deluge of distortion" was an incredible denouement and made us feel uncharacteristically optimistic on a gray and gloomy afternoon.

Spunk called WATERS' music "a mix of fuzzy, pealing guitars and crashing drums, and easy, alternately soaring and languid, indelible melodies." Our favorite song from their set today was "Mickey Mantle," whose tone of nostalgic wistfulness eventually gets eclipsed by a a kind of optimistic resignation.

There were about forty to fifty people in the back room at this all ages (16+) event, and they raffled off some prizes like Audible7 headphones and T-shirts from the skateboard magazine Thrasher. People won some of this stuff playing Indie Band Trivia answering questions like "What was the second Broken Social Scene album?" (asked after no one could name the first one) or what year REM's first album appeared (1983).

We're grateful to Distiller Promo and its co-sponsor of the event, Audible Treats, a Brooklyn-based entertainment marketing and publicity firm specializing in print and online media coverage. And we're sorry we couldn't be there for the whole party and see other bands: Yellow Ostrich, PUJOL, Lightouts, Radiation City, FIDLAR, and Superhuman Happiness. On our walk back home, we saw a beautiful new mural being finished on Union Avenue.

Friday Morning in Prospect Heights: Fall at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden

After ten days straight of work, we had one day off today before another six days in a row teaching, and on this chilly, overcast morning, we went to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden to experience autumn -- and, in the conservatory, the desert and the tropics.

We are always grateful for the quiet beauty of the place.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Friday Morning in the Financial District: Marching with #Occupy Wall Street

At 7:20 a.m., we came out of the 5 train at Wall Street to join the march of Occupy Wall Street protestors through the Financial District. An hour earlier, the city postponed the cleanup of Zuccotti Park and so averted a a feared showdown between the police and demonstrators who had vowed to resist any efforts to evict them from their encampment.

The crowd chanted various slogans, including "The Whole World Is Watching."

It was pretty peaceful and mostly celebratory, given that there would be no eviction from Zuccotti Park (renamed Liberty Square by #OWS) today.

However, we did see people arrested as we wound our way through the streets of the Financial District. One man, wrestled to the ground by police, had a bloody gash on his face and others were piled into a paddy wagon at Maiden Lane and Water Street.

Eventually we all returned to Zuccotti Park.

We ran into our friends, Brooklyn City Council members Jumaane Williams and Letitia James, who were instrumental, along with other elected officials, in convincing Brookfield Properties to postpone today's cleanup and avoid any real serious confrontation.