Category Archive 'Brooklyn'

22 Feb 2022

Frightening to Contemplate, N’est-Ce Pas?

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21 Jan 2022

The Times Normalizing Hooliganism

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The NYT these days publishes laments for the loss of public venues providing opportunities for rude uncivilized behavior on the part of representatives of the barbarian underclass community.

On a recent morning, the Regal UA Court Street in Brooklyn was uncharacteristically quiet. Posters for “Jackass Forever” and “American Underdog” hung in its windows, but the curving marquee had been stripped of its letters, and its glass doors were locked. Peering inside, you could see a scattering of dead leaves on the floor of the darkened lobby, like tumbleweeds in a western.

A pair of teenage boys, Kimani Augustin and his friend Demarcus Cousins (yes, like the basketball player), stood outside and reminisced about the good times they’d had there. “It could get crazy,” Kimani said, “but was amazing nonetheless.”

The theater closed last Sunday, taking regulars by surprise. Right away, the Twitter tributes poured in, many of them written in a tone of ironic amusement. Dean Fleischer-Camp, a filmmaker, said that his favorite movie experience ever involved people “screaming, laughing, singing” and “throwing popcorn” during a 6 p.m. screening of “Drag Me to Hell.” Lincoln Restler, the newly elected councilman whose district includes Downtown Brooklyn, shared a picture of a moving van parked outside. “For the shouting-back-at-action-movie experience,” he wrote, “there was no place better!”

Cyrus McQueen, a stand-up comic and the author of “Tweeting Truth to Power,” a book of essays on race and politics in America, was as struck by what these commenters didn’t say as by what they did. “I’m an African-American man, so I speak plainly,” he said. “It was a Black theater. You yelled at the screen, and folks would talk.” A longtime resident of Crown Heights, Mr. McQueen regarded a sold-out showing of “Black Panther” at the Regal as one of the highlights of his life.

“A major component of Black existence is forced comportment in white spaces,” he said. “There is a comfort derived from taking off the disguise, if just for a few minutes in the cinema.”


In New Haven, back when I was at college, locals would “take off the disguise” all the time in the College Street Cinema, drinking beer and smoking pot in defiance of theater rules and the law, talking loudly to one another, shouting at the screen, starting fights, and threatening any normal people who objected.

They were a nuisance and a public hazard and their habitual presence soon led to the normal audience abandoning that theater and its closing. It only took attendance at one or two films to modify my views on Segregation in the pre-1960s South.

If we are going to have “Diversity and Inclusion,” it ought to be on terms of assimilation of the primitive, barbarous, unruly, and inconsiderate of others to normal civilized standards of decorum and behavior. It is an absolute disgrace for an elite establishment institution like the Times to legitimize these sorts of standards and behavior and to provide a forum to people who have adopted a group identity rejecting both self respect and consideration for others.

09 Jun 2017

Portrait of a Generation

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Partisan hipsters watching Comey hearing in Brooklyn bar. More here.

18 Feb 2016

Bernie Sanders: a Linguistic Analysis

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Bernie Sanders: a linguistic analysis

Bernie Sanders has now spent most of his life in Vermont. But his voice tells a story of his past, and the history of New York City.

Posted by Vox on Thursday, February 18, 2016

08 Feb 2014

A Piece of History Closed Three Years Ago in Brooklyn

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Cornelius Vanderbilt built NYC’s first subway in 1841 in order to bring steam locomotives carrying Long Island Railroad passengers from Brooklyn into Manhattan wile bypassing the traffic-filled Court Street and Atlantic Avenue intersection underground. As the Verge notes: “The Atlantic Avenue Tunnel holds the Guinness world record for “oldest subway tunnel,” predating the Tremont Street subway in Boston from 1897, the 312-foot Beach Pneumatic Transit tunnel in Manhattan from 1869, and the first subway in the London Underground, which was built in 1863.”

Walt Whitman memorialized the tunnel’s closure in 1861 (after Brooklyn banned steam locomotives within its city limits): “The old tunnel, that used to lie there under ground, a passage of Acheron-like solemnity and darkness, now all closed and filled up, and soon to be utterly forgotten, with all its reminiscences.”

Reputedly, the 1611-foot-long tunnel was reopened decades later for growing mushrooms, and used during Prohibition for boot-legging, but it had remained closed and forgotten for many, many years when Bob Diamond, a local amateur archaeologist, persuaded the Brooklyn Union Gas Company to open one of its manholes and allow him to explore.

Diamond broke through a concrete wall and constructed his own staircase giving access to the tunnel, and operated his own small-scale business for 30 years, taking people (through the original man-hole) on tours of the historic tunnel.

At the end of 2010, however, jealousy of somebody else making a dollar out of an asset over which they could claim control provoked the city authorities to shut down Diamond’s tours, closing off access to the historic tunnel permanently, on the basis of safety concerns. (No one had been injured in the course of 30 years of Diamond’s operations.)

There is a bit more at Atlas Obscura.

Hat tip to Fred Lapides.

30 Jul 2011

Homeless Harassed For Game Poaching in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park

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Prospect Park

Anatole France remarked sardonically that “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich and the poor alike to sleep under bridges.” In Brooklyn, it forbids both evidently also to harvest fish or game in Brooklyn’s 585-acre Prospect Park.

A year ago, federal agents gassed 400 Canada geese resident in the park, which were considered to represent a hazard to planes using nearby La Guardia Airport. They had their reasons. In January of 2009, US Airways Flight 1549 ran into a flock of geese and would up crash landing in the Hudson River.

But can New York turn a blind eye as former Lehman and Bear Stearns executives now also resident in the park reduce the nuisance population of grey squirrels, pigeons, and geese or take panfish from the lake? Perish, forbid.

The New York Post reports that what my friend from Yale, Mr. Brewer, describes as “an awesome locavore experiment in living off the land” was rudely interrupted by “spoilsport cops.”

Cops have busted a group of oddball poachers in Prospect Park — a band of vagrants that was trapping and eating ducks, squirrels and pigeons.

Parks officers wrote four tickets — two for killing wildlife and two for illegal fishing — totaling $2,100 in fines during a two-day period last week. …

“This is a dodgy group,” said park-goer Peter Colon, who spotted one of the men catching a pigeon while his friend started a fire. “They are the most threatening people in the park.”

The disheveled — and possibly homeless — tribe in question uses “makeshift” fishing poles and traps to catch the critters, then grills them over the fire, according to park watchdogs.

“One woman uses a net to bag the ducks,” said wildlife advocate Johanna Clearfield.

The kind of person you or I would call a busybody or general nuisance always gets promoted in the conventional journalistic parlance of our time to some form of “advocate” or “activist.”

Lots of luck collecting those fines, New York City. I bet the hobos used the tickets to light their evening cook fires.

06 Aug 2009

Some of Us Thought the Real Estate Bubble Was Over

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Jim the Realtor from California describes a house being offered in Brooklyn.

Occupying what used to be a driveway, it’s a 1br/1ba home on a parcel of land 7.25 feet wide and 113.67 feet long. The interior area is just under 300 square feet: …ONLY $479,900!

I can remember a similar packing crate sort of residence located on top of Belmont Heights in San Francisco, in need of complete renovation, selling to a surgeon for $450,000 a few years ago.

Hat tip to Walter Olson.

Correction, August 6:
John brings to my attention in his comment a Daily News story debunking all this:

The house is actually in Toronto, and the price is only $179,000.

It was probably built in Kenya, too.

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