Friday, February 22, 2008

Brooklyn Spirits: Another Man Done Gone ---Fields Fine Wine and Spirits Moves On

That a liquor store should thrive in the shadow of Farrell's Bar and Grille was a thing of wonder. Growing up in Windsor Terrace, Farrell's was to us proto-hippies in the 70s a place where guys in Brooklyn Union Gas Company uniforms would hang out after (and truth be told, during) work. Not a place for us. Devlin and the other music-arts-young 'uns, would make the occasional flyby, when they were of age, to pick up a cardboard container, or tapper, of beer to take to the Park, where we all would hang out, tell ridiculous tales, and sing endless choruses of Neil Young and Grateful Dead tunes... Although in later years, Farrell's took on an aura of charm and grace (by conferring blue-colllar authenticity, I guess), when it was anointed by Pete Hamill and liberated by Shirley McLaine, but it was too late for us, I guess.

Farrell's beer to go and the Park was the alternative to \ the occasional six pack of Ringnes, a Norwegian beer, that Devlin and comapny would pick up at a Norwegian deli in Bay Ridge, which would be quaffed on the bluffs overlooking the Narrows.

Somehow, one of the hills overlooking the Narrows was given, in one stupor or another, a naif-faux native American appelation of "Taka-maka-doy-land" which Devlin figured was as suitable a native American name as any other..this was especially noticeable in late spring and early summer, when the sun would glare off of the Narrows with incredible intensity and beauty....glistening, gleaming. This, after a six pack of RInges, became known as "the hour of the Golden Needles at Taka-maka-doy-land"

Eventually, Devlin drifted toward the Finer Things in Life and as a totem of that Maturity, he remembered buying his first bottle of Sophisticated Wine (I think it was Mateus Rose, or, as Bill Murray had it on SNL, "MA-TAY-US"..the placve of this purchase was Fields which resided on 16th street and PPW, in the shadow of Farrells.

Fields never yielded to oak showcases or ferns or was a friendly neighborhood wine and booze shop, a convenient stopping point for me on the journey from the Heights to Flatbiush..[. I remember my surprise when I saw a bottle of Fat Bastard on the shelf..

Well, All Things Must Pass, and now Fields has closed, to be replaced by WIndsor Wine and Spirits. No one knows whether it will have ferns and oak and tastings, and what the relationship of the new proprietors will be to Farrell's, but I am sure Devlin would smile on the need to salute the passing of another venerable, spirited Windsor Terrace institution.

--Brooklyn Beat

Monday, February 18, 2008

On A Brief but Deep Hiatus from Brooklyn

Here at the American littoral, the sea is very blue and green. The horizon is endless. The hotels are pastel. The sand is pure pleasure beneath the feet. The palm trees sway. The Beat here is first and foremost Latin. Perhaps only Latin, here near Espaniola Wayand Collins Avenue, it is truly the Mother Culture.

For the first time in years and years, the kids were a phone call and an airline flight away. Just me and my honey, recreating the past, going back to that place when we were first together, and did nothing but dream of the future. The future that is now for us the past. So it is time for us to begin to dream again and recreate another future.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Brooklyn Spiritual Technology and Iconography: Three Patriarchs

Brooklyn is filled with spiritual technology and architecture. Synagogues, churches, chapels, temples, store-front places of worship, cemetaries, art, imagery, ikons.

The word Icon (ikon) comes from the Greek word "eikon" which means image, the same word that describes the creation of man in God’s image and likeness.

Icons are attributed to the hand of Christian Saints (St. Luke) and many of the unsigned masters of the Byzantine era, St. Andrei Rublev, the acknowledged greatest iconographer of Russia, the famous post-Byzantine iconographer Theophane the Greek, Moscow’s Armory School founder Simon Ushakov, and many, many others.

The remarkable film director Andrei Tarkovsky's "Andrei Rublev" is a staggering epic of the fabrication of spiritual technology in the Byzantine era. One of my favorite films.

These are replicas of great art and great art treasures. This image of icons is from the exterior of the Three Patriarchs Greek Orthodox Church on Avenue P near E. 17th Street. I would assume these 3 patriarchs refer to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, known as the Patriarchs, are both the physical and spiritual ancestors of Judaism. They founded the religion now known as Judaism, and their descendants are the Jewish people.

Even the "Epistle to the Hebrews" in the Christian New Testament presents the Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as examples of men of faith. They lived in hope. They lived with the promise of God's faithfulness.

Or, in this instance, the icon could refer to Patriarchs, which like Metropolitan, is a title of respect and authority in the Eastern Orthodox rite. The four Ancient Patriarchates of the Eastern Rite were Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem. The Primate of the OCA is the Metropolitan.

Brooklyn, in the unpretentious, everyday face that it shows to the world, is filled with art, spirituality and inspiration.

--Brooklyn Beat

Monday, February 11, 2008

De-Construction on Livingston Street

I know real estate is among the most concrete (oof) and popular blog topics in Brooklyn. However, RE is usually far afield for my blog. But I took these photos Friday night on my way home and sent them from my cell phone to another blog that has a much much greater interest in this topic but they either never got the pix or decided not to pick up on the tip. So, this may be ancient history already, since things move quickly in the realm of construction. But, waste not, want not, so here it is.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

CODA to Super/Shrove Tuesday

I picked up my daughters at Starbucks on Seventh Avenue, with Mr. Obama's supporters combing the streets, joyful but perhaps a little too insistent on the virtue of their choice. My daughters told me that someone said to them "Tell your parents when they vote, to vote for Obama." They responded, "We are supporting Hillary" to which the campaigner responded snarkily/sarcastically, "Oh, you are old enough to vote ?" Most of the folks campaigning for Mr. Obama that I saw throughout the day were young and white (not that there is anything wrong with that).

Granted, there were not a lot of Hillary supporters on the streets. But maybe, like me, they were working, picking up their kids, or finding it enough of a challenge to get through the day and make it out to vote, instead of being fortunate enough to have the freedom to spend the day campaigning. Another blog observed that (I paraphrase) 'high school educated, Hispanic and working people' were the primary supporters of Ms. Clinton. Well, we fit only part of that profile and we supported Hillary.

We went to our polling place, the school on Coney Island Avenue near Newkirk, and there were still lots of people on the street, again, mostly young, mostly white, some with kids in strollers, all for Mr. Obama. Honestly, it felt a little intimidating, all of the young white campaigners, a little too eager and too insistent. In America, come election day, you don't have to explain your vote to anyone. It felt a little like being confronted by Jacobins on the street during the fall of the ancien regime. Did I need to look around to make sure there was no guillotine ? I thought the "enemy" was the GOP, the party that has wrecked the economy and squandered America's political capital and post 9/11 goodwill, not another Democratic candidate.

The girls (who are 13) came into the voting booth with me. At first I thought I had a problem with the machine. None of the Democratic levers would work. Ironically, I think the poll watcher had me pegged (erroneously) by my demographics (white guy in his 50s) as a Republican. She twiddled with the knobs outside and we were ready to vote. The girls symbolically helped me to pull the lever for Hillary Rodham Clinton.

I have done my part and voted for the candidate of my choice. I still hope Ms. Clinton gets the nomination although I am concerned about all of those Hillary-haters out there in both parties. On her war vote, yep, it was a mistake, but a lot of us, in the time after 9/11 were concerned about WMDs, etc. Who knew we were being lied to by the most cynical US Chief Executive (and Vice Chief Executive) of modern times. Unfortunately, a lot of people were pro-war, I dare say even many of the supporters of Mr. Obama. As a father of a teenage son, I don't think the 100 year war advocated now by Mr. McCain, after years of the Iraq conflagration, is a good thing. I didn't support the Iraq War either but I am not an intelligence analyst, so, I like many people I think, second guessed my own reluctance to beat the drum for war. It is safe to say that Ms. Clinton, along with many other elected officials and citizens, do not now support the war, and realize that the Iraq entanglement is terrible. We are all clear that the Bush administration has made a mess of the country (Iraq and our own). Mr. Obama, who was not in the Senate at that time, never had to actually face that vote. But it is a moot point, who knows how he would have voted.

That said, I am totally prepared to vote for Mr. Obama should he be the eventual Democratic candidate, whether he runs again Messrs. McCain, Huckabee, or Bloomberg. The Democratic Party needs to be returned to the White House. We cannot stand even one more term of the Republican Party, regardless of who that candidate is. They have made a muck of it and must pay the price.

However, I am very concerned that many of those voters, in their obvious enthusiasm for Mr. Obama, will be unable to support Ms Clinton should she be selected as the Democratic candidate, whether as the presumptive candidate in March, or at the Democratic convention later this year. I was on the fence like a lot of voters, but I made my decision. Perhaps it is loyalty to Ms. Clinton as our State's Junior Senator. Just as Illinois supported Mr. Obama, it appears many New Yorkers supported Mrs. Clinton. I could not "drink the kool aid" and go against my generally very positive feelings for Ms. Clinton, so I supported her. But, as I said, come the fall, my loyalties are with the Democratic candidate, in order to defeat the GOP, despite the fact that I am an Aging (but not average !), White Guy, which I guess is a Republican demographic.

Therefore, I found it very disturbing to read that Ms. Michelle Obama, Mr. Obama's First Lady, indicated that "she would have to think hard" about supporting Ms. Clinton should her husband not be victorious and should Ms. Clinton be chosen as the Democratic Presidential candidate. What is that all about ? That is an echo of the Conservatives who are threatening to become "Suicide Voters" and vote for Hillary Rodham Clinton and against John McCain should he be the Republican candidate. Something uncool is happening. As I said in my earlier blog post, things do not bode well for the future of this country if the Democrats can't get it together, after the disastrous Bush Presidency.

I doubt that Mrs. Clinton would agree to run for Vice President should Mr. Obama get the nomination. Perhaps she would be more valuable as a leader in the US Senate than as a (traditionally powerless) vice president. . But I am certain that she would support Mr. Obama fully and unreservedly. I would be very surprised if she did not.

However, I am concerned that the same may not be true for Mr. Obama and his supporters.

--Brooklyn Beat

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Super Tuesday

We are heading in a new direction, folks. Perhaps not the direction promised by the Greens or Ralph Nader, but a new direction nevertheless. If McCain is the Republican candidate, will the Conservatives run a third (or fourth) party candidate? McCain as Liberal Warrior, perhaps soft on social issues but promising a new 100 Years War ? (Did Ann Coulter really say that Hillary is more conservative than McCain? ) But of course Super Tuesday, even if not totally decisive, promises to better spill the beans on where the Democratic Party will be in November.

Barack Obama: Despite the fabulous oratory, is he really "Republican lite" ? (see the fascinating Salon link on the Economics of Obama).

Hillary, likewise a centrist Democrat, although now willing to embrace the more Progressive, traditionally Democratic mantle ? If Barack wins the nomination will this keep Bloomberg out of the race? If Hillary, the bete noir of mainstream and conservative Republicans, gets the nod, is Mayor Mike in it to win it?

So, THIS IS WHAT AN INTER-GENERATIONAL, MULTI-CULTURAL, INTER-GENDER Political Environment is all about. (To paraphrase Captain Beefheart on Bongo Fury: "So this is a drive-in-restaurant in Hollywood, so this is a drive-in-restraurant in Hollywood...")

As Hendrick Hertzberg in The New Yorker wonders, Does Hillary Rodham Clinton offer a competent, proven, battle-tested political organization and administration, albeit from Day 1 in a defensive posture, while Barack Obama may offer a transformative one ? Please, please, just promise me one thing -- that "We Won't Be Fooled Again"..

Whatever the outcome of Super Tuesday, and the continuing battles, both intra-party and inter-party, at least we can (hoprefully) wave goodbye to the horrific 8 years of the George W. Bush administration. Is there ANY Republican now who, Deep in His or Her Heart, can say that the Bush Administration has been a good thing for America ?

See you at the polls. And yes, God Bless America.

--Brooklyn Beat

Super Tuesday:

The Economics of Barack (& Hillary):

Monday, February 4, 2008


Cortelyou Road and East 17th Street, 7:45 AM, Monday, February 4, 2008

Friday, February 1, 2008


There was an interesting article on a bit of gustatory sociology in Wednesday’s NY Times regarding the “Beefsteak” phenomenon in Northern New Jersey.

“Beefsteak,” not as in a cut of meat, but as a celebratory get together where folks previously gathered at a restaurant or other venue to basically eat meat of all kinds, virtually nothing but meat, washed down with beer, with no silverware or other refinements, thank you, immediately called to mind that great essay “All You Can Hold for Five Bucks” by New Yorker writer Joseph Mitchell. Mitchell described Beefsteaks as a delivering a staggering array of meats (mini-hamburgers, lots of them, followed by kidneys-wrapped in-bacon, followed by tenderloin steak dipped in butter, washed down by beer, followed by more and more of the above, in virtually limitless quantities..Beefsteaks were often attended for political purposes, by Tammany Hall Club and others, as well as labor unions, and by businesses, just for a good time, primarily by men.

So, we have meat and we have misogyny, or at least male chauvinism.. Not politically correct by any means, but not without its peculiar charms.

Maybe because it is Super Bowl Weekend, and folks (not me, but folks) are out there shopping for their ribs, BBQ sauce and chipotle, and warming up the 52” flat screen LED or plasma TV, , and truth be told, I am not really much of a red meat eater, but there was something interesting, something that stirs a visceral yearning, and plucks a feral chord, in some guys, with the thought of hanging out around a table with a bunch of guys, whether in Northern New Jersey today or in Hells Kitchen in the 1940s, wearing a paper chef’s apron and hat (on which to wipe the grease from your hands, since you don’t use napkins or silverware) , as you savor your 15th or 18th tenderloin slice, stacking up the uneaten bread on which the tenderloin is served (better to save room for more meat), and quaff a little more beer, without worrying how I will explain it all to my wife or internist.

Anyway, here is the NY Times article on Contemporary Northern New Jersey Beefsteaks (be sure to watch the video):

The Upcoming Beacon Restaurant, 8th annual Beefsteak (& Fundraiser) in New York City (looks like fun). This posting also includes a link to an excerpt of the original New Yorker article by Joseph Mitchell on “All You Can Hold for Five Bucks”: Read it and run out to buy Joseph Mitchell’s fantastic collection Up in the Old Hotel. (Vintage Books)

Current Reading

  • Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid that Sparked the Civil War- Tony Horwitz
  • A Sultan in Palermo - Tariq Ali
  • Hitch-22: A Memoir - Christopher Hitchens
  • Negropedia- Patrice Evans
  • Dead Funny: Humor in Nazi Germany - Rudolph Herzog
  • Exile on Main Street - Robert Greenfield
  • Among the Truthers - A Journey Among America's Growing Conspiracist Underworld - Jonathan Kay
  • Paradise Lost - John Milton
  • What Is Your Dangerous Idea? Thinking the Unthinkable - John Brockman
  • Notes from the Edge Times - Daniel Pinchbeck
  • Fringe-ology: How I Can't Explain Away the Unexplainable- Steve Volk
  • Un Juif pour l'exemple (translated as A Jew Must Die )- Jacques Cheesex
  • The God Delusion - Richard Dawkins
  • Pale King - David Foster Wallce
  • David Bowie: Starman bio - Paul Trynka
  • Tobacco Stained Mountain Goat - Andrez Bergen
  • The Future of Nostalgia -Svetlana Boym
  • Living in the End Times - Slavoj ZIzek
  • FIrst as Tragedy Next as Farce - Slavoj Zizek
  • How to Survive a Robot Uprising - Daniel Wilson
  • Where is My Jet Pack? -Daniel Wilson
  • Day of the Oprichniks - Vladimir Sorokin
  • Ice Trilogy - Vladimir Sorokin
  • First Civilizations
  • Oscar Wilde -Andre Maurois
  • The Beats - Harvey Pekar, et al
  • SDS - Harvey Pekar, et al
  • The Unfinished Animal - Theodore Roszak
  • Friends of Eddy Coyle
  • Brooklands -Emily Barton
  • Abraham Lincoln - Vampire Hunter - Seth Grahme-Smith - Entertaining and historical
  • Dictionary of the Khazars - Pavic
  • Sloth-Gilbert Hernandez
  • War and Peace- Leo Tolstoy
  • Charles Addams: An Evilution
  • Life in Ancient Greece
  • Time - Eva Hoffmann
  • Violence - S. Zizek
  • Luba - a graphic novel by Gilbert Hernandez
  • Life in Ancient Egypt
  • Great Apes - Will Self - riveting and disturbing
  • Lost Honor of Katherina Blum - Heinrich Boll - could not put it down
  • Yellow Back Radio Brokedown - Ishmael Reed (author deserving of new wide readership)
  • Living in Ancient Mesopotomia
  • Landscape in Concrete - Jakov Lind - surreal
  • 'There Once Lived A Woman Who Tried To Kill Her Neighbor's Baby'-Ludmilla Petrushevskaya - creepy stories - translation feels literarily "thin"
  • Mythologies - William Butler Yeats (re-read again & again)
  • How German Is It ? - Walter Abish
  • The Book of Genesis - illustrated by R. Crumb - visionary
  • "Flags" - an illustrated encyclopedia - wish I could remember all of these. Flag culture
  • Sirens of Titan - Kurt Vonnegut
  • Ubik - Philip K. Dick
  • Nobody's Fool - Richard Russo
  • Hitler's Empire - Mark Mazower
  • Nazi Culture - various authors
  • Master Plan: Himmler 's Scholars and the Holocaust - Heather Pringle
  • Eichmann in Jerusalem - Hannah Arendt
  • Living in Ancient Rome
  • Traveling with Herodotus -R. Kapuszynsky
  • Oblivion - David Foster Wallace - Some of his greatest work
  • Infinite Jest - David Foster Wallace - still wrestling with this great book
  • Netherland - Joseph O'Neill - staggeringly great read
  • Renegade - The Obama Campaign - Richard Wolffe
  • Mount Analogue - Rene Daumal
  • John Brown
  • Anathem - Neal Stephenson - love Stephenson but tough slogging first few chapters
  • 7 Deadly Sins
  • ALEX COX - Alex Cox
  • FIASCO by Thomas Ricks
  • I, Fellini - Charlotte Chandler & Federico Fellini
  • Best of 20th century alternative history fiction
  • Judah P. Benjamin - Eli Evans - Confederacy's Secretary of State & source of the W.C. Field's exclamation
  • Moscow 2042 - Vladimir Voinovich - Pre-1989 curiosity & entertaining sci fi read; love his portrayal of Solzhenitsyn-like character
  • Gomorrah - Roberto Saviano - Mafia without the It-Am sugar coating. Brutal & disturbing
  • The Sack of Rome - Celebrity+Media+Money=Silvio Berlusconi - Alexander Stille
  • Reporting - David Remnick - terrific journalism
  • Fassbinder
  • Indignation - Philip Roth
  • Rome
  • Let's Go Italy! 2008
  • Italian Phrases for Dummies
  • How to Pack
  • Violence - Slavoj Zizek
  • Dali: Painting & Film
  • The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight - Jimmy Breslin
  • The Good Rat - Jimmy Breslin
  • Spook Country - William Gibson
  • A Blue Hand - The Beats in India - Deborah Baker
  • The Metaphysical Club - Louis Menard
  • Coast of Utopia - Tom Stoppard
  • Physics of the Impossible - Dr. Michio Kaku
  • Managing the Unexpected - Weick & Sutcliffe
  • Wait Til The Midnight Hour - Writings on Black Power
  • Yellow Back Radio Brokedown - Ishmael Reed
  • Burning Down the Masters' House - Jayson Blair
  • Howl - Allen Ginsberg
  • Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut
  • The Palace Thief - Ethan Canin
  • John Adams - David McCullough
  • The Wooden Sea - Jonathan Carroll
  • American Gangster - Mark Jacobson
  • Return of the King - J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Gawker Guide to Becoming King of All Media
  • Jews and Power - Ruth Wisse
  • Youth Without Youth - Mircea Eliade
  • A Team of Rivals - Doris Goodwin
  • Ghost Hunters -William James and the Search for Scientific Proof of Life After Death - Deborah Blum
  • Dream -Re-Imagining Progressive Politics in an Age of Fantasy - Stephen Duncombe
  • Love & Theft - Eric Lott
  • Exit Ghost - Philip Roth
  • Studio A - The Bob Dylan Reader

Current Listening

  • Alexi Murdoch Wait
  • Wilco Summer Teeth
  • Wilco The Album
  • Carmina Burana - Ray Manzarek (& Michael Riesmann)
  • Polyrock - Polyrock
  • 96 Tears - Garland Jeffries
  • Ghost of a Chance Garland Jeffries
  • Yellow Magic Orchestra
  • Mustang Sally Buddy Guy
  • John Lee Hooker
  • Black and White Years
  • Together Through Life - B. Dylan
  • 100 Days 100 Nites - Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings
  • DYLAN: 3 disc Greatest...
  • Glassworks - Philip Glass
  • Wild Palms - Soundtrack -Ryuichi Sakamoto
  • Dinah Washington - Best of..
  • Commander Cody& His Lost Planet Airmen Live at Armadillo