Friday, April 30, 2010

Never, Too Late

Dreaming of the power to understand
Before it is too late
That which can be done
And that which can’t be undone
First taking soft steps across the forest carpet
After ducking the river tumble
Until the night comes
And the day that is finally done
Itself no longer may be undone
But we gaze at the willows and imagine
Before it slips from our grasp
Text and painting by Anthony M. Napoli

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Avenue of the (Great) Americans

Photos by Brooklyn Beat

Maybe it is a reflection of the creative and generative powers of builders and architects, such as Ayn Rand's Howard Roarke in "The Fountainhead" who was willing to destroy a building he designed rather than have it, and his pride of creation, spoiled by "the committee."  We are accustomed to seeing the naming of buildings, whether egocentric, i.e.,  "Trump/Babel" or whimsical "The Glenwood" on a treeless street in Manhattan.

But on Avenue K and East 13th Street in Brooklyn, the buildings bear the names of some great Americans. Was it a builder or designer who took great pride and pleasure in the possibilities offered in the United States?  Or a former history teacher from nearby Midwood or Murrow who came into some money years ago and decided to erect some buildings, and in doing so decided to honor the names of Great Americans of the past?  Anyone's guess. But the memories of Lincoln, Grant and Franklin loom large on Avenue K near Coney Island Avenue.

--Brooklyn Beat

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Thursday, April 8, 2010

New York City Invaded By Pixels

It looks like a Q-ball , a type of non-topological soliton,  entered the Earth right over New York City and rendered it whacko. Or maybe it is fall out from -- yes, the CERN Collider..  Patrick Jean's video , making its way around the web, gives a cool and skewed look at pixillating rhythms in a transitionally Lego world. Avanti!

Update On the Dunes

Update from the Isle of Coney -- Well, for what almost passes as controversy on this site, when Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn apparently made the grave error of taking a walk in Coney Island on Monday, and not this past Saturday or Sunday when I was out of town, it appeared at that time that things might be slow for at least part of this summer On the Dunes in Coney Island..  Well, happily, not so...

Coney Island Fun Guide Reports: "If you had come on the weekend, the Boardwalk would have been open! I work in Coney Island and want to reassure everyone that Cha Cha's, Ruby's, Lola Star and the other businesses on the Boardwalk as well as the rides and games will indeed be open this summer.

As Ruby's host explained, one section of the Boardwalk between Stillwell Ave & W 12th is temporarily closed this week only. Work continues on the beach side of the Boardwalk.

Yes, at long last construction is now underway in Coney, including the new Luna Park with 19 rides slated to open on the former Astroland site on Memorial day weekend. The Ringling Circus returns in June. It's shaping up to be a great season. The Cyclone and Wonder Wheel are among the 40 rides currently open for business. Come on out and enjoy! Check the Coney Island Fun Guide for schedules and detailed info..."

Thank you for the update! Nevertheless, based on Monday's somewhat luckless visit, Brooklyn Beat still asserts that it would have been helpful and just plain nice for him, as well as the turistas, to know that, faced with gates and construction and No Entry signs, things were not to remain as they seemed at mid-day on a gorgeous and warm Monday. But anyway, you simply cahn't always get what you want....Still, so there you have it, Coney Island--still cool, still happening, still there. Go for it! See you there!

More info here 

"On the Dunes" by Donald Fagen
Drive along the sea

Far from the city's twitch and smoke
To a misty beach
That's where my life became a joke

On the dunes
On the dunes
(Became a joke on the dunes)
Where rents are high
And seabirds cry
On the dunes

As you spoke you must have known
It was a kind of homicide
I stood and watched my happiness
Drift outwards with the tide
On the dunes
On the dunes

(Homicide on the dunes)

It wasn't fair
It's brutal there
On the dunes
Pretty boats
Sweeping along the shore
In the faltering light
Pretty women
With their lovers by their side
It's like an awful dream
I have most every night

In the summer all the swells
Join in the search for sun and sand
For me it's just a joyless place
Where this loneliness began
On the dunes

On the dunes
(Loneliness on the dunes)
I'm pretty tough
But the wind is rough
On the dunes
--Donald Fagen, "On the Dunes" from  his great solo album,. Kamakyriad

--Brooklyn Beat

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Coney Island: In Transition

Despite the intermittent media coverage regarding pending development,   it was still a bit of a surprise, visiting Coney Island yesterday,  to see the huge swath of the Boardwalk, from Stillwell Avenue east, fenced off, shops closed, as reconstruction of the Boardwalk, and presumably further development, commences.

While it was still early in the season, only a couple of food stands were open, west of Stillwell. I didn't realize that the impact of the development would be felt so soon, it seems clear that that the fenced off area precludes business in this section over the summer, if, as the sign indicates, work will be completed in Fall 2010. 

Update: Good news --I am pleased to report that shortly after this item was posted, an update was received from Ruby's, among our favorite watering-holes-by-the-water :   

Ruby's reports that, happily,  "while there is a section of the boardwalk being redone. Ruby's is open and doing well. The section that is being worked on has 2 parts - the entire section of boardwalk is closed from 6:30 am - 2 pm mon- fri only so they crane can hoist the concrete pieces of the boardwalk over the buildings and dropped in place. Ruby's is open 7 days a week and going strong. There is a section of the boardwalk - Close to the water section where benches are- that is fenced off. That section is having extensive repair work done and is closed until Memorial day weekend. The entire boardwalk has been under repair for over a year and will be completed 2011."

While it is possible to walk the length of the shore, much of the trip to Brighton Beach would have to be made either on the street or on the sand, since the Boardwalk no longer serves as a thoroughfare.  We took a walk out on the pier, still accessible, and walked on the Boardwalk to West 29th Street.  But there is no doubt that major changes are coming. One old timer was overheard observing that tourists are already appearing looking for "the new hotel."   While some of its "42nd Street-by-the-Sea" charm may be in flux, for better or for worse, Coney Island will always remain one of the most vibrant and amazing places to experience nature, and New York,  in any season. 

One more note from Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn, a long-time Coney Island fan: Based on the current signage at Stillwell Avenue, and the extensive fencing, it was not apparent to casual visitors like us that portions of the Boardwalk remain open on a part-time basis, or that any businesses will be available in that stretch to serve the public this summer. Hopefully, the Coney Island Development Corporation and area businesses will provide further information on-site and in the media as to hours of access and services as the season progresses.

Meanwhile, don't forget, folks, while changes and improvements are happening,  be sure to visit Coney Island this season... -- Brooklyn Beat

Boardwalk under construction
View from the Pier
Coney Island Community Garden

Photos by Tony Napoli - Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn
Coney Island Development Corporation Development Map here

Coney Island Fun Guide here

Coney Island Development Corporation's main page here

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Magical Connections: Art in Philadelphia

Maybe it's the amazing confluence of smaller scale, universities and museums, wonderful public art, and creative responses to development that make  Philadelphia such a low key yet inviting and fun place to visit. While Brooklyn, posing an alternative to Manhattan, has developed its own issues and complications vis-a-vis development, higher housing and commercial costs, Philadelphia, a city of  1.5 million with a greater metro area of 5 million plus, still ranks 6th largest in the US (NYC Is #1) but still feels liveable, especially as a center of art and culture.

Picasso Self Portrait
We dropped down to Philadelphia for an overnight, scoring comfy center city hotel accommodations, plus parking and tickets included to the huge "Picasso and t he Avant Garde in Paris" show at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Works by the master, along with contemporaries George Braques, Juan Gris, Marcel Duchamp, and other artists of the period. The show is comprehensive, well structured and informative. We caught it on a late  Friday afternoon which coincided with their "First Friday" show,and despite its being the Friday before the Easter holiday, there was a huge after work crowd hanging and listening to a dynamic women's world music group that rocked the rafters of the huge museum.

The Philadelphia Museum of  Art:  Internationally recognized as one of the most innovative and influential artists of the twentieth century, Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881–1973) was at his most ferociously inventive between 1905 and 1945. Picasso and the Avant-Garde in Paris surveys his work during these crucial decades, when he transformed the history of art through his innate virtuosity and protean creativity. The exhibition follows the trajectory of Picasso’s career from his early experiments with abstraction to his pioneering role in the development of Cubism, as well as his dialogue with Surrealism and other important art movements in the ensuing decades. The exhibition will also explore the important role that the city of Paris played in the history of modern art during the first half of the twentieth century, when artists from around the world followed Picasso’s example and moved to the French capital. It will include works by expatriate artists like Marc Chagall, Jacques Lipchitz, Patrick Henry Bruce, and Man Ray, who collectively formed a vibrant, international avant-garde group known, for posterity, as the School of Paris.

Drawn from the Museum’s extraordinary collection of paintings, sculptures, prints, and drawings by Picasso, with additional loans from private American collections, this exhibition provides a unique opportunity to reconsider the cross-fertilization of ideas that took place in Paris during one of the most experimental and creative periods in Western art. Two-hundred fourteen paintings, sculptures, and works on paper will be on view, including Picasso’s Three Musicians (1921), a grand summation of the artist’s decade-long exploration of Synthetic Cubism in which the artist seems to cast himself and his poet friends Guillaume Apollinaire and Max Jacob as players in a radical form of Cubist concert.

The feeling of Philadelphia as an art friendly also is anchored by the amazing public work of Isaiah Zagar.  Zagar is a an award-winning mosaic mural artist whose work can be found on over 100 public walls throughout the city of Philadelphia and around the world. Born in Philadelphia and raised in Brooklyn, Zagar received his B.F.A. in Painting and Graphics at the Pratt Institute of Art in New York City. He became known to many outside of his home city due to the success of the independent award-winning documentary about him and his wife and partner, Julia, entitled In a Dream, that was directed by Jeremiah Zagar, his son (currently of Brooklyn). This fascinating and brave  portrait was,  I believe, short-listed for Academy Award consideration, winning numerous other awards and making ongoing appearances on HBO. Catch it if you haven't.  Also available on DVD.

The Magic Garden, Zagar's largest South Street mural, is an indoor/outdoor maze of mosaics inlaid with various pieces of poetry. One line reads, "I built this sanctuary to be inhabited by my ideas and my fantasies." Another says, "Remember walking around in this work of fiction."

It really established South Street in Philadelphia as an art district, giving a strong sense of creativity and public art to South Philly, just as Gary Indiana's LOVE or the Claes Oldenberg clothespin   or many of the other monumental public  arts works that dot the Center City and museum district.  But Zagar's work, with its strong avant garde and folk art ethic, mesh perfectly with South Street's electic shops, bars and other arts, crafts and music venues.

A shop on South Street.

The Magic Gardens offer self-guided tours of the site on South Street as well as walking tours of other Zagar artworks in the area.  Like all fascinating art, it is equal parts obsession and vision, transcending both. Must see.

South Street Storefront by Isaiah Zagar: "Art is the center of the real world."

Photos above from the Magic Gardens and South Street by Anthony Napoli - Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn

Isaiah Zagar photo credit: Tex Dex

More on Mr. Zagar here:

More on Philadephia's Magic Gardens here

Finally, on the way home, we made a side trip to the Fabric Workshop and Museum on Arch Street near the Convention Center. Although a number of new shows were in preparation and not available at the time of our visit, we did catch a video of a work by Cai Guo Qiang, who was the subject of a major recent show at NYC's Guggenheim Museum. This work, Fallen Blossoms, showed  an enormous firework display that the resident artist performed on the massive steps of the Philadelphia Museum. The Fabric Workshop and Museum and the Philadelphia Museum of Art recently  presented a multi-site exhibition of the work of Cai Guo-Qiang, one of the most prominent contemporary artists on the international art scene. Cai Guo-Qiang: Fallen Blossoms which was the remaining work and which we caught consists of a poetic meditation on the passing of time, memory, and memorializing.  Happily, a few works by Louise Bourgeois and other fabric and textile artists from the permanent collection were on display.

We look forward to visiting the museum again later this year for some new upcoming shows.

We visited the City of Brotherly Love in the past when our kids were  younger, since it was an easy trip and   Philadelphia, with the Liberty Bell and Franklin Insittute is a great place to see American history up close and personal. However, it was great to visit with My Better Half and experience a wide sampling of the great art experiences that the city has to offer. Check it out sometime.

--Brooklyn Beat

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