Brooklyn Bowl: at Local x Local Series

vivian girls show brooklyn bowl 004

On Sunday, the Brooklyn Bowl hosted the German Measles and the Vivian Girls, part of their Local x Local concert series featuring great Brooklyn bands. The concert was like The Clash and The Germs all rolled into one happy little bun. So what were we wearing? My New Jersey-based suitor wondered whether jeans were acceptable attire at the Brooklyn Bowl.

Yes, jeans are more than okay to wear to a bowling alley/indie band venue in Williamsburg.  More > >

The Daily Photo + Links


Photo by Eric Wolman

North Brooklyn is in the running for Google superspeed Internet service  [NYPost]

Brooklyn Stunt School Ready To Enroll  [NY1]

Cheap Monday Shades at Alter  [AllMyWords]

City officials vow to make 12-year dream of 14-mile Bklyn greenway a reality  [DailyNews]

Sleepy Brooklyn Wants Faster High-Speed Internet  [NYPress]

Heavy Rains May Have Caused Williamsburg Bldg Collapse  [BklynInk]

It’s Chametz Burning Time!  [Gothamist]

Phil On Fire

Despite the Mayor’s claim of creating large amounts of affordable housing since he took office, we have more homeless families in our shelter system than ever before with over 16,000 homeless children. (See Coalition for the Homeless charts.) Could the reason be that most displaced families cannot afford the so-called affordable housing that the city claims protects low-income residents?

“In Kings County, the Fair Market Rent (FMR) for a two-bedroom apartment is $1,313. In order to afford this level of rent and utilities, without paying more than 30% of income on housing, a household must earn $4,377 monthly or $52,520 annually. Assuming a 40-hour work week, 52 weeks per year, this level of income translates into a Hourly Wage of $25.25. ?In Kings County, a minimum-wage worker earns an hourly wage of $7.15. In order to afford the FMR for a two-bedroom apartment, a minimum wage earner must work 141 hours per week, 52 weeks per year. Or, a household must include 3.5 minimum wage earner(s) working 40 hours per week year-round in order to make the two bedroom FMR affordable.?In Kings County, the estimated mean (average) wage for a renter is $15.45 an hour. In order to afford the FMR for a two-bedroom apartment at this wage, a renter must work 65 hours per week, 52 weeks per year. Or, working 40 hours per week year-round, a household must include 1.6 worker(s) earning the mean renter wage in order to make the two-bedroom FMR affordable.

Monthly Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments for an individual are $761 in Kings County. If SSI represents an individual’s sole source of income, $228 in monthly rent is affordable, while the FMR for a one-bedroom is $1,180.

The crisis of true Affordable Housing has to be looked at.”

—The National Low-Income Housing Coalition Wash DC 2010

We continue to lose affordable communities to bad planning and corporate greed.

Developments must be aimed at respecting the community it is being placed in, as far as height, bulk and density. I see so many so called affordable units that are not reachable by the majority of working poor residents in our community that face the greatest displacement pressures.

We see the loss of housing stock that was aimed to low and middle income residents being replaced with large buildings that are up to 80% Luxury development, or many times 100% luxury.

It’s important to focus on the luxury units which invariably change the economic demographics of less affluent communities and have the effect of forcing out the less affluent.  New residents that move in have larger incomes putting pressures on local retail outlets to change the mix of amenities. Instead of hardware stores, affordable supermarkets and laundromats, the commercial core changes to noisier bars, expensive restaurants, boutique food markets and so on. Stores offering less expensive goods can no longer pay the cost per square foot of the gentrified neighborhood.

While some affordable units are built, there’s a larger net loss of affordable housing in the surrounding areas as real estate values (and rents) rise. With the loss of protections and enforcement of any meaningful rent regulation, surrounding neighborhoods are being torn apart.

We need to look to greatly increase the amount of true affordable housing in any proposed development.

And affordability should be realistic. Only 100 of the 2200 units proposed for the former Domino Sugar refinery are within the community AMI (Area Median Income). The current AMI for Brooklyn CB#1 is $35,300 dollars.

Even the 310 units of housing the developers for Domino are offering at $46,080 dollars are out of reach to over 60% of residents in Brooklyn CB#1.

Those who ignore the larger picture in order to create the illusion of working for affordable housing (some in the press, some tenant/housing groups and many politicians) should wear the yellow stripes of shame.

Still On Fire


BAE/Greenhouse Community Acupuncture Project

Community Acupuncture Project

BAE/Greenhouse Community Acupuncture Project
445 Grand Street (at Keap St.)
(718) 599-2348
Mon/Wed 10:30am–1pm & 4–7pm , Sun 12–7pm

By Danielle Beurteaux
Photograph by Ashley Corbin-Teich

James H. Bae is a licensed acupuncturist who runs the Community Acupuncture Project at Greenhouse Holistic. Bae, 32, warm and friendly, pads around the room in his sock feet, welcoming newcomers while moving between clients, asking questions and inserting and removing needles. He explains that the community style practice is modeled on the healthcare approach in China, with a large, open room and multiple patients being treated simultaneously. The space at Greenhouse is a bright and airy, loft-like space, with a combination of reclining chairs and tables. Gentle music plays, and for some treatments, and for shy people, there are tables behind screens for privacy. Bae’s idea was to offer acupuncture on a sliding-scale price basis, to make the treatment accessible to those who can’t afford private sessions, which Bae also provides. The suggested fee is $15 to $40 per session.

While Greenhouse Holistic has been a mainstay on the local yoga scene since it opened in 2001, Bae just kicked off the Community Acupuncture Project on Sundays in September of last year. It’s proven to be so popular (mostly through word-of-mouth), that he’s expanded the service, adding Mondays and Wednesdays. The clientele ranges in age from early 20s to 50s and while they come with different levels of experience with acupuncture—or none at all—one thing they have in common is the willingness to have needles stuck in various parts of their bodies.

Michelle Greenhouse, is thrilled with Bae’s service, and sees it as a perfect fit for the studio’s philosophy of providing holistic health services. She also points out that many people in the community lack health insurance, so this is a much-needed service. “A lot of people are open to more alternative treatments,” she says, “they’re thinking proactive health care.”

For those with a needle phobia, Bae says that he’s helped patients get over their fear. “I’ve had people who are completely afraid of needles—true phobia—and I’ve actually, within minutes, been able to talk them through the experience of acupuncture needling.”

Bae treats everything from injuries to lethargy to fertility. “Some ailments can be treated in a few sessions and some take longer”, says Bae, “but it’s important to be consistent—weekly or semiweekly visits are normal”.

Bae, a first generation Korean-American, grew up with traditional alternative therapies and western medicine and never viewed one as excluding the other, and his appreciation of both forms of medicine has deepened as he continued his training. “Now I understand more how they complement each other,” says Bae. “And how one route may serve us better in specific circumstances.”

“People are willing to explore approaches to health that offer an alternative and that also vies with core beliefs,” he says, “and hopefully, they find it a warm, friendly community experience as well.”

Bae received his training at the Five Branches Institute in Santa Cruz and San Jose, California, and then continued his studies at the Tri-State College of Acupuncture in Chelsea. Late last year, he completed a yearlong internship at Beth Israel Hospital’s Continuum Center for Health and Healing as a member of their first group of Acupuncture Fellows, where licensed acupuncturists work with patients in tandem with hospital care. He also works out of a wellness clinic in Park Slope and a practice in Chelsea.

Dandelion Wine

Dandy Wine, No Lyin’

Dandelion Wine
153 Franklin Street
(347) 689-4563
open 7 days / free delivery

By Tamara Hellgren
Photographs by Adam Golfer

Venturing into a smart boutique wine shop can be intimidating. It can also be a great deal of fun, as I learned at Greenpoint’s Dandelion Wine, where owner Lily Peachin and her staff are passionate but not pretentious. Their extensive selection is neatly organized on plain wooden shelves, and arranged amid the appropriately “vintage” décor. The bottles, with old-fashioned string tags around their necks, are as pleasing to browse as books, and like books, each bottle has a story to tell (ask about the Sinister Hand!). Reading their poetic, handwritten descriptions and trying to choose just one bottle, is thirsty work. Or trying to decide between “Long and Lush” or “Big Purple Spicy”?

As Peachin has it, aspiring wine connoisseurs need only two things: an open mind, and an open bottle. Make that several bottles. The point is to experience the diversity of wine, and this means experimenting and asking questions. Daunted? Don’t be. This is a wine shop where you may hear someone liken a wine to “a summer day, with a breeze on my balls.” Where the French are called “badass winemakers.” Just think of them as your oenologist next door.

A self-proclaimed farmer’s daughter, Peachin has an unsurprising preference for “honest” wine, a quality not limited to a particular grape or region, but true of any wine that “fulfills its natural destiny,” by exhibiting the characteristics native to its grape and environment. Anything that manipulates the development of the wine—such as adding sugar or oak chips, two common practices in many “new world” regions—is considered dishonest. Dandelion Wine has a distinct proclivity for “old world” wine.

Peachin also promotes seasonal wines, and for the spring she has three words— “Rosé, rosé, rosé!” Another fine vernal choice is a vino verde from Portugal, a drinkable white with a slight sparkle that sells for under $10 a bottle. And by summer, Peachin expects to offer even more “economy-sized” options. “A plethora of boxes! Everything from Malbec to Côtes du Rhône to California.”

While a price point never trumps taste, “Wine doesn’t have to be expensive to be complex and interesting,” Peachin insists. In fact, their best-seller is a $9 bottle called Porca Douros, which has been a neighborhood favorite since day one. And the vast majority of their bottles are under $20, with many under $15.

But the ultimate deal is whatever’s being served on Friday from 6-9 pm. Dandy’s weekly (and very popular) tastings, include not only three different wines, but a spread of scratch bread and cheeses, and usually a winemaker or representative on hand to answer questions. The offerings vary widely. The theme may be a region, a season, or even a holiday. Says Peachin, “We are always getting new things in. New York is really ideally situated—we can import from California, Europe, from everywhere. It’s easy to find stuff to pour.”

I’ll drink to that.

Frame Art NYC


The Great Frame Up

147 Thames Street
(near Flushing)
(718) 381-0300

By Anne Szustek                          Photos by Adam Golfer

The most recent location of Tommy Hild’s 25 year-old frame shop Frame Art straddles the border of Williamsburg and Bushwick on Flushing Avenue at Thames Street. Hild, a native of Timisoara, Romania who has lived in New York City since the 1970s, made framing his life’s work, after an artist friend lamented about the difficulty of finding a skilled craftsman to frame his work. A quarter-century later, Hild reflects on the changes in the industry. Framing has become largely an e-commerce driven business. And many of the old art handlers and framers in the city have fallen by the wayside over the years.

Newbies and seasoned artists alike flock to Hild’s business and Hild attributes his longevity in the business to long-standing relationships and personalized service, as well as to his habit of being proactive, taking a fastidious interest in the artwork itself, and constantly reminding his to customers not to wait until the last minute to get their work ready for show or shipping, and to his astute ability to  match the frame to what the art is. “A humble copper-painted ash wood frame comes alive when surrounding a modern work of art of a deep cerulean blue,” explains Hild.

Hild has framed costly photographs and lithographs, including a Miro print. He’s also framed up three-dimensional items such as antique violins and a set of Muhammad Ali’s boxing gloves. And it gets even more esoteric than that.

“Once I had a customer whose building was being demolished,” recounts Hild. “He wanted to frame the plaster sculptures  on the door frame.”

Whatever the customers’ needs may be, whether it’s “a shadowbox or an eight-ply mat,” Hild stresses that his goal is to provide “the best service at the best cost.”

MeMe Antenna

Picking Up the Vibes at MeMe Antenna

MeMe Antenna
218 Bedford Avenue
(Mini Mall)
(347) 223-4219

By Anne Szustek
Photograph by Abigail Simon

Marihito “Mari” Ayabe, the proprietor of vintage goods shop MeMe Antenna, located in the MiniMall at North 5th and Bedford, is in his groove.

A producer of what he calls “dark down tempo dubby music” in a Williamsburg studio since 2003, the Japanese arriviste says he has changed his beat on account of developments during the past decade in both the neighborhood and his industry.

“As we all know, the music industry was hurt by the iTune revolution, since you were able to copy CD with your computer,” says Mari. Starting in 2007, he began some soul searching and about a year later, his studio started to import exclusive Japanese recording equipment such as headphones and synthesizers. At first, it was a wholesale business serving local retailers, but soon demand grew from out of state. Then it all came together for Mari: he realized “I should open my own store.”

Given the rapid real estate development around Williamsburg, and especially the condo complexes along Kent Avenue, as well as loft renovations everywhere, Mari surmised that tens of thousands of people will move into this area.

In June 2009, he and his colleagues saw a “For Rent” sign hanging in a Mini Mall storefront window. Two weeks later, they signed the lease for what would become MeMe Antenna, opened this past October.

Nine months later, the space is choc-a-bloc with stationery, vintage jewelry, and home furnishings, as well as their standby CDs, records, and music equipment. The store’s clientele is largely Williamsburg residents and musicians, although it draws in “many tourists from all over the world,” says Mari.

MeMe Antenna gets fresh inventory every week, thanks to Mari’s weekend hunts for vintage baubles, lamps, and furniture. Mari points out the store’s Japanese music releases, as well as releases from his own local production studio. “We want to focus on releasing more vinyl in 2010,” he says. Of Mari’s many pride and joys is a Japanese synthesizer dating from the 1970s-80s, Yamaha 1980s drum machines, Marantz brand radio receivers, and vintage vinyl running the gamut of Madonna, Bad Brains, classical, and jazz.

Items at MeMe Antenna are priced as low as $1, and there are plenty of budget-conscious gift ideas in the store. Letter-pressed greeting cards are $4; handmade jewelry pieces, $25; locally designed t-shirts for $36; and handmade purses from local labels at $75. Home décor junkies can get their fix with colorful vintage vases or candle holders, retailing at $10 for a set of three. Music fans can wear their heart on their sleeve with the store’s selection of music t-shirts. And if that isn’t your vibe, there are chocolate bars for $4.75.

MeMe Antenna is receptive.