OMMMMG: So Many Yoga Studios in the Neighborhood – Part 2

It’s a boom time for yoga studios in Williamsburg/Greenpoint. When I first began researching for Part I of this story, I was aware there was a surge of new places to practice yoga in the neighborhood, but I didn’t realize we were in a veritable cornfield of them. Turns out that behind those barricades we all thought contained high-rise apartment buildings—just yoga studios! Miles and miles of yoga studios. If you haven’t yet sought out a neighborhood practice space for your plow pose, it’s a wonder you haven’t tripped into one, given their prevalence. It’s even possible you are living in a yoga studio and haven’t realized it yet. Take a whiff of the air—is it incense-scented? Is your pup, Sparky, all of a sudden stretching with his back knees bent, and his pelvis tipped in the air? Are people touchy about you wearing shoes inside your own home?

But in all seriousness, what is wonderful is that each location offers a different flavor of practice; a unique pathway to enlightenment and philosophy of mind/body healing. There are studios for those who like chanting, and studios for those who want to skip the “OM” business and dive straight into a workout. There are studios in the east, in the west, and Southside and Northside. And while there are ever more variations of the eastern discipline dotting our enlightened streets, what remains a common theme, is that when we come together to heal ourselves, good feeling and goodwill prevail throughout our community.

Yoga to the People (Affordable Yoga)
211 N. 11th St. 2nd Floor
b/w Driggs Ave. and Roebling St.

Yoga To The People’s name is instantly recognizable. The first YTTP studio cropped up on St. Mark’s place four-and-a-half years ago, and is now one of the premiere spots for donation-based Power Vinyasa in Manhattan, holding heralded classes crammed with post-workday yogis, some-times as many as 60 at a time. The brand new Williamsburg outpost hasn’t garnered quite that much traffic yet, but I would be surprised if the studio’s contingency didn’t grow rapidly in the coming weeks. When I attended class at 4:30pm on a Tuesday, the just-opened traditional hot yoga studio held a class of about sixteen, one of the largest classes I attended in my ongoing yoga marathon. YTTP also had the most equal male to female ratio of any class I attended, and I don’t know about the other ladies in the neighborhood, but I am always motivated to work a little harder when there’s some strapping muscle around.

Eye candy aside, the studio’s hot yoga room is something special to behold, equipped with state-of-the art flooring used in upscale saunas and mirrored on three out of four walls. The space is also outfitted with a long row of windows above the mirrors on the front wall that offer a view of the towering, golden dome of the Russian Orthodox Church by McCarren Park and the blue open sky, which, when you’re folded in half inside a pressure cooker, appears cool and inviting.

YTTP Williamsburg will soon add donation-based Power Vinyasa to its repertoire. (Suggested donation of $10, obligation of $0.) The practice room is still under construc-tion, and should be ready within the next few weeks. In
the meantime, take advantage of the studio’s extremely affordable hot yoga classes, priced at $8 for a drop-in, just enough to cover the cost of the heat and water, of which
you will receive and need plenty.

Greenhouse Holistic Yoga and Massage
(Yoga’s Mini-Empire)
88 Roebling St. (@ N. 7th St.)
783 Driggs Ave. (@ S. 4th St.)
445 Grand St. (@ Keap St.)


David Greenhouse was a visionary when he opened Greenhouse Holistic almost ten years ago. Sure, it’s clear the residents of our neighborhood are mad for mountain pose now, but Greenhouse has been offering therapeutic exertion, relaxation, and meditation to the denizens of Williamsburg since long before the first vegan café planted its roots in the Bedford area for post-pigeon pose refueling/indulgence. The yoga mini-empire, which now includes three locations, and a sister spa (where a post-yoga-marathon hot stone massage may very well have saved my life), aims to be a one-stop-shop for your holistic needs, offering massage, nutrition counseling, facials, and various therapists to the community.

The Roebling studio, where I took a class with instructor, Gabby, is a long, narrow space that filled up like a corn popper, representatives of the post-work crowd popping in two or three at a time at 6:30pm on a Tuesday night. I was impressed by how many people fit into the space—yogis, seven to a row, coordinating the alignment of their blue and purple rubber rectangular mats. This is a studio for regulars. People who like to get in, and get it done.

Because of the sheer size of Greenhouse, with its three locations all within walking distance of the Bedford L stop, the studio offers a wide breadth of yoga styles, including Vinyasa Flow, Iyengar, and Ashtanga, with a Mysore class in the works. Greenhouse is also one of the only yoga studios in the neighborhood that also offers Pilates; and a band of regulars strips down for a bellydancing class every Friday night at the Driggs location. Greenhouse also focuses heavily on its teacher training program, which offers another opportunity for its students to deepen their prac-tice and which has helped foster the strong community for which the studio is known.

Drop-in classes are $15, and bulk packages are also available, so visit Greenhouse’s website for more info.

Sangha Yoga Shala
(Nutritious Yoga)
107 N. 3rd St. #2H
b/w Berry St. and Wythe Ave.

Sangha Yoga Shala’s owner, Alana Kessler, studied nutrition at New York University and was a practicing, clinical dietician when she began to suspect her yoga practice could become more than just a hobby. The studio she founded, a year and a half ago, is the synthesis of her commitment to both her nutrition career and ever-evolving yoga practice. SYS offers a variety of classes of the Ashtanga-inspired Vinyasa variety, and will soon offer Iyengar, which will make use of the studio’s extensive system of rope walls. Alana also offers her nutrition consultation services, during which she tells people like me to trade in their Fruit Loops for Kashi. “People who come to me [for my consultation services] already have a body awareness,” she notes.

Located on N. 3rd Street, Sangha Yoga Shala is housed in a new, flat-faced building that doesn’t belie the existence of such a spacious practice environment. Alana designed the studio as a “boutique urban sanctuary.” High curtains keep the space airy while providing privacy for yogis changing by a tall wall of cubbies; and maroon armchairs in the common area are extra inviting places to lounge, perhaps while munching on something cooked up in the space’s gleaming, full kitchen—an expected amenity in the studio of a nutrition junkie. The studio has even partnered with a custom bakery that offers gluten- and dairy-free baked goods.

“I’m probably going to make myself dinner here after class,” she told me after a vigorous Wednesday night Vinyasa session. I’ll assume she wasn’t making Kraft macaroni and cheese.

Sangha Yoga Shala’s classes usually host about seven students on average. Drop in classes are $18, and a 5-class package is $75, with a two-month expiration date. And don’t let Google Maps fool you—the studio is located on N. 3rd, not N. 6th. The coordinates are wrong in the system, and will steer you to Go Yoga (covered in Part I) instead.

Usha Veda
(Yoga Love)

1104 Manhattan Ave.
b/w Dupont St. and Clay St.

If you’re going to make yoga your evening activity, you might as well romance yourself. Which is why, late one Friday evening, I donned my yoga finery and whisked myself away to Usha Veda’s moody, candlelight session.

The 8:30pm class was taught by Nami, a gorgeous, dreadlocked yogi with a honey-voice made for seduction and calming hypnosis. She could have put me in a trance during a fire drill. In a class of just three people, Nami pushed us each to our individual limits, subtly pushing down on my neighbor’s lower back to help him touch his toes, and making sure I couldn’t cheat my way through the Vinyasa (“thighs don’t touch the ground”), and that my warrior posture was so perfect I almost let out a battle cry. At a weekend Vinyasa class a few weeks later a different instructor opened up our session with philosophical words about love. “Yoga does not talk specifically about romantic love, but J.Krishnamurti, the Indian philosopher, describes relationship as an act which brings us closer to self realization, and with that in mind, yoga is the tool to bring us to the possibility of self knowledge. I always try to connect the physical practice to the philosophy of yoga, which is in truth the core of what yoga is.”

Usha Veda’s storefront studio is located in the far northern corner of Greenpoint between Clay and Dupont, where owner Christina Mattus and other local business owners have created their own warm little community.

If you don’t live in Greenpoint proper the walk towards the water is worth it for the near-private classes of between four and ten students on average. Usha Veda’s Manhattan Avenue storefront location is a few months old, and calming, gauzy curtains protect the practice space from the street. Christina, who has lived as a tenant in the building for three years, converted the space, previously used for storage. “I always wanted to clean it up and practice yoga in here,” she says.

Usha Veda offers a wide range of classes, including Vinyasa, Hatha, Pilates and Ashtanga Mysore, which focuses on postures linked with breath. The studio also holds restorative yoga classes and focuses yoga therapy for those recovering from illness and surgery. Sunday workshops have included Yoga Nidra, a yogic sleep session.

Abhyasa Yoga Center
(Feel-Good Yoga)

628 Metropolitan Ave.
b/w Lorimer St. and Leonard St.
(718) 782-8272

At Abhyasa Yoga Center, attitude is key. J. Brown, the studio’s owner, calls the amalgamated style of yoga he has developed at his studio, “A twelve-step program for A-Type personalities.” (Uh oh.) The practice Abhyasa promotes, which is deeply rooted in the tradition of prominent yogi, T.K.V. Desikachar, focuses on Ujjayi or “ocean breathing,” and is slower and simpler than your average yoga class.
The practice isn’t about achievement or transcendence—it’s about enjoying being where you are. “There’s nowhere you need to get to,” J. intoned in the practice room, as we eased into our wheel positions, or took comfortable, if shaky, tree poses. “In this philosophy, falling with a smile is more celebrated than maintaining your balance,” he added.
J., with his charming smile and warm, encouraging baritone, makes it easy to keep your spirits high and your stress level down. He received his training at Go Yoga, where he was a teacher for over seven years. He opened Abhyasa to expose his students to a different way of thinking about the yoga practice. The tactics offered at Abhyasa come from principles traditionally meant to be imparted one-on-one, though J. successfully implements them in a group setting with his unbounded interactivity. He knows everyone’s names, and asks about everyone’s injuries and wellness state individually before beginning class. He also takes the time at the beginning of every session to talk new students through the process of Ujjayi breathing, demo-ing the hisses of the deep intake and exhale.

Slowing down your practice can be tough for those of us who crave that post-workout soreness, our unofficial Yoga Scout badge of honor. But if you take a minute to step back and breathe, J.’s yoga philosophy has transference to other areas of our lives. “If you’re struggling and having a crappy time, you’re practicing struggling and having a crappy time,” J. says, pushing my back leg in on my warrior one pose to lessen the strain on my hamstring. I expel the air from my lungs with an audible flourish, and the pain is removed from my body. Makes sense to me.

goodyoga nyc
(Bed and Breakfast and Yoga)

73 Calyer St.
b/w Franklin St. and West St.
(718) 554-3968

Entering goodyoga nyc is like walking into a yoga pajama party, yogis padding around in leggings and socks, making tea, lighting incense, eating cereal. The studio takes up the entirety of an enormous converted factory on Calyer—a building in which goodyoga owner Ray Gonzalez was once a tenant. It was converted and transformed about two years ago by Ray and his partner Flannery Foster into a full-service yoga studio/massage center and bed and breakfast/art space/hang zone.
goodyoga offers many different styles of yoga, including a regular Morning Mysore class, and Primary and Half Primary Led Ashtanga classes. A lot of the practice rooms within the goodyoga building are convertible, so where you practice one day, you might be receiving a massage from one of goodyoga’s trained therapists the next. There is even a place for goodyoga’s house stylist to cut people’s hair, and a gorgeous rooftop where students do sun salutations with the sunrise in the warmer months.

There is a unique sense of camaraderie and comfort among the students and teachers who practice and work at the space, perhaps because there are actual places to live set up within goodyoga’s four enormous walls. Three bed and breakfast rooms reside within the goodyoga sphere (one of which you actually have to walk through a yoga room to enter). The rates are $100 for a single, $150 for a double, which include yoga, a 10% discount on massage and wellness services, and access to two common lounges that overlook a massive kitchen where goodyoga occasionally holds healthy cooking seminars and demos for their members and staff. The rooms have hosted a variety of intriguing guests, and were recently occupied by a Swedish ambassador and an international journalist.

But most of the patrons of goodyoga can usually be found in one of the space’s two enormous studios, or in the main kitchen, open to all yoga students, where you are likely to run into the studio’s two cats, Bowie and Iman.

Classes are $20 for drop-in sessions, so the intro week-long deal is a steal at only $20.

Yoga South 11 (Grassroots Yoga)
55 S. 11th St. #207
b/w Wythe Ave. and Berry St
(646) 234-2045

Zelina Blagden, a mixed-media artist and photographer, opened Yoga South 11 a few months ago, in the heart of Hasidic Williamsburg. Zelina, who received her teacher training at Greenhouse Holistic (reviewed above), is no stranger to the yoga game. She has been an instructor for over a decade, and in 2007 went on tour with Rufus Wainwright as his private yoga guru. She still teaches weekly classes at Greenhouse, but branched off to also develop her own studio to offer students a free-style and more personal practice.
The focus of Yoga South 11’s program lies in Zelina’s highly original “Freestyle It” session, in which Zelina encourages her students to do, well, whatever they like. “Ultimately yoga is a self-practice,” she says. You can also expect a fair amount of spirituality to emanate from Zelina, who is environment-conscious and interested in how yoga connects us to the planet. If you’re looking for yoga minus the meditation you will not find it here. “I’m not into the Starbucks of yoga,” Zelina says.

Yoga South 11 takes up half of Zelina’s combination yoga/art studio space, and has a true homegrown feel to it. The white walls are decorated at their horizontal midline with broad, haphazard strokes of red; the meditation “Om Namah Sivaya” hand-lettered over the crimson base. Wildlife paintings of owls by Zelina’s artist father, Allen Blagden, sporadically dot the remaining white. A shrine at the front of the room houses a pot-bellied Buddha surrounded by live greenery, some of it as tall as the window. By example, Zelina encourages free expression.
The night I attended class, we were a spirited group of three, but Yoga South 11’s room could serve the practice of seven or eight at a time. Zelina played mellow music to accompany our practice, but will often play a more upbeat soundtrack to drown out the noise from the rehearsal spaces that occupy the rest of the Williamsburg flat/floor. If you attend the sessions, you must also have love for Zelina’s dog Goose, an adorably zen black labmix.

(Well-Rounded Yoga)

31 Nassau Ave., b/w Dobbin St. and Guersney St.
Brooklyn, NY 11222,

Dishan Elise, owner of the gorgeous yoga studio and gym facility, Human@Ease, on Nassau, knows that variety is the key to a healthy lifestyle. Just as a diet of all apples won’t keep the doctor away, an exercise regimen of all yoga may not be enough to bring a person to their peak performance. Which is why Human@Ease’s facility is the perfect place to hone one’s body, and mind, combining a fitness regimen with the more mindful practice of yoga.

When you walk into Human@Ease, it gives the impression, first and foremost, of a weights gym—the sunniest, airiest gym you’ve ever seen, with daylight pouring in through east-facing windows and reflecting off a gem box of beautifully refurbished equipment. But while Dishan and her trainers offer inexpensive and effective programs for imparting their circuit training knowledge, the focus of the space is yoga. And the yoga classes are diverse and original. The studio is one of the only places in the neighborhood to offer Kundalini Yoga, “the yoga of awareness,” which combines meditation, mantras, physical exercise, and breathing techniques. Many classes also focus on “nada japa”—a call and response chanting system.
And the studio offers tai chi, bellydancing, and even pilates. The yoga studio is decorated with cherry tree branches painted on the walls, and a hanging hammock-full of yoga blankets suspended from the ceiling. During my Saturday morning class, our instructor played a mix of old soul and R&B tunes, marking the first time I really “got down” in downward dog. And Dishan even took the class with me and a couple regulars, getting in her weekly dose of yoga to complement her other workout routines.

Human@Ease also offers acupuncture and other holistic services, as well as access to a two-person infrared sauna ($15 for up to 25 minutes). A shower is available for use by all students. Drop in classes are $16. Currently, they are offering three classes for $30, making it affordable and easy to get started.

Life and Art with Mark Lombardi


Photos courtesy Pierogi Gallery

People like to dwell on an artist’s untimely death. Somehow, asking unanswerable questions like “why” are easier than looking at the “what”—the work that’s survived them—and figuring out what it means to us now, what its legacy is.

Enter Pierogi Gallery today, however, and you’ll find that some strong (and heartfelt) curatorial light is being shed, on the late Mark Lombardi’s work, on Mark Lombardi the man, and the incredible and amazing (optimistic!) vibe his legacy has in store.

Lombardi (a master draftsman and concept artist, who died of an apparent suicide in 2000) made notes on tens of thousands of index cards; a few bundles of them, tied up with rubber bands, are here, displayed in a vitrine, along with his personal files and other writings saved in boxes, untouched, by dealer Joe Amrhein.

Getting so personal with him, with such honesty, pays off. You can really understand the work and see it through the eyes of folks who cared about him (Amrhein among them). For instance, there’s a huge drawing that got stained with rusted water from a burst pipe in Lombardi’s studio, on view. Lombardi worked for three days with almost no sleep to fix it for a big show he had at PS1. Amrhein shows it here, spatters and all.

And, if understanding his complex diagrammatic drawings (which trace connections and insider deals and money exchanges between governments, banks, the mafia— you name it) is what you’re after, you’ll have what you need. The show also takes you through “sketch” versions like this one:

and large, chrono-based drawings like this one:

(those horizontal lines are time lines—can you see them?) and, finally, his later, circular drawings. He opted for a less horizontal format towards the end of his life. The works became circular—all the better to show how incredibly interconnected the planet is.

My favorite part of the show, however, was also the most intense part: the artist’s books, re-installed here on bookshelves as they would have been in his studio when he died. There are archived magazines like Art Forum and Art in America and even (I’m getting really personal here) an issue or two in which my own writing appeared.

So, lo and behold, I pulled out Lombardi’s own copy of an old Art on Paper magazine, sat down on Pierogi’s bench, and read my own reviews.

It was dated Jan/Feb 2000. That was the year he died.

I didn’t know him well at all, but as you can see, there was some sort of conversation going on. About art. About life. What’s really optimistic about all this? Everybody can join in.

(Mark Lombardi at Pierogi — 25 Feb – 3 April, 2011, Gallery 1 + 2)

Eyewear as art — Grand Opening for Luxeye Optical II


Friday night, Luxeye Optical, held a party for the opening of their second store on Bedford Avenue (at South 1st Street). Professional models sported the current fashions in eyewear. A generous buffet was served, including an impressive 7-tiered cupcake cake—each individual cupcake decorated with mini eyeglasses & case (made of sugar).

Along with an extensive selection of eyewear, they were exhibiting art and photography portraying eyeglasses in some shape or form. Much of it was commercial photography or fashion photography-based. But not exclusively, there was a lovely little rendering of classic nerd glasses on a wood panel. A series of black on white renderings of eyeglasses and smokiness (smoke gets in our eyes?). And the most ironic, a large blank canvas that portrayed simply, a pair of Groucho Marx nose/mustache gag glasses on it.

I spoke with Jenny Ma, the owner about her impetus for exhibiting artwork for the opening. She said she has many clients in the neighborhood who are in the creative fields and wanted to offer an opportunity for exposure, and also to create a bridge between what she does—fitting people with the best eyewear possible with something more culturally befitting the neighborhood. We talked about eyewear: she considers it possibly the most important accessory and often the most neglected. In fashion or film for instance it can make or break a character. I like the way she has considered many angles with what she wants to project as a retail store—melding eyewear, fashion and art, she is hitting the pulse of the new Williamsburg. I must admit, there were quite a few designer sunglasses that I liked for very reasonable prices, might be time to upgrade from my Ray-Ban Aviators…

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Refillable Beer Jugs: It’s Growler Time

Refillable beer growlers (jugs) have become available at the pharmacy chain Duane Reade and at many locations around Williamsburg/Greenpoint. Photo by Lisette Johnson

Refillable beer growlers (jugs) have become available at the pharmacy chain Duane Reade and at many locations around Williamsburg/Greenpoint. Photo by Lisette Johnson

By Lisette Johnson

There’s a handful of celebrated brew houses across the country where customers can buy refillable growlers of their favorite tap beer. There’s the Trinity Brewhouse in Providence, RI; Austin, TX is home to the NXNW Restaurant and Brewery; even South Carolina has the Charleston Beer Exchange. And now, right here in Williamsburg, beer snobs and beer geeks alike can snag a refillable growler at the famous Duane Reade brewery. Duane Reade?

When the pharmacy giant opened its newest Williamsburg location at 250 Bedford Avenue last year, it was amid debate about corporate responsibility and the inevitable demise of mom and pop shops—a crucial part, thought many, of Williamsburg’s unique charm. Angry Yelpers changed their tune last November when Duane Reade’s liquor license was approved and the store pioneered its “Brew York City” counter. For $3.99 customers can purchase a branded growler and have it filled for an additional $7.99. A sign on the store door proudly announces “we sell locally brewed beers here.” In addition to Kelso, Brooklyn Brewery, and Sixpoint, Duane Reade sells Blue Point (brewed on Long Island) and Lake Placid (brewed upstate).

Williamsburg resident Jai Lennard welcomes the development. Lennard doesn’t shop at the new store often, “probably once a week, and only for the new growlers that they sell,” he said. “It’s 64 ounces of beer for around $8! That’s almost a six-pack,” he said, at a quarter of the price. “It’s really nice to pour yourself a pint of beer at home. Brew York City is about tapping into local vendors and bringing a better quality and experience of beer to the home.” And no, he jokes, he’s not a Duane Reade employee.

Lennard doesn’t think that these new growlers will affect the many beer-selling bodegas on the block. “No one wants to bring over their growler to parties,” he said. “Young beer drinkers are still going to buy six-packs because it simply makes sense.” Local bodega owners corroborate Lennard’s thought—none have noticed a significant change in business since Duane Reade began selling beer on tap. The awning of Bedford Exotics, at the corner of Bedford and North 6th, boasts that the pipe-selling bodega also sells craft beer, appealing to the same consumer that would be interested in a Duane Reade growler. But Fakhrut Islam hasn’t noticed any change in business—other than the nor-mal winter slow. “We give cheap beer,” he said, and adding that while Duane Reade will affect sales of medicine and beauty products, it won’t matter for beer sales. “King’s Pharmacy—forget it,” he said, but “we sell Brooklyn Lager for $10, cheaper than everybody. Every day I sell beer,” he said, and six-pack sales haven’t been affected by the offer-ings of their new corporate neighbor. “If they sell it for $10, we’ll sell it for $9.75,” he said.

Because Duane Reade was awarded a selling and not a serving license, Community Board One (serving Williamsburg and Greenpoint) was not privy to the approval process. According to New York State Liquor Authority spokesperson William Crowley, any liquor store permit or serving license must be run by the local board, but selling licenses are not. “It’s usually serving licenses that face more community debate,” he said, be-cause of issues like noise. Tastings are permitted under a selling license, provided that they are administered by a licensed brewer and not a Duane Reade employee. The Bedford Duane Reade hosts tastings three or four times a month. Selling licenses do, however, come with the same type of responsibilities as a serving license, said Crowley. Duane Reade risks revocation if they serve to a minor or the visibly intoxicated.

Despite the buzz that Duane Reade has generated with their selling of growlers, they’re not the only store in the neighborhood that does. In fact, because customers must use a Brew York City-brand growler, it’s not as good a deal as some other places. Barbecue favorite Fette Sau offers growlers that can be delivered alongside ribs. The Khim’s Millennium Market at 460 Driggs sells growlers for $5 a pop and refills them for $15.99. It’s pricier, but customers can use any growler—it doesn’t have to be a Khim’s brand. Urban Rustic, at 236 North 12th, not only sells growlers to fill with local beer, they offer Kombucha on tap as well. It’s $10 to fill a growler with Kombucha, and beer prices range from $10 to $20 with a $4 growler deposit. This month, Pennsylvania brewery Victory is featured on the Urban Rustic tap, culminating in a Victory Beer Night slated in March. In Greenpoint, Eastern District, a food shop specializing in American craft beers and cheeses, sells the growler for $5 and refills $10-$20; their features are in constant rotation. On Graham Avenue, Quechol Natural Food Market offers a rotation of beers on tap, $4 for the jug, $16.99 to refill, with limited-time specials on Dog Fish ($13.99) and He’brew ($9.99).

If you’re looking to cut down on beer costs and recyclables, growlers are the way to go. If you’re concerned about a corporate giant sneaking into the neighborhood by wooing customers with neighborhood-specific interests like local beer, fill your bottle at one of the other local growler destinations. Either way, beer is here to stay. And not just at Duane Reade.

SXSW: Wrap Up and Lessons Learned


Friends, I know I have reported back on a lot of the exciting SXSW events, but I decided it would be a shame to leave Austin without showing you some of the local color.

Okay, maybe these weren’t real, authentic Austenites, but they were some of the more enthusiastic participants in the shenanigans on 6th street, which served as party central for the music portion of SXSW.

So many things vied for your attention in these quick-moving four days of music-driven insanity, it truly was hard to parse through it all.  I was immediately drawn to Flatstock, a convention of rock concert poster artists from around the country, including the talented Brian Ewing, Rob Jones, and Peter Cardoso.  Since I have no wall space left in my New York-sized apartment, I somehow managed to make it out of that convention hall empty-handed — but it was a struggle with all that pretty paper on display.

Of course, most of the time since I’ve last checked in, has been spent elbowing my way to the front of some of the coolest live music shows I’ve ever seen.  South By Southwest is incredible not only in the variety and sheer number of shows it offers at one time, but also in the relative intimacy of each of those shows.  The largest scale venue I entered during the entire festival was Stubb’s, where Noah and the Whale played in a showcase with Portugal. The Man, and TV on the Radio.  And as the pictures below will show you, I still got pretty freaking close to those guys.  For Long Islanders, I would equate the size of the venue to a Jones Beach.  For non-Long Islanders, so sorry, you should have grown up where I grew up so you could get my references.  But almost every other show I attended was in a small club setting, with the musicians so close you could feel them breathe on you five rows back.  There was so little space between me and the legendary Emmylou Harris when I saw her perform, I could have slapped her five (though she didn’t seem down).  The point is, you will have opportunities to see these acts in other venues around the United States, but not in close quarters like these.  Especially once we writers are done disseminating our messages of love about the acts that wooed us to the rest of the music-consuming universe.

Speaking of which.  Though I did see many more bands than I had the chance to write about, here are the links to the ones I thought were most worth reviewing.  I would buy any of these artists’ albums and see them again live in a hot minute.

Portugal. The Man at The IFC Crossroads House

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Luxury Living is Taking a Toll, Brother!


By Phil DePaolo

Last month, I received an email from a resident who lives at Northside Piers (the first residential development to be built following the 2005 rezoning of the Greenpoint/Williamsburg waterfront) because he was having major problems with his unit. Located at 164 Kent Avenue, between North 3rd and 4th streets, the development group formed by LM Equity Participants, RD Management, and Toll Brothers, would develop the market-rate towers, and receive $300 million in acquisition and construction financing from Citibank Community Development.

Great fanfare accompanied the groundbreaking of Northside Piers/Palmers Dock on July 13, 2006, with the attendance of some of the city’s top brass, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former Deputy Mayor for Economic Development & Rebuilding Daniel L. Doctoroff, State Assemblyman Vito Lopez, former Department of Housing Preservation & Development Commissioner Shaun Donovan, Department of City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden, Department of Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe, and Toll Brothers Division Vice President David Von Spreckelsen. Von Spreckelsen was quoted as saying at the event, “We are thrilled with the opportunity to participate in the revitalization of the northern Brooklyn waterfront made possible by the hard work of the Bloomberg administration in accomplishing this important re-zoning.”

The website for Northside Piers states: ”Beautifully designed, thoughtfully executed with no detail overlooked, your new condo in Williamsburg is everything you’ve ever wanted. Kitchens designed by Stephen Alton, with rich, wide-plank American walnut floors.”

When I asked what was going on in the towers, I was invited to meet many property owners in Northside Piers, all of whom were and continue to have ongoing problems with the build-quality of their units. I was also informed of claimed-problems with units that were not told to buyers until after they moved in. But before I lay out some of these issues, let’s go back to May 2007, when the first tower was being built.

In a recent March 18th New York Times article, Von Spreckelsen incorrectly states that his company built the first of two towers at its Northside Piers project in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, with union contractors. But in fact, as construction costs escalated in 2008, Toll Brothers turned to a non-union contractor for the second tower, prompting unions to protest with five giant inflatable rats. The truth is union workers were protesting the first tower’s use of non-union workers starting May 17, 2007 as the image below shows. Mayor Bloomberg had promised the Unions work at waterfront sites in return for support of the Williamsburg/Greenpoint rezoning in 2005. I had many conversations with workers on the site, at the time, who stated that non-union workers were being brought in, and that corners were being cut in the construction of the building.

So, it came as no surprise to me to learn that major problems now exist at Northside Piers. I have agreed not to name any of the residents who spoke to me, or name any unit because many residents are fearful of retribution from the condominium’s Board of Managers, and/or Toll Brothers. One can safely say that all new buildings are going to have some problems, and at the same time, it’s vital that any issues be resolved under the warranty the new owners receive from Toll Brothers. But it seems in interviews with many residents that Toll Brothers have gone out of their way to drag their feet in resolving issues.

Some units have had water infiltration which has resulted in the untenable condition of mold growth. In addition, many owners complained that the full-view windows that were installed, do little to keep wind and water out of their units which increases use of heat in the winter, and air conditioning in the summer, both of which run on electricity. This certainly makes our friends at Con Edison very happy, as I was shown the electricity bills for many residents averaging over $400 dollars a month.

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Since the dawn of time, eggs have been considered  symbol of new growth and fertility. Easter is coming. So are Passover and the Vernal Equinox. Greenpoint View is offering a series of workshops where you can create one of a kind Unconventional Eggs to celebrate the holiday of your choosing, or just to mark the end of a long cold winter and the coming of spring. See attached flyers for details.

Also, we will be reorganizing the space at the end of April, so this is your last chance to visit us in our current configuration.  All stock is on sale at 15% off, so now’s your chance to get one of our beautiful handmade items before everything gets packed up for the move. Items for sale include felted hats and scarves, jackets, shrugs and long coats, our hand felted body buffers and needle-felted dolls. Sale ends April 22.

Unconventional Eggs are also available at Etsy shop.