Big Things Writ Small

Christian Nguyen “Modern Surfaces” 2012 Acrylic on Plexiglas.

Christian Nguyen “Modern Surfaces” 2012 Acrylic on Plexiglas.

Small Sculpture (by big people)
Big & Small/Casual Gallery
Curated by Kate Teale

Review by Robert Egert
@psychomotikon

Scale is a blade that cuts in two directions: Big often signifies importance, especially in an environment where space is at a premium. Conversely, we all know that Good Things Come in Small Packages.

Small Sculpture (by big people) is an exhibition of miniature sculpture that is a fascinating study of how the scale of things can change our perception of space and our bodies while toying with our expectations. The exhibit delivers intimate moments of delight and surprise while forcing us to slow down, look again and reject first impressions in favor of a second examination.

Jim Osman, Floating

Big & Small/Casual is a project gallery run by Kate Teale, a painter and sometimes gallerist, whose own work plays with scale and the expectations of size that occur in the viewer’s mind. With this exhibit, Teale has been able to extend her interest in the ambiguous depiction of size by bringing together work that challenges us around what size an art object can be or should be, and taunts us with the awareness of our own physical size in relationship to these diminutive but powerful objects.

Todd Lambrix’s molded felt pieces resemble reproductive organs from indeterminate phylum. Created through molding, rolling and squeezing, they leave a slightly oddball but ephemeral impression—something akin to fallen flowers or organs that will quickly fade into oblivion.

Eung Ho Park, "I'm Looking at You"

Bix Lye’s Unfinished Temple and Vapors of Delphi evoke both classical architecture and sixties pop art with humor but utter sincerity. Both pieces leverage their diminutive scale like bonsai trees to distill and concentrate strength into a small space.

Christian Nguyen’s Modern Surfaces are reminiscent of the time-killing toys that you find in a doctor’s waiting room. But Nguyen applies sophistication and nuance to the design and construction that brings it to an entirely new level. Each piece plays masterfully with transparency, ambient light, reflective color, and space. The size invites us to pick up and reposition the pieces exploring new combinations of light, color, and shadow.

Jim Osman’s series of meticulous painted wood constructions look a bit like a sculptor’s model for a larger piece until you spend a few minutes with them and realize that their charm is wedded to their size.

For details and hours visit their website at www.bigandsmallcasual.net

“Sculpture Garden” at Onderdonk House

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Sarah Bednarek; A Piano Has the Same Mass, Plywood, paint

By Robert Egert
@psychomotikon
May 4 – June 3, 2012

Co-curators Leslie Heller and Deborah Brown have organized this year’s sculpture exhibit on the grounds of the historic Onderdonk House in Ridgewood/Bushwick. Sculpture Garden features 15 pieces by 13 Brooklyn-based artists, that are situated throughout the grounds and in the farmhouse.

Kai Vierstra, "Helft Boog, 2012" (Steel, wood bronze and plaster, 108” x 20” x 46”)

The Vanderende-Onderdonk house is an early eighteenth-century farmhouse located on the border between Ridgewood Queens and Bushwick Brooklyn. It could be something of a mascot for the emerging Ridgewood art scene: It’s a small jewel of green wedged between factories, heavy industry, and a warehouse-sized meat market. The house and its bucolic grounds are in a neighborhood that is otherwise completely devoid of trees and just a short walk from a festering canal. Arriving, the site appears like a mirage out of the mire.

This is the second year that the Onderdonk House has hosted a sculpture exhibit and this year’s is larger and more ambitious than the last. Heller and Brown began the selection process last summer and produced the exhibit without external funding making the show a testament not only to the diversity of talent in the Bushwick community but also to its energy and optimism.

From the main entrance, turn to your right to find MaryKate Mahers’ Mappings for Landscapes, reminiscent of a hangman’s scaffold with a large, menacing boulder precariously perched atop. Mahler’s piece evokes our darker historical associations with eighteenth century American history. The position immediately in front of the house’s main entrance suggests a threat and a reminder of the prevalence of domestic violence in our historical roots.

Reade Bryan’s assembly of copper plumbing pipes and fittings is perhaps a lighthearted attempt to connect the industrial infrastructure that dominates the neighborhood with the garden setting: Pipes emerge from the ground, forming a confused network that end with outlets and valves, as if revealing a mechanistic subterranean world.

Don’t miss Sarah Bednarek’s cut plywood piece, A Piano has the Same Mass, constructed in the language of a snap-together puzzle, or Kai Vierstra’s haunting Helft Boog, a piece that possesses qualities of a stream, a tree, and a sliding pond.

MaryKate Maher, "Mappings for Landscapes, 2012" (Concrete, wood, bronze and resin, 8’ x 4’ x 2’)

The Onderdonk House is open on Saturdays from 1-5pm and will be open during the following hours of BOS weekend:

Friday June 1: 3-7pm
Saturday June 2: 12-7pm
Sunday June 3: 12-5pm, closing reception 3-5 pm

“All The Pretty Things”

Frieze by Luisa Caldwell at b. conte boutique.

Luisa Caldwell "Frieze" at b. conte boutique.

By Julie Turley

b. conte boutique (thru May 23)
167 North 9th St.
Bklyn, NY 11211
(718) 200-0690

I feel a bit sorry for the fabulous frocks at the b. conte boutique on North 9th Street.  Since the end of April, one’s eyes are immediately directed above the merchandise where the work of two local artists, Luisa Caldwell and Mery Lynn McCorkle is on exhibit until May 23rd.  In other words, go now to see art that transforms quotidian, decidedly low-brow materials into something transcendant.

Mery Lynn McCorkle "Diptych" employs glitter in her paintings.

One of the most tenacious and intelligent artists I know, Luisa Caldwell’s central medium is the ephemera of the produce department—fruit stickers.   She radically elevates the quotidian, re-contextualizing what is so familiar. We trash the fruit sticker without a second’s thought, peeling and discarding.   But Luisa makes us look at them, really look at them–as if for the first time, and in the process, gives the humble fruit sticker exuberant, sumptuous and permanent life.

At b. conte, Luisa’s fruit sticker “mosaics” and exploding florals are displayed on rescued materials, and lined up like an architectural frieze above a rack of summer dresses that I could not help rifling through.

To be honest, it was hard to know where to look, especially with Mery Lynn’s sculpturally abstract glitter paintings hanging luminous on a parallel wall.

Works by Mery Lynn McCorkle.

Which in fact, when investigated is discovered that they are rather straight forward depictions of cross sections of cell structures. Mery Lynn’s work underscored how the art currently hanging at b. conte isn’t just conceptually interesting in its approach, it’s also just downright pretty, a pleasure to look at.


Camouflage by Luisa Caldwell

Nitehawk Features Live Scores to Accompany Classic Movies

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The band Morricone Youth specialize in life film scoring. Photo courtesy Nighthawk


By David LaGaccia

In live performances, a musician, a dancer, a singer, an actor will spend weeks in rehearsals, hitting every mark, rehearsing to perfection; but each performance is necessarily filled with unexpected moments, sometimes errors, never to be replicated in just the same way twice.

In spite of what they are called, silent films of yore were rarely silent. It was standard for live musicians to play in a theater providing a musical arrangement for a film, emotional cues for an audience to react to, and even entertainment in its own right for those who wanted to see pianists, violinists, or sometimes a small orchestra perform. A screeching violin can warn us that our favorite actress is in danger; a tapping drum can mimic the hoof beats of a trotting horse, and a sliding horn can tell us when to laugh when Buster Keaton braves death again.

On Sunday, May 13, the Nitehawk Cinema at 136 Metropolitan Avenue carries on this tradition, screening the F. W. Murnau’s 1927 film Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans, featuring live, the band Morricone Youth who score the film.

Nitehawk, which opened about a year ago, has made this a monthly event, playing live scores for such films as Murnau’s Nosferatu, Buster Keaton’s The General, and coming up May 25th, a midnight showing of David Lynch’s Eraserhead with Morricone Youth again providing the soundtrack.

“We take a film from the archives that is visually powerful and we see if can add something to it,” said Mason Rader, one of the director’s of Nitehawk Cinema.

Mason stated that they try to choose films from silent movies to 70’s cult favorites that are “heavy on visuals and light on plot.”

Nitehawk is a cinephile’s theater, specializing in classic movies from the silent era to contemporary cult classics to current independent films. The theater has both digital and 35mm projectors, and general admission starts for adults at $11.

The lobby has a full bar with seats and tables for visitors to hang out in, and the walls are decorated with classic movies posters, and rows of VHS tapes that range from The Nightmare Before Christmas, and concert videos of Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, to the early Diane Lane feature, Ladies and Gentle, the Fabulous Stains, to exploitation films staring the drag queen Divine, all of which will have you begging ‘Can I buy this now!’

This is the video vault, a row of upright display cases that would make most independent video stores jealous. The films are curated by Caryn Coleman, and each week, a film is highlighted on the websites blog with a review, and is screened for free “in glorious VHS,” in the lobby.

The theater has three screens that differ in size. Sunrise was shown in theater 1 and has a large screen and stadium style seating with a small table that couples two seats and holds a menu you can order from, before and during the film. Before each showing, short films relating to the feature film were shown instead of commercials. For Sunrise, classic Disney and Felix the cat cartoons played with a more obscure mix of silent shorts set to contemporary music.

Devon E. Levins’s band, Morricone Youth, is centered right in front of the screen with Devon (on electric guitar), Dan Kessler (on keyboards), John Castro (on bass), Fraser Campbell (on tenor saxophone, clarinet, and flute),  Timur Yusef (on drums), and Karla Moheno as a soloist, a choice unusual even for live scoring.

Mason chose the band with its more modern and unconventional take on classic films because he described himself as “loose,” when it comes to interpretations, and he wants the music to stand out. “I want the band to compete with the film,” he said, adding, “this is art created for art.”

After introductions by Mason, the film begins. The band with small lights shining on their program notes, start in with each member looking up at the screen waiting for their cues. The Sunrise theme begins in with an eerie organ tone and transitions after the opening credits.

The music is modern and the band easily transitions from scene to scene setting the right tone even though the styles range from jazz to surf rock to the films original score. Even the theme from Alfred Hitchcock Presents makes an appearance.

“I was thinking, oh no, they didn’t go too steep up the hill,” said Mason after the show, referring to the Hitchcock piece.

“The Hitchcock part appeared in the original film,” said Devon, “It’s called the Funeral March of the Marionette  by Charles Gounod. People probably laughed and wondered why we did that.”

The band, despite playing with electric instruments and a modern take on the score looked close to the original orchestration for inspiration.

“It’s a matter of respecting it,” said John Castro.

Sunrise, appearing in 1927, was one of the later films of the silent era. A tremendous technical achievement for its time, the film still impresses today with its huge German expressionist sets, and groundbreaking camera work. The film, unlike other silent films at the time, had its own film score, and was a bridge between silent film and “talkies.”

The story is simple. A woman visiting from the city tempts a man from the country to murder his wife and sell his farm so they can run off together. The film has romance, horror, and comedy and is consistently ranked by critics and the American Film Institute as one of the greatest movies ever made. Like many silent films, the movie plays like a fairy tale. It inhabits a world similar to ours of faces and action, but they favor pantomime over speech, and fantasy over realism.

In one scene the woman chooses the method of the murder—drowning—and the title card (which are used sparingly) melts away on the screen while Yusef plays a descending drum roll. Another scene shows a piglet on the run in what looks like a warped version of Coney Island, or any amusement park. After finding a knocked over bottle of wine, the piglet licks the spilled wine, and starts to trip and fall from drunkenness.

“That wine scene, sometimes that scene with the pig, it usually falls flat with me,” said Mason, “But it worked!”

“It’s hard to do comedy, because well, you have to be funny,” said Devon. “I mean whenever you see Charlie Chaplin fall, you have you to do the slide whistle.”

“She was doing nice vocalizations,” Mason said, referring to Karla’s singing, during the rain storm—the climax of the film.

“I really liked how she whistled while the woman whistled,” I said.

Devon mentions that improvisation is a big part of their act.

“We didn’t expect her to do it,” said John. “She was saying all through rehearsals how she was going to do it, and she did!”

“We were thinking we should really try to get her into this,” said Devon. “We start with three or four people and we go from there.”

Morricone Youth, its name a faithful nod to Ennio Morricone, famous for scoring The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly and many other spaghetti westerns, started as a cover band of film scores in 1999, or as Devon put it, “The band started really high energy doing 60’s go-go music, spaghetti westerns influenced music,” and eventually got into doing live scoring for films, seeing that as a “natural progression.”

“It’s what we do, and it’s what we’re into,” said Devon

In 2004, they put out a studio album of original music titled Silenzio Violento, with plans to release another album soon. The band, however has gone through several lineup changes, and in 2006 went on a brief hiatus, but, members Devon Levins and John Castro have stayed throughout.

“We met in the fourth grade, and played together since the 7th grade,” said Devon.

Devon, an avid collector of film soundtrack LPs since he was a kid, is familiar with many composers, many which may be unfamiliar to the average filmgoer, such as Francois de Roubaix, and John Barry. Since 2007 he has hosted a weekly internet radio show on East Village Radio, dedicated to the moving image, and its film composers. “ I love it,” said Devon,“ everybody has a story.”

Months of work goes into these arrangements, with many rehearsals going into them. It took them a couple of months to prepare for Sunrise, with several rehearsals needed just last week. Unlike normal bands that play song to song, Morriconne Youth, like any orchestra, plays nonstop. In the case for Sunrise, it was 95 minutes of constantly following on screen to hit their cues. “ It’s a lot of work,” said Devon, “but we’re used to it.”

“You are basically writing the movie,” said John.

“It’s uncharted territory,” said Devon. “ Like every time you see a great movie you see something different, and every time you hear a great album, you hear something new. What we try to do is put something new in, every time we play.”

The old becomes new again with each new interpretation. F.W. Murnau’s. Sunrise is playing again at the Nitehawk Cinema, Tuesday the 15 at 7:30, with general admission costing $16 for this special live event.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brooklyn Shows Off Its Bands at BAM’s “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” Festival

Annie Clark also known as St. Vincent jumped into the crowded orchestra pit, climbed up the railings to the first rows of the theatre, climbed over several chairs stumbling and crowd surfed back towards the stage.

Singer St. Vincent jumped into the crowded orchestra pit and crowd-surfed back to the stage. Photo by Rebecca Greenfield

By David LaGaccia

And you that shall cross from shore to shore years hence are more to me, and more in my meditations, than you might suppose.” Walt Whitman, Crossing Brooklyn Ferry

If there ever will be a distinct Brooklyn sound, it just played last weekend in one big blast.

Brooklyn is a songwriter whose voice barely resonates over the sound of her guitar amp with twenty fans watching. Brooklyn is a flugelhorn, a trumpet, an accordion, a trombone and a tuba blowing notes about old Santa Fe. Brooklyn is a chorus in blue, surrounding a sea of people. Brooklyn is a black leather skirt in two-inch heels climbing over plush seats and singing into a microphone in an opera house full of screaming fans.

From May 3rd through May 5th the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) hosted over 35 local bands in its first-ever music festival titled Crossing Brooklyn Ferry, and included such bands as The Walkmen, St. Vincent, Sharon Van Etten, Beirut, and The Antlers. Special appearances included Talking Heads’ David Byrne, a late night performance by members of the Grammy award-winning band Arcade Fire, and a DJ set by LCD Soundsystem members Pat Mahoney and Nancy Whang.

For three days, bands played in the three venues provided by BAM Peter Jay Sharp Building in Park Slope, Brooklyn, filling the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House, the BAMcafe, and the BAM Rose Cinemas, with a variety of music and music lovers.

St. Vincent on stage at Crossing Brooklyn Ferry festival. Photo by Rebecca Greenfield

Named after the Walt Whitman poem, the festival was curated by brothers Aaron and Bryce Dessner from the band The National, and was meant to reflect the many musical and cultural tastes of Brooklyn, giving both local and nationally recognized bands a chance to perform in front of their hometown fans.

Folk was there, and so was electronic jazz, cabaret, rock, bubu, chamber pop, stage performance, religious, classical, choral, folk jazz and any mixture of those styles of music.

No genre was discriminated, with the sole criteria to get on the bill being you had to call Brooklyn home.

“They liked my first record, and they asked me to play,” said Heather Woods Broderick, during her solo set in the BAM Rose Cinemas. After she gave thanks to the two brothers for this and previous invitations to play at shows, she picked up her Gibson SG guitar and started into a pop rock arrangement of Leadbelly’s “Goodnight, Irene” with Zeke Hutchins and Doug Keith backing up on drums and bass.

Later that evening, Heather, Zeke, Doug, and as well as Aaron Dessner, backed up Thursday night headliner Sharon Van Etten in the Howard Gilman Opera House. Before each song, Heather and Sharon faced each other, held up their guitars, and smiled with excitement, acknowledging that they were ready to begin.

This spirit of musical collaboration held throughout the three days.

yMusic, the classical sextet played a piece during it’s opening day set titled “Proven Badlands,” written by St. Vincent’s Annie Clark. Throughout the weekend, the acclaimed group went on to back up such acts as Jherek Bischoff, and My Brightest Diamond, with individual members playing with still even more bands such as the NOW Ensemble.

Bryce and Aaron Dessner also both performed in the festival, supporting musicians as spectators in the crowd and joining them on stage.

One highlight on Saturday included Bryce playing guitar with 45 girls and boys from the Brooklyn Youth Chorus. The children, all dressed in blue, began their set with a hymn, surrounding the sitting crowd of parents and the curious. After three minutes, the chorus transitioned into a choral performance composed by Bryce, titled, “To The Sea.” Shara Worden from My Brightest Diamond later accompanied him, performing as a soloist for the set.

Praise and thanks for the brothers were heard from many if not all of the acts that played.

“A lot of thanks has to go to Bryce and Aaron and the kind people at BAM,” said Bradford Cox, during the middle of his great performance, playing under the name Atlas Sound. “I’d say this is one of the best places I’ve played.”

Beirut on stage at Crossing Brooklyn Ferry festival. Photo by Mike Benigno

Despite having great crowds for all three nights, several of the headlining acts had trouble connecting with the audience. If fact, many of the bands barely interacted with audience, instead going from one song to the other.

Sharon Van Etten had such a mixed response during her set that in between songs she asked, “Are you guys all right, because I’m getting a weird vibe.” The Brooklyn singer songwriter, who was supporting the release of her new album, “Tramp” looked uncomfortable on the big stage of the Howard Gilman Opera House, but nonetheless put on a good show.

Tyondai Braxton also put on a good performance, creating and mixing on the spot, loops that ranged from space rock synthesizers to fuzz guitar riffs that would fit in with the glam rock of T. Rex or Gary Glitter. But again, he received a mixed response from the crowd who may have just been unfamiliar with his work or of that genre of music.

These reactions may have been caused by the diversity of the acts at the festival rather than the performance of the musicians. It would be hard to expect fans who came to see the religious themed band The Yehundim to show the same enthusiastic reaction to the hard rocking drums of Caveman just an hour later.

Aaron and Bryce may have had good intentions to try to represent an entire musical sound of the community, but in doing so, the whole show felt less cohesive than it should have. Many of the acts felt more like individual parts than a great Brooklyn musical invention.

Another problem was with the scheduling of the acts. Many of the smaller bands had to play during the same time slots of the more nationally recognized bands; in consequence they drew fewer crowds. In particular, the Yellowbirds and Hubble played in the cramped Rose Cinemas movie theatre during same time The Walkmen and St. Vincent were playing to full capacity crowds in the opera house.

Brooklyn Youth Chorus. Photo by Mike Benigno

Even so, many of the headliners lived up to and exceeded expectations. St. Vincent and Beirut in particular stood out not only playing to the crowd, but energizing them as well.

The best musicians know how to conduct their audience like a separate instrument, tuning them and strumming them as easily as a guitar, creating a unique arrangement for their songs; they perform an unseen voodoo ritual that forces all to rise and all to clap and all to sing and all to stomp and all to dance even in seats designed for black ties and ivory opera glasses.

Annie Clark, or St. Vincent as she is known on stage had crowds flowing into the aisles of the opera house. She performed hard rocking arrangements of her songs “Cheerleader;” “Dilettante;” “Actor Out Of Work;” “Cruel;” and “Black Rainbow.” Her performance included a theremin solo, and for her last song, with microphone in hand and 2-inch heels strapped on, jumped into the crowded orchestra pit, climbed up the railings to the first rows of the theatre, climbed over several chairs stumbling and crowd surfed back towards the stage.

Beirut had a similar energetic performance thanks to the passionate flugelhorn and ukulele playing of Zach Condon and fellow bandmates Perrin Cloutier, Nick Petree, Paul Collins, Kelly Pratt, and Ben Lanz. After seeing them live and play a song like “Santa Fe,” you’ll have the urge to run to the closest music store, and start blowing on the nearest trumpet.

Bryce Dessner performs with Brooklyn Youth Chorus. Photo by Mike Benigno

Aside from a few problems regarding scheduling, the whole festival played great, and will be welcomed if it becomes an annual event complimenting Williamsburg’s waterfront concerts. Considering this was BAM’s first time ever holding a festival of this size, it should be seen as a wonderful first time effort will hopefully more to come.

The Considerate Cyclist: The current state of cycling in NYC

Photo by Allen Ying

Photo by Allen Yin

by A.P. Smith

The Accident Investigation Squad

Last month, Council Member Stephen Levin put forward legislation, paired with an open letter to Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, that would require the NYPD to follow the state law requiring cops to investigate collisions involving bicycles that result in serious physical injury. Currently, the NYPD is only mandated to investigate collisions where the police believe “death is likely.” In addition, the Accident Investigation Squad (AIS) employs only 23 officers who are responsible for investigating fatal accidents citywide. Levin’s proposed legislation would increase that number to 380.

The proposal comes after a series of tragic accidents involving motor vehicles and bicycles where no investigation was conducted, or the investigation was botched by non-collection or withholding of evidence. That was the case in the recent death of Mathieu Lefevre, 30, an artist who was killed in Williamsburg by a truck driver who left the scene of the accident and who did not face criminal charges.

A year earlier, cyclist Michelle Matso, 30, was the victim of a hit-and-run in Greenpoint that critically injured her, and her boyfriend who was also struck by the car. Matso’s skull was fractured, her spine broken, and her lower left leg shattered. No investigation was conducted because the NYPD AIS determined that Matso’s injuries were not life threatening.

Needless to say, these two cases exemplify extreme tragedy. As a bicyclist in NYC, they have been a wake-up call for me and have sent me on a research binge to determine what rights and responsibilities cyclists have in this city—and around the nation.

For instance, by law, motorists in New York must carry no-fault and minimum liability insurance. So it is most likely that a bicyclist involved in an accident has at least medical coverage from the motorist to treat her or his injuries, regardless of whose fault the accident may be.

Another piece of information to keep in mind is that, when in an accident, or shortly thereafter, your injuries may seem insignificant, or you may feel just fine. But symptoms of internal injuries can take hours, or even days, to show up. Our bodies are delicate, and even minor injuries to ankles, knees, hands, or wrists can become impairments if not cared for properly.

Please be safe and cautious on your bicycle. While the city and the NYPD may not be eager to help you, there are bicycle advocacy groups like Transportation Alternatives (TransAlt.org), BikeBlogNYC.com, BikeNewYork.com, and BikeSafeNYC.com that can be excellent resources for New York City cyclists.

Image of Bicycle Accident Report card (wallet-size).

The Bicyclist’s Accident Report

The Bicyclist’s Accident Report is a business card–sized pamphlet that every NYC cyclist should have. Conceived by Josh Zisson, a bicycle lawyer from Boston, the card was designed by Tim Jacques and distributed in NYC by Article an artistic publishing house creating art zines, apparel, albums and films. Visit ArticleMethod.com for a list of brick-and-mortar locations carrying the card.

Zisson started his Boston law firm just over a year ago to practice bike law. “It’s sort of an awkward situation when you’ve just been hit by a car,” he says. “No one really knows the protocol when you’re on a bike. The idea that you need to get the driver’s information at the scene immediately is what I wanted to convey to cyclists. Thinking about the accident reports that AAA gives you to keep in the glove box of your car, I thought it was a good idea to make one for bicyclists that you could keep in your wallet.”

While Zisson has always been an avid cyclist, what really brought his attention to Massachusetts state bike law was when a friend of his got doored. “I was the first person she called,” he says. “She was at the scene, she didn’t know what to do, and I did my best to talk her through it.” Zisson then referred the case to a personal injury firm he had worked at. And while he didn’t have his own firm at that point, he was able to work on the case. This was in 2009, only a few months after Massachusetts passed the 2009 Bike Safety Law, which Zisson describes as “some of the most comprehensive bike laws in the country—really fantastic, well-drafted, and it provides unparalleled protection for cyclists.” It was then that Zisson knew he could build a practice around bike law.

Since initially publishing the Massachusetts Bicyclist Accident Report cards, Zisson has developed a network of distributors in over ten cities, with over 80,000 cards in circulation, and growing. He is putting finishing touches on cards for Hoboken, NJ; San Luis Obispo, CA; and Chicago. “We’re rolling them out as quickly as we can put them together,” and says he will visit NYC in May, for “Bike Month,” with a focus on distributing cards.

Each card is tailored to the unique bike laws of its state and city, and includes a toll free number for injured cyclists to call for legal referral: 1-800-564-BIKE. When cyclists call the number, they are connected with a bike-law specialist who records the details of the crash and refers them to a qualified bike lawyer in their city. “The attorneys in the Bike Safe referral network are carefully vetted to ensure that they are not only competent and experienced, but also committed to biking and bike advocacy,” says Zisson.

You are not alone! Please join the Bike Safe Network and support bicycle advocacy nationwide. If you’re ever in a bike accident, take down all the information you can about the vehicle, the driver, any witnesses (including phones and addresses) and call 1-800-564-BIKE or visit BikeSafeNYC.com

Cards are included with all online purchases on his website, and can be found at the following locations around New York City:

Brooklyn

King Kog
453 Graham Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11222
347-689-2299

Bicycle Station
171 Park Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11205
718-638-0300

3rd Ward
195 Morgan Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11237
718-715-4961

Bicycle Habitat
476 5th Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11215
718-788-2543

Atlantic Bicycle
278 Atlantic Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11201
718-625-9633

Manhattan

Bicycle Habitat
244 & 250 Lafayette St.
New York, NY 10012
212-431-3315

If you would like to distribute The Bicyclist’s Accident Report, please e-mail: info@articlemethod.com.

Bike Laws NYC

A sampling of laws—some common sense, others not…From the New York City Department of Transportation, Janette Sadik-Khan, Commissioner

§ 4-02 (a) – Compliance with and Effect of Traffic Rules

The provisions of NYC Traffic Rules are applicable to bicycles and their operators.

§ 4-12 (e) – Driver’s hand on steering device

Driver of a bicycle must have hand on steering device or handlebars.

§ 4-12 (p) – Bicycles

Bicycle riders must use bike path or lane, if provided, except for access, safety, turns, etc. // Other vehicles shall not drive on or across bike lanes except for access, safety, turns, etc. // Bicyclists may use either side of a 40-foot-wide one-way roadway.

§ 19-176 – Bicycles operation on sidewalks prohibited

Bicycles ridden on sidewalks may be confiscated and riders may be subject to legal sanctions.

§ 375 (24-a) – Equipment

Rider cannot wear more than one earphone attached to radio, tape player, or other audio device while riding.

§ 1236 – Lamps and other equipment

White headlight and red taillight must be used from dusk to dawn // Bell or other audible signal (not whistle) required // Working brakes required // Reflective tires and/or other reflective devices required.

BIKE FACTS

There are roughly one billion bicycles in the world, about twice as many as motor vehicles.

Americans use their bicycles for less than 1% of all urban trips. Europeans bike in cities a lot more often—in Italy 5% of all trips are on bicycle, 30% in the Netherlands. And seven out of eight Dutch people over the age of 15 have a bike.

The first bike path in America opened in Brooklyn in 1894.

According to Transportation Alternatives (TransAlt.org), 10% of New York City’s work force (approximately 65,000 people) commute by bicycle.

More people are killed in traffic accidents than by guns in New York City. According to a study by the city’s Department of Health, someone died in city traffic every 29 hours, on average, from 2005 to 2009.

The NYPD issued more summonses to cyclists than truck drivers last year: truckers got 14,962 moving violation summonses and 10,415 Criminal Court summonses, while cyclists got 13,743 moving violation summonses and a whopping 34,813 Criminal Court summonses.

According to the city Department of Transportation, driver negligence is responsible for more than 60% of all crashes in which pedestrians or bicyclists are killed or injured.

Drivers killed 241 pedestrians or cyclists last year. Only 17 of the drivers responsible faced criminal charges.

A study found almost three-quarters of fatal crashes (74%) in NYC involved a head injury, and that nearly all bicyclists who died (97%) were not wearing a helmet. Helmets have been found to be 85% effective in preventing head injury.

Only 13 states have no state or local helmet laws at all: Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont, and Wyoming.

—APSmithNYC@gmail.com

Tourist-burg-point-wick. Yes, It Is Happening—Tourism and Williamsburg Converge

Screen Shot 2012-05-09 at 3.04.28 PM

By Mary Yeung

Even after The Deluge, they kept coming. Tourism in New York City has never been more robust after 9/11. Back in 2002, while some tourists canceled their visits, there were more than enough curiosity seekers to take their place. The truth is, when  the world focuses their attention on a single epic event taking place in a famous city like New York,  some of those people will want to make their next trip a pilgrimage.

Last year, fifty million tourists visited New York City, compared to 35 million in 2001. Economists will tell you that the weak dollar has made vacationing in America a relative bargain. But that doesn’t explain why tourism in the rest of the United States declined by 2% last year, while it was up 2.5% in New York City. Mayor Bloomberg, understandably, would like to take a lot of the credit, citing quality of life issues (the beautification of public spaces like the High Line, and park-like traffic islands throughout the City). The Mayor also credits his effective overseas marketing campaign, conducted by NYC & Company, the agency charged with promoting the City.

In 2006, he merged three separate marketing departments—NYC & Company, NYC Big Events, and NYC Marketing—to create one powerhouse promotional agency. (The Comptroller’s office is not so happy with NYC & Company right now, but that is a whole other story.) This March, NYC & Company announced that it had set a goal of steering over 55 million visitors to the Big Apple by 2015, with a laser-like on the 18- to 29-year-old youth market. Currently, the youth market makes up about 30% of the total, but most of that is domestic tourism, not foreign. The city plans to host many special events that would appeal to young people, and help them find affordable lodging and eateries.

It is estimated that tourists spent a whopping 32 billion dollars in New York City last year, and that 1 in 9 jobs in New York are in the tourist industry. Of course, most of those tourist dollars are spent in Manhattan, but Brooklyn is getting its share too. The borough with a million bloggers and countless award-winning and best-selling authors is doing a pretty good job of tooting its own horn. Brooklyn is now a world brand! We’re on T-shirts, pickle jars, and beer bottles. Brooklyn’s most enthusiastic cheerleader, Borough President Marty Markowitz, estimates that over 11 million tourists visited Kings County last year. Apparently, foreigners love Coney Island, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and hipster-clogged Williamsburg.

For tourists looking for a different vibe, Williamsburg and Greenpoint are perfect for tourists looking for a different vibe. It’s only one stop away from Manhattan, so they can’t get lost. They get to experience real outer borough neighborhoods with quirky eateries, a fancy winery, a steam punk brewery, a sushi-fied bowling alley, authentic biergartens, hip music venues, edgy art galleries, and lots and lots of shops that sell other people’s discarded clothes. Who else has a theater where you can enjoy a gourmet dinner while watching The Hunger Games? Not Manhattan! Where else can you get a tour of a glamorous wastewater treatment plant, complete with a nature walk? Not Queens! Even the creative wall murals (a.k.a. graffiti) are a big draw for street-art lovers everywhere. They come with their geeky iPhones and end up sending bizarre, bold-colored images to every corner of the globe. Look! It’s trippy Williamsburg!

So many establishments in Williamsburg are blogger darlings. Restaurants like Marlow & Sons, Egg, Fatty Cue, Pies and Thighs, Dressler, Peter Luger, Spuyten Duyvil, Maison Premiere, and Fette Sau have their own foodie followings. In June, the Brooklyn Film Festival wheels in film fans to IndieScreen Cinema. In the summer, the waterfront features Brooklyn Flea and Smorgasburg that bring in vintage shoppers and adventurous eaters. Greenpoint’s art scene also attracts lots of new visitors. It’s almost the perfect neighborhood to live in right now, with old world Polish butcher shops, pay-what-you-wish yoga studios, fashion shops, and good restaurants.

Starting in 2008, Williamsburg saw the opening of three hotels and a youth hostel. The first to open was Hotel Le Jolie, a well-priced, 62-room hotel on Meeker Avenue. The location is not what you would call glamorous (it faces the BQE), but it is steps away from the L train and the main shopping district. The rooms are small, yet tastefully decorated, and each comes with a very large plasma screen TV. Amenities include a cozy breakfast area, and a business center nook with faxing and free wi-fi. For the budget-minded traveler, it’s a pretty good deal. Rates start at $159 off peak and go up to $200 to $300 during peak seasons. The top floor has a view of the Manhattan skyline for people with good eyesight.

The boutique hotel in North Williamsburg is King & Grove’s Williamsburg. Just two months ago it was known as “The Hotel Williamsburg,” but Graves Hospitality sold the 64-room hotel to King & Grove Management for $33 million in March. The building sports an infinity pool, a terrace bar, and a 100-seat subterranean restaurant. Half the rooms face McCarren Park. Nightly rates are $295 to $3,500 (for a large two-bedroom suite), on a par with upscale Manhattan hotels. The decor is hip and sleek, but the new management is doing additional work on the place, so there is no telling what it will look like after they redecorate. Whether or not the staff gets to keep their designer industrial-chic uniforms (designed by Brooklyn Industries) is anyone’s guess. King & Grove also operates Hotel Chelsea, which you may remember as the legendary artists’ haven, the Chelsea Hotel on 23rd Street.

This May, the Wythe Hotel on the waterfront (80 Wythe Avenue) will be open for business. This 1901 brick building had a former life as a textile factory. The architect preserved some original details, such as the concave corner entrances, arched windows, cast iron columns, and original pine beams. The interior has been revamped and the brick wall facing the Manhattan skyline has been replaced with floor-to-ceiling windows. Built with partial government subsidies, this mid-price hotel is especially designed to fit into the Williamsburg music and food culture. There are 74 guest rooms, with two “band” rooms that can sleep four to six people and that are oh-so-conveniently located near the bar area. Rooms at the Wythe can be had for as low as $179. Rooms that feature the Manhattan skyline go from $295 to $495. The hotel is designed to host special events, like art exhibits and food book festivals. There is a 60-seat screening room. The ground floor restaurant and the rooftop bar are operated by Andrew Tarlow of Marlow & Sons fame, so expect innovative American fare from Chef Sean Rembold. The hotel is built by Two Trees Management.

For visitors on a tight budget, there is Zip 112, located at 112 North 6th Street, where you can score a bed in a dorm for 69 bucks. The decor is pretty bare bones. We are talking about bunk beds and not much else, but it’s a great location, surrounded by cafés, restaurants, bars, and shops. The Brooklyn Flea and Artists & Fleas are just a few short blocks away.

For an even cheaper stay, you’ll have to take the L train to Morgan Avenue and check into the New York Loft Hostel on 249 Varet Street. This old factory building has been transformed into one of the coolest hostels in town. I love all the colorful graphics on the walls and doors. It’s more bunk beds in small rooms and single beds in large dorm rooms again. Beds are $29 a night (less in the winter) and private rooms $100 (or $50 a bed if you share). The pros: edgy galleries, fantastic street art, and trendy eateries that serve exciting fare: Roberta’s, Momo Sushi bar, North East Kingdom, Torilleria Mexicana Los Hermanos, Life Café, and Cafe Orwell are great places to dine. The cons: It’s a warehouse district, so it’s wise to take car service at night. The hostel itself has an irrepressibly youthful energy. There’s an open backyard where weekend BBQ parties are held, a large communal kitchen, and a hot tub! Most customers are young Europeans and Japanese, although the manager, Esteban Liberati, says he had one hip French couple in their 70s who loved their stay. “They had a private room and they were cool with the place,” he says. NY Loft Hostel is designed and built by Argentinian developer Juan Figueroa.

Last year, Figueroa also purchased the Williamsburg Savings Bank, a beloved domed landmark, from HSBC bank. Immediately, rumors began to fly that this Renaissance-inspired 1870 building (175 Broadway) would soon be turned into a swanky hotel. Thus far the whole renovation project is very hush-hush. The latest word is that it will be a special events venue, with a stunning banquet hall. The two big steel vaults will be transformed into stylish bars. Well, that’s the rumor anyhow…

Over the years, Williamsburg has ceded some of its counterculture cred to Bushwick, but it remains a creative place, just with a lot more middle-class amenities, like cinemas, outdoor cafés, ferries, quirky fashion shops, home decor stores, a new state park, etc. Many young families, artists, and writers are hoping they can stay for a while. They want to build a future here, and that is good news for Williamsburg, because a neighborhood created for the sole purpose of capturing tourist dollars will be a soulless place. Let’s hope Williamsburg can gracefully straddle worlds, be a fun and creative playground for locals and visitors, and a warm and stable environment where long-term residents can get jobs, build memories, traditions, and a shared history.

OP/ED Property Rich and Under-Served

Real Estate Rich Cash Poor

By Albert Goldson

Our favorite 21st-century bad guys—banks and hedge funds—are aggressively entering the real-estate market nationwide, buying pools of foreclosed properties from Fannie Mae and selling them to developers at a profit, according to a March 19 Wall Street Journal article. The developers then convert these former condo properties into rentals and reap a hefty profit. But why should we care?

The trend of converting condos to rentals is most intense in Williamsburg, where the average rent has increased 10% over the past year, particularly for multi-family dwellings. The result has been a quiet reverse exodus of rental residents from the 1990s who had the intention of living long-term in Williamsburg-Greenpoint, but who couldn’t afford to buy property due to gentrification. I’m sure you know neighbors who moved out (sometimes to Manhattan no less!) because the rents in Williamsburg were “too damn high.”

The immediate and steady cash flow from rentals for the developers is exceptionally tempting. For example, renting a 100-unit building takes months, as opposed to years for sales in a similarly sized condo building. The 113-unit condo at 175 Kent Avenue rented out in six months. Because of this demand, Williamsburg is engaged in that exclusive Manhattan ritual—rental bidding wars.

These dynamic economic shifts are also rapidly changing the political landscape. The demographic trends point to a vastly greater population of transient residents, with little long-term interest in the community, who will outnumber the property owners and long-term rental residents. With additional mega-development projects targeting renters, the core constituency will be in the extreme minority and lose political clout. In a perverse twist of demand and supply vs. politics, owners will benefit from higher property values.

Higher property values means higher property taxes. In this rapid demographic shift, it results in taxation without adequate representation for property owners. In other words, they’ll be real-estate rich, but politically poor, the new under-served. In America, outnumbered means outvoted.

The activists and influencers of Williamsburg-Greenpoint have a huge challenge. Because big corporations apply the “divide & conquer” strategy to obtain what they want, they’ll pit the newly arrived residents, who are accustomed to Starbucks, Duane Reade, and Whole Foods on every other block, against the low-maintenance, long-term residents. That’s why it will be more difficult for the long-term Williamsburg-Greenpoint residents to persuade the newcomers that over-development—Manhattanization—is detrimental to the quality of life expected in the outer boroughs.

Furthermore, we must convince community leaders to support long-term solutions to ensure a good quality of life and controlled, managed, and responsible development in collaboration with the needs of the entire neighborhood. The trickiest part is trying to define the ever-changing constituency, particularly with this year’s major elections looming on the horizon, and for 2013.

—agoldson888@gmail.com

Albert Goldson is an architectural and engineering contract manager specializing
in transportation mega-projects, energy, and urban planning. He has been a resident of
Williamsburg for ten years and is an internationalist and jazz aficionado.

Kyoung eun Kang’s “Steps” at HERE Arts Center

Self-portrait, Mother by Kyoung eun Kang

Review by Robert Egert
@psychomotikon

It’s probably accurate to say that what we call the self is undergoing profound changes as a result of technology and globalization. Social networks entangle and confuse our professional, personal and familial relations. Meanwhile, political and geographic boundaries begin to appear antiquated in the face of a rapidly expanding global network.

"Self-portrait, Mother" by Kyoung eun Kang

Against this backdrop, Kyoung eun Kang explores the changing nature of the self in a world of blurred boundaries and cultural contradictions and makes this the subject of her multimedia installation Steps at HERE Arts Center.

Using video, sound, photography, and drawing Kang probes her own boundaries as a Korean artist living in the United States and her familial and cultural roots. The ten pieces that comprise the installation are distinct, but cumulatively they suggest ways for us to reexamine identity across personal and cultural lines. Kang’s subjects range from the genetic connections within her own family to the impact on identity of immigration status.

Growing up in a small village in rural Korea, Kang’s family had no plumbing and she remembers the sound of family members urinating into a small vessel. In River, Kang has layered recordings of each of her family members urinating. The resulting river of sound (more woodsy than bathroom) gives form to genetic lineage– creating a surprisingly evocative soundscape of a multigenerational family.

This intimate piece, placed at the crux of a stairway, serves as the emotional and genetic hub of the installation. From here, the other pieces radiate out to explore different aspects of individual identity and physical and social boundaries.

"Partners 3" by Kyoung Eun Kang

Partners explores the unique physical distance that individuals maintain in public spaces, while the subtext may be the strange loneliness of a crowd. In this three-screen video, Kang invades the personal space of strangers in Union Square Park, standing too close for comfort without any verbal interaction.

Self-portrait, Father/Self-portrait, Motherexplores the nature of memory in the context of facial recognition and identity. The piece features photographic portraits of Kang’s mother and father holding large stones that obscure their faces. Kang is forced to remember (and we are forced to imagine) the actual faces behind the stone masks. The more we look, the more nuanced the stone masks become, communicating real or imagined personal traits.

"Self-portrait, Father" by Kyoung Eun Kang

In Flower Man, Keoung explores the elusive presence of Mexican immigrants that work in Korean-owned markets selling flowers. Carefully avoiding revealing the faces of her subjects, we see each flower seller hand a flower to a Kang. As immigrants who prefer to keep their identity secret, the flower men have a subterranean identity. Flower Man portrays this subpopulation, that is often almost invisible, with simple dignity and clarity.

HERE
145 Sixth Ave. ?(enter on Dominick Street one block south of Spring), NY, NY 10013
212.647.0202

http://here.org/shows

PHIL ON FIRE: What’s Up With Domino? / Problems at Northside Piers

I have received countless emails and phone calls regarding the problems development partners CPCR and Isaac Katan are having at the former Domino refinery, which was rezoned for up to 2,200 units of housing. CPCR and Katan purchased the site in 2004 for 55 million dollars.

This is a very complex story that is impossible to explain in one article, but in a nutshell, the developers were given a huge density bonus on the premise that they were going to build 660 units of affordable housing, even though there is no legal obligation for them to do so. Now, it seems that the main developer, CPCR, has defaulted on its loans and is having financial problems, and that CPCR has agreed to give its lender, Pacific Coast Capital, an 84 percent stake in the property in exchange for forgiving its debt. Also, the current partner, Isaac Katan, is suing CPCR. Katan claims that CPCR has mismanaged the project for eight years. Katan wants to block the sale of the site to Pacific Coast Capital. His lawsuit alleges “breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, negligent performance,” according to the court filing.

Katan’s lawsuit also alleges that CPCR “has effectively depleted all of Refinery’s available capital, while virtually no construction work has been performed,” adding that the ownership is “devoid of operating budget.” So, while this nasty legal battle develops, no development (which was supposed to begin last year) is going on at the site.

I did not support this project. I felt the impact on the community’s infrastructure would be overwhelming. Many my fears were confirmed in the environmental impact statement, but the plan was passed without any remedy to the problems this rezoning presented. I continue to support a plan to turn the former refinery into a Brooklyn version of the Tate Modern, in London, one of the top attractions in the UK. The vision is for the site to become a mixed-use cultural hub that includes galleries, event spaces, a hotel, and a marina, as well as 200 affordable housing units. It’s also important to note that the 200 affordable units would be based on community area median income (AMI), rather than the citywide AMI formula that was used to create the 660 units CPCR proposed. Only 100 units in the CPCR proposal are affordable to residents based on community AMI . The Tate Modern also generates revenue of $205.5 million per annum for London overall, and it’s estimated the museum is worth between $102.7 and $143.8 million in revenue for the borough of Southwark alone. The museum project would also generate additional tax dollars because tourists would go to nearby businesses.

Look at what the High Line did for the surrounding community on the West Side of Manhattan. A Brooklyn version of the Tate Modern could have the same beneficial financial effect in Williamsburg. But now it seems that the Domino refinery will remain dormant for the foreseeable future. Stay tuned as this story develops!

Toll Brothers acknowledge problems at Northside Piers

Last March, I tried to help residents of Northside Piers who were having problems with the build quality of their units. Defective windows, mold, improper insulation, and faulty plumbing, sewage, heating, and air conditioning systems were some of the complaints I heard about as I spoke to residents at meetings and at their homes. When my article “Luxury Living is Taking a Toll, Brother!” that was posted on thewgnews.com, March 21, 2011, and was followed up by the New York Post article “Williamsburg waterfront condo residents complain of ‘shoddy’ construction” on March 23, 2011, the Toll Brothers responded by putting out a statement claiming, “We are aware of these isolated situations and strongly disagree with the allegations as they have been presented,” adding that the firm “will continue to honor its obligations and provide the quality and customer service for which it is known.”

A little over a year later, Toll Brothers have changed their tune. They filed a lawsuit this past April 12, against Allan Window Technologies and Kreisler Borg Florman General Construction, claiming the windows and their installation were defective. The Toll Brothers have now admitted that the building has a major flaw, and the residents who went public with this issue have been vindicated.

Some residents who went public with their complaints were chastised by other residents who were looking to get out of the building, or who feared losing value on their property. But they were wise to go public since the Toll Brothers were unwilling to face this issue until the WG got involved. Hopefully, the Toll Brothers will address the other issues with the building that residents still face, and make Northside Piers a quality place to live.