Peep Show @ Le Grand Strip, a Vintage Boutique

Nina wears a 1940s Nina Ricci pinup bathing suit under a 1980s cropped cardigan with a sailor hat.

YOU didn’t stand outside in the freezing cold watching this window display peep show at Le Grand Strip, last month. But we did. And Victoria Stillwell bravely took many photos of a bunch of pretty girls in vintage summer wear. Here they are. Photos by the lovely Victoria Stillwell

Hope poses in her 40s silver pinup bathing suit.

Le Grand Strip
197 Grand Street
Williamsburg, Bklyn 11211
(718) 599-3525

Coco opening the “Synchronized Attitude” summer 2013 vintage fashion show for Le Grand Strip.

Tiffany sports a pink one-piece crochet 70s bikini under an Escada knit cardigan.

Tiffany demonstrates what strategic 70s crochet placement can do for her!

Hope in a 70s hot pink, circus-star print, lycra one-piece swim suit.

The Cast (clockwise): Hope (wearing star lycra), Tiffany, Faith, Tanya, Katiana, Shakiko, CC, Masako, Coco, and Nina.

Masako rocks a 60s two-piece boy shorts and matching white cotton halter ensemble topped by an authentic US navy sailor hat.

Nina wears a 40s Nina Ricci pinup bathing suit under an 80s cropped cardigan with a sailor hat.

Masako dropped her long knit cardigan to flaunt her 70s disco two-piece black and gold bikini.

Katiana adjusting her 1940s hat before showtime.

Coco performs a French erotic dance in a 70s disco lycra playsuit and red leather thigh high boots.

Hope wrapped in a 1970s white lycra “Beatles” officer blazer.

Shakiko in 60s lycra aqua-patterned one-piece topped with a cropped white, mini bolero.

Shakiko in 60s lycra aqua-patterned one-piece.

Tiffany blows kisses in her 70s lyra sequined one piece.

Faith wearing a “Dynasty” sequined blazer over a boycut sequined black beach romper.

Katiana conceals her two-piece bikini behind a floor length tweed unbuttoned 80s dress.

Backstage at Le Grand Strip: Faith, Shakiko, and Tanya rock Indian jewelry headpieces.

The Cast (clockwise): Hope (in star lycra), Tiffany, Faith, Tanya, Katiana, Shakiko, CC, Masako, Coco, and Nina.

Curtain call (l to r): CC, Coco, Katiana, Faith, and Tiffany.

Curtain call (l to r): Hope, Coco, Shakiko, Tanya, Katiana, and Faith.

A New Charter HS in Bushwick

Screen Shot 2013-03-18 at 8.00.25 PM

By Tobias Salinger / Photo by Meryl Measlier
The director of a charter high school set to open next fall in Bushwick, Brooklyn doesn’t mind offering delivery service.

“I tell everyone, ‘I will come to your house and pick up the application myself,’” said Arthur Samuels of MESA Charter High School. “And I’ve done that.”

The 34-year-old Harvard Law School and Columbia Teachers alum, whose full-time teaching experience consists of seven years working on college enrollment in West Roxbury, Mass and New York City charter high schools, says he’s ready to offer up his school to neighborhood parents.

“We were really looking for a place where we could be something that the community really wanted and something the community felt it needed,” said Samuels.

Though Bushwick parents may need new options, Samuels is hoping to share space with two public schools at a neighborhood middle school—a typically fraught arrangement.

The independent charter will make its first impact on the two schools already located at IS 291 Roland Hayes. Placing several schools on one campus can create stark borders between students, critics say.

“You have one school in one part of the school with these dope computers, and, 5 feet away in another classroom, you don’t have these things,” said Deshaun Mars, who mentors Bushwick remedial students at Good Shepherd Services.

But Samuels’ outreach efforts have garnered support. Cynthia Velez of the Bushwick Community Partnership Program, a neighborhood improvement group, supports MESA. She said in a phone interview that she’s trying to quell resistance to MESA from staff at the Bushwick Community High School, the other school on the campus.

“I told them that this is a great opportunity to be a part of something in the community that’s something different,” said Velez, who has raised six children in Bushwick. “It’s something that will be an outlet to college and the working field.”

Both Jacqueline Rosado, principal of IS 291, and Llermi Gonzalez, principal of Bushwick Community High School, declined requests for comment.

Charter schools can provoke controversy wherever they are located.

“I think a big part of it is that they’re touted as a solution,” said Vanessa Martir, a Bushwick native and writing teacher at the Bushwick School for Social Justice. “I don’t think there’s enough research and evidence to support that.”

Samuels employs diplomacy amidst such contentious issues. The newcomer to Bushwick acknowledged that sharing a campus is a “tough thing” which “creates an imposition on everybody.” But he emphasized that his school is not designed to discredit neighborhood teachers.

“I am not, nor would I ever, disparage anyone who is working in education and working with kids who haven’t had an opportunity for a quality education,” said Samuels, who asked that his cell phone number be printed with the article.

Velez said Samuels won her over after she “grilled him” for three hours about MESA.

“I just feel that the way Mr. Samuels has brought his school to the neighborhood and spoken to us in the community shows his school is going to be very open and welcoming to the children and families in the community,” she said.

That openness takes on special meaning in a Spanish-speaking neighborhood. MESA’s state application outlined plans to reserve space for kids learning English and hire a language specialist. The application, which gained approval from the Board of Regents in October 2012, included a supportive letter from Vanessa Leung, the secretary of the Citywide Council on English Language Learners.

She said in a phone interview that MESA’s founders had made “a sincere effort and commitment to meet the needs of the Bushwick community.” She noted the importance of setting the right tone in a district which, enrollment figures show, is 99 percent non-white.

“The key thing is that you need to go in not saying you want to do this ‘for’ the community, but saying that you want to do this ‘with’ the community,” said Leung.

MESA will now try to gain applications from parents who often choose schools outside the community.

“I really didn’t like the other high schools in Bushwick, so that’s why I put them in school in Manhattan,” said Bushwick parent Elsa Ramroop about her two eldest children.

The numbers show Bushwick parents are indeed sending their children elsewhere. Though 8,630 15 to 19-year-olds live in Bushwick, according to the Census, only 2,950 students enrolled in neighborhood high schools, according to figures from the city Department of Education.

But Ramroop said by telephone that she and her 13-year-old son, Roger, decided to apply to MESA. The school, whose name stands for “Math, Engineering and Science Academy,” spoke to Roger’s scientific curiosity. And Ramroop noted that “parents will have a lot of say” at MESA.

“You know your children, so you know which ones you have to be involved with more,” said Ramroop. “He needs a little push once in a while.”

Samuels and other MESA organizers will seek to provide that motivation with “college bound” classes for students. The required daily sessions from ninth grade up will educate students on the importance of college and focus on writing, research and the application process. Samuels designed and implemented the program at his previous post at East Harlem’s Renaissance Charter High School for Innovation.

The city’s Panel for Educational Policy voted on final approval for MESA’s plans on March 11.

“There’s no MESA in other neighborhoods,” said Samuels, who noted he’s received almost 50 applications so far. “Our only goal is to create a really good college preparatory school for the 125 students next fall, and, ultimately, the 500 who will attend. That’s our only agenda.”

Traditional Easter Pies at Lorimer Market

Screen Shot 2013-03-28 at 12.31.58 PM

Grain pie (faro grain) for Easter Holidays prepared by Filomena Virtuoso at Lorimer Market.

Wonderful coverage on the tradition of Easter pies (NPR):

“During Easter time, bakeries in both Italy and Italian-American neighborhoods offer a dazzling array of sweet and savory pies. There are regional variations among recipes in both countries, but some of the most popular Easter pies include ricotta pie, rice pie and pizza chena.

Ricotta pie (torta di ricotta) is an Italian cheesecake traditionally associated with Easter. Savory versions include meats, cheeses and herbs, while sweet pies are flavored with citron, citrus zest, nuts and/or chocolate.

Ricotta pie is sometimes confused with pastiera Napoletana, a more time-intensive grain and ricotta cheese pie that is made by soaking whole wheat kernels for up to three days. Since these kernels are difficult to find in the U.S., farro or barley is often substituted.” (–Susan Russo)

Lorimer Market

620 Lorimer Street, Williamsburg, Brooklyn
You can make an advance order. Call 718-389-2691.



Helado Negro brings smooth electronic sounds to (the stage of) Glasslands Gallery, Mar 24

Photo by Ryan Dickie

Photo by Ryan Dickie

Helado Negro, meaning Black Ice in Spanish, is the musical creation of Roberto Lange. Born and raised in South Florida and a descendant of Ecuador, his music is an experimental mix of electronic beats with a touch of Latin vibes, combined with vocals in both Spanish and English. Playing tunes from his latest album “Invisible Life,” Helado Negro will be joined on stage by Devendra Banhart who will also be contributing with a DJ set, as well as Joymega and DJ Leblaze. Don´t miss out, we surely won’t.

Helado Negro’s “Dance Ghost” mp3:

289 Kent Ave  Brooklyn, NY 11211
(718) 599-1450


Culinary Lockdown Merely a Drop in the Bucket


By Albert Goldson

The NYC citizenry was spared, at least temporarily, by another onerous restriction by Bloomberg with a last minute lower court decision invalidating the law banning the sale of sugary beverages greater than 16 oz. However the fight is not over because Bloomberg has two more opportunities to appeal the decision.

Everyone knows that consuming sugary beverages regularly is bad for your health, but so are so many other things. For example you can legally buy as many Camel shortie cancer packs as you want, enough to fill that same banned plus 16 oz. cup.

The lesser known “National Salt Reduction Initiative” is a partnership of 90 state and local health authorities coordinated by the NYC Department of Health with 30 food firms to voluntarily reduce salt by 20% in their products by 2014. That’s akin to a cigarette company agreeing to reduce the number of cigarettes in a pack from 20 to 16. How does that improve the health of a pack-a-day smoker?

This is the culinary version of proposing 30% affordable housing. The agreement is non-binding [weak] and voluntary [unenforceable]. This is the illusion of government taking on the food cartel for the public good supposedly to protect the citizenry from themselves. What’s next? Banning stores from selling clothes that exceed XXL? Limiting calorie count per meal in restos? Banning sprinkles on ice cream cones?

Bloomberg shows rather suspicious timing by introducing these health initiatives in the 12th and last year of his administration. If he’s so concerned about public health, why weren’t these proposals introduced much earlier? He has architecturally remade NYC into Dubai/Shanghai and now he wants to socially remake NYC into Singapore.

Eerily all of those cities are in autocratic countries. As journalist Philip Broughton wrote in the March 9-10 weekend Wall Street Journal on his review of the new book ‘A History of Future Cities’, “It takes an autocrat to design something so ambitious as a city of the future. But if successful, such a city will chafe under autocracy. For a city to truly succeed, it must allow individuals their freedom as well.”

Often autocrats, especially billionaire benevolent ones, treat the citizenry like children. This is the credo of the ultra-wealthy: get rich, get elected then change the rules for purposes of control.

This city government sponsored culinary lockdown will accomplish nothing—a mere drop in the bucket—to dent the serious health problems. Many people are fast food junkies thanks to the food industry who persuade you to buy and consume gargantuan portions laced with addictive ingredients that hijack the neurons to increase one’s cravings.

Interestingly the one item Bloomberg has dared not touched of all his proposals for fear of severe backlash is alcohol. Beer-bellied dad can quaff a mini-keg of brewksie at the ballpark but Junior is limited to his max 16 oz. soda.

The March 12 effective date of this proposed mandate was historically synchronistic. Firstly, on that date in 1894 Vicksburg, Mississippi, Coca Cola sold its first bottle which was a mere 6.5 oz. Secondly, in 1930 a diminutive brown man named Gandhi led a 200-mile march protesting the salt tax and made salt at the sea in defiance of British law.

In a symbolic historical deja vu of consumer defiance (now celebration) New Yorkers should recreate the same march to the waterfront Domino Sugar factory or Pepsi Cola plant where a maverick entrepreneur creates a pop-up store (pun intended, ‘pop’ is soda in other parts of the USA) and serves plus 16 oz. sugary beverages. And to appease law enforcement and avoid a food fight, the entrepreneur can serve free glazed donuts as well. We’re all in this together.

—Albert Goldson is an Architectural & Engineering Contract Manager specializing in transportation megaprojects, energy, and urban planning. He is a long-term Williamsburg resident, an internationalist, and avid jazz aficionado.