Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Here Comes the Sun?


Imnotsayin has been on strike, pending the return of sunshine to New York City (for cryin' out loud, its been like five straight days of heavy cloud cover and/or rain here). The thrill of taking those spooky, ominous "stormclouds over Manhattan" photos wore off, oh sometime last Friday night.

With the remnants of tropical storm Ernesto likely to graze us in a few days, the prospect of a sunny Labor Day weekend seems remote. Lets cross our fingers and hope the weathermen are as inaccurate as usual...

Weather Underground (this site will make you forget all about

Friday, August 25, 2006



Just days after Douglaston Development released their embarrassing sales brochure for Williamsburg's "The Edge" waterfront residential towers, and announced the project's sales office will open at Bedford Avenue and North 6th, this curious development:

Imnotsayin awoke this morning to witness the dismantling of our dear friend, the Pile Driver, on that very site. A workman with Underpinning & Foundation Skanska, the Maspeth, NY-based contractor who's effectively replaced our alarm clock since work began on the "Palmer's Dock" development next door, said they were finished for "a while. Maybe eight months." You'll recall, the 'Edge' site received about a dozen randomly-placed piles about a month ago, but since then the site's been quiet. Palmer's Dock, a smaller project (only 1MM square feet...), drove hundreds of piles this spring, just for the first of several buildings going on that property.

We're not popping the champagne corks just yet, however. Another contractor - possibly a Douglaston employee - repairing the security fence just down the block said the project is moving forward, and that they "may be using another company" for the remaining piles. He added that the North 6th Street dead-end - that oasis of free parking (and North Williamsburg's unofficial town dump) - is now private property and will soon be closed off forever.

Douglaston's New Site Map [Gowanus Lounge]

Douglaston's Horrible Brochure [Curbed]

Looking for the 9/11 Report? Check behind those Silver Surfers...


Imnotsayin's getting in on this a few days late, but just couldn't let it pass without comment. File this under "bizarre but inevitable": two comic book industry veterans just published "The 9/11 Commission Report: A Graphic Adaptation".

Explaining to USA Today that their intention is to make the original 568-page report more accessible and understandable to the average person, 75-year-old Ernie Colón states, "we're in the business of clarification."

Colón and his 76-year-old partner (and Richie Rich creator) Sid Jacobson visited the World Trade Center site for the first time since the tragedy last week. Both men expressed sadness recalling the attacks and are sensitive to a wary public feeling the comic format might trivialize the tragedy.

Imnotsayin thinks it was just a matter of time. The USA Today article points out that Art Spiegelman won a Pulitzer Prize in 1992 for Maus, which tells the story of his father, a Holocaust survivor, by portraying the Nazis as cats and the Jews as mice. And the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor as well as the JFK assassination - events often compared to the 9/11 tragedy - have both been retold in graphic form. The Pearl Harbor comic was issued less than a year after the event.

9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation [Slate]

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Spirit of St. Maynard


Sad news today at imnotsayin HQ: legendary jazz trumpeter Maynard Ferguson passed away Wednesday, at age 78.

Maynard, who was touring (and still nailing super-C's) until just weeks ago - he played New York's Blue Note, and recorded and album in July - will be missed. He was a fixture in our youth (imnotsayin was a proud band geek), and had the generation-crossing longevity that made it seem like he would always be around.

For those of you who are saying, "Huh? That's like mourning the loss of Lawrence Welk..." I give you Maynard's 'La Fiesta' from 1990's Chamelion. Click the iTunes link and listen to the whole clip:

Maynard Ferguson - Chameleon - La Fiesta

Maynard got his start as a Canadian teen, wowing the 1940's ballroom crowd at Crystal Beach amusement park in Ft. Erie, Ontario. He quickly gained a reputation for hitting impossibly high notes - a trumpeter's Holy Grail, and an endorphine rush for brass fans.

Ferguson, best known by the mainstream for his lava-lamp-conjuring, disco-fueled Rocky theme, "Gonna Fly Now", was at his best in the 1970's, wailing high-flying trumpet solos miles above the massive sound wall of his rock-solid brass ensemble. Maynard, who often traded technical accuracy for the sheer energy of mind-blowing screams and glass-shattering squeals, was the jazz equivalent of a supersonic test pilot - taking his horn to the edge of the sonic stratosphere and pushing the musical envelope to its most thrilling limits.

My friends and I discovered Maynard during High School in the Buffalo area, where his "Spirit of St. Frederick" chart had for years been an anthem for our throwback jazz ensemble (the Checkmates had logoed V-neck sweaters and those Lawrence Welk-style music stands...nonetheless, we rocked!).

If Maynard had groupies in 1980's Buffalo, it was us: my crew never missed a show when he came to town. During shows, we'd high-five each other at Maynard's signature move: he'd thank soloists with a Buddhist "wai" - a miniature bow he likely picked up during his mid-60's contact with Timothy Leary and subsequant conversion to Buddhism. His occasional vocal turns - his singing voice was comically nasal - were so hilareously bad, we had to love 'em.

On one occasion, he played the Tralfamadore Jazz Café, which had a strict 21-and-over policy. Our music director, Chris Revett had bragged that he had great seats, and as teens, we'd lost hope for catching the gig.

The morning of the show, as consolation, my buddies and I skipped class to catch Maynard on the local morning TV show (we were seen on the teachers' lounge TV, Ferris Bueller-style, throwing Maynard questions from the studio audience). After the show, Maynard's tour manager - recognizing us from countless Buffalo-area concerts - set us up with a front row table at the gig. That night, we toasted our Revett with the round of drinks sent over "complements of the band"!

The year after graduation, Revett achieved something we'd only fantasized about, landing Maynard as the headliner for the school's annual Guest Artist concert. My brother, in the right place at the right time, volunteered to drive Maynard around the city all day. After the show, I sat in the back seat of Dad's car, watching the groggy Legend doze off while we dodged city traffic.

I'd seen Maynard a couple of times since those days, and saw the ad for his Blue Note show a few weeks ago. I passed it off, thinking "I'll see him another time." It was his last gig.

"The Spirit of St. Frederick", Its My Time, 1980 - mp3

"Give it One", M.F.Horn, 1970 - mp3

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Watching the Grass Grow: Williamsburg Park A No-Go for Summer '06


Disappointing news from NY State Parks: East River State Park won't be coming on line this summer after all. According to Chip Place, Director of Regional Capital Facilities and Planning, the infrequent yet often torrential rainstorms this spring and summer caused the newly-seeded grass to not take root well enough to withstand the hundreds of hipster hooves that will inevitably pack the park.

Chip provided a detailed explanation for the delay in an email:
The main concept behind our beginning level of park improvements is the integration of natural succession, through native meadow type planting and grasses, with the existing historic remnants on site. We have largely completed work on the very basic restoration of the historic remnants. However, though they improve a bit each week, I am still not satisfied with how the meadow grasses have taken hold...we had some torrential thunderstorms right after seeding in late spring that hindered the grass establishment. We are planning remedial seeding and replacement of some plants and trees during the fall planting season. Since this part of the work depends a lot on Mother Nature, I am reluctant to give a projected opening date estimate.

I understand everybody’s desire to get onto the site. We pushed ahead with this beginning level of improvements to get the public on site as soon as we could. We expect it to be a very popular spot once it does open. That is why we are taking the added time and precaution of giving the meadow a better chance to get established before we do open. We greatly appreciate everyone’s patience in the meanwhile.

To be truthful, imnotsayin has been uncharacteristically impatient with the park's progress as of late, and Mr. Place's group has done great work. Mother Nature's tirades and a tight state budget make the need to get it right the first time doubly imperative. Going forward, we pledge to be patient with the project, and spend more time obsessing about the folks who are gobbling up greenspace and waterfront vistas, rather than those who are improving them.

Previously on imnotsayin: the park's previous life as a railyard

Scary/Funny YouTube Video - Locals Recall the Lot's Recent History [via Curbed]

Are You AbsenTiVo?

Sad TiVo

Here at imnotsayin headquarters, we love our TiVo almost as much as our dishwasher and our view of midtown. But lately, we've been neglecting her (him? it?). On startup we get a message to the effect of "I haven't called home in 170 days. Hooooome. Phone HOOOME!"

Fifty five episodes of Aquateen Hungerforce clog a folder that hasn't updated in months, and we're confronted almost hourly with threats like
If you don't erase five episodes of Saved by the Bell, I'll be forced to erase the entire 1982 season of Webster.

My roommate had a sudden revelation yesterday: we're horrible parents - we've neglected the child; as keepers of the flame, we've let it dwindle to smoking embers.

Imnotsayin believes we're not alone. Please share your TiVo horror stories.

C'mon, tell us: Are YOU absentivo?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

American Tragedy


Imnotsayin watched the premiere of Brooklyn native Spike Lee's poignant Hurricane Katrina documentary "When the Levees Broke" last night on HBO. Parts I and II of the "Requiem in Four Acts" covered the leadup and the storm itself, as well as the immediate aftermath: the inexorably slow reaction of state and federal government agencies and the tangible suffering and death that resulted.

The program seems likely to become the essential memoir of the tragic event. It is a non-narrated collage of video, stills, audio clips and interviews, woven together with a haunting soundtrack of New Orleans jazz classics. The show opens with Louie Armstrong singing "Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans", and that sets the melancholy tone for much of the first two acts.

But it is the human stories that resonate loudest: Lee's choice of interview subjects, from the poor resident of the Lower Ninth Ward, who calmly recounts his mother's death in her wheelchair while waiting for evacuation buses outside the convention center, to Mayor Ray Nagin, to a clearly affluent white couple, who reflect on the fact that they discovered their neighborhood was flooded while vacationing at Pompeii, the program cuts a wide socioeconomic and cultural swath.

Hearing about the horrors from those who lived through the event, seeing the devistation covered by an incredulous British news crew, and reliving the initial laissez-faire reaction of the Bush administration (Condoleeza Rice went shopping for Ferragamo shoes, Dick Cheney went fly fishing, and Bush himself played air guitar with a country singer while thousands awaited rescue and dozens died in the Delta heat) are important reminders of an event that should never be repeated nor forgotten.

"When the Levees Broke" concludes with Acts III and IV tonight at 9 pm. All four hours will be rebroadcast on the anniversary of the storm - next Tuesday, August 29th at 8 pm.

"When the Levees Broke" HBO Site

Monday, August 21, 2006

Airline Tix Counters Slammed by New Regs

jetblue chaos

Fresh in from our Buffalo sojourn, with this observation - the new TSA "no liquids or gels carried on" regulations are gumming things up for outbound flyers - at least at JetBlue's JFK hub.

But the backups are not at security, where you'd expect it:

TSA Agent: "The traveler puts the lotion in the basket, or it gets the hose again."

Harried Passenger: "What about my balm? I have a balm. Can I carry on my balm??"

The ticket counters and bag drop areas are overwhelmed, presumably because large numbers of travelers have actually been checking in online at home or in their office, printing their boarding pass, and bypassing the kiosks and counters altogether. Now, with the insatiable need to pack wet and slimy things (ok, imnotsayin admits we're lost without our American Crew Texture Cream), virtually every traveler is dropping bags, resulting in deep queues that pack Terminal 7 nearly every morning.

Security was a breeze - the slowdown up front means passengers trickle into the checkpoints now. The longest line of all was at the gate-side Dunkin Donuts kiosk, where weary flyers stood thirty deep to order a new TSA-approved prescription-strength 4 oz. Coffee Coolatta.

dunkin donuts

Friday, August 18, 2006

Friday Xtreme Dialup Edition

Apologies for the lack of content this week. Following the four-day birthday festivus, imnotsayin is in Buffalo (or Buffalo-Niagara, accorrding to the semantics of the current 'regionalism' mantra up here) visiting family and friends.

Expect a couple of posts from the wilds of Western New York, though, and a couple of new photosets, once we - MOM, I'm on the PHO-ONE!!! - sorry about that. Once we find a broadband connection around here...

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Children of the Corn

more corn

Getting back to the blog after a four-day birthday bacchanalia, and turning away (for a moment, as promised) from the Williamsburg waterfront, we take this opportunity to ruminate on the simple, nearly forgotten beauty of farming.

The weekend before last, when imnotsayin went upstate to bring you wall-to-wall coverage of the Area 52 Music Festival, we alluded to our brief - yet paradigm-shifting - encounter with nature. Our revelation was likely fueled by the post-apocalyptic absence of vegetation here on Kent Avenue, and sparked by our recent screening of "An Inconvenient Truth".

The morning after the concert, having camped out in a field of empty beer cans, our little tent staked down midway between the ash heap of a smoldering bonfire and the small compound of overused porta-johns, we set out alone on a short stroll down a country road lined with acres and acres of perfectly-tended, ready-to-harvest corn.

As we walked along in the near-perfect stillness of a rural Sunday morning, we were dumbstruck by the simple beauty of it all: here in this Rockwellian agricultural paradise, a massive feat of production and commerce was taking place right in front of us.

Thousands of bushels of corn, with all of its food (and fuel!) value, was being manufactured, imperceptibly slow and completely silent, without the clatter of machinery, the rumble of trucks, the belching of fumes, nor any other of the fuss and fury that we now take for granted when we think of the production of goods.

This was Mother Nature's own River Rouge Plant, where Stuff gets Made on a massive scale; but here the factory is already biodegradable, clean-burning, and recycleable - no environmental consultants or catchy green PR campaign necessary. Just add water.

Corn Porn on Flickr

Friday, August 11, 2006

The Way We Were

Austin Nichols with Train

OK, just one more post about the history of the Williamsburg waterfront, then we'll go looking for something else to rant about. And this one's pretty much all photos, so its easy on the brain for a Friday afternoon.

While surfing around for details about the Brooklyn Eastern District Terminal (the barge-to-rail facility that operated on Kent Avenue from 1875 - 1983) a few weeks back, we came across a couple of rail-enthusiast websites that are chock full of great old photos showing the neighborhood (and LOTS of trains) from the 1930s through the 80s. These are the only photos we've ever seen showing the old railyards and buildings along the Northside waterfront. Thank goodness for the trainspotters!

Click through the main pages for history and maps of the area, then check out the photo collections of the old BEDT engines (stay with me here), especially numbers 12 - 16, where many of the pics show the Austin Nichols warehouse, trains crossing Kent Avenue, etc.

Or save time and skip to my Flickr account for the Cliff's notes version. Happy Friday!

Phil's B.E.D.T. Main Page

Phil's Property Photos (Engine numbers at bottom of page)

Flickr "Best-of" Photoset

Williamsburg Park May Improve Waterfront Safety


In an unfortunate example of art imitating life, last night's "Kidnapped" location shoot on the Williamsburg waterfront came just one day after two neighborhood women were attacked in the same spot, the dead-end at North 7th Street and Kent Avenue. According to flyers posted at the location, two armed men in their 20's held one woman down while attempting to rape the second. Thankfully, the victims escaped "because of a good citizen".

Imnotsayin wonders if the attack would have happened if the imminent East River State Park, with its State Parks Police presence, had been open. The park, which is immediately adjacent to the lot where the attack occurred, appeared to be progressing rapidly toward completion until a few weeks ago. Recently, with just minor cleanup remaining - and the summer waning - progress has slowed to a crawl. With a skeleton crew of three contractors, a "huge punchlist" to complete (according to one of the workers), and new fencing blocking former openings, locals are likely to continue crawling through fence holes and using dark vacant lots to access the waterfront until the new park is complete.

Based on the presence of a State Parks Police cruiser at last night's TV shoot, we assume the NY State Parks Department was made aware of the attack. We warmly welcome Parks and the Parks Police to the neighborood. We just hope they step up the pace and get the park open soon.

Locked Out [INSIJS]

History of the Park Site [INSIJS]

Scary/Funny YouTube Video - Locals Recall the Lot's Recent History [via Curbed]

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Williamsburg Waterfront Kidnapped

scissor lifts

Tonight Silvercup Studios shot a scene from NBC's upcoming "Kidnapped" which stars Timothy Hutton and Dana Delaney outside the imnotsayin offices.

Not much action was visible (they 'kidnapped' the whole North 7th dead end, so you couldn't get close) but the lighting made for some fab fotos.

More pics in here

Big Guns Aimed at Lower Manhattan


We've always been curious about Governors Island, and a couple of summers ago (just prior to the island opening for public tours) a friend shot a documentary on the island, and allowed me to assist. We were given carte blanche access to the island - including building interiors and areas that are now off-limits. Unfortunately, we didn't bring our camera...

Back in June, we returned to Governors Island, this time as regular old tourists. Still - armed with our trusty digicam this time - we had fun documenting as much of the place as they'd allow us into (and a couple of spots they wouldn't).

The island is open Tuesday - Thursday for guided historic tours, but we recommend Fridays and Saturdays, when you can get a short National Parks Service tour, wander around by yourself (about 1/3 of the island is open), and even picnic on one of the lush green lawns. Ferry hours and special events are here.

Governors Island Photoset on Flickr

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Snakes on the Brain

New Line's marketing campaign for its dubious upcoming thriller "Snakes on a Plane" includes an opportunity to have Samuel L. Jackson phone a friend with a ridiculous customizable message. The caller ID number comes up as whatever you enter as "your number", adding to the potential fun.

Imnotsayin was thinking it might be nice if everyone sent this friendly reminder to our favorite Brooklyn developer Bruce Ratner's office (718-923-8400) so he doesn't miss the film's opening, given his busy schedule improving blighted Prospect Heights with his Atlantic Yards project.

Phone a Friend Here

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Edging Forward


the edge towers

It was only a matter of time (Douglaston's website says "spring of 2006"), but still, its a sad day for imnotsayin.

Our beautiful, unobstructed East River vista was permanently pierced by the first salvo of ugly steel piles today - the beginning of what's to become two forty-story residential towers called "The Edge".

The next couple of years - if we decide to stay - promise to include perpetual sleepless mornings, truck fumes and construction noise, and a gorgeous view (and sunlight) that shrinks daily until its completely obstructed by Miami Beach-style high-rises.

We know we've been blessed with a million-dollar view for the price of a Brooklyn rental for the past 20 months; still, its sad to see it go...

Memorializing the view

Monday, August 07, 2006

Area 52 Music Festival


Imnotsayin had the pleasure of traveling upstate to Marietta, NY this weekend for the third annual show. We were part of Rachel Newman's posse, but got to rock with a bunch of great Central New York bands, camp out under the stars, and commune with acres and acres of corn.

Many thanks to Ronnie Haines, Ken, Chris and all the folks who worked their butts off to produce this free show.

Area 52 Music Festival on Flickr

Friday, August 04, 2006

Locked Out


Williamsburg hipsters have at least one more week to wait before the new era of shoreline slacking begins. Workers at the Kent Avenue's East River State Park told imnotsayin they're in the final stages of clearing equipment and debris. "If someone comes down here and trips on something, that's a lawsuit," stated one contractor. When pressed, he said "at least one more week...two weeks tops."

Crews installed a shiny new flagpole yesterday, and have nearly finished covering the ages-old graffiti on the former engine house that stands on the property, preparing a blank canvas for the neighborhood's prolific street artists.

Meanwhile, Williamsburg's other waterfront park, Grand-Ferry (at the foot of Grand Street), was buzzing with activity on a recent sweltering evening.

East River State Park Porn

Grand-Ferry Park after dark

Meat me on North 7th

meater readers

Perhaps a vestige of Williamsburg's heyday as a meat packing hub...

Thursday, August 03, 2006

The Brooklyn Pastoral

We came across this fantastic article from the Brooklyn Rail while looking up Hem, the folk act whose "Half Acre" haunts the recent 'Pay It Forward'-esque tv spot from Liberty Mutual Insurance.

Turns out the octet is based in Brooklyn, and the post-industrial patina of crumbling industry that's gradually returning to nature - Katy Henriksen dubs it "the Brooklyn Pastoral" - is the inspiration for Hem's second album "Eveningland".

Imnotsayin especially likes how Henriksen finds parallels with the traditional poetic view of the bucolic countryside:
"Shepherds, hills, and the idealized countryside are the traditional subjects. Brooklyn, a sprawling mess of streets, apartments, shops, and industrial parks, contains an urban pastoral. There is more concrete and brick here than pasture and sky; the fields are vacant lots, burned out factories, and rooftop views."
Perhaps with the wholesale and inevitable Manhattanization of Brooklyn looming (literally) at our doorstep, its easy to romanticize what many define as urban decay and blight. We don't care - the Brooklyn Pastoral is nature's re-greening of Brooklyn, and we'll enjoy it until the last vacant lot is tiled over and the last burned-out plant becomes a shiny condo tower.

Burned-Out Factories, Hem, and the Brooklyn Pastoral (The Brooklyn Rail)

Hem, "Half Acre" on Hem - Rabbit Songs - Half Acre

brooklyn pastoral (Flickr Photoset)

Liberty Mutual spot on YouTube

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Microsoft Gets All Hip and Underground


Latest development from Microsoft for their upcoming Zune product line (to premiere late '06 with an 'iPod killer' mp3 player) is a pretty slick little teaser site featuring a cute animated line drawing of a big thug with a fluffy bunny, and music by relatively-unknown Regina Spektor.

Not sure what (if any) message is hidden in the animation: a nod to the Zune's alluded-to "sharing" functionality? A hint that the device might be furry and prone to frequent mating?

In any case, the site is cute, uncluttered, works right, and plays great music. Maybe the Zune will follow suit...

Zune teaser site

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

New York Housing at 90% Off

buffalo homes

Back to cheap housing for a sec. So while we were hunting around for great deals in Uruguay and Zambia the other night, just for the heck of it we clicked over to Trulia and did a search in a zip code near and dear to us: 14222. Yes, stay with us - that's in Buffalo (technically part of New York State for those of you just arriving). Don't click away yet; that zip code is the Elmwood Village, an incredibly charming enclave of turn-of-the-century Victorians with porch swings, huge elm trees, and a vibrant strip of local retail, art galleries and the like. Throw in a couple Frank Lloyd Wrights just to sweeten the deal.

A quick bit of math showed that of the 17 properties listed (minus one that's not showing floor space), the average asking price per square foot is $126. Compared to just over $1,000 per square foot for Manhattan residential. And that figure includes every Manhattan zip code, not just prime neighborhoods. Don't miss Buffalo's average home prices: 3-bedrooms are $73K and 4+ bedroom properties jump to a whopping $130 big ones. Really, take a look at the gems up there - mostly well south of $300K - and you're likely to get depressed.

And for those of you who "could never live in Buffalo", the $700 - 800K you'll save buying upstate can buy you a personal helicopter for commuting - and about $500 large for gas, or a heck of a lot of points on JetBlue.

Buffalo bargains on

38 Degrees in the Shade


Days like today always remind us of a rant our friend Chuck goes on from time to time, about why English units of measure are better than metric (despite the fact he holds degrees in engineering and aerospace...) It goes something like this:

English measurements were designed around human scales, not easy math. That's why in fahrenheit (in normal, hospitable climates), when its zero degrees, that's just about as cold as it ever gets, give or take. And when its 100 degrees in the shade, that's just about as hot as it ever gets (the record highs for today and tomorrow in NYC are both 100º F on the nose). Can Canadians (and pretty much everyone else outside the US) keep a straight face when they say, "Whooo-eee! Must be 38 degrees in the shade!" ?

Same for length - at least when it comes to feet: you can pretty well pace off 10 feet, using your own, well...feet. But 10 meters? Or even 3.048 meters?

Imnotsayin is glad they learned the metric system growing up in the 70's; but even happier that Americans stood their ground in rejecting its adoption, and the US government stood with the people for once.

Any other good examples of English (or 'standard' - heh heh) units that make more sense than metric?