Monday, December 31, 2007

Williamsburg Movie Theater:
Website Now Showing,
Jobsite Not Going

136 metropolitan stop work order

Based on the Stop Work Order dated October 10th, we suppose this is old news - but it seems to have been overlooked by the local press and bloggers. Work on the forthcoming independent cinema being built at 136 Metropolitan Avenue in the 'Burg apparently ground to a halt several months ago when the Department of Buildings cited the developer for "work [that] does not conform to approved plans", and the fact that neighboring "134 Metropolitan Ave has not been underpinned".

On the other hand, things in the virtual world are shaping up quite nicely, with the quiet launch of a great-looking "beta" website for the theater, which seems to suggest that the three-screen complex will be called the Cassandra Cinema (a January '06 press release from Ocularis, the not-for-profit film collective behind the development, said the theater would open in Spring 2008 as "The Brooklyn Kinetoscope").

Our friends over at Curbed reported on the development - which BTW includes nine apartments upstairs - back in September, in a piece that linked to the architect's website which includes some nice renders and elevations of the finished product (see "Metropolitan Cinema and Apartments" in the "Work" section).

This is one film project we truly hope gets greenlighted and released.

136 Metropolitan interior and exterior shots [Flickr]

Cassandra Cinema / Brooklyn Kinetoscope Beta site link

Here's Williamsburg's Metropolitan Cinema & Apts. [Curbed]

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Jack's Cancellation Shoes

jack's cancellation shoes

We've walked past Jack's Cancellation Shoes at 161 Havemeyer (between North 2nd and North 3rd streets in Williamsburg) a million times, and always wondered "why Cancellation shoes??"

Well we finally got around to Googling the phrase, and according to the American Marketing Association's Marketing Terms Dictionary, in this context the term cancellation means

A notification to a vendor that a buyer does not wish to accept ordered merchandise. Also, it is merchandise declared surplus by retailers, often sold in broken lots to discount houses or liquidators. (Out-of-style or slightly damaged shoes are frequently sold as "cancellation shoes".)

A glance around Google's results suggests that 'Cancellation Shoe' stores were a mid-20th century phenomenon in the US, and that there's only a couple of stores left using the phrase - including Jack's, and one Dan's Cancellation Shoes in Philadelphia.

Friday, December 28, 2007



In February 2008, suspected Splasher Zach Dempster confirmed suspicions that he was behind last winter's spate of street art paint-splashings in Williamsburg and the Lower East Side, by opening Splash, an art and clothing gallery in Dumbo. The store features paint-splashed Faile and Swoon pasteups and spattered American Apparel t-shirts, and is open only "when you can catch me," according to Dempster.

In August, Dempster went mainstream, announcing a line of Splasher-branded apparel exclusively sold at retail giant Target, and a line of paints and wallcoverings to be carried by Home Depot. The decorator products will be sold under the moniker Splasher, by Dempster and will include exterior paints in a range of neon colors, a proprietary paint-shooting squirtgun, and a catalog of manifesto-themed wallpapers that are hung using glass-infused wheatpaste.

Thursday, December 27, 2007


In November 2008, Donald Trump and Councilman David Yassky announced Trump's first Brooklyn venture: the Trump Irridium, a 29-story residential tower to be built at Kent Avenue and Grand Street in Williamsburg. The annnouncement ended a contentious year-long landmark fight over the Radiac Building at 33 South First Street.

At a Kent Avenue press conference, a radiant Yassky explained the historic compromise that involves preserving the iconic stucco structure by building the residential tower atop it, and demolishing the neighboring block of historic commercial buildings.

The newly-cleared properties will provide convenient street-level parking and allow the tower to comply with zoning setback requirements. The resulting transfer of air rights and rejiggering of Floor Area Ratios gives the Irridium the height variance necessary to exceed the six floor maximum for structures East of Kent Avenue - mandated by the 2005 rezoning of Williamsburg's waterfront.

"I've never been a believer in second chances," glowed Trump at the press conference. "The Radiac property is going to be given a second chance." (Radiac has served as a transfer depot and storage facility for low-level radioactive waste for 25 years at the Williamsburg location).

The Irridium will feature 78 units of market-priced co-ops; six units designated "affordable" - to be located in the historic first floor former Radiac facility (these units will be marketed as "Geiger's Green"); and a basement-level Whole Foods store.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Wednesday Eye Candy: Giraffes

giraffes on the NJ Plains

Giraffes on the NJ Plains from imjustsayin on Flickr

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Ikea Opens in Red Hook;
Park Vendors Save Day

In March 2008, Ikea opened its Red Hook, Brooklyn store – the Swedish home furnishing retailer’s first outlet within the five Boroughs. The resulting snarl of New York drivers – who soon discovered that there's only four city streets connecting the 'Hook to the rest of the universe - created gridlock that stranded some drivers in their cars for up to thirty-six hours.

In April, the long-suffering Red Hook Park food vendors were awarded a special Mayor's Citation for feeding the stranded motorists throughout the ordeal. Days later, the celebrated Latino entrepreneurs were evicted by the Parks Department and replaced with standard hot dog and roasted nut carts, which hold official (but costly and tough to obtain) city vending permits.

In a show of community involvement, many of the displaced vendors were offered jobs by the Ikea store, where they now cook and serve Swedish Meatballs to weary furniture shoppers.

swedish meatballs from Ikea courtesy of Pengrin™ on Flickr

Monday, December 24, 2007

Brooklyn's Answer to High Line:
We've Got 'Friends' in Low Places


In June 2008, amid the excitement over the opening of Manhattan's High Line Park, a Brooklyn organization Friends of the Atlantic Tunnel received a $500,000 grant from the Bloomberg administration's OPENYC parks initiative to begin planning an underground park to be built in the long-forgotten Atlantic Avenue Tunnel (aka the world's oldest subway tunnel) which carried passengers to and from the Brooklyn waterfront from 1844 to 1859.

The new park, tentatively dubbed The Low Line, will have a decidedly subterranean theme, with initial concepts for development that include a fungus garden, a bowling alley - where night-vision goggles are rented alongside bowling shoes, and an interactive edutainment exhibit tentatively titled "Exploring Brooklyn's Other Underground Railroad".

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Oil and Water Taxi Don't Mix

water taxi tanks

Required by the city to match the new "green" standards required of automotive cabs, in early 2008 the New York Water Taxi ferry service converted all of its vessels to run on biodeisel - made using waste cooking oil from its food concession at the company's popular Water Taxi Beach club.

In August 2008, it was discovered that NY Water Taxi's state-of-the-art biofuel storage depot in Greenpoint had developed a massive underground leak, adding millions of gallons of french fry grease to the 17 million gallons of petroleum already floating on Greenpoint's water table, giving the Brooklyn neighborhood the distinction of hosting both the world's first green eco-disaster, and the world's largest urban oil spill.

2008: The Year in Preview

Tis the season for reflection: TV reruns and flashback episodes fill the airwaves, magazines print retrospective pieces, and news outlets clamor to serve up inexpensive-to-produce "year in review" and "best of 2007" specials.

At imnotsayin, we strive to be different. And given the looming likelihood of a blog-writers strike in 2008, we thought it would be prescient to get the whole upcoming year written and in the can now, instead of waiting for the stories to happen.

And so between now and year's end, we offer to you, Brooklyn, our first annual Year in Preview special. We're calling it "2008: Brooklyn's Year in Preview".


Part 1: Greenpoint - Oil and Water Taxi Don't Mix

Part 2: Brooklyn Heights - Friends in Low Places

Part 3:
Red Hook - Ikea Opens In Red Hook

Part 4: Williamsburg - Development Trumps Environmental Concerns

Part 5: DUMBO - Splasher Cashes In

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Wednesday Eye Candy: The National

the national, volume 2

We shot this fantastic 205 foot long "Infinity Pool" at the National Hotel in South Beach about 15 months ago, but decided to revisit it with the wide angle lens - which nicely exaggerates the whole "disappearing into the horizon" effect.

Here's another South Beach shot - the Collins Avenue skyline as seen from the beach at night.


Sunday, December 16, 2007

Sunday Eye Candy: Northside Peering


Now that the Williamsburg waterfront is essentially off-limits to Williamsburg residents once again - at least after dark (East River State Park closes at dusk, and Grand Ferry Park is closed for renovations) - we haven't really been able to see what's happening with the shoreline behind Northside Piers and the old Austin Nichols Warehouse in a while.

Fortunately, we know a guy...and he provided us with a pretty sweet photoset, shot behind the Toll Brothers property Sunday evening. Lotsa mud, a new bulkhead, what looks like some new real estate jutting out into the river (though we could be wrong about that). Oh, and a bonus shot from the foot of North 3rd Street. Enjoy.

Northside Peering [Flickr]

Friday, December 14, 2007

Is the Next Roebling Oil Field
On Kent Avenue?

north 3rd oil field?

We're really not sayin...its just that when we took a walk down Kent Avenue this morning, when we got to the former Brooklyn Redi-Mix site between North 3rd and North 4th Streets, there was a strong, definitively petrochemical smell in the air. Sweet, light crude, possibly with notes of coal tar. And one of those subsurface soil condition testing drilling rig thingies. Yes, a crew taking core samples on the site of the future Chetrit Group residential building at 53 North 3rd Street (aka 175 Kent Avenue).

Now we're notorious for having a lousy sense of smell, and unlike the Roebling site, we didn't actually see any oil, so we gave it a few hours and walked by again.

Yep, same smell, same spot. Just as strong. More drilling. Just sayin.

If we're right, we recommend referring to the site as the North 3rd Oil Field though, given that Kent is a hella long avenue that likely has plenty more oil fields still to be revealed.

Comfort Inn, Williamsburg

comfort inn williamsburg

Oops, actually that's the "affordable housing" portion of Northside Piers, called (apparently) Palmer's Dock. With its tiny sliding windows and integrated HVAC vents, and its reddish-brown brick facade, we think its a ringer for a budget hotel (or state university dorm) circa 1986.

Friday Eye Candy: Ice Bike

ice bike

From North 6th Street, Williamsburg, Brooklyn Thursday night.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Edge Construction Update: First Wall Rises From the Mud

Edge - first wall

We haven't reported on Douglaston's "Williamsburg Edge" development in a while since our "Extreme Jenga" post on June 16th, to be exact. Its been pretty much dig, dig, dig...pound, pound, pound since early spring. But in light of this week's posts on Gowanus Lounge and Curbed, we thought we'd mention that as of Wednesday morning, the project has officially gone vertical.

Workers removed forms to reveal the site's first wall - a concrete basement wall at the northwest corner of Kent Avenue and North 6th. Until that moment, all the work had been limited to excavation, pile driving and foundation work. Now the first building is officially "going up" (and our sweeping vista and natural light's days are officially numbered).

The East River site was financed to the tune of $600 million earlier this year, and will eventually sport several towers, some midrise buildings, as many as 900 apartments and 100,000 square feet of retail. Consider it Battery Park City's cousin Vinny from Brooklyn.

Thursday Eye Candy: Silver Bells

silver bells

Thursday's snow / sleet / rain / ice pellet mess in New York had its moments of beauty - when the temperature dipped low enough to fill the air with the white stuff.

Above, Manhattanites dash past Paragon Sports on Broadway and 18th Street. Paragon is a New York institution - a locally-owned sporting goods store that's been around since 1908 (boxing gloves and high-wheeled bikes?). One location only, three floors of a grand old building near Union Square, top-notch brands and no mass-market junk. Sales people who really dig (and use) the gear they're selling. No parking lot. Gotta love it.

Anyway, Paragon did a bang-up job of decorating their windows and exterior for the holidays this year, and with the addition of a little snow in the air, you can't help humming the "Silver Bells" song in your head when you pass by.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Treacherous Williamsburg Intersection
About to See the Light

bedford traffic light

The relentless game of chicken that plays out daily between Williamsburg pedestrians and drivers at the heavily-trafficked junction of Bedford Avenue and North 6th Street is about to end.

Workers from Welsbach Electric have been busy this week digging trenches for a new set of traffic lights and crosswalk signals. Currently the intersection has no means of traffic control - save for painted crosswalks on three sides. Those crosswalks only encourage the Frogger vibe, with drivers unfamiliar with the neighborhood often stopping unnecessarily, and locals flooring it to thread the needle between hapless walkers.

The new traffic signal represents a new opportunity for stoned dazed Williamsburg hipsters to stumble out against a green light, only to glare at oncoming drivers with that glazed "are you really not gonna stop?" look. (In our extensive travels, we've observed that 'Burg pedestrians are perhaps the most prodigious jaywalkers in the nation). Until now, the jaywalking fun's been mostly limited to the light at Bedford and North 7th.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Alia? We Hardly Knew Ye...

alia closed

From the Department of Doomed Restaurants: Alia, the fabled Mediterranean restaurant at 95 North 6th, whose main claim to fame was her nearly three-year interior build-out, was shuttered Monday night, after just six weeks in business.

The enigmatic new bearer of baba ghanouj - whose menu teased us with talk of belly dancers - has been shuttered at least since Saturday, when we called to reprise an earlier brick-oven pizza order. The "Locale" pizza was memorably good - though curiously, it arrived in a Fornino box the first time around.

This time we were greeted with a rambling, nearly-unintelligible voicemail message explaining that the restaurant is closed while they're "dealing with a medical condition", and that they "should be open real soon". We're certainly sympathetic to someone's (the owner? the chef? couldn't make it out) medical condition, but it strikes us as odd that the brand-new eatery would simply close rather than find a temporary replacement.

There's no signs on the storefront explaining the sudden closure.

Recall that Alia lives just across the street from the doomed space that once housed government-seized Bull's Eye steakhouse, and more recently the twice-failed Sense sushi club. Maybe there's something in the water down there.

Update 12/13: Great news concerning whomever may have had a 'medical condition': Alia appears to have reopened today.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Sunday Eye Candy: Unloading


A dry-bulk carrier freighter unloads at the Brooklyn Navy Yard Saturday evening. Lower Manhattan skyline is the background, visible just across the East River.

Monday, December 03, 2007

X-mas Trees, Brooklyn-Style

bergen x-mas tree

Apparently, Bergen X-mas Tree is the Cadillac of Christmas tree dealers. Shot a year ago today, but timeless, don't you think?

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Sign of Unintelligent Life

beware of the owner

We spotted this sign in a Bath, NY yard on our return trip from Buffalo last week. The unusual take on "Beware of the Dog" begs the question:

Is the pit bull more or less of a threat than a pit bull without AIDS?

Then again, the same homeowner was proudly displaying a "WAL*MART YES" sign on the same front lawn, so we guess we'll consider the source before we expend much energy pondering it.

wal-mart yes

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Condé Nast Strobes:
Epileptic Seizures and
Dance Fever Paralyze Manhattan


Tonight's unveiling of new high-intensity marker strobes on the Condé Nast Building's 416-foot antenna mast induced widespread epileptic seisures and caused a spike in reported cases of disco fever throughout Manhattan and certain Brooklyn, Queens and New Jersey neighborhoods.

Actually, the annoying safety strobes are likely part of an FAA-approved dual-lighting tower marking system, which normally operates the familiar red blinking lights at night (when strobes annoy nearby residents) and the strobes by day (when the red lights would be easily missed by low-flying planes).

With any luck, the nighttime flashers are the result of a failed controller or stuck timer, and will be turned off before tonight's Friday Night Lights lead to Saturday Night Fever.