Block magazine

Proudly serving and observing
Williamsburg, Greenpoint and Bushwick



   


10/28/08

The New Italian Williamsburg

The New Italian Williamsburg
Changing local demographics, global trends redefine Italian presence in Williamsburg.

The legend says that because its bells chimed louder and clearer than those of Paregine, the town of Sanza in the southern Italian province of Salerno was awarded the sacred statue of Our Lady of the Snow. The statue had been sealed in the wall of the Basilica of St. Mary Major, a church built in AD 352 on Rome’s Esquiline Hill. Each year, the victory is celebrated on August 5th by immigrants from Sanza around the world...

Open Letter to Danny Hoch
Taking Over electrified the Brooklyn audience it portrays, but it also perpetuated certain myths about gentrification and crime.

I’m writing you this letter because when I saw Taking Over, your new one-man show in which you portray residents of a rapidly gentrifying Brooklyn community, at the Grand Street Campus Auditorium, I witnessed something amazing. You went into a community in crisis, told its residents their stories, reflected their concerns and gave hundreds of audience members a voice largely denied them by their city, politicians and local press.

By offering it for free, you made the show accessible for everyone, and the community responded. The ushers scrambled to find extra seats for the theatergoers filed around the block thinking they would be turned away, and they eventually managed to accommodate nearly everyone...

Nice Shot, Good Game
Billiardsburg.com proves you don’t have to be a pool shark

Clicking through the reviews of pool tables on Billiardsburg.com might make one wonder why every photo of a lonely pool table, its hypnotic colors drenched beneath a perfect dome of overhead light, look like something out of a David Lynch film. Maybe this says something for the popularity of the quintessential seedy bar game in Williamsburg, where hipsters scrape felt next to old-timers, drunkards, suits and “weirdos.” Yet to the discerning founding members of Billiardsburg.com, not all bars’ tables are created equal...

The Benefits of Infant Massage

In the 1970s, French Obstetrician Frederick Leboyer’s book Birth Without Violence revolutionized the way women gave birth. It also gave way to the idea that there are many things parents can do to help ease the transition for the baby from life in the womb to life on the outside. Leboyer, along with other advocates such as Vimala McClure, founder of The International Association of Infant Massage, advocated for parents to start massaging their babies, and a movement was born...

Ask A Chasid

After nonchalantly leaving strategically-placed issues of Block Magazine on the tables outside Fabiane’s and perusing the barrage of e-mails, I have decided to respond to the most frequently asked questions regarding the enigmatic customs of the Chasidic Men in Black and the women who love them.

Following this summer’s scathing article in New York Magazine alleging the alienation of a child from her non-orthodox mother and comparing Chasidim to the Taliban, the need for a tolerant and forthright discourse, beyond the blogging, is essential...

A Greener Williamsburg

In a very urban area of Brooklyn where more stores line the streets than trees, it is comforting to know that some of Williamsburg’s residents are building a green and sustainable future through social networking clubs built on individual passion.

Amongst those involved in the “greening” of Williamsburg is Tymberly Harris, a Pittsburgh native in her thirties, mother—and Master Composter...

Who Will Save the On Point Cyclones?
After 50 years of existence, Saint Cecilia’s basketball program for underprivileged Greenpoint kids is in dire need of money.

Marlo Carcamo goes to church every Sunday and, with the same fervor, attends his eleven-year-old son’s basketball training with Saint Cecilia’s On Point Cyclones twice a week. “I used to play a lot in my childhood. Now my five-year-old wants to play,” he smiles. When he is seven, Carcamo is likely to sign him up for the Cyclones...

Bamonte’s is Still Bamonte’s, After 108 Years

The group of men who had dined at Bamonte’s every Monday night for the past 20 years is small during my recent visit. The rest of the group, Joseph Cuiffo informs me, is in the Hamptons on vacation.

Tonight, Cuiffo is dining only with Anthony Bamonte—owner of Bamonte’s and grandson of Pasquale Bamonte, who opened the restaurant more than one hundred years ago...

Bushwick Film Festival

It was no Cannes, nor Sundance, nor even Brooklyn Film Festival. With a staff of six and a selection committee of four, the 2008 Bushwick Film Festival was the epitome of grassroots. Red carpet was replaced by warehouse floors, caviar and champagne by hummus, crackers and Butternut beer, and the silver screen by four sheets taped together on a moving backdrop (the real screen had been stolen Friday evening). Yet over 30 indie film supporters joined the filmmakers and event producers each night to sit back on floor pillows and folding chairs, relax among minimal air circulation or ventilation, and enjoy the show...

A Walk to Remember
How the Shabby Newtown Creek Nature Walk Prevented Greenpoint’s Next Environmental Disaster.

Until a year ago, few people would have pictured a park at the end of Paidge Ave., a street filled with commercial and industrial landmarks such as the Time Warner Cable headquarters, the Greenpoint Fire Department, a power plant and a noisy construction site. Few live near there, and those who work in the area usually step out for cigarette breaks rather than scenic views—because the street ends at one of New York’s most polluted waterways...

Ah, You Savage Cinderella’s!
Or, several spells for Goodbye Blue Monday

Johnny Appleseed, if that is even his real name, eats several psychedelics. Misquoting his ancestors, he turns to a friend, apparently, and shouts, “The music begins where the piano ends.” The band has taken the stage.

Goodbye Blue Monday (1087 Broadway) is the name of the place, but the bartender calls it Mona. Machine gun trains roar on outside where Bushwick moves up and down Broadway. Johnny Appleseed stands quietly. He mentions that though this is no place to chase skirts exactly, “if you can sit down on your manhood for a second, all your other senses will find a place to explode.” This is exactly how he means to say it, though it comes out differently, before he leaves everyone for the nighttime...

Vaudeville Oddities

While Williamsburg may get criticized for its entrenched hipsterism, it has spawned a subculture beyond the boundaries of the stereotype branded by big-name labels—even if some of them now grace the area. The ever-evolving style on its streets has taken a turn toward Vaudeville: a unified aesthetic with an emphasis on music and visual art, with a penchant for the sideshow and an embrace of the second-hand find.

Fashion frontrunners that take this philosophy to heart are the independent boutiques Love Brigade Co-op and Treehouse, which offer a forum for local indie designers to gain inspiration and showcase their craft. Above all, these boutiques allow their customers to shop over the top; in this case, over the big top...

Oulu
Northside Goes Scandinavian

Finally, a bar in Williamsburg that has all the makings of becoming a great drinking hole without pretense, catering not to a specific scene, but, instead, a clientele…a clientele, which, sadly, most places in Williamsburg seem to overlook in their attempts to be the next ironic cool space. Yes: Oulu seeks out drinkers...

Brooklyn Country
The Defibulators and Andy Friedman and the Other Failures rockin’ the country music scene in Williamsburg

Twangin’ guitars, grinding washboards and ballads about whiskey, guns and wild animals having sexual encounters with mountain men—not what you might expect to hear in a packed saloon in Williamsburg on a Tuesday night, but that’s exactly what concert-goers got when The Defibulators and Andy Friedman and the Other Failures hit the stage at Zebulon this summer. Both bands are based in Brooklyn and both bands are living proof as to why the Brooklyn country music scene is not just alive and kickin’ but downright thriving...

Send feedback