Outsider art: See a surreal trailer park in Red Hook

See this story at BrooklynDaily.com.

By Julianne Cuba

Brooklyn Daily

You’re just going to have to see it.

Two Tennessee-born artists have created a surreal trailer park as part of an art installation inside a giant Red Hook warehouse. “Grand Ole Opera,” now on display at Pioneer Works, features two art-filled trailers, a liquor-slinging biker bar, and a host of noise, rock, and metal bands playing concerts inside a re-purposed Christian revival tent. The installation uses Southern cliches and elements of the artists’ unique childhoods to discuss life in a little-regarded American sub-culture, said artist Willie Stewart, who was born into a matriarchal biker gang 30 miles outside of Nashville.

“My work is basically a reflecting pool of my life, how I grew up. I had no male influence because all the men were in prison my entire life. If you see the works themselves — they are indicative of growing up in this weird shack that my family still lives in to this day,” said Stewart, who now lives in Connecticut. “The works I make are deeply genre-based, but deeply rooted in personal trauma to see if I can create a connection with me and other people — create a platform to just learn, or think, or discuss the South or growing up in a sub-culture.”

Willie Stewart and collaborator Brent Stewart — who are not related — purchased two trailers on Craigslist and filled them with their art. Inside one trailer is a display of ouija boards, along with looping video works that include a computer-generated flame burning in front of a family photograph, and clips from werewolf and vampire movies. It all helps to evoke the world he grew up in, said Willie Stewart.

“You walk into this space and then you see this trailer park, which is indicative of where I grew up, but where imagination was created for me to move outside of that world and create something utterly important,” he said. “My mother had a ouija board, I just remember we weren’t allowed to play with it. And the idea of magic and who believes it and who doesn’t believe in it.”

The dramatic space creates a surreal backdrop for the bands that will play during the exhibit’s run, said the show’s curator.

“It’s creating almost a cinematic landscape when you enter,” said Gabriel Florenz. “I always wanted to make an installation that was a performance set — what if we turned the entire installation into a concert venue?”

The exhibit will host eight concerts during its run, featuring Angel Deradoorian, Lightning Bolt, Hank Wood and the Hammerheads, and Suicide Slide, among others. The bands are an audio extension of the visual art, said Florenz.

“The music series is completely part of the installation,” he said. “We really thought of, let’s focus on metal noise music, punk, and rock which are dissident types of music.”

The installation is an overwhelming mish-mash of noise, imagery, and emotions — but that’s the point, said Stewart.

“The trailers, the bar, and then all the artwork is just going, videos are just looping, you come and go on your own terms. When the installation is most activated, everything is happening, that full collision — I think that’s what creates this narrative arc,” he said. “What I love about it, it is confusing, it’s not something you see every day, it’s new.”

“Grand Ole Opera” at Pioneer Works (159 Pioneer St. between Conover and Van Brunt Streets in Red Hook, www.pioneerworks.org). Exhibit open through July 30, Wed–Sat, noon–6 pm. Free. Concerts at various times, $15–$25.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.

Comment on this story.

Powered by WPeMatico

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

When Kegels just aren’t enough

See this story at BrooklynDaily.com.

By Joanna DelBuono

Brooklyn Daily

I have seen a whole lot of old wives tales in my time — tossing salt over your shoulder for luck, and herbal remedies including putting onions under your feet to detoxify your body and putting an orange peel on your head to get rid of a headache — but none as wacky as this one: Oak galls.

For what you say? Well, The New York Daily News ran an item last week explaining the trend.

Per the News: “Oak gall is basically a calcification that forms when gall wasps lay larvae in oak trees. They are then taken (or fall) from trees and mixed with different things, like sandalwood or nutmeg, to make different medicinal pastes for reducing mouth ulcers, to clean wounds, and more.”

The “more,” apparently, is tightening a women’s nether regions post-childbirth, and making it smell as pretty as an Irish spring morn. Yuck, yuck and more yuck!

Yes, women can regain that not-so-flesh feeling in their bele chose (Chaucer), by just using a bit of this miracle paste. A little dab ’ll do ya!

“Crushed, boiled, and made into a vaginal ‘wash,’ the galls are described as being able to ‘tighten’ and remove smells from the vagina, particularly after childbirth, with the assistance of Kegel exercises,” the article continued.

Dr. Jennifer Gunter, a gynecologist with a practice in San Francisco who was interviewed for the article, had noticed that oak galls were being sold on Etsy. She wrote on her blog in May, “Don’t put dried up wasp’s nest in your vagina.”

“It’s a terrible idea. It could wreak havoc with the good bacteria. In addition to causing pain during sex, it can increase the risk of HIV transmission,” she wrote.

The Etsy page for “HeritageHealthShop,” where Dr. Gunter saw it, has subsequently removed the oak gall concoction, but there are still more sites on Etsy, as well as other herbal internet companies, still shilling the stuff.

Amazon offered an oak-gall ointment called Manjakani Putri Binari, but the site now states it is “currently unavailable.”

Dr. Gunter added, “Do not put dried herb bags in your vaginas for tightening, as the vagina doesn’t need much external maintenance.”

Absolutely. Mother Nature designed our bodies quite well when it comes to keeping all working parts in the pink, especially the you-know-hoo-hoo.

Not for Nuthin, the article ended with “Definitely keep these bees out of your bonnet.” Sage advice if ever I heard it.

As to all those old wives tales and other herbal remedies, I don’t know how well a cut onion removes toxins from the body, but a cut slice rubbed on a bug bite does take away the itch and sting and the rind of an orange on your forehead does help a headache. And I always throw a bit of salt over my shoulder, just in case.

Follow me on Twitter @JDelBuono.

Joanna DelBuono writes about national issues every Wednesday on BrooklynDaily.com. E-mail her at jdelbuono@cnglocal.com.

Comment on this story.

Powered by WPeMatico

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Cyclones are ready to roll again

See this story at BrooklynDaily.com.

By Matt John

Brooklyn Daily

Get your popcorn ready, Coney Island, the Cyclones are back!

The Brooklyn Cyclones are approaching the Monday, June 19 opener of the 2017 New York-Penn League season with high hopes — even if the squad’s honchos don’t yet know who will be sprinting onto the field at MCU Park to play for them.

“Every year we hope to get back to the playoffs and potentially win a championship. That’s kind of the goal for every team when the season starts, regardless of if you’re in short-season baseball or playing in the majors,” team spokesman Billy Harner said. “We don’t know who is going to be our pitchers. We don’t know who’s going to be in our outfield. We don’t who know who’s going to be playing anywhere until a few days before opening day. It’s a very unique situation we have here in short-season baseball but the goals are always still the same regardless of where you are playing.”

The Cyclones finished 37–39 — third in the division — so there is obvious room for improvement. Team management believes that recent offseason moves — most notably promoting assistant coach and former Met Edgardo Alfonzo to manager — will pay dividends on the field once the season starts.

“He’s one of the more beloved Mets in recent memory so we’re excited to have him here,” Harner said of Alfonzo. “He tends to be more aggressive, which is always something that makes fans more excited.”

Cyclones brass are anxiously looking forward to who the parent club Mets select in Monday’s Major League Baseball draft, to get an idea of which ballplayers might be on Brooklyn roster come opening day.

“We’re just like most fans — waiting to see what happens here in the next couple of days. Hopefully the roster starts to take shape and we’ll have a better idea by the end of the week who will be taking the field on opening day.” Harner said. “We’re a minor league team playing in a major league city, so our fans are used to a certain quality of baseball.” Harner said.

The Cyclones haven’t been to the playoffs since 2012, and are counting on Alfonzo’s fresh leadership, and the continued support of their loyal fans, to carry the team back to postseason play.

“Our fans are very passionate,” Harner said. “And it’s very intimidating for opposing teams playing in front of crowds like we have here.”

Comment on this story.

Powered by WPeMatico

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Council passes long-awaited ‘illegal conversion’ bill

See this story at BrooklynDaily.com.

By Caroline Spivack

Brooklyn Daily

Council has finally passed a long-awaited bill to curb illegal home conversions where landlords dice up buildings and cram tenants into dangerous living conditions — a practice that plagues Southern Brooklyn.

The legislation slaps violators with hefty fines and is a big win for protecting vulnerable, low-income renters from greedy landlords, said the lead pol behind the bill.

“Substandard housing is not affordable housing,” said Councilman Vincent Gentile (D–Bay Ridge), whose district of Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, and Bay Ridge are hit particularly hard by the trend. “Seeking to maximize profit at the expense of tenant safety will no longer be permissible by the City of New York once this bill is signed into law.”

Illegal conversions pack tenants into unsafe living conditions — 31 tenants were vacated from a two-family Dyker Heights home last August — contribute to school overcrowding, and ruin neighborhood character, charge activists and pols.

The bill imposes a $15,000 fine for landlords who subdivide three or more units above a building’s certificate of occupancy and allows the city to put a lien on properties when landlords fail to pay the penalties. And the city can sell the lien if it remains unpaid for more than a year.

But the bill lacks provisions to protect those displaced by city-issued vacate orders, critics argue, and could have the unintended consequence of pushing residents — many of whom are low-income immigrants — out onto the street.

“That’s our major concern,” said Warren Chen, director of the Asian Community United Society, who initially opposed the bill but backed it after meeting with Gentile. “It’s definitely a positive first step. Unfortunately, he’s not able to put the fines toward helping relocate people. But he said he’s going to work on that, so we hope he sticks to his word.”

The bill initially included a safety net that would have directed fines collected into a fund for displaced families, but lawmakers scrapped the provision because the Council does not have the power to designate such a fund.

Instead, the measure would require a written agreement between Council and the mayor. Council would have to re-sign the agreement with each new mayor. Alternatively, the Department of Buildings could create its own rules diverting fines into a displacement fund, according to Gentile.

Reach reporter Caroline Spivack at cspivack@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2523. Follow her on Twitter @carolinespivack.

Comment on this story.

Powered by WPeMatico

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Sunset Park Recreation Center to get $4-million facelift

See this story at BrooklynDaily.com.

By Caroline Spivack

Brooklyn Daily

The Landmarks Preservation Commission green-lighted a $4-million reboot for the Sunset Park Recreation Center on May 9.

The community hub off of Seventh Avenue in Sunset Park proper will get some much-needed love after nearly 40 years without a major overhaul, and locals are overjoyed at the prospect of a state-of-the-art rec center.

“It’s wonderful that the center is getting a makeover, because that place is really part of the fabric of the community,” said life-long Sunset Parker Silvia Velasquez. “I practically grew up there as a kid, and it’s nice to see that it’s going to be revitalized so that future generations can continue to enjoy it.”

Built back in the 1930s, the city landmarked the rec center in 2007. The building was originally intended for seasonal pool use, but has since become a Mecca for neighborhood activities and is open year-round.

Parks Department records show that the project will update the dilapidated structure’s heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and electrical systems — all of which are in dire need of repairs, according to one local.

“The temperature can go all over the place in there,” said Sunset Parker Lonnie Lawrence. “Being in a new space where we’re not freezing or frying will be a welcome change.”

Aside from bringing the building’s essential systems into the 21st century, the project aims to restore the historic building to its former glory with new finishes, signage, and lighting fixtures. But the jail-like bars on the main entrance will be replaced with a sleek, glass facade, according to Parks Department records.

Sunset Park has a handful of other projects that the city aims to complete first, including a revamp of the Sunset Park play ground, so locals will have to wait a while before shovels hit the ground, according to the district manager of Community Board 7.

The project is currently in the design phase, which the Parks Department aims to complete by September. Construction is expected to begin by the end of next summer and last until early 2019, according to an agency spokeswoman.

Reach reporter Caroline Spivack at cspivack@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2523. Follow her on Twitter @carolinespivack.

Comment on this story.

Powered by WPeMatico

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Time to get rolling! Marine Park bocce courts are open

See this story at BrooklynDaily.com.

By Julianne Cuba

Brooklyn Daily

Bocce’s back, baby!

Avid bocce ball players cheered and applauded as Parks Department Commissioner Mitchell Silver and other community leaders snipped the ribbon to open the long-awaited new bocce courts in Marine Park on May 11.

The Parks Department started construction on the Fillmore Avenue courts in 2015 — after years of city agencies squabbling over funding and the play area’s aesthetics — and the athletes had to be cordoned off to temporary, smaller-than-normal courts in the meantime. But now, they are finally ready to get rolling on the beautiful regulation-size courts, said the president of the Marine Park Bocce Club, which was founded in 1996.

“This is a full-size, it requires a little training. We should get used to it because it’s 108-feet long. The other was 60-feet,” said Marine Parker Angelo Ippolito. “We are very happy.”

The three new courts — equipped with overhead shade structures and lined with benches — were part of the city’s $5.45-million overhaul of Marine Park’s eponymous green space, including new basketball, tennis, and handball courts, and exercise equipment.

The greensward is actually the borough’s largest park, so it attracts kids and families from all over Brooklyn — and even from distant states, said Councilman Alan Maisel (D–Marine Park), who funded the overhaul along with his predecessor then-Councilman Lew Fidler.

“The playground is packed on Saturday and Sunday, the field is covered with cricket players and baseball players and football players,” said Maisel during the ceremony. “Everybody comes here, people come from the north, from the south, east, from the west. I met people from New Jersey once in this park.”

And park-goers are already loving the fitness equipment and new basketball courts, said one Mill Basinite who had to trek to Brooklyn Bridge Park just to shoot hoops before they re-opened.

“They were closed right before the summer last time, so that kind of sucked,” said Kevin Sebili. “It’s really nice.”

Parents won’t be able to pull their kids away from the green space with all of its new amenities — but that’s the way it should be, said Commissioner Silver, before cutting the ribbon.

“As I always say, you may sleep in your home or apartment, but we live in our public spaces, and I can tell that this is one that’s well-used by the community,” he said. “Enjoy this wonderful park.”

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.

Comment on this story.

Powered by WPeMatico

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Smelly subject: Drawing Gowanus water colors in black and white

See this story at BrooklynDaily.com.

By Lauren Gill

Brooklyn Daily

See the gorgeous Gowanus!

Amateur artists can learn to capture the fantastical, fetid sight of the Gowanus Canal on paper, at a free workshop on the banks of the noxious waterway on May 20. “Abstracting the Gowanus” will help people to see the heavily polluted stretch in a new light, according to the artist leading the class.

“My hope is that something that people might not have not paid attention to, or discounted as an ugly body of water, will start to see the beauty in it and appreciate what’s really there,” said Rachael Wren, who became intrigued by the federal Superfund site last year during a canoe trip, when the Brooklyn artist discovered that its shifting colors provided the ideal subject for abstract creations.

During her two-hour workshop, Wren will teach creators of all skill levels to envision the canal on paper, using pencil, charcoal, and ink. Participants will start by jotting down a series of small drawings that evoke their impressions of the gonorrhea-infested waterway, she said.

“The idea is to capture the feeling of what they’re seeing, not necessarily making it look like what they’re seeing,” said Wren. “When you’re working that quickly you bypass thought and judgment — really unexpected and beautiful things can happen.”

The artists will then choose one of their speedy sketches and create a larger version.

The Lavender Lake is so nick-named for its less-than-natural coloring, but participants will create their masterpieces in black and white — a challenge to make them focus on the unusual contours lurking atop Brooklyn’s Nautical Purgatory, according to Wren.

“It forces you to look at the shapes and movements of things — that’s the reason why I’m doing it with black and white,” she said. “I think the black and white just lends itself to this exploratory type of drawing.”

The Gowanus Canal has been the muse for photographers and musicians, but most people just hold their nose and hurry past. Wren says that her class will help participants to truly see the wonder in the water in front of them.

“Any time you spend time thinking, which is rare these days, really focusing on something, I think it makes you imagine and see more,” she said.

Abstracting the Gowanus at Whole Foods Esplanade (214 Third St. at Third Avenue in Gowanus, www.gowanuscanalconservancy.org), May 20 at 2 pm. Free. Art supplies provided.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill

Comment on this story.

Powered by WPeMatico

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Zumba dancers raise money to fight cancer

See this story at BrooklynDaily.com.

By Julianne Cuba

Brooklyn Daily

It’s dancing for a cause!

More than 100 Zumba enthusiasts shook it out and got low during a “Zumba For Life” fund-raising event to raise money to fight the silent killer, ovarian cancer, at the Aviator Sports and Events Center on May 6. And all their hard work and sweat paid off — they raised a whopping $2,000 — but the best part of the day was feeling the support from everyone in the room, said one breast cancer survivor.

“You have these events that you meet people who are going through the same thing you’re going through,” said Theresa Butera, who lives in Gravesend. “I think that the purpose of it is it brings awareness to people. Just dancing and knowing that every survivor is doing this for not only yourself, but for people who can’t do it, or have lost their lives.”

Organizer Joe Gillette — known by most as “Zumba Daddy” — was thrilled to see everyone breaking a sweat, and was pretty satisfied with his own effort, he said.

“We had a lot of fun, had a nice turn out. The people love it, they love to come with a lot of enthusiasm,” said Gillette. “I did one very heavily intensive routine, like a champion, and then I did the cool down. I’m feeling pretty good three days later — not too sore.”

Gillette said he’s already getting in shape for next month’s mother of all fund-raising events for the American Cancer Society — the Relay for Life walk at MCU Park in Coney Island on June 10.

Relay for Life at MCU Park (1904 Surf Ave. in Coney Island) June 10 at 6 pm.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.

Comment on this story.

Powered by WPeMatico

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Three cads try to rob Bay Ridge woman at gunpoint

See this story at BrooklynDaily.com.

By Caroline Spivack

Brooklyn Daily

Police are searching for three goons who throttled a woman by the throat, pressed a gun to her gut, and demanded cash on May 8 — all in her own home.

The 24-year-old woman was inside her Seventh Avenue apartment at 72nd Street when the men knocked on her door. When she answered, one of the bruisers lunged for her neck, pointed a handgun at her stomach, and demanded she cough up cash, according to police.

But the woman had a friend over and he sprang into action and attempted to intervene. A tussle ensued and her friend was slashed in the face, head, and neck by the three brutes, authorities said.

The three ruffians booked it empty handed in an unknown direction. Police described the three men in their late 20s to early 30s ranging in height from 5-foot-7–6-foot-3.

Police released photos that they believe depict two of the nogoodniks.

The investigation is ongoing, officials said.

Police are asking anyone with information regarding the incident to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577–8477. The public can also submit tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website at www.nypdcrimestoppers.com or by texting tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then entering TIP577.

Reach reporter Caroline Spivack at cspivack@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2523. Follow her on Twitter @carolinespivack.

Comment on this story.

Powered by WPeMatico

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Slimeball tries to rape Bensonhurst woman

See this story at BrooklynDaily.com.

By Caroline Spivack

Brooklyn Daily

Police are searching for the monster who tried to rape a woman in Bensonhurst on May 5th.

The creep approached the 39-year-old woman just after 4 am on a Coney Island-bound N train. But after engaging in small talk, the cad grabbed her breasts and the freaked-out woman fled the train at the Bay Parkway station, officials said.

The perv followed her out and on Bay Parkway between 64th and 65th streets, the man came up behind her and grabbed the woman, trying to drag her down. But the woman struggled against him and the pair fell to the ground during the tussle, according to police.

Once on the ground, the ruffian climbed on top of the woman, pinning her arms down as he attempted to force himself on her, but the would-be victim managed to scare off her attacker by screaming for help and the monster fled on Bay Parkway toward 65th Street, authorities said.

Police described the scuzzball as in his 20s, roughly 5-foot-4–5-foot-6, last seen wearing a sweater, white T-shirt, blue jeans, and a backpack.

A police investigation is ongoing.

—with Matthew John

Police are asking anyone with information regarding the incident to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577–8477. The public can also submit tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website at www.nypdcrimestoppers.com or by texting tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then entering TIP577.

Reach reporter Caroline Spivack at cspivack@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2523. Follow her on Twitter @carolinespivack.

Comment on this story.

Powered by WPeMatico

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail