Sunday, September 12, 2010

Reasons I love Greenpoint- Part 19: Joe Lentol!

Joe Lentol!

headquarters of Assemblyman Joseph R. Lentol

Attention Registered Democratic Brooklynites! It is super rare that I talk politics, but I have to mention this...

As you probably know, this coming Tuesday September 14th is the primary election. If you are a registered democrat, I urge you to get out this Tuesday and vote for our current Assemblyman Joe Lentol in the primary. In case you are not aware, Joe is our Democratic Assemblyman and represents the Greenpoint, Williamsburg and Fort Greene sections of Brooklyn.

Perhaps you've seen these ads in the local papers or your mailbox?

Joe Lentol

Joe Lentol

Did you look carefully to perhaps notice someone you may recognize? Someone like me? and my friend Sherry and even the Hello Kitty Cruiser?!

As a friend and supporter of Mr Lentol, I was thrilled when the super smart and lovely Amy from his office asked me to be a part of his upcoming re-election campaign! (me and Amy, at the Lentol headquarters last month-)

Me & Amy

And how could I possibly say no?! I was of course more than happy to meet with, and take a few photos with Mr Lentol for the flyer that you see above. (Thank you, Mr Lentol and your wonderful office staff!)

But you're not voting for me, you're voting for him, so let me tell you just some of the things Mr Lentol cares about and works on for us at a local level that are near and dear to my own heart:

  • Public Transportation: As mass  transit has suffered cuts Lentol has recognized the need for more  options for New York City commuters including walking, biking and  improving the existing transit. Assemblyman Lentol firmly believes in public transportation.  According  to his endorsement in the Greenpoint Gazette "Amid fare hikes and  service cuts, he offered numerous solutions to the MTA to help protect North Brooklyn’s subway and bus  service and led protests when the MTA tried  to make cuts." He is a fierce advocate for the G. (I've mentioned him in my commuting blog a few times)

    • Healthy Eating/Greenmarkets: In addition to supporting community gardens Assemblyman Lentol is a  proud supporter of Greenmarkets and other programs aiming to bring high  quality, healthy foods into neighborhoods and is escpecially interested  in programs that are linked to local growers and small farms allowing  communities here in New York City to support farmers throughout the  state.   

  • Did someone say beer?! He has also taken the locally grown concept one step farther and taken  steps to support New York State wineries and craft breweries.  He  actually created beer trails program which allows you to choose a region  of the state or city and shows you how to visit local breweries,  similar to Napa Valley's wine trails.

    • The Newtown Creek Disaster/Environmental Issues: Joe has been endorsed by the Sierra Club and League of Conservation  Voters for his environmental record.  He has helped advocate for the  Superfund status of Newtown Creek, and been a consistent voice for clean  up in the fight against the Exxon Mobil Oil Spill and the Meeker Avenue  Plume, most recently helping to bring about health studies and  obtaining vapor intrusion testing for homes near the oil spill to ensure  the homes are free from potentially dangerous chemicals related to the  spill.  
    • Filming in NY: Assemblyman Lentol instituted the film tax credit which has had the number of film and  television shows in New York triple giving more jobs to people who work  in that industry. (Personally, I love that a ton of stuff is filmed in NYC!)
    • Dog Parks & Community Gardens:He is currently  working to improve several of the dog runs in the neighborhood as well  as a number of community gardens. (I don't have a dog, but I think this is great, and important for those that do) 
    • Marriage Equality: When gay marriage first came to a vote in New York,  Assemblyman Lentol was one of the leaders in ensuring that it passed the  Assembly.  (Unfortunately, however, it still has not passed the Senate.)
    • And probably my biggest passion: BIKING! He has worked to bring more bike racks  to North Brooklyn, to bring bike lanes to bridges like the Kosciuscko  and to support the Greenway.   He has also worked, often in conjunction  with transportation alternatives, to  pass legislation in Albany that  will protect bicyclists and pedestrians alike.  Among these is the  well-known Hailey and Diego's law which Assemblyman Lentol, as Chairman  of the very prominent codes committee,  shepherded through the committee  system and to the floor for a vote.  He also worked on a law which  would mandate that drivers pass bicyclists at a safe distance and not  just swoop by them.  He helped put camaras on the fronts of buses to  speed up bus commutes by  catching those blocking bus lanes.  Most recently when sanitation  wanted to cut down ghost bikes, he stepped in to help ensure that wont  happen. (something I feel especially strongly about considering my friend Rasha who was killed on her bike and has a ghost bike on Delancey @ Bowery)
    And that's just a brief list of my own favorite things Joe supports and works on for us. But he doesn't just work on local issues - he is actually very well known for his criminal justice legislation and has done a ton of stuff in that arena also.

    He's hard working, obviously cares about the community and people he serves, and on top of that, he's a super nice guy to boot - he even took a few minutes to pose with me for a birthday photo last month in his office.

    Assemblyman Joe Lentol & Me

    So that's our Assemblyman, Joe Lentol, in a nutshell. I firmly believe we need to keep this man in office. It would benefit our district to allow him to continue doing what he's doing. Let's make that happen - get out there and vote for Mr Lentol in the primary this Tuesday so we can give him another chance to keep up the great work he does for our community.

    And thanks for everything you do, Mr Lentol! You're awesome!
  • Wednesday, February 10, 2010

    Reasons I love Greenpoint- Part 17: The Gutter

    One of my favorite places in Greenpoint is a place I don't frequent nearly enough: The Gutter. I've heard it referred to as being in Williamsburg - and it *is* located on the border - but with a 11222 zip code, I am counting this as a win for Greenpoint!

    Gutter Chalkboard (and dog friendly Bars rule!!)

    From the front door there's a great view of the Manhattan skyline - that's the Empire State Building in blue and white:

    Walking to Gutter Bar, I snapped a pic of midtown in the dark

    But let's go inside, shall we?

    Come on in and bowl, this-a-way!

    The Gutter is a surprisingly large bar that's a little dark and dingy - just the way I like my bars - with a great selection of draft beer. I don't have a photo of the taps, but I do have a photograph of just some of the liquor since I was trying to capture the marbled mirror tiles behind the bottles. We had those mirrored tiles in our house growing up, and so did a lot of my other relatives. I think it's a 70's Italian thing:

    That gold marbled tile was in my house growing up, and most of my relatives had it too.

    I *love* this bar. It has a ton of tables in addition to seating at the bar (my favorite choice). But The Gutter is so much more than just an awesome, well priced bar: It's a bowling alley! They have cool vintage bowling stuff decorating the place and then of course there's the lanes themselves. I remember reading that the lanes were brought over to NYC from an old bowling alley in the midwest - how cool is that?


    And look at the neat-o old timey score keeping computers!

    Mike and the ancient computers

    You may know that I'm bathroom obsessed, so I'm pleased to report that there are plenty of single stall restrooms... with sinks that line the walls of a separate room so they can be accessed without waiting for a restroom (genius!). And the stalls boast some of my favorite bathroom graffiti ever!

    I love cartoon teeth

    A timely reminder

    Bathroom graffiti (no, I did not write it!)

    I've been here and bowled a bunch of times, usually for friend's birthdays. Here's Lainy's birthday in 2008:

    Birthday girl and me

    Jordana's Birthday later that year:

    Birthday girl and me

    My friend Joe Katz posed me for this photo. It's one of my favorite photos of me ever!

    Joe Katz posed me. As usual.

    Erin and Me

    Aw, kitten & poodle love

    Licking Erin's thigh

    My friend Michelle surrounded by Joe Katz, Josue & JJ


    Joe Katz gives people what they want... the point!

    Joe Katz points at YOU

    Joe Katz is a legend:

    Joe and his bowling bitches

    And he brings his Connect Four to most events:

    Joe carefully studies his next move

    I actually bowl when I'm there (and win, but who keeps track of such a thing? *cough cough*)

    My friend Theadora and me:

    Theadora and Me

    Did I mention there's foosball?

    Joe Katz battles Ryan

    And if you're into candy (I'm a recovering candy junkie *sniff*), look at this beautiful old vending machine:

    Candy Machine (I still want a zagnut!)

    And besides, where else are you going to get a Zagnut so easily??

    I wanted a zagnut but didn't have 4 quarters

    Now I know what you're thinking: "This place is &^!@%$# AMAZING! It can't possibly be real, affordable, and right here in Greenpoint!" And I don't blame you for thinking that. It does sound too good to be true. But it gets even cooler when you hear this... A scene from Flight of the Conchords was filmed in this establishment! I nearly fell off the couch when I was watching and saw the love of my life, Jemaine, in one of the barstools that I have sat in!!! (faint) Turns out it's one of my favorite songs of theirs too, "Friends". Enjoy!

    Putting together this blog just made me realize how much I miss this place and need to go back there again. In fact, what are you doing on August 20th? I think I'm going to have my birthday celebration there this year. But I'm definitely going to hit them up before then, too. I love this place so much that I would hate to see it disappear from the hood. I want to support them. I hope you will too!

    The Gutter
    200 N 14th St Brooklyn, NY 11222 (718) 387-3585

    Saturday, January 9, 2010

    Reasons I love Greenpoint- Part 16: Filming

    One exciting thing about being in NYC is you are bound to run into film crews. Sure, it's an inconvenience when it's on your block and the lights and noise keep you up in the middle of the night, but I have not had to deal with that... yet.

    A shocking amount of TV and movies film in Greenpoint. Since I've been here (4 years), these are just a handful of shoots that I am aware of: Lipstick Jungle, Fringe, The Casualty, The Money and the Power (that 50 Cent show that was on MTV), 30 Rock, Life on Mars, The Black Donnellys, Rescue Me, The Departed and my absolute favorite show - Flight of the Conchords!

    In fact, I got to watch them filming Flight of the Conchords *before* I had started watching the show. It's probably a good thing too - because if I was a fan at the time I stumbled upon the shoot, I may have risked life and limb to cover Jemaine Clement in kisses (I *LOVE* THAT MAN!). Here are the photos I took that night on Greenpoint Ave:

    Filming "Flight of the Conchords" in Greenpoint

    Look! It's Jemaine!! (He's in front of Chinese Musician restaurant on Greenpoint Ave- this is where I have Christmas dinner with my Dad)

    Filming "Flight of the Conchords" in Greenpoint

    Filming "Flight of the Conchords" in Greenpoint

    My favorite show on network TV is 30 Rock. They film in Silvercup Studios (in Long Island City), which is only a few miles from here. But for one opening scene, they shot in front of one of the many 99 cent stores on Manhattan Ave. I was not aware of this until I was watching the episode. I recognized the store immediately because of the red 99 cents neon sign. Here is the storefront (between Meserole & Calyer):

    This Greenpoint 99 cent store was seen on 30 Rock this season!

    And here is a still shot from the episode:

    30 Rock, on Manhattan Ave in Greenpoint

    Lipstick Jungle was on Greenpoint Ave what seemed like every day for months. I never saw the actors, but I did get one of the crew to let me take a banana from the food table once.

    Rescue Me filmed here often too. I've also seen their trailers, but never the actors.

    And the show Life on Mars filmed here a lot too.

    Life on Mars shooting on Manhattan Ave

    One night I took photos of the film crew and the parked cars on Calyer street -

    Shooting "Life on Mars" on Calyer St at the Capri Social Club

    Car from the set of "Life on Mars"

    Car from the set of "Life on Mars"

    And last spring/summer, a film called "The Bounty" with Jennifer Aniston filmed in Greenpoint for weeks. I loved what they did with some of the storefronts along Manhattan Ave and I watched them film the parade scene-

    I'd totally buy that bathing suit

    I *love* this graphic so much, I want to marry it!!!

    Hanging out between takes

    Marching Band

    Although this entry is all about the reasons I love Greenpoint, I need to mention that when I bike around and see the "No Parking" signs, I am on a mission. First, I pull my bike over. Then, I make sure the coast is clear while I sing a little Judas Priest in my head "breakin the law! breakin the law!". I pull out my razor blade - which I carry for this exact purpose - and cut down a sign. What a rebel! I can't stop myself. I just love collecting them! But I am considerate about it, I do it only when there are multiple signs in one place, because I don't want anyone to get a ticket or get towed for not knowing about the restriction.

    Here are the signs I've collected so far (these are from Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan)-

    No Parking signs from NYC film shoots

    Come to think of it, I haven't seen any film crew signs in Greenpoint lately. But I'm sure it's just a matter of time. I wonder what will film here next!

    Saturday, January 2, 2010

    Reasons I love Greenpoint: Part 15 - The Greenpoint YMCA

    Last week was my 4 year anniversary living in the great neighborhood of Brooklyn known as Greenpoint. I weighed about 185 pounds at the time I arrived. The following September, when I was close to 200 pounds, I joined Weight Watchers. And days later, I also joined the Greenpoint YMCA.

    Greenpoint YMCA, since 1906

    At the time, I had no idea at that time how dramatically my life would change as a result - that I would go on to lose 50 pounds, looking and feeling better than I ever have in my life, that I would challenge my fear of classes by trying out Punk Rope, only to become a devoted punk roper (evenually challenging myself further by doing yoga, pilates, interval training and total body conditioning), that I would improve my cardiovascular health dramatically, that I would become physically stronger and not coincidentally mentally stronger, that I would start to believe in myself, that I would make some of the best friends I've ever had in my life, that I would become an avid and enthusiastic cyclist, or that I would start running - something I have always hated and dreaded!

    While I realize that I made all of those changes and am ultimately responsible for all the ways my life has improved since then, I can't help but wonder how different my life would be if the Y wasn't there. Would any of that have happened? Maybe some of it would have, but my life would not be what it is today.

    Needless to say, I love my YMCA. I'm proud to be a part of it and I'm so glad it's there. So when I came across this postcard on eBay, I *had* to make sure it was mine - This appears to be a hand drawn representation of the building. (Anyone familiar with Greenpoint will likely recognize this as the corner of Meserole Ave & Lorimer St.) There is a handwritten note on the front of the postcard where I assume the person sending it was pointing out the room she stayed in.

    YMCA - corner of Meserole Ave & Lorimer St

    Flipping it over, the postcard was actually filled out on March 12, 1911 and is postmarked with a Brooklyn stamp from March 13, 1911 - 99 years ago!!!

    It reads:
    "How is Ferndale? It seems very nice to have Aunt Bessie with us. I don't think we will let her leave us. Mother has been to church three times today but Aunt B. and I were wicked and only went twice. Elsie I DeGroot"
    I love that so much! They were "wicked" for only going to church twice! And could she be referring to beautiful St Anthony's Church on Manhattan Ave? I would bet she was!

    Anyway this is how the YMCA looks today, January 2, 2010 from that same angle. Not much has changed (though, comparing it to the postcard, they added a few floors onto back of the Lorimer side of the building):

    YMCA, 2010

    I love my YMCA and am so thankful for the wonderful people I've met there - the people that have taught me and pushed me and made me a better person, inside and out. Thank you, YMCA, you are just one more reason I love Greenpoint!