“House that Whimsy Built” Over $60,000 in Fines Since 2010

I am fed up with the “House that Whimsy Built” at 501 2nd St, on the corner of 7th Avenue and 2nd St.   They now have signs saying they have “commercial space for rent.”  The hand painted garish banners are hung on the dilapidated scaffolding, at least on the parts of the structure that havent fallen off.  (Two large pieces of rotting plywood fell from the scaffolding in the last few months.)

I’m not sure what I find more galling, the complete insanity that the owner Dorothy Nash think anyone will rent in a building that is in such disrepair, or that the city has let it get to such a state. There is a “Stop Work Order” on the building because:
“SHED DOES NOT MEET CODE SPECS,ONE POST LEANING TOWARDS ST. & ANOTHER SITTING ON TOP OF METAL GRATE IN DISREPAIR,NO PERMIT”

This is from January of 2010, since then the building had racked up over $60,000 in fines, yet nothing has changed.

Last week a rotting roll-up up gate fell from a store front on 5th Avenue in Park Slope, breaking a two year old’s leg in three places and giving his babysitter a sever head injury.   I don’t even want to consider what injuries would happen if the house of whimsy’s rotting scaffolding collapses. It is across the street from an elementary school and hundreds fo children walk under it every day.

I love the varying nature of the city landscape, from block to block, building to building, an expensive modern glass condo next to sunbleached green aluminum sided townhouse with lawn chairs in front.  It’s what makes Brooklyn Brooklyn.

But we should not call 501 2nd street whimsical. The pink brownstone on Garfield Place is whimsical, the building at the corner of 2nd St. and 7th Ave. is a disaster waiting to happen.

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Chutes and Toddlers

A least a half dozen friends forwarded me the the New York Times article about injuries toddlers receive when going down the slide with their parent. It seems counterintuitive, but when a child goes down a slide with an adult, they are more at risk of being injured if their hand or foot gets caught on the slide.  The additional weight of the parent can break a toddler’s arm or leg, and apparently this is a common injury in ERs.

I have always been advocate of letting my children go solo at the playground. (Although have been spotted on a few slides, it was more for my own enjoyment than helicopter parenting.) That said, it’s not always easy getting a child to take the plunge for the first time, so I certainly cannot begrudge any parent doubling as a toboggan.

And be aware, a hands off PG approach has its downside. My 4 year old son has broken his arm twice due to his adventurous spirit that his dad encouraged.

But I always tell him, broken bones heal, chicks dig scars, and Park Slope has the highest toddler-to-pediatrician ratio on the country.

The Smith Street Poke

Have you seen the lot on Smith St. and Huntington, right on the Gowanus Canal?  I pass it every day on the F train, and I’m fascinated by the “Poke” mural.

I think it’s brownfield that used to be a natural gas plant, but I LOVE that mural! It’s pretty elaborate for graffiti. I want that font!

I am assuming it predates the Facebook “Poke”?  Anyone have info on the Smith Street  MPG lot Poke Mural?

Am I My Son’s Worst Nightmare?

When I tuck my four-year-old son into bed every night, I repeat the same thing my mother always said to me at bedtime, “Happy dreams.”

But recently, my son told me that he never has happy dreams. He has always been a good sleeper and other than the obligatory asking for a glass of water, he has never had problems going to bed. So when he said he only had bad dreams, I was very surprised.

But it’s when he describes his dreams that I get upset. His nightmares go from the classic, dreams about falling, to the heartbreaking, dreams about being hit by a truck. His surreal dream-scapes really freak me out, “There is a scary puddle with a face that turns into a monster,” and “A monster swallowed a balloon.” When I ask why this is scary, he tells me, “Because the monster is choking.”

It is bad enough that he has nothing but terrifying dreams, but the biggest monsters in his dreams are his parents. I can hear myself yelling at him:

“Don’t climb up there, you’ll fall!”

” Do not step in the street!”

” You better not run through that puddle!”

” Do not leave balloons on the ground; your baby sister could choke to death!”

His nightmares don’t seem to affect his sleep, but should I be concerned that he doesn’t have sweet dreams and that my anxieties seem to be the inspiration for his bad dreams?

What’s so Funny ‘Bout Peace, Love, and Organic Arugula?

The Park Slope Food Co-op has been a lightning rod for criticism for years, from people complaining about the co-op banning bottled water,  nannies covering members the mandatory work shifts, and most recently, the meeting to decide whether to decide if they should boycott Israeli products.  Because the Israel boycott flap got so much attention, Reuters Chadwick Matlin decided to “live-tweet” the most recent Food Co-op general meeting (which had nothing to do with banning Israeli products.)

Oh how the hilarity ensued. And all the blogs laughed and laughed.  Oh those silly, stupid co-op members/Park Slope residents/Brooklyn resident/Liberals/Democrats etc. (the derision broadened as the comments went on.)

But why is a business that is truly democratic, and gives everyone a chance to speak, including the kooks, subject to such ridicule? (Full disclosure, I was briefly a co-op member, so I am familiar with the fringe element of a number of the members…let’s face it, some of them are genuine squirrel-bait.)

But rather than just take pot shots,  the Atlantic puts it in perspective with the article The More Things Change the More Food Co-ops Stay Mockable, “The temptation to mock is irresistible. We love to laugh at the Park Slope Food Co-op as the ne plus ultra of overwrought political correctness and smug social consciousness. We need that in our disgruntled, cynical lives.”

Maybe the Park Slope Food Co-op is a naive cockeyed optimist who thinks they can change the world, and that might make them seem a little batty.  But I’m sure if someone live tweeted a Reuters board meeting, you’d hear a few things a little more scandalous than people concerned about plastic bags. Chadwick Matlin, are you willing to direct your clever smarm on David Thomson and James Smith?

What the New Whole Foods Won’t Have

I am thrilled that Whole Foods is FINALLY going to open in Gowanus. Regardless of what you think of of Whole Foods, it is a well run business. It’s clean,  they have excellent products, and the employees are friendly, professional, and efficient.

Always the sentimentalist, here are some of the things I will miss by not shopping at some of the other local grocery stores:

Key Food
I’ll miss your produce pre-wrapped in plastic and packed in threes.

Trader Joe’s
I’m not sure what I’ll do without your overly-OVERLY-friendly cashiers.

Fairway
Who wouldn’t miss the byzantine cobble-stoned route that one must drive to get to Fairway.

Met Food
I will miss your friendly cats (but the bugs in the pasta, not so much.)

The Park Slope Food Co-op
I think I’ll miss you most of all, where will I get the over inflated sense of self regard that comes with shopping at the co-op.

What will you miss while shopping at Whole Foods?

Happy Presidents’ Day- How Lincoln Place Got Its Name

There are a number of presidential associations in Park Slope. In 1883  Macomb Place was renamed Garfield Place after the assignation of President James Garfield (who interestingly enough also shared an affinity for lasagna with the cat of the same name), in 1892 President Grover Cleveland, the Justin Bieber of presidents, was besieged by admirers at the Montauk Club and of course there is President Street, the laziest street name ever.

But the most curious presidential connection in Park Slope is Lincoln Place. Lincoln Place seems innocuous enough, what town doesn’t have a street named after one of our greatest and most popular presidents?  The interesting part is why that street’s name was changed.

Degraw Street runs from Red Hook through Cobble Hill and Gowanus and into Park Slope, where at 5th Street it suddenly changes its name to Lincoln Place.  It was renamed in 1873 shortly after Kate Stoddard shot her lover, Charles Goodrich, 3 times in the head in his home at 731 Degraw Street (right across the street from where the Lincoln Playground is now.)  The murder was a tabloid sensation and property owners thought the macabre association would bring down property values and petitioned the name to be changed to Lincoln Place.

To me, t really amazing part about it was the murder took place on March 21, 1873 and the street was renamed by April 15th 1873, only 25 days later! Apparently the city bureaucracy was a bit faster back then.