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Brooklyn Parks Monster Preview

I don’t go to parks. I invoke an agreeable and right-headed remark by writer Joy Williams to explain myself, because Williams and I are in sync re: nature. When an interviewer suggested that, given that humans are a corrosive force in the natural world, the “moral alternative” is to live not in the wilds of Montana but in New York City, Williams agreed. "I don’t have to see a place," she said. To paraphrase: Just knowing the wilderness is pristinely out there is good enough, without one’s having to actually be in it.

The De-Greening of Brownsville

This may have been the harshest winter in years, but that hasn’t stopped Helen Mason from braving the cold and snow every day to feed the ducks. Somebody has to make sure Minnie Pearl, who Mason calls "the hostess with the most-est," Ralph, Chiquita, Sophia, and Cramda get plenty of food, water, and attention through these cold months, so they’re healthy and eager to greet visitors when Fantasy Garden opens this spring— though at this point, no one’s sure that will happen.

Tree Street City

The terms natural and artificial can quickly become somewhat confusing in a place like New York City, where even the so-called natural places, like Central Park and Prospect Park, are built environments.

Notes on the War

Along with millions of people around the globe, I have marched repeatedly against the war. Along with many of my loved ones, I have walked through the streets of Washington, DC, San Francisco, and most recently, those of New York City. Individually, each of us is but one of the mass at such events.

William Thompson’s Challenges

It’s not easy managing the city’s money these days. The late 1990s, when the city budget was flush with Wall Street money, seem like a distant memory. Lingering job losses after 9/11, a nationwide recession, the costly war and postwar occupation in Iraq, national Republicans hell-bent on tax cuts, state Republicans not at all eager to help NYC— it’s hard enough to keep the city running, much less try to renew its liberal tradition.

United Puerto Ricans of Sunset Park

Elizabeth Yeampierre takes a spiritual approach towards work that could equally offer success in any area of life. "If you organize out of love," she says, "things fall into place."

The New Skool Goes to Bed-Stuy

Neither rain nor sleet nor snow could keep could keep the young writers in the New Skool Journalism Workshop from their beat in Bedford-Stuyvesant. Through a collaboration with Urban Word (formerly Youth Speaks NY) and the Brooklyn Rail, the young journos confronted stereotypes, expectations and surprises while reporting on community-based arts in the Brooklyn neighborhood. The results bear out the effort, insight and commitment the crew brought to the series of Saturdays late last fall. Special thanks to Tricia Baird who gracefully endured a bit of rain of her own! —Knox Robinson and Meghan McDermott

Anomaly TV: Inside Bed-Stuy

The only reason people can now see Inside Bed-Stuy, New York City’s first African American community television program and one of the only remaining visual resources documenting Bedford Stuyvesant in the late 1960s, is because of a manager who worked for 25 years at the WNEW/ Channel 5 warehouse. The show, broadcast in the NYC area in 52 half-hour episodes between 1968 and 1970, included interviews with Harry Belafonte, Julius Lester (author of Watch Out Whitey, Black Power’s Gonna Get Yo Mamma), a Black Power children’s performance led by Amiri Baraka and, most importantly, the diverse voices of community members who spoke about everything from welfare rights to Anti-Semitism.

Techniquette: “The Kids Are Not All Right”

I am not the natural heir to the etiquette throne, God knows. I come from a family so uncouth that my former shrink once unblinkingly labeled them a "pack of wolves." I grew up in Greater Boston, one of this country’s coldest regions in both weather and temperament, and I emigrated to Brooklyn, not Manhattan, more than 10 years ago not for opera at the Met, dinner at the Four Seasons, and "Talk of the Town," but for rock-the-mike block parties, West Indian take-out, and stoop-snooping.

Park Slope Rising

I find it endlessly satisfying that I can go out my front door, walk a few blocks, and have a truly wonderful meal. This is what we know as the experience of a good New York neighborhood restaurant. It’s not terribly fancy, like Bouley or Jean Georges. But it’s a definite cut above an average diner or a pizza joint. You eat there often enough to know the menu by heart. The food makes you very, very happy.


The Brooklyn Rail

APR-MAY 2003

All Issues