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It was quite a lovely weekend in Brooklyn last Saturday. Well, not such much the intense heat and humidity but for art lovers and hardware aficionados Saturday’s Crest Hardware Art Show was spectacular. You may remember my post from last summer when I first stumbled upon this gem in my new neighborhood.
Oh how I love to wander around hardware stores. “Limitless ideas of things to be built! New creations to be made! Problems solved! A fix for everything!”, this is what goes on in my mind as I look and gather. So as an artist who often incorporates hardware into her pieces, this art show was a dream come true.
I had a friend who showed his work which was wonderful! From his website, read what the Alchemist has to say about his work – “I incorporate my original abstract designs into found metal objects ranging from old mill saw blades to ocean buoys.” Beautiful, beautiful work!
Many artists are featured in this show and Crest is very clever in hanging and placing pieces of art within the sections where the piece might have gotten some of its elements. Imaginative, surprising and sometimes you just have do a double take to realize that it is art you are looking at, not a functional piece of hardware. The show spills out of the store and into the back garden area. Interspersed among the greenery and flowers you find delightful sculptural works and paintings. During the opening, live bands play, DJs spin and there is food and drinks a plenty.
If you’ve not had a chance to go to this, note that most of these pieces are there through August.
(between Lorimer and Union)
I had the great pleasure of being asked out to Floyd Bennett Field this past week. Now, my interest in getting inside the hangar was just as much based on being a history freak as from reading the Joe Ledger series that has a super secret spy headquarters based at Floyd Bennett Field. If you like intrigue, gutsy heroes, and plots to destroy the world through zombies and vampires, then the Joe Ledger series by Jonathan Maberry is definitely for you.
But the truth is, I love old things. I love the smell of the past, the stories hidden, and sense of history layered throughout every inch of anything old. How humbling the sense of life transient and yet, here… here I touch a bit of what came before and what might endure after. Floyd Bennett Field more than lived up to my expectations for these feelings, even if I never did find Joe Ledger’s super secret spy headquarters.
However, walking into Hangar B where volunteers have been creating an aviation museum through the Historical Aircraft Restoration Project (HARP), I immediately felt that sense of wonder you get when you experience something that is bigger than you. Here in front of me an entire hangar filled not only with old planes but other bits of historical military vehicles and aviation paraphernalia. Poking around, taking photos, reading about what I was seeing and simply putting my hands upon these items was a day in history heaven.
Named for naval aviator and Brooklyn resident Floyd Bennett, the first person to fly over the North Pole, the old airport was a point of departure for other record-breaking flights of famous aviators including Amelia Earhart and Howard Hughes.
Here’s a bit more historical information from the National Park Service:
A city panel selected Barren Island in Brooklyn as the location for New York’s first municipal airport and it was named Floyd Bennett Field. Floyd Bennett was the naval pilot for Commander Richard E. Byrd’s flight over the North Pole in 1926. He was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Floyd Bennett Field was dedicated on May 23, 1931. It was rated A-1-A, the highest classification of the Civil Aeronautics Board. It boasted concrete runways, fours hangers that could service the largest aircraft of the day, and an Administration Building that served as a terminal.
New York City found a more convenient location for a municipal airport that was closer to transportation. Municipal Airport #2, now known as LaGuardia Airport, opened in 1939. The city sold Floyd Bennett Field to the U.S. Navy. On June 2, 1941, Naval Air Station New York was dedicated at Floyd Bennett Field.
Floyd Bennett Field’s service didn’t end at the war’s end however. It was redesignated a Naval Air Reserve Training Station in 1946. With the Cold War and the Korea War intensifying the site was again redesignated. This time it became a Naval Air Station within the Naval Air Reserve System. Navy and Marine Aircraft Squadrons called the Field home and reserve units trained on weekends. With the U.S. scaling back the Vietnam War effort, Floyd Bennett Field was no longer needed. In 1971, the U.S. Navy deactivated the Field. Soon thereafter, the National Park Service made the location part of Gateway NRA.
If you’d like to see what types of activities are offered at Floyd Bennett Field today, take a look at the New York Harbor Parks website – urban camping, ecology walks, astronomy and gardening events and kayak trips.
With biking on my mind, I’ve been having some fun reading up on the sport the last few days. Came across this little gem of a list – Don’ts for Women Bike Riders circa 1895. Now, I have my favorites from the list (numbers 7, 11, 34, 41 and 42). I don’t even know what “a bike face” means, but I am going to work on cultivating one. Also, cows can be scary so it’s okay to scream if you come across one. Have you ever been in a herd of cows who for no apparent reason decide to run? That is scary stuff my friend. Also, after reading this, I really want a pair of bloomers and will have to contact Jennifer at Under the Root for some soon.
And if you need inspiration to overcome these rules, then check out this story on Annie “Londonderry” Cohen Kopchovsky, who ignored every bit of this advice and in 1895 became the first women to bike around the world. What an amazing story!
So beware New Yorkers, I’ll be the lady with her legs thrown over her handlebars and coasting down hills.
Don’ts for Women Bike Riders circa 1895
- Don’t be a fright.
- Don’t faint on the road.
- Don’t wear a man’s cap.
- Don’t wear tight garters.
- Don’t forget your toolbag
- Don’t attempt a “century.”
- Don’t coast. It is dangerous.
- Don’t boast of your long rides.
- Don’t criticise people’s “legs.”
- Don’t wear loud hued leggings.
- Don’t cultivate a “bicycle face.”
- Don’t refuse assistance up a hill.
- Don’t wear clothes that don’t fit.
- Don’t neglect a “light’s out” cry.
- Don’t wear jewelry while on a tour.
- Don’t race. Leave that to the scorchers.
- Don’t imagine everybody is looking at you.
- Don’t go to church in your bicycle costume.
- Don’t wear laced boots. They are tiresome.
- Don’t keep your mouth open on dirty roads.
- Don’t converse while in a scorching position
- Don’t go out after dark without a male escort.
- Don’t contest the right of way with cable cars.
- Don’t wear a garden party hat with bloomers.
- Don’t wear white kid gloves. Silk is the thing.
- Don’t chew gum. Exercise your jaws in private.
- Don’t tempt fate by riding too near the curbstone.
- Don’t ask, “What do you think of my bloomers?”
- Don’t use bicycle slang. Leave that to the boys.
- Don’t discuss bloomers with every man you know.
- Don’t think you look as pretty as every fashion plate.
- Don’t go out without a needle, thread and thimble.
- Don’t allow dear little Fido to accompany you.
- Don’t scratch a match on the seat of your bloomers.
- Don’t try to have every article of your attire “match.”
- Don’t let your golden hair be hanging down your back.
- Don’t appear in public until you have learned to ride well.
- Don’t try to ride in your brother’s clothes “to see how it feels.”
- Don’t overdo things. Let cycling be a recreation, not a labor.
- Don’t ignore the laws of the road because you are a woman.
- Don’t throw your legs over the handle bar and coast down hill.
- Don’t scream if you meet a cow. If she sees you first, she will run.
- Don’t cultivate everything that is up to date because yon ride a wheel.
- Don’t emulate your brother’s attitude if he rides parallel with the ground.
- Don’t undertake a long ride if you are not confident of performing it easily.
- Don’t appear to be up on “records” and “record smashing.” That is sporty.
Well, the good times just keep rolling in for this bike riding girl. Yesterday was the 8th Annual Bicycle Fetish Day in the neighborhood and I had a great time with a group of local bike enthusiasts. Modified bikes, hand-built bikes, pimped out bikes, commuting bikes, hauling a ton of shit bikes – every kind of bike you can imagine was there to celebrate the fetish-ness that often comes from some of us who sink our souls into biking. It’s a day to embrace the distinct subcultures that exist within the larger bike culture.
It’s put on and hosted by The City Reliquary who manages getting the block party in place and opens their backyard for a BBQ as part of the day’s activities. I had a lovely time walking around and talking with fellow bike lovers. It was a nice tie in to my week on the Climate Ride and I was able to share with people my recent experiences and encourage them to go online and read about the ride.
And there were supporters and artists alike in booths, providing biking information and biking art for the participants. Here’s a list of some who were there: BIKENY, Transportation Alternatives, Times UP!, Taliah Lempert Bicycle Paintings, Outlier Tailored Performance, Neighbors Allied for Good Growth, Coast Cycles, Horse Cycles, Velo Brooklyn Bushwick Bike Shop, Nona Varnado, and Vaya Bike Products.
As a biker, I’ve thought about joining my friends on the Climate Ride for the last couple of years but the timing never worked out. Now that I have the time (seeking full-time employment here!), I was asked to join the social media team and do a bit of blogging and photojournalism.
How could I say no?
Five days of being around fellow bike riders who are devoted to the cause of bike advocacy and organizations working toward a sustainable future riding through rolling hills of the eastern coast and gorgeous days of sunshine.
Damn. I wish I were on a bike.
So I as I sit here, picking up this paragraph after being on the road, through those rolling hills, and meeting so many wonderful, wonderful people, I’ve got to say that this has been one of those “life changing experiences”; one you will never forget.
I admit that the days blurred one into the other as we raced along to get ahead of the riders to capture video and photos. It somehow seems weird when you keep referring to Tuesday as Day Four, when during your whole work life Tuesday has always been the second day of the week. And time became an arbitrary measure of shooting off to the next water stop or lunch stop or well, water stop.
But really, the champions for me are the people who set out to raise money so that they can do this ride with 200 people. That’s right, 200 people doing 300 miles in 5 days. I met so many incredible people who ranged in age, gender and location of origin that it blew my mind. From France to Argentina, everyone had come to ride together and raise awareness of global climate change. As Marian Westley from NOAA stated at our first night of speakers in Princeton, “Climate change is very real. Make no doubt about it. Humans are having a negative impact on our environment.” Okay, maybe those weren’t her exact words but I got the gist of it. And she backed it up with research that is being done by NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL).
And during our second night Daniel Mira Salama from the Sustainable Development Network at the World Bank showed some very eye opening photos of glaciers that have completely disappeared in the last few years. The glaciers we need to feed our oceans, rivers and streams. The glaciers we need to survive.
And as I walked around, talked with folks and made some awesome videos of people who shared why they ride the Climate Ride trip, I saw my world in whole new light. Not that I’ve been blind to global warming and climate change, but these were brilliant people working in the field, doing research and connecting the dots as they each brought in their unique perspectives. And I just sat, listened and absorbed as much as possible.
It may be that my neural pathways have completely and forever changed because of this.
As we traveled along we spent most of our nights at places like the YMCA or church camps that provided lodging and food for the group. Vegans and vegetarians alike were addressed in the menu planning as well as ways to be carbon neutral with a large group (real dishes that we washed, composting, and corn-based silverware and cups when they were necessary). Most everyone had reusable water bottles and travel mugs for coffee. We recycled whenever we could. We cleaned up after ourselves and respected the environments we were guests in (prayers and keeping kosher when asked).
I met a rocket scientist from NASA who was studying climate change by launching satellites into the atmosphere that will use a laser ranging instrument to measure changes in ice sheet and sea ice thickness, as well as help quantify vegetation carbon sinks around the world. I met a woman who work at Food & Water Watch, an organization that works to ensure the food, water and fish we consume is safe, accessible and sustainably produced. That means fighting companies like Monsanto who is the biggest player in genetically modified seeds. I met the founder and Executive Director of Windustry, a non-profit that promotes progressive renewable energy solutions and empowers communities to develop and own wind energy as an environmentally sustainable asset.
And so many more amazing people that I could fill page after page of stories. But I’ll stop here because I want to share some photos and links to videos we took along the way. I’ll let the people share their stories with you. And I hope that you will take the time to listen because there are some beautiful and inspiring ideas coming out of this group.
Be patient with this page loading, lots of great videos, but it takes time to load the page!
However for me, two great moments will stand out. The first for me was hopping off a platform to do a zipline, something I had never done before. I admit I was scared; it’s so hard to take that first step! But taking it bit by bit (Oh okay, I’ll put the harness on. Oh, so that’s how the harness hooks to the line!) and with a lot of encouragement from the two guys setting it up, I jumped. What a rush!
And second, as we finished up the ride, we grabbed a couple of bike share bikes that DC has installed and biked the final three miles with the group though DC and to the Reflecting Pool in front of the Capitol. It felt great! Especially with my kid’s pirate helmet on! There were a lot of cheers as we rode through and the rally was energizing. The ride ended on a high note of possibility for a brighter, more sustainable future.
And as I sat that final night in the lounge of my hotel, I had a wonderful conversation with a woman from Ireland who enjoyed my impassioned state and urged me to “find what makes you feel your skin”, and old saying her grandmother once shared with her. And I liked it. What makes me feel my skin? Biking, fighting for the environment and most of all remaining open hearted to positive change for the future.
When my boyfriend first told me about Dead Horse Bay, I pictured a beach strewn with whole horse carcasses, bare to the bone, rising up out of the shoreline. In my mind, I saw wildly rearing horse skeletons that would dominate the landscape and create an eerie world for me to walk through. So pervasive was this thought for me, that I began to call the bay Horse Head Bay since my imagination was rife with horse heads forever caught in the sands of time. Alas, in reality, none of this is true.
Dead Horse Bay has a rich history, much like the rest of New York City. From the New York Times archives: Dead Horse Bay sits at the western edge of a marshland once dotted by more than two dozen horse-rendering plants, fish oil factories and garbage incinerators. From the 1850′s until the 1930′s, the carcasses of dead horses and other animals from New York City streets were used to manufacture glue, fertilizer and other products at the site. The chopped-up, boiled bones were later dumped into the water. The squalid bay, then accessible only by boat, was reviled for the putrid fumes that hung overhead. A rugged community of laborers, many of them Irish, Polish and Italian immigrants, lived in relative isolation on neighboring Barren Island, which shared the bay’s unsavory reputation.
After schools of menhaden were discovered in the surrounding waters in the 1860′s, fish oil plants were established along Dead Horse Bay. The oil was used to tan leather and mix paints and the scraps were used to make fertilizer. When the factories faded in the 1890′s, the New York Sanitary Utilization Company was established to transform city garbage into grease, soap and fertilizer. The processing and horse-rendering industries, at their peak, supported a population of 1,500. Barren Island, however, had no public water, sewage system or fire department, and nearby communities complained endlessly about the horrendous stench of its factories.
Yep, “chopped-up, boiled bones” were dumped into the water. So there aren’t any whole bones, just bits and pieces. But more fun are the hundreds and hundreds of old bottles that you can pick through, each one holding potential for a story from days gone by. Old Listerine glass bottles, Coca-Cola bottles, salt and pepper shakers, glass inkwells, and on and on and on. Omigosh, we spent nearly two hours digging, rinsing and reading through bottles that reflect spending habits from over a hundred years ago. Truly, this has been one of the best outings we’ve done to date. I loved the morning sunshine, fresh salty breezes, and the careful steps that created a magical experience. We even found a live horseshoe crab that needed rescuing, which we did.
As you walk along you discover different layers and areas where glass or metal parts were dumped, giving you another picture of how the garbage of the time had been organized. By the time we headed home, I had a nice bag of old bottles to clean and see what I had found. The best part of the day may have been the wonderful, delicious briny scent of the ocean permeating my bathroom as I cleaned and scrubbed.
Here are some fantastic photos of the day and of our treasures. There’s even one of me as my beachbummiest self, appearing as if I am growing out of the sand (I actually do I have real feet). Enjoy!
Yesterday I was up bright and early to volunteer for the 5 Boro Bike Tour which I was quite excited to do. As an enthusiastic bike rider I had considered biking in the event but this being my first year in NYC, I thought I'd volunteer so I could see how it all works from a ground level. And whoa, did I ever get the ground view of this amazing event.
Here's a little bit of info about the ride from the Bike New York website:
The Tour is co-produced by Bike New York and the New York City Department of Transportation. The event provides participants the unique and fun experience to bike through all five boroughs – a 40 mile, traffic-free ride for 32,000 cyclists. Starting just north of Battery Park, the tour runs up Manhattan, through Central Park, around a brief loop in the Bronx and down to the Queensboro Bridge passing countless New York City icons on the way. After a ride over the Pulaski bridge passing through Brooklyn, riders enjoy an incredible view from the lower deck of the Verrazano Bridge. The tour lands on Staten Island for a lively outdoor Festival, including bike demos, giveaways, games, food, product samples, stretching, massage, photo booths, and official Bike New York merchandise on sale.
Arriving at 6:30am, our group was stationed at Pier 3 along the East River and a short distance from the Brooklyn Bridge. We started our day by setting tables full of energy bars, apples, bananas, pretzels and water to replenish the riders as our rest area was the final rest area before they’d hit Staten Island.
I walked around the area to check out the food tables and watch the band setting up the stage for the day. I was pretty excited at the thought of live music in our area. As word spread through the volunteers, I heard that the first wave of riders would be in our area in about 15 minutes, around 9:30. I walked out to Furman street so that I could snap photos as the riders came in and then I’d return to the rest area to hand out food. But as I stood there with camera in hand, someone asked me if I could stay stationed there and help direct the riders as they came through our area.
So what I ended up doing was standing front and center as wave after wave of bikers passed by and directing them to the right for rest or to keep moving on the left. I’ve got to say that I think this was far better than standing at the pretzel table handing out bags of Utz’s pretzels. This spot was such a great place to be for the day. I was able to cheer the riders on, help them find a place to rest and in general be the first smiling face they saw at our stop.
At the end of the day, hoarse and hitting precarious levels of low blood sugar, I was exhausted and a bit cranky. But you know what made it worth it? The riders. All of those folks who brightened up at my encouraging words of “only 13 miles left!”; those who got off their bikes with wobbly legs, fell, and that I helped up off the ground; and those who grinned widely as they slapped my hand passing. Thank you riders! I felt the shared spirit of the joy biking gives me.
On Sunday, it was quality time with MoCCA Fest (http://moccafest.org/) at the 69th Regiment Armory on Lexington. It was an amazing and magical day wandering through the stalls and looking over comics, graphic novels, posters and t-shirts – and oh yes, dioramas and sculptures.
What exactly is MoCCA and this Fest all about. From the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art:
The purpose of the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art is the collection, preservation, study, education, and display of comic and cartoon art. Every genre of the art is represented: animation, anime, cartoons, comic books, comic strips, gag cartoons, humorous illustration, illustration, political illustration, editorial cartoons, caricature, graphic novels, sports cartoons, and computer-generated art. Further, the museum’s rigid collection policy ensures that the art collections are maintained in an environment of the highest integrity.
It is the mission of the museum to promote the understanding and appreciation of comic and cartoon art as well as to detail and discuss the artistic, cultural, and historical impact of what is the world’s most popular art form. Comics and cartoons have been instrumental in effecting significant dialogue on issues involving society, culture, philosophy, and politics. History has shown them to be instrumental in documenting–and interpreting–historic events and social change. Artistically, comic and cartoon art is created at the highest levels by some of the world’s finest graphic illustrators.
The main goal of the museum is to educate the public about comic and cartoon art, how it is crafted, and how it reflects history. What does the art tell us about the time period that it was created in? How does it stand the test of time? What First Amendment issues regarding content come into play? How does censorship determine what is (and isn’t) published?
Without further ado, I give to you some treasured photos from the weekend.