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March 2006 Archives

March 2, 2006

Air Conditioner Graveyard

Air Conditioner Graveyard I found these sad little smashed AC units at the backyard of my apartment building at 331 Keap Street. It's hard to tell if they fell from above, or were just placed there by the building "management".

March 3, 2006

Bicycles in my Backyard

Bicycles in my Backyard Bicycles in my Backyard Found in my backyard at 331 Keap Street.

March 5, 2006

The Pupa & Zehlem Matzoh Bakery

The Pupa & Zehlem Matzoh Bakery The Pupa & Zehlem Matzoh Bakery is located at 346/348 Broadway, not far from Keap Street. It was hard for me to tell from the outside if the bakery is still baking matzoh.

March 6, 2006

The Letter A

The Letter A From a storefront on the Bowery, near Houston Street in Manhattan.

March 7, 2006

Website of Note: Save Our Urban Life

If you live in Willimsburg, Greenpoint, or any where on the edge of Manhttan a great website worth checking out is Save Our Urban Life - Williamsburg. I love this site as it's very focused on the over-development issues. To quote from their mission statement:
Independent neighbors concerned about runaway development. Many of our homes have been structurally damaged and even been condemned by careless adjacent construction and overbuilding. Developers blatantly disregard zoning and other regulations. Here is information if you, your home and community are under siege. This is a record of experiences, tips on how to protect your building, find out the letter of the law and make sure it is enforced fully.
It's a great news website to track what's going on, and bookmark worthy too...

March 9, 2006

Obituary: Martin Solomon

Martin Solomon "Typography is the art of mechanically producing letters, numbers, symbols, and shapes through an understanding of the basic elements, principles, and attributes of design." - Martin Solomon

Martin Solomon WAS typography. Yet for a giant in the field he was always very humble. He never let his talents go to his head, and part of his charm was that he was a very modest man.

I never had Martin as a teacher back when I went to Parsons (1983-87) but I knew from all of my friends that he was one of best in the field. Martin Solomon taught typography the old fashion way by making his students trace and render every single letter of a classic typeface. In an era of color xerox machines this struck us kids as very odd - but it's the one real way to learn typography. In addition to being a great type teacher he also wrote several good books on typography and did some great design work along the way.

There will be a service for him planned by the Type Directors Club scheduled for Wednesday evening, 10 May 2006 in the FIT Amphitheater.

Here is an official bio from a conference in 2002:

Graphic designer, artist, and educator Martin Solomon studied Communication design at New York University and Pratt Institute. During his first professional years he worked at advertising agencies BBDO and Doyle Dane Bernbach. He is the author of The Art of Typography; his area of major contribution to the contemporary graphic design industry. The typographical logos he designed for Hyundai, R. J. Reynolds Tobacco, Fisher Price, and Volvo Automobiles are recognized worldwide. Nowadays, he is the director of Martin Solomon Company, a business he founded in 1961 and is dedicated to teaching, exhibiting his work and participating in conferences around the world.

March 10, 2006

Loren Munk at Frontroom / Fountain

This is a very fun looking painting photographed by my friend Barry. It shows a map of Williamsburg with the title "Art'stown". The only down point that I have is that the current location of my apartment is hidden in the lower right hand corner. But other than that minor detail this painting has an enjoyable self referential feeling to it.

March 11, 2006

Door to Nowhere

Door to Nowhere: Spotted on Keap by South 5th, Williamsburg BrooklynYet another Williamsburg photo from Keap Street between South 5th and Broadway, this building features an interesting architectural detail - a door that opens up on the 2nd floor and leads to nowhere.

March 12, 2006

Vogue Smart Dressmaking cover from 1948

This is a great cover design and the type of nice work that you just don't see anymore on the newsstands. The first thing that makes this cover special is the use of negative space - it's just something you dont see in mag cover today that cram every inch with text and copy. The other nice thing is that it's an illustration made from found objects, yet the choices of the objects for their color (and placement) are very deliberate. It's refreshing to see a design for such a humble subject that's sophisticated. Yet it's important to keep in mind that this cover wasn't aimed at an upscale audience, but everyday ladies who wanted to sew their own dresses (who one would assume couldn't afford the high end items of the day).

This cover illustration comes from Shannon Coffey who runs Collyer Bros. which is a nifty vintage magazine shop.

March 13, 2006

Homies on Havemeyer

Urban themed toys spotted in a vending machine on Havemeyer Street outside of a laundromat in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. "Urban themed toys" spotted in a vending machine on Havemeyer Street outside of a laundromat in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. When I did a Google lookup I was surprised to see that you can also buy them as collectors items on eBay! This is the description:

Full Set 24 figures Perico, Double O.G., Sister Mary Maria, Sancho, Gremlin, Mack Daddy, Quasiloco, Birdy, Fuego Man, Crickett, Bugsy, La Chunky, Baby Mama (with Lalo and Malo), Mariachi Pablo, Poco Loco, Adelita, Bullet, Sneaky, Payasa, Chaparro, and Da Fool.

March 14, 2006

Sewing Stars: Red Mohair Bunny

red mohair bunny 03
Originally uploaded by sewingstars.
On Flickr (my favorite new web 2.0 toy of choce) I discovered this cute creation named "Red Mohair Bunny" from Teresa at Sewing Stars. There's quite a bit of nice detail in her work, notice how the bunny is holding a mini-bunny doll and the detail on her frock rocks!

In addition to making these ultra cute creatures, she also sells other goodies at her website ranging from stickers to handbags. And she even has a nifty blog too that's worth checking out:

March 15, 2006

Last Remaining Williamsburg Book Publisher Might Leave

I was very depressed to spot an article in the New York Times on the last remaining book publisher in Williamsburg. It seems their lease is being priced up, and that may force them to leave the area:

The Good Life on South 11th Street

For more than a century, the book business flourished inside two brick warehouses on South 11th Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, a block from the East River. Since the late 19th century, when the six-story structures were built between Berry Street and Wythe Avenue, they have often been occupied by publishers and presses, both recognized and rarefied. In recent decades, artists and performers moved in, but now they, along with the last remaining book publisher, may have to leave soon.

In the fall of 2004, a real estate concern, DOV Land L.L.C., bought one of the warehouses, which includes 36 spaces in which people live or work. Residents said the new owner made it clear to some of them that it wanted them to move out and began eviction proceedings against others. About three dozen residents in 13 living spaces went on a rent strike, and have withheld their payments for about a year.

This is sad because it's the the book publisher and the artists who have made the value of the real estate go up in the first place. I'd call for more laws to protect the arts in Williamsburg, but I'm also surprised that real estate developers don't see the value that the arts bring to their value. One of the reasons I moved to Williamsburg was that there are artist spaces and galleries to explore. It made moving from Manhattan not seem like a step down.

Without the creative element Williamsburg might as well be any other spot in Brooklyn or Queens. If developers were smart they would incorporate the arts into their plans as a selling point, instead of working against them.

March 16, 2006

Rodney Playground South

Rodney Playground South This collage was created from two photos I took during sunset at the Rodney Playground South, near South 4th Street. In this section of Williamsburg the Brooklyn Queens Expressway makes a gashing cut through the neighborhood (the expressway is sunk into the ground like an exposed subway system). The property on both sides of the roadway at street level is made up of these very sad narrow parks, which aren't too popular as it's hard to relax or play when you hear the never ending sound of a highway in the background. If you wanted to punish a younger child, taking him or her to Rodney Playground South would do the trick. Credit for the "park" goes to Robert Moses:

In 1952, as part of the construction of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, or BQE, the City of New York acquired this property and transferred jurisdiction to Parks. The BQE was built under the direction of Robert Moses (1888-1981) between 1946 and 1964. This massive, six-lane, 11.7 mile-long expressway cost $137 million in federal, state, and municipal funds to complete. Today, Rodney Playground South features timberform play equipment, a comfort station, picnic tables, swings, and benches. For local residents, it is a welcome place for rest and recreation.

March 19, 2006

Construction Cranes Invade Williamsburg

Almost everywhere you stand in Williamsburg you can see the construction cranes invading the landscape. It's a graphic symbol of the land grab that's currently going on.

In fact recently I was reading in Urban Life how one of these cranes recently hit an adjacent building:

Yes, it finally happened, we've been worried about living 6 feet from the crane and the fact that it comes within inches of our building every time it swings. The crane tipped into our building this morning between 7:30-8 am. Between the 2nd and 3rd floors, you can see 2 indents on the outside wall of 143 North 7th that were left by the 2 counterweights of the lower part of the crane. It was a frightening experiencing on the inside.

There are of course less graphic signs of the changes that are happening in Williamsburg: I recently heard that the "11211 building" which is next door to the Kellog's Diner (by Union and Metropolitan) will be converting from creative office space into a luxury condo building.

It's odd because when I first moved to Williamsburg back in Nov. of 2004 my thinking was that I was on the fringe being on the other side of the BQE. But slowly I've watched the match of progress creep from Bedford to Havemeyer Street - and now the very north of Keap Street.

By the way the nice photo in the upper right is by Fabian who has taken some nice shots of Williamsburg. His blog is at:


March 20, 2006

Bnos Yakov of Pupa Synagogue

Bnos Yakov of Pupa Synagogue Wandering around Williamsburg it's amazing how much history is located on each block. Pictured above is the Bnos Yakov of Pupa Synagogue, which is just a block or so south of Broadway (and a bit east of the BQE). This building dates to 1876, which is amazing as it pre-dates the Williamsburg bridge itself.

March 21, 2006

To Cross Street: Push Button, Wait for Walk Signal

To Cross Street: Push Button, Wait for Walk Signal This is a collage made from two photos I took at a crosswalk on Broadway, not from from my apartment in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. As an interactive media designer I always love to look at examples of interface design in the real world. As for the buttons I always see at crosswalks I have to admit that I've always been suspicious that they don't in fact do anything except give you something do to while waiting for the light to change.

March 22, 2006

Vintage Book Discovery: Design for You

Design for You Going through my personal library I recently re-discovered a 1961 book titled "Design for You" by Ethel Jane Beitler and Bill C. Lockhart. My copy of this text book is from 1965, so the book must have had some readership back in the 60s. What's interesting to me is how general the book is in range, it gives an overview of the entire field of design from cover to cover, with the first few chapters on basic concepts followed by chapters on specific subjects like typography and poster design.

I don't think a book like this would do well today because it's so general, yet the concepts in the book still hold up today - because good design is good design - it doesn't matter if it's for a shower curtain print or a website HTML page layout. One of the problems I see today is that how to books are so specialized, that many people aren't aware of the general principals of design - however I would argue that knowing these today with websites, PowerPoint, and desktop publishing these concepts are even more important than in 1961.

Here are some scans from the book:

Design for You

Design for You

Design for You

L Trains to get Message Boards

At long last the NYC subway system enters the 20th century! It seems that the MTA will be installing message boards to tell riders when the next train is coming:

MTA To Install Message Boards To Tell Riders When To Expect Next Train

The days of waiting on the subway platform not knowing when the next train will come will soon be a thing of the past. The Transit Authority is installing new electronic message boards that will give subway riders a countdown to the next train arrival.

I mostly taking the J line these days so this won't be an immediate plus for me, but I think in the end this will be a good thing for subway riders.

March 24, 2006

Williamsburg Podcast: Live From the WB

Sam / Live From the WB
Originally uploaded by Live From the WB.
At long last Williamsburg has a podcast:

Live from the WB...

The show is hosted by Jenna, Toby & Kristin and is sort of like Wayne's World meets Bedford Avenue. They already have four episodes under their belts and the show is worth subscribeworthy. The episode I was listening to covered everything from local bars to some 80s art history. Also enjoyable were the charming homemade music segments.

March 25, 2006

The Future of Freedom Tower

I was very let down to see this on the NY1 website:

Spitzer, Appearing On NY1, Says He's Concerned About WTC Rebuilding Process

Spitzer, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate, says he's concerned that the Freedom Tower planned for the World Trade Center site may wind up being a building with no tenants. On NY1's "Inside City Hall" Friday night, Spitzer gave his most extensive comments yet about the rebuilding effort in Lower Manhattan.

He said that if elected governor, he'd move quickly to resolve any unresolved issues about who builds what. But he said the Freedom Tower could end up dragging down the rest of the project.

"I certainly think there's a very serious question about the economic viability of the Freedom Tower," Spitzer said of the new site's centerpiece. "I think, given the situation with number 7 WTC, which is sitting there essentially vacant, the prospect that the Freedom Tower would be built and would sit there vacant as essentially a white elephant that would sap the cash available to build the other buildings, is something that is very problematic."

To be fair Spitzer is echoing a real concern that a new tall building will attract a terrorist attack, and I think America as a whole is smarting for the "Bring it on!" mindset due to Iraq. But I think we should keep the following in mind:

1. If the terrorists are going to attack NYC again they can always attack the Empire State building if we don;t build Freedom Tower.

2. If the terrorists attack again it doesn't mean that they will crash another aircraft into a tall building. In fact if you look at the attacks in London and Madrid you could say that mass transit is more at risk. It's hard to get into the mind of a terrorist, but if anything they will attack in a setting that you wouldn't expect them to attack.

3. It's going to take at least 5 to 10 years to build Freedom Tower, that means we won't have anything up in the sky until 2011 or even 2016. I have a feeling that by the next decade the world may look a bit different. For all we know we may even go back to worrying about the Russians at that point. Yes I think 9/11 changed everything, but if it has taught me anything it's that you can expect things to change even more.

4. How about setting an example? I think the federal government should take the lead and show NYC that it's doing a better job with homeland security by putting as many federal agencies into that building. I think the Bush administration should be called to take the lead by putting the Dept. of Homeland Security into Freedom Tower, and that Democrats should be asking the "tough on security" Republicans to do this. In business this is known as "eating your own dogfood" and it's not a bad idea.

5. NYC needs more space. If the economy of NYC is to grow we need more office space for the future. There will come a time within the next 10 years that our economy will boom again, and having office space is important to keeping jobs in NYC. Already the private housing boom has sent many businesses outside of Manhattan. In fact a good engine for the economy might be to use some of the space in Freedom Tower as an incubator space to encourage and grow new companies.

March 26, 2006

Child's Chalk Drawing

Child's Chalk Drawing I've been thinking about Springtime and nicer weather more and more of late. Going through my old photo collection I found this shot which was photographed at McCarren Park on June 25, 2005. It was a nice day and I was at this nifty crafts fair:

The Renegade Craft Fair

It's funny but it all seems such a short time ago, my how time flies when you're working day and night and day and night. My one regret as a workaholic is that I don't get to hang out and just explore Williamsburg more often, and what I do like about this place is that there are so many nice places to go.

Anyway the fair will be well worth checking out when it returns, that dates are:

June 17 + 18 in Williamsburg's McCarren Park from 11am - 6pm.

March 27, 2006

Nikki McClure at the Cinders Gallery

Nikki McClure at the Cinders Gallery On Sunday I dropped into the Cinders Gallery and they had a nice show featuring Nikki McClure. Her work on display were created by a paper cutting technique, mostly featuring portraits as the subject matter. The works were like small jems both in quality and in scale, a perfect match to the scale of the Cinders Gallery. Her show runs until April 9th and is well worth checking out if you are wandering around Havemeyer:

Cinders Gallery
103 Havemeyer Street
Between Grand and Hope
Wed.-Fri. 2pm to 9pm

March 28, 2006

Roebling Street Art

Roebling Street Art, Williamsburg Brooklyn On Sunday I was wandering around and I took the above photo of some street art which I spotted on Roebling Street and Metroplitan. It's funny how wandering around Williamsburg reminds me so much of what the east Village was in the 80s. It's very laid back on the whole, not posh and polished - although Bedford Avenue is heading in that sort of Soho direction. When I first moved out here I was spoiled by how close everything is in Manhattan, but now I sort of like how there are bits of cool things spread out here and there, it's like finding a mini-oasis of culture on every other street corner.

Britney Birth Sculpture puts Williamsburg on the Map!

I just realized that the Britney Birth Sculpture that I've been reading about all over the place will be on display in Williamsburg! This is great as it puts the limelight on Williamsburg and takes it away from Chelsea in terms of the public mindspace. It's hardly a Brooklyn arts movement, but it's a good sign for the art galleries in Williamsburg.

This is a sample of some of the press I've been seeing:

Britney Sculpture of Birth Causes Stir

Britney Spears will soon be giving birth again — in Brooklyn, as a sexy sculpture that has drawn thousands of hate e-mails. "This is a new take on pro-life. Pro-lifers normally promote bloody images of abortion. This is the image of birth," Daniel Edwards said of his work, to be unveiled at a Brooklyn gallery in April, months after Edwards' sculpture of Ted Williams severed head stirred up an artistic storm. The life-size pop princess is naked and pregnant, crouching face-down on a bare-toothed bear rug as the baby's head appears on the opposite end.

I'm not crazy about the sculpture itself, but I think it's great that the artist has managed to ape the Koons celeb angle, playing to politics, and getting press attention - which is it's own artform.

The sculpture will be displayed at:

Capla Kesting Fine Art
121 Roebling Street
Brooklyn New York 11211
Gallery hours are 1:00- 6:00 pm Thursday - Sunday

March 29, 2006

Fuel Injection

This is a slightly retouched photo that I took on Metropolitan Street not far from Havemeyer. The interesting thing about Williamsburg is that you'll see something like this scene which is very stark and industrial with barbed wire within a block of a yuppie style cafe or art gallery.

March 30, 2006

New "Live from the WB Podcast" is out...

The latest Williamsburg focused podcast "Live from the WB" is out and it's a pretty good one:


This latest episode features news that local landmark Planet Thailand was shut down for health code reasons, but our hipsters-in-residence speculate that it's part of a real estate conspiracy.

I have to say that I've been enjoying each episode of "Live from the WB" and it's well worth the download.

March 31, 2006

Ladybug Shoes

Ladybug Shoes Hands down the L train is much better for spotting fun fashion items (the J train is much more hardcore when it comes to hipsters and has more of a blue collar crowd). In fact one of my favorite L train activities to play is to guess who will be getting off at the Bedford stop vs. staying on the train (hint: the Bedford folks always seem more trendy/yuppie in their attire). I spotted these creative shoes on the L train on April 2nd, 2005 (as I got on at Lorimer).

About March 2006

This page contains all entries posted to The Williamsburg Nerd in March 2006. They are listed from oldest to newest.

February 2006 is the previous archive.

April 2006 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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