Month: September, 2007
But this one is different. It’s in Brooklyn. It’s the 34th annual Third Avenue Street Fair and Festival in Bay Ridge.
I hopped on the R at Times Square and an hour later — no weekend express service, thanks a lot, MTA — joined the rest of our group at DK and LC’s home. The scene upon my arrival was one of shellshock: three pairs of eyes were riveted to the travesty unfolding on television. Top of the first inning, and with the Mets still to come up to bat, we could not bear to watch any more. So off to Third Avenue, where the scene was somewhat more joyful.
Over the next couple of hours, we explored the length of the fair, from 69th to 95th Streets. SK and KC met us for a bit, en route to J’s soccer game, so we got to hear from the perspective of a six year old, all about High School Musical: The Ice Tour at MSG and yesterday’s Ragamuffin Parade, a Bay Ridge tradition in which children dress in costume and march along Third Avenue.
There were plenty of activities for the kids today as well: facepainters, miniature ponies, games, rides, and two solid blocks devoted to those inflatable bouncy-castles, none markedly different from the last.
Prayer stations were set up at almost every corner, and tables for politicians (Bay Ridge for Obama, anyone?) and local organizations and businesses. The New York Blood Center brought in a blood mobile… and a clown.
Over 100 merchants participated, from the usual array of street market vendors to restaurant-sponsored buffet tables stacked with almost every type of food imaginable, reflecting the neighborhood’s rich culinary variety. Absurdly large Italian sausages, trays of zeppoles — ours had a chocolate surprise in the middle, which was worrying until we realized that the centers were purposely filled with near-black paste — Thai, Japanese and Chinese food stands, Greek gyros, French crêpes, pastas, pizzas, corn on the cob. Clouds of thick smoke wafted through the air from huge cage-like grills loaded up with slabs of cooking meat.
We couldn’t decide upon one place for lunch among the abundance of Bay Ridge eateries, so opted instead to food sample our way through the fair. Here at the popular Tanoreen station, we picked up plates of tasty kebbie balls (minced meat, bulgur wheat, onion and pine nuts), mini pies topped with spinach and chicken, and the restaurant’s lemonade brew, spiked with fresh mint and a splash of rosewater.
Karaoke singers and street musicians battled for our ears all along the fair route: local bands, Christian rockers, musical theatre performers performing Smoky Joe’s Café, the Beatles tribute band Yesterday And Today, even an Elvis impersonator.
The Brooklyn Eagle estimated 300,000 in attendance that afternoon which seemed high, until we saw the teaming crowds lining the streets towards the bridge.
Check out the rest of the street fair photos on flickr. And while you’re at it, take a peek at my photo sets from openhousenewyork weekend (October 6 & 7) since it probably will be a couple of weeks before I get around to those blog entries:
After the barbecue and scotch tasting in Chelsea, B and I made our way downtown for the GOOD magazine one year anniversary party being held inside the old Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House at One Bowling Green.
GOOD is described as “media for people who give a damn.” Through their LA-based magazine (printed on recycled paper, naturally), feature and documentary films, original multimedia content and local events, GOOD encourages and inspires socially conscious global citizens to band together to effect positive change. To do good, as it were.
For all the weightiness of the topics – a recent cover featured Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, “the man who is putting the ‘science’ back in political science” – the clever design, elegant layouts, slick photography and whimsical illustrations keep the magazine accessible without sacrificing its intelligent edge. And the publication doesn’t just advocate for social, environmental, and political responsibility; subscribe through their website and the full $20 annual subscription cost is donated to the non-profit of your choice. No catch: it’s an experiment in building a new subscriber base without resorting to wasteful advertising, generating interest among a self-selecting group of individuals, while raising money for worthy organizations in the process. How can that be anything but good?
Plus, did I mention that they host fantastic parties? What a thrill to be wandering around this stunning century-old Cass Gilbert-designed Beaux Arts building — now the Smithsonian’s New York branch of the National Museum of the American Indian — among similarly-motivated guests as DJs piped thumping music on two floors.
Among the tables set up outside the Rotunda: one for Hope Equity, an online community modeled after a financial portfolio, allowing individuals to “invest” in endowment funds for one or more chosen countries or causes.
Tonight, we convened in midtown for the annual Fall for Dance Festival at City Center. Around 6:30PM, a hard and steady rain began to fall, drenching all those lined up along West 55th Street, hoping for a crack at last-minute availabilities to this evening’s sold out performance.
We, of course, had snagged our hard-won tickets the first hour they went on sale, a couple of weeks ago.
SYB for his efforts in the endeavor, unfortunately, didn’t even get to attend, ceding his seat to DM.
On the bill tonight: The American Ballet Theatre‘s only festival appearance: “Le Corsaire” (Pas de Deux), which is among classical ballet’s most celebrated and performed — some would say: clichéd — excerpts. It was to be the evening’s most traditional set, nestled among four other non-ballet segments. My personal favorite was the show opener, a rousing acrobatic, street dance-influenced set by the French hip-hop company Compagnie Käfig. Just before the intermission, the Ballet Hispanico spiced things up with excerpts from their sultry “Club Havana,” followed by dance legend Carmen deLavallade, in a short, rather hammy set piece. (deLavallade, for her part, looked remarkably limber for her 76 years.) Doug Varone and Dancers closed out the show with a frustratingly repetitive modern dance segment, set to Philip Glass’s “The Light“.
For $10 a seat, though, the audience could afford to be, and was, enthusiastic and magnanimous in their applause throughout. I’ll leave the peformance reviews to the experts, but overall we had a great time, enhanced in no small part for some (or at least one) of us by the pre-show vodka and sake flights. Yes, you know who you are.
DM, who knows more about dance than the rest of our group combined, offered some insights into tonight’s venue and program, visibly wincing at my woefully misguided frames of reference: deLavallade’s husband (and costume designer for her set) Geoffrey Holder as “the guy from those 7-Up commercials” and Pilobulus as “the troupe that performed at the Oscars.”
A patch left unpainted during the City Center’s 1980s renovation, to reveal the original intricate Moorish detailing beneath:
After the show, hoping to catch one last glimpse of those Käfig dancers at the adjacent Lounge FFD, we had our minor celebrity sighting of the night when we spotted deLavallade mingling with Mr. Keaton from Family Ties, a.k.a. Michael Gross.
What would we do, baby,
Sha la la la.
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