Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Santa Claus: The Man, the Myth, the Legend

I had the pleasure of listening to a lecture on Santa Claus — and the myriad of cultures from which he emerged — at Pete's Candy Store in Williamsburg on Monday night. The lecture was given by Jamie Hook, a Santa enthusiast and the curator of the bar's bimonthly lecture series - Open City Dialogue (OCD). I found out a lot about the jolly old fellow, and even more about myself. Read here

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

O'Christmas Tree

The giant Brooklyn Borough Hall Christmas tree was lit up on Tuesday night (its splendor is evidenced at right), and the Brooklyn Heights Blog has thoughtfully posted a photo montage of past Borough Hall Christmas trees. The video is about five minutes long and starts out with various images of Borough Hall and its ever changing surroundings (goodbye elevated train, hello Cadman Plaza). The enormous Borough Hall Menorah will be lit on Friday night. I wonder if BHB will have an equally rich archive to share with us on that.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

'Brooklyn Back in the Day' at BHS

The Brooklyn Film & Arts Festival documentary screening will be at the Brooklyn Historical Society this Friday and will address the theme “Brooklyn Back in the Day.”

The main films selected for the festival’s third year will reflect on the transformations, challenges and turmoil faced by Brooklyn in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

This screening has been curated by Aziz Rahman, director of the Brooklyn Film & Arts Festival. Featured will be:

“The Boys of 2nd Street Park” directed by Dan Klores, and Ron Berger (2003). This moving documentary tells the story of five young men from Brighton Beach growing up in Brooklyn during the1960s, reflecting on the many exhilarating and challenging turns in their lives.

“The Cities: Dilemma in Black and White,” produced for CBS News by John Sharnik, Bernard Birnbaum and Paul Greenberg (1968). Journalistic exploration of the social crisis in Bedford-Stuyvesant and the intervention efforts of local community groups, activists and politicians including Robert Kennedy, Jr.

"The Romeows” directed by Robert Sarnoff (2009). Explores the relationships among a group of Brooklyn College friends who have been together for 50 years.

Other Brooklyn short documentaries will also be presented. The screening will run from 7 to 9 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 4. The Brooklyn Historical Society is at 128 Pierrepont St.


Mohawks in Brooklyn

I remember hearing a few years ago that there had at one time been a community of Mohawk Indians living in Boerum Hill and that various bars in the area bore names in reference to Native American culture, such as "The Wigwam," but I never knew any details about their presence here. Thankfully, Brooklynology has posted a great little history about this Brooklyn enclave of the past.

Mohawk Indians from the Kahnawake reservation near Montreal, Canada were accomplished steel workers and came here in the early part of the 20th century to find work. Where better to find it than in the sea of skyscrapers cropping up in Manhattan?

According to Brooklynology, "The story of the Mohawk's relationship with steel and, eventually, with Brooklyn, has it's beginning in the mid 1800s with the construction of the Victoria Bridge over the St. Lawrence River. The bridge's north abutment needed to be constructed on Mohawk land. To secure the rights to build there, the railway agreed to hire several Mohawk Indians as unskilled laborers to work on the tubular structure made of riveted iron plates. According to company history, an executive viewed several young Mohawk walking along a high ledge. Being in dire need of men who would not be afraid of heights, he decided to train the Mohawk laborers in steel construction and riveting..."

Mohawks worked on such iconic structures as the Chrysler Building, the Empire State Building and the George Washington Bridge.

Read more at Brooklynology

There is also a new-ish documentary on this community that played on PBS earlier this month, To Brooklyn and Back: A Mohawk Journey. Hopefully they'll show it again because I missed it. Anyone catch it?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Happy Birthday, Allen Konigsberg, a.k.a., Woody Allen

Auteur Woody Allen was born Allen Stewart Konigsberg on December 1, 1935 and grew up in Brooklyn’s Flatbush neighborhood.

He attended Midwood High School. His parents, Martin and Nettie Konigsberg, were Orthodox Jews. His father worked in an assortment of short-lived jobs and his mother kept books for a florist. According to Woody, “Their virtues were ‘God and carpeting.’”

Of course he grew up to become one of filmdom’s most renowned producers and directors. He has directed dozens of films, most of which he also acted in, garnering numerous Academy Award nominations and wins along the way. Woody is also an accomplished jazz musician.

Among the films in which Allen has acted, written, directed, or co-directed are What’s New Pussycat (1965), What’s Up Tiger Lily? (1966), Take the Money and Run (1969), Bananas (1971), Play It Again, Sam (1972), Annie Hall (1977), Manhattan (1979), Broadway Danny Rose (1984), The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985), Hannah and Her Sisters (1986), Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989), Scenes from a Mall (1991), Manhattan Murder Mystery (1993), Mighty Aphrodite (1995), Sweet and Lowdown (1999), Match Point (2005), Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008) and Whatever Works (2009).

Read more at the Eagle