Monday, September 1, 2014

Newly Renovated Loews Theater Set to Open in January

Ever since the intended restoration of the Loew’s Kings Theater in Flatbush was announced last year, excitement around the project has been growing. Known as one of only five “Wonder Theaters” in New York and New Jersey, the advancing restoration, due to conclude in January 2015, will bring the theater back to its glory days of 1929.
On the way to its former splendor: The Loew's Kings Theater-Photo courtesy of Matt Lambros

The theater has been closed and abandoned since 1977, but after a year of work it will be brought back to the look and feel of its “sumptuous interiors inspired by the Palace of Versailles and the Paris Opera House.”
The 3,000-seat theater, Brooklyn’s largest, will become a cornerstone of Brooklyn culture, with more than 200 performances scheduled each year, “including music, dance, theater and comedy.”
A press release stated that:

"The Kings Theatre will serve as both a cultural and economic cornerstone for the Brooklyn community, presenting more than 200 performances annually—including music, dance, theatre, and comedy—providing a resource to foster and support creativity in the area, creating jobs and attracting thousands of visitors to the neighborhood."

Photographer Matt Lambros has been chronicling the progress of the re-birth of the Loew’s ever since his first, pre-renovations photograph he took in 2011. Lambros has been keeping a blog, After the Final Curtain, which not only covers the progress of the Kings Theater, but also reveals the state of other crumbling performance spaces. With the help of the Theater Historical Society of America Lambros will publish a book on the subject in early 2015.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Kensington Library Pulls Misused iPads

It appears that a pilot program to make iPads available for Kensington Library patrons between the ages of 2-5 went south.  After two years of use and abuse, public library officials decided to scrub the iPads availability due to older kids and even some parents covertly used the hand-held computers to make on-line purchases, play violent video games, and visit porn sites.

The 18th Avenue branch equipped the iPads with age-appropriate applications designed to help children learn to read, and other educational functions. Unfortunately it happened all too often that older kids took the iPads away from the younger children, changed passwords, installed the apps that they wanted, and then played on the devices. One older child even took a picture of himself and set it as the background picture for the iPad.
Kensington Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library

The last straw came when patrons saw inappropriate videos and nudity displayed on the iPads, prompting library officials to remove them from the library. Officials are now exploring other ways of using the computers.

“We’ve had the most success with iPads that are used as part of our programming, including literacy classes for adults and programs for children with special needs,” said Emma Woods, spokeswoman for the library.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Hurtful Graffiti Found on Kensington Mailbox

After weeks of rising anti-semitism throughout the world;  reports of Hamas terrorists shooting rockets into Israeli civilian populations; and the use of women and children in Gaza as human shields; some anti-Muslim graffiti has turned up on a mailbox in the Kensington section of Brooklyn.

The graffiti consisted of the words “Allah is evil” and “Islam is barbaric,” spray painted on a mailbox on Ocean Parkway. There is some speculation that, although the neighborhood is composed of both Jewish and Muslim residents who usually live together in peace, the fact that the month of Ramadan coincided with the defensive battle Israel launched in Gaza to protect its civilian population could have caused the perpetrators to resort to this form of insulting speech.

The NYPD are investigating the incident, which resembles a similar event that occurred in November 2013 when the same exact words were seen on a mailbox and a Muni Meter.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Lincoln Center Local Live Coming to a Library Near You

Throughout the months of July, August and September residents of Brooklyn and Queens will be treated to special free music programming sponsored by the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Lincoln Center Education and the Brooklyn and Queens public libraries.

Broadway Pops International will bring musical theater to the Kensington Library on Autust 16 at 2pm
The variety of music will be wide, with 14 different offerings ranging in styles from opera to gospel to flamenco and American musical. The music will be presented in one-hour sessions which will also include discussions with questions and answers with the performing artists. These encounters allow the audience to engage in a more meaningful and enjoyable way with the music.

The first performance was on July 12 at the Queens Central Library. It was flamenco dance performed by Elementos de Flamenco. The last show of the series will be live streamed from the David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center and will take place on September 27th. The encore performance will be viewable at five Brooklyn Public Library locations, including at the Kensington Library at 4207 18th Avenue. The Queens Public Library will also have 13 branches participating. For more information go to the Lincoln Center schedule.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Golden Farm Finally Caves and Gives Workers Contract

It was a hard-fought battle for the workers at Golden Farm Market and Deli, but finally, after two years, owner Sonny Kim agreed to give his employees contracts.

Workers Win Contract at Golden Farm Market/Deli
The Kensington, Brooklyn store owner had been trying to fight the workers demand for contracts by trying to get Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union Local 338 decertified. He also had been trying to dissuade shoppers from boycotting and picketing the store. After two years of fighting Kim decided it would be in everyone’s best interest, including his own, to offer his workers contracts, and did so in late June.

Martin Gonzalez, one of the workers who now, for the first time, have a contract to work at Golden Farm said, “We the workers of Golden Farm thank you for all your help. Thank you for your time on the picket line. Above all, thank you for making this campaign a dream come true — a campaign that nobody stopped, only victory.”

Another worker added: “Hi, my name is Roberto and in the name of my co-workers from Golden Farm we greet you most sincerely and thank you very much — to every one of you — for the unconditional help. This victory is also yours. Thank you to everyone and God bless you.”

The contract signed by the workers and owner stipulates that each worker is entitled to paid sick days, holidays and vacation time. They also received small raises, the first time they have been paid beyond minimum wage. The contract also includes a “good cause” clause, which states that management must have, and provide, a reason to fire an employee. The contract also allows workers the rights to have active union representation.

This last bit about union representation was the last hurdle to overcome before Kim agreed to the contract.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Sanitation Department Surprised When Shortage of Garbage Bins Leads to Overstuffed Trash Cans

The Sanitation Department seems to be stuck on the problem of illegal dumping of household and business trash in garbage bins around New York and especially in Brooklyn. In an effort to prevent the unsightly and unsanitary overflow of trash in bins, the Sanitation Department began to remove the bins from sidewalks back in 2011. And what has been the result? It doesn’t look too good.

Pails on the sidewalks are still stuffed with refuse from families and local businesses.

“They overflow quite frequently, then the garbage just spreads all around the neighborhood,” said Bridget Elder, 52, resident of Kensington.

Since the beginning of the experiment 95 bins have been taken away. In Brooklyn bins were removed from Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst, Borough Park, Kensington, Sunset Park and Windsor Terrace.

Not Enough Bins, or Too Many?

Many residents believe that there is only one way to end the problem and clean up the area, and that is by increasing the number of garbage truck pick-ups. Although most trash bins are emptied once per day, it is clear the frequency of emptying the trash must increase.

“You used to see garbage cans all over the place,” said Kensington resident Robert Waugh. “Now, there’s a lot more garbage on the ground. This is just insane.”

The Sanitation Department has the power to add pick-ups, but removing the bins is cheaper, and that (non) solution also is less time consuming.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Smoke Bomb on School Bus Sends Students to Hospital Instead of School

Last week on Tuesday almost one dozen children were sent to the hospital after someone on their school bus set off a smoke bomb.

Smoke Bomb on School Bus Sends Children to Hospital
The bus was on its way to the Brooklyn Dreams Charter School in Kensington, carrying 40 children between the ages of 5 and 11. At about 7:20am the yellow school bus stopped at the corner of Ocean Avenue and Dorchester Road due to the heavy smoke in the bus. The bus still had about 12 more blocks to go before arriving at school.

Some of the children were transferred to the hospital as a precaution. All were released soon after it was clear that none of them were harmed.

Police believe that someone on the bus set off the device, which was a type of firework that is designed to release plumes of thick smoke. When such a device is exploded inside a closed, contained space, the police added, there is a danger that the smoke can cause breathing problems or other medical ailments.