Friday, July 31, 2009

Sunny Day Music

Newsflash: there will be one day of sunshine coming to a neighborhood near you! To celebrate, come out to Pete's Candy Store Saturday evening to hear Pree, the Washington, DC-based band described by some as the lovechild of Joanna Newsom and Modest Mouse.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Another Trip Around the Sun

Here's approximately how I feel, on the eve of my 30th birthday:

And here's what I will cook for friends tomorrow:
*Wheat crackers with homemade roasted garlic hummus
*Bing cherries with stems and blue cheese
*Chilled avocado-zucchini-peach-yogurt soup
*Corn bread
*Mustard greens with tempeh, corn, and feta
*Roasted mushrooms
*Carrot, purple cabbage, and cranberry salad, with lemon and toasted cumin
*Pickled beets
*Cake (but thankfully not this one or this one or this one).

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Brouhaha Brewing

Come out tonight to hear Matt Jones and others play music, screen short films, dance, and enjoy the company of other bon vivants. 7 p.m., 525 Union Avenue, #6C.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Community, Capiche?

From sundown through twilight to nightfall, I sat in the Bamonte's parking lot, chatting with Nick, his nephew Max, and the Italians who live and used to live in the neighborhood. Jimmy T was singing Sinatra at the restaurant, while sons and daughters now in Jersey and Long Island were back with dogs and flip flops, jewelry and big cars to visit parents, eat homemade meatballs, and see the Giglio lifted once again. Nicky blasting Dean Martin (born Dino Paul Crocetti), drinking beer. Max telling me about being a ninth grader. Me sitting on a milk crate, watching the stray cats, lit clouds. Feeling lucky.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Lilies in July

It's Feast time in my little piece of North Brooklyn. The bands are roving today, distributing blessed bread to neighborhood residents. Tomorrow the Giglio and Boat will be lifted, as has been the custom on this block for over 100 years.

(Parade band serenading Bamonte's.)

"In Italian Williamsburg, Brooklyn, the residents of the community look forward to the annual Giglio Feast held every July. Since 1903, when the Nolani immigrants first held their transplanted feast in this Brooklyn neighborhood, this festa has attempted to maintain many of the traditions from the Mezzogiorno, while adjusting to the new culture in America and accommodating the pressure to change."

For two weeks, a carnival spills along Withers, Union, and Havemeyer, complete with noisy rides, lemonade, and sizzling zeppoli.


"The story, which is passed on through the generations on both sides of the Atlantic, is that around 410 AD, North African pirates overran the town of Nola. In the chaos, Bishop Paolino was able to flee into the countryside with some of the children. Upon his return, Paolino learned, from a sobbing widow that many of the young men, her son included, had been abducted into slavery. Moved to compassion, Paolino offered himself in exchange for the boy and was ferried off, a prisoner of the brigands. While in North Africa, word of the courage and self-sacrifice of Paolino spread and became known to a certain Turkish sultan. Taken with the tale of altruism, the sultan intervened, negotiating for the freedom of this holy man. Through the sultan 's efforts, Paolino and his paesani, were freed.

Overjoyed by his safe return, the entire town greeted him carrying lilies, symbolic of love and purity. That joyous homecoming jubilee is considered the very first observance of what would develop into an annual sacred event. Through the years, various trade guilds (farmer (ortolamo), butcher (beccaio), tailor (sarto), breadmaker (panettiere), blacksmith (fabbra), cobblers (calzolaio), deli merchants (salumiere), and wine makers (bettoliere)) began to compete to produce the most sensational display of lilies. Over time, these displays became more flamboyant."

(Back of the 2009 Giglio, from Union.)

"Today, although still called lilies (gigli), they have evolved into huge flower-laden steeples of wood, 50 feet or more in height. In Nola, these gigli structures and a boat (la barca) are carried through the streets on the shoulders of hundreds of men, in remembrance of the return of Paolino to Nola. The atmosphere is quite competitive and each guild hires the best lifters they can secure, because the carrying of the gigli is judged. Creativity of construction and musical accompaniment is also scrutinized even after the formal competition ends, and the men of Nola carry and dance the gigli throughout the night."

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Time In Our Cups

"New bars and venues open constantly in this neighborhood - it almost feels like the community board consists of a solitary robot with a giant rubber "Approved" stamp for liquor license applications." - FREEWilliamsburg

Meanwhile, one of the FWburg featured bars, which I wanted to check out this weekend, has closed. New York City: built by the Dutch, Robert Moses, and nostalgia...

To create new cause to hearken back, come tomorrow night to Zebulon Café Concert to hear (hark!) The Shorebirds, Big Honey Mama's Psychedelic Cowboy Show, and Rescue Bird.