Williamsburg and The Mission District
History of Artistic Communities & Gentrification in Two Popular American Neighborhoods

On opposite coasts and with a sea of red states between them, San Francisco and New York have often looked at one another askance. Though both liberal and known for their vibrant artistic scenes, San Francisco's smaller town setting and free love past have traditionally distinguished it from its massive, gritty, time-is-money cousin. But in the two cities' artsiest neighborhoods, San Francisco's Mission District and Brooklyn's Williamsburg, streets are rife with similar displays of gentrification: luxury condo developments, polished cafes, a diminished ethnic presence and the cementing of the return of the suburban white middle class.

The history of the two neighborhoods bears witness to many waves of change, and together, they paint a complex portrait of the interactions between national political economy and local culture, and perhaps predict the future for Bushwick and Oakland, the next in demand real estate frontiers...

Birthday Presence
Mothering the Mother: The Doula Phenomenon

Before Alicia Adema, at age 42, became pregnant with her first baby, she had never heard of a doula. She did not have any friends with children and had no prior experience with babies. “It wasn’t until my sixth month of pregnancy that I learned what a doula was. I didn’t think I could afford one, but then I found Rachel Stolzman and now I honestly don’t know why any woman would want to give birth without one.”

DONA International, a worldwide network of doulas and resources, states, “A doula that accompanies a woman in labor mothers the mother, taking care of her emotional needs throughout childbirth. A doula also provides support and suggestions for partners that can enhance their experiences of birth. A postpartum doula continues that valuable emotional support and guidance, helping a family make a smooth transition into new family dynamics.”

Williamsburg named on Preservation League’s
Annual “Seven to Save”

The Preservation League of New York State named Williamsburg as one of “Seven to Save” on their annual list of New York’s most endangered historic landmarks. Waterfront rezoning and rapid residential development prompted the league to include Williamsburg and Greenpoint’s industrial architecture among the most threatened in the state.

Seven to Save traditionally spotlights historic buildings and properties in need of preservation or repair. But the unique fabric and industrial heritage of Williamsburg led to the inclusion of the neighborhood as a whole...

A Tale of Two (Metaphorical) Bridges

One rises in a slight arc over the waters of the East River, delivering cars from Delancey to Broadway and Havemeyer and vice versa; the other we only see from inside a subway car as it travels under the riverbed. The Williamsburg Bridge and the tunnel carrying the L train are the umbilical cords to our Lower East Mama, and without either many of us would be separated from jobs, friends and the occasional night of overpriced drinks in Manhattan.

Our two bridges were born 21 years apart, but city projects always take longer than they should, marred by politics. Twenty political years equal only five human years (calculations provided by The Great Predictor of Hypothetical Efficiency)...

10-Alarm Fire Destroys
Histroic Greenpoint Terminal Warehouse

Loss of a Leader
Grand Rebbe Moses Teitelbaum

Less than a week before he died, Grand Rebbe Moses Teitelbaum seemed to have made a major recovery. He had been a patient at Mt. Sinai hospital since March 30th, 2006, for a number of ailments including spinal cancer. His condition grew worse and he was placed in the intensive care unit. Then, the 91-year-old Rebbe rallied. He regained consciousness and for the next several days was able to breath under his own power. The Jerusalem Post proclaimed it “nothing short of a miracle.” He was transferred out of the intensive care ward, placed in a private room and doctors expected him to return home two weeks later...

La Dolce Williamsburg

Do you know that Christmas tune, “Noel, Noel”? Then, sing it with me, brothers and sisters, “No L, No L, No L, No LLLLL, I’m staying at home, because there is No L”, subway service this weekend, that is. Y’all gotta hustle for the G, or monkey down to the J. The weirdest things about the endless closings of our number one train link to Manhattan is the rumor mill which churns out one nutty explanation after another for why the L is constantly out...

The Sculpture Heard Round The World
A talk with the creator of Monument to Pro-Life:
The Birth of Sean Preston at Capla Kesting Fine Art

By now, the image is firmly lodged in the minds of millions of people: a nude Britney Spears on all fours, giving birth atop a bear skin rug. As if that weren’t provocative enough, the life-size sculpture bears the title, Monument to Pro-Life: The Birth of Sean Preston.

The response to Daniel Edwards’ artwork has been nothing short of explosive. The uproar was first sparked by the blogging community, which sent thousands of angry emails to Capla Kesting Fine Art, the Williamsburg gallery exhibiting the sculpture. International media channels began picking up on the sculptural lightning rod, and a full-blown blitzkrieg was soon in effect...

Tis the “Ramp” Season

A Louisa Shafia Recipe

Right now we are at the height of ramp season. Never heard of them? Maybe you’ve passed them lately at the farmer’s market or your favorite produce store. If you live or visit upstate, you may have stepped on some, as they’re currently growing all over mountainous regions of the southeastern U.S.

Ramps are a recovered ingredient of American cuisine. Especially popular in Appalachia, there are about a dozen yearly festivals held in Tennessee and West Virginia in their honor. Once prized by Native Americans and settlers for their flavor and richness in vitamins and minerals, ramps fell out of wide use until the mid-80’s, when some adventurous farmers began selling them at green markets. They caught on with restaurant chefs and are now available at farmer’s markets and several produce stores in the city...

The Black Spoons
A new breed of indie rock artists

I’m not sure whether or not the average music fan has picked up on it, but musicians have noticed that the new millennium has brought about a drastic shift in the profile of a successful indie rock band. I have no idea if Howard Gardner, the psychologist who coined the theory of multiple intelligences, pays attention to the evolution of the indie music scene (I doubt it), but if he did, I bet he would find the Black Spoons to be one fascinating band...

Brooklyn Gives Downtown Dance Another Chance

G-train Brooklynites and artistic directors Marisa Gruneberg and Ashley Singletary, a.k.a. White Road Dance Media, recently presented ‘Character Assassinations,’ a series of nine choreographed performances that caused something you don’t often come across in liberal Brooklyn – audience members leaving at the site of nudity..

“More Pink” displayed nudity as a comment on the practices of exploiting women in the 70s porn industry, but it was unclear whether it was the sight of naked flesh or dead-on ‘assassination’ that led to the walk out...

OPEN MAG: Photography & Poetry

Protest Kids: Misadventures in the Screen Trade

Following a Williamsburg Film Crew

“I feel like homeless people come by and ticket me.”

It is February 1st and Kevan Tucker, the young director, is inspecting the windshield of his dilapidated Ford Taurus.

Tucker, 23, is on his way to the final set of callbacks for the character “Brooke” in his independent film debut, currently titled Unidentified.
The callbacks are held on Powers St, in a rented rehearsal space above Savinos Quality Pasta. The building is squat and wide, with an alternating brick design. It resembles a paisley cummerbund...