Park Slope Reader - Fall 2019 #70


park slope


Community | Environment | Art | Wellness


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“We believe an informed patient is more likely to

play an active role in the care of their teeth”.

- Dr. Sophia Milito, DDS

We take a personalized approach with

each dental patient. We take the time to

understand your needs, so we can provide

an individualized plan for attaining and

maintaining optimal oral health. New

patients notice we spend time on

education about our treatments, and this

may not be an experience you get


Treatments & services performed at

Park Dentistry:

• TMJ treatment

• Invisalign aligners (braces)

• Invisalign expedited with PROPEL

• Same day Crowns, Fillings, Onlays

• Night Guards

• Retainers: fixed and removable

• Implant restorations

• Root Canal Treatments

• Teeth Whitening

• We have CEREC and iTERO scanning

and milling units to offer impression

free restorations and treatments.


Your smile may be the first attribute people notice about you, and it can

help you make a lasting impression.

See what our happy patients have to say..

“This was by far the best dental experience I’ve ever had! I felt so relaxed and

taken care of my entire visit. Not only is the ambience beautiful - it has a zen

spa-like feel - but my x-ray technician, hygienist, and Dr. Milito were all so

warm, thorough, and enthusiastic about dentistry! I could tell they all truly

love what they do and that shines through in the quality of this practice. Their

attention to detail is impeccable and I left feeling empowered because I truly

understood how to preserve my smile for life!”

- Cara N.

“I had the absolute best experience at Park Dentistry! Dr. Milito is very

talented, and provided me complete treatment in a time frame that other

dentists had told me was impossible. Other practices told me my treatment

would take at minimum 8 months, but she managed to do it in just 3 months.

Everything about the treatment was clear from the beginning, including

setting up a payment plan, and they will even contact your insurance for you

to get the best possible copay. They’re also very accommodating in booking

appointments to fit your schedule. The entire staff is extremely respectful and

knowledgeable, and will go above and beyond to make you feel comfortable.

Valeria is the best scheduling coordinator on earth, she is so sweet and helpful

and would always make my day! I can’t stress enough how amazing

everybody here is. I highly recommend this practice for any dental needs!”

- Mia D.

55 8th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY

718-622-7275 |


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C O N T E N T S F A L L 2 0 1 9


11 [ Explore Brooklyn ] By John Major

111 Places in Brooklyn That You Should Not Miss

22 [ Brooklyn Comics ] By Dave Kelly, Katrina Lord and Brett


Tales of the Night Watchman: The Steam Banshee

pt. 2

28 [ Park Slope Lit ] By Robert Ayers

Brooklyn: The City Within - a review

34 [ Park Slope Politics ] By Julia DePinto

Brooklyn for Warren: She’s Got A Plan

38 [ Park Slope Art ] By Julia DePinto

Gowanus Open Studios

42 [ Park Slope Politics] By Sofi a Pipolo

The Reader Profile: Caroline P. Cohen -

Honest Engagement

46 [ Park Slope Lit ] By Zanthe Taylor

Meet the Writers

50 [ Dispatches from Babyville ] By Nicole Caccavo Kear

Becoming A City Kid

54 [ Eat Local ] By Viviane Eng

Rediscovering Runner and Stone: Homemade

Fare with a Twist

60 [ Park Slope Wellness ] By Swati Singh

It’s the Time of the Season for Yoga

66 [ Real Estate ] By Lindsay Owen

The Stoop: Call the Broker

71 [ Last Word ]

Slope Survey: Ervand Abrahamian







That You Should Not Miss

Salt Marsh Birdwatching

Gold medal nature center

When most people think of the 1936 Berlin Olympics,

it’s Jesse Owens who comes to mind. Only a few, however,

know that the first American medal of those games came

in the “Municipal Planning” portion of the “Arts” competitions:

a silver medal for architect Charles Downing Lay

for his redesign of the Marine Park neighborhood.

It’s true – from 1912 to 1948, athletics-inspired art and

poetry were also Olympic competitions, probably inspired

by the ancient Roman games. Emperor Nero added singing

and poetry to the competition in 66 a.d. He won gold

medals in both, no surprise to anyone.

Marine Park is home to the largest public park in

Brooklyn, and more than half of its 798 acres consists of

salt marshes like those that served as hunting and fishing

grounds for the earliest Native American settlers. (Fire

pits have been discovered that date from 800 to 1400 a.d.)

Later, Dutch settlers also settled here, the marshland

Though springtime is so often hailed as the season of

new beginnings, autumn can play much the same role.

Whether it’s back to school or the workaday grind after

summer’s offering of respite, relaxation, and recreation,

September offers up the chance to re-enter the fray, recharged

for the new challenges and opportunities that

await. “Autumn is the second spring,” French author Albert

Camus once wrote, the moment “when every leaf is

a flower.” In other words, it’s a time when the normal and

everyday can take on a new, even unexpected, beauty.

Seeing what lies near through fresh eyes is a central goal

of my book, 111 Places in Brooklyn That You Must Not

Miss (Emons Publishing). For this issue, I’ve chosen three

chapters that offer the opportunity to do just that.

Along Flushing Avenue, the Brooklyn Navy Yard can

seem like an industrial residue from another time. But step

into BLDG 92, and you’ll have offers the opportunity to

transform your appreciation of this space through a deeper

understanding of its fascinating history. Located over

three floors in the beautifully restored Marine Commandant’s

House, museum exhibits tell not just the story of the

ships built there and their centrality to national historical

chapters, but also the men and women whose toil animated

mammoth vessels like the USS Arizona.

Kings Theatre provides the opportunity to experience

first-hand, in Camus’ terms, an architectural “flower.” Located

along Brooklyn’s central artery, Flatbush Avenue,

the theatre is living proof that age is no barrier to beauty

- or vitality - with well-positioned resources and imagination.

Lying dormant and in decay for decades, the historic

Loew’s show palace has been beautifully preserved and renewed.

A wide range of programming - including Tchaikowsky’s

“Nutcracker” performed by the Moscow Ballet in

early December - offers the opportunity to take in shows

with the jaw-dropping beauty of the Kings as their stunning


Finally, a visit to the Salt Marsh Nature Center, adjacent

to Marine Park, provides a chance to experience the borough

as the indigenous Lenape and the immigrant Dutch

might have in centuries past. High grasses, tidal flows and

migrating birds all add to the atmosphere. Brooklyn moves

at a fast and furious pace, often causing us to focus our

energies on the here-and-now as it unfolds in constantly

changing constructed landscapes. How exhilarating it can

be, then, to pause and take in a parcel of earth in our midst

that preserves a sense of our home from another time.

By John Major with photographs by Ed Lefkowicz

continued on page...14










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Kings Theater

Movie palace grandeur returns to Flatbush

A magnificent vaudeville and movie palace that formed part

of a traveling MGM entertainment circuit in the New York City

area, the Kings Theatre opened in Flatbush on September 7, 1929

as one of the original five Loew’s “Wonder Theatres.” Changing

economic fortunes for the neighborhood brought gradual decay

until, in 1977, the Kings was closed and abandoned. Left to the

ravages of nature and looters, the Kings lay largely neglected until

2010, when Houston-based ACE Theatrical Group, LLC was

chosen to lead what eventually became a $95-million restoration

project. Vintage architectural elements, including ornate plaster

moldings, pink marble staircases, and the sumptuous honeycomb

ceiling, have been meticulously restored and recreated, and the

original pipe organ console, removed and preserved during the

closure by enthusiasts, is on display.

State-of-the-art stage and sound elements installed have transformed

the Kings into a 3,200-seat theatrical and musical venue

without peer. Largely still undiscovered by Manhattanites, the

Kings offers intimate and smartly curated concerts that will satisfy

baby boomers (The Temptations, The O’Jays), Gen Xers

continued on page... 14


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Local ships that sailed the world

closely resembling the coastal plains of their homeland.

Though more than three-quarters of Jamaica Bay’s

large estuary wetland has disappeared (mostly due

to development in the 1950s through 1970s), the remaining

18,000 acres play host to more than 325 species

of birds and 50 species of butterflies, including

many migratory birds passing through on their seasonal


Formed in 2000, the Salt Marsh Nature Center is

one of 10 Urban Park Ranger nature centers, making

it ideal as a weekend activity spot for families. Pack a

camera, binoculars, and a water bottle, and head out

onto one of the well-groomed trails, offering a chance

to experience the fragile ecosystem close up. Ramble

through the grasslands alongside briny Gerritsen

Creek. Well-placed benches provide perfect viewing

spots to observe the herons, cormorants, egrets,

ducks, and geese as they make their way among the

shallow waters, as red-winged blackbirds and marsh

hawks soar overhead.

The area along Brooklyn’s East River waterfront can seem to

the uninitiated like a drab expanse of warehouses and docks cut

off from the rest of the borough. Dubbed Vinegar Hill back in the

19th century, an allusion (in this largely Irish neighborhood) to

the Battle of Vinegar Hill that was part of the Irish Rebellion, the

area’s first commercial shipyards were established just after the

Revolutionary War. In 1801, the US government purchased 40

acres and established shipbuilding operations that were central to

the Navy for the next 160-plus years.

BLDG 92 offers a gateway to this fascinating history via a free

exhibit over three floors in the restored Marine Commandant’s

House. As you enter the Navy Yard through a pedestrian gate

along Flushing Avenue, pause to look at this red-bricked gem

originally built in 1857 and designed by Thomas U. Walter, fourth

architect of the US Capitol and responsible for the central dome.

A comprehensive timeline on the exhibition’s first floor frames

the Navy Yard’s history against the nation’s political and social

history. Production here ebbed and flowed alongside the intermittent

winds of war, and several craft help tell that story. Though

built in nearby

Greenpoint, the USS Monitor, the first ironclad steamship built

for the Navy fleet, was outiftted and commissioned here in 1862.

Built at the Navy Yard, the USS Maine was an armored cruiser

commissioned in 1895 but famously sunk during an explosion in

Havana Harbor on February 15, 1898. The battleship USS Arizona,

sunk in the attack on Pearl Harbor, was built in Brooklyn over

a 15 month period in 1915 – 16, as was the USS Missouri, built

1941 – 44, where the treaty

to end war with Japan was signed in August 1945.

Don’t miss the third-floor displays, which tell the important

story of the men and women who worked at the Navy Yard. That

spirit of industry and innovation continues today with the 400

businesses now located there.

(Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, The Pixies), and millennials

(Sufjan Stevens, Bon Iver) alike. Historic “happy hour” tours

offer visitors a chance to explore the Kings in more detail with a

glass of wine in hand.

Just up the street, near Church Avenue, are two additional local

landmarks. Erasmus Hall High School (899 – 925 Flatbush Avenue),

founded in 1786, boasts a long list of notable alumni, including

singers Neil Diamond and Barbra Streisand, actress Mae

West, opera star Beverly Sills, and chess champion Bobby Fischer.

Meanwhile, the Tiffany-studio stained-glass windows of Flatbush

Dutch Reformed Church (890 Flatbush), founded in 1654, commemorate

the many early Dutch families who worshipped there.

The landmarked Art Deco Sears building sits just behind the

Kings on Bedford Avenue.


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FALL 2019

executive editor

Paul English

layout & design

Lafayette Gleason

office manager

Sofia Pipolo

Robert Ayers has been a Slope

resident for three years.. He was born

in Britain but he became a citizen

in 2017. He works as an artist and

writer, but devotes most of his time to

resisting Trump.

Zanthe Taylor is a mother of

daughters, freelance writer and lapsed

dramaturg who grew up in New York

City and has lived in Brooklyn for

15 years. Zanthe volunteers with the

ESOL program at the Brooklyn Public

LIbrary and writes a food blog on

celebratory meals from around the

world at The Festive Food Project.

Her writing on food and parenting

has been published on the Huffington

Post and the Washington Post, among

other places.

John Major writes about art and

culture, especially events and places

in Brooklyn, his home for the last

12 years. Originally from southern

Ohio, John is a dedicated explorer of

cities. Among his favorites are London

(which he called home for a dozen

years), Barcelona, Rome, and Paris.

He is determined to never lose the

sense of wonder from being a curious

explorer, both at home and abroad.

Design Support

Molly Lane


Paul English




WINTER 2019-20

Advertisements are due

on Friday, November 8th

Lindsay Owen Is originally from

London, she moved to Park Slope

in 2010. After delivering countless

babies (she’s a former midwife) she

now delivers homes, working as a real

estate agent with Compass in Brooklyn

and Manhattan. She can be reached

at for all

things real estate related and maybe a

cup of tea. Brits love tea.

Swati Singh writes on spirituality

that is interspersed in every element

around us. She has written for many

magazines and e-zines such as Science of

Mind, New York Spirit, Saevus Wildlife, Prana

World, Mind Body Green and more. When

she is not busy finding nothingness,

she is here-- swati2610.wordpress.

com, @swati2610 and


Nicole Caccavo Kear contributes

regularly to Parents and American Baby,

as well as Salon and Babble in between

her dispatches at the Reader. You can

keep up with her misadventures in

Mommydom on her blog, A Mom

Amok ( A native of

Brooklyn, she lives in the Slope with

her three firecracker kids, one very

patient husband, and an apparently

immortal hermit crab.


107 Sterling Place

Brooklyn, NY 11217




Ed Lefkowicz is a commercial,

corporate, and editorial photographer.

A native New Englander who

eventually moved to Brooklyn with

his wife Cynthia, he enjoys exploring

New York City life in all its storied

quirkiness. Never without a camera, he

chronicles the cognitive dissonances

that color life in the boroughs with his

alt website

Viviane Eng is a freelance writer

based in New York. She grew up on

the Lower East Side and now lives in

Flatbush with her 13 year-old Maltese

Ice Cream.

Brett Hobsen is a comic artist and

illustrator from Evanston, Illinois.

He works mostly traditionally and

loves telling horror and science fiction

stories with his artwork. He is joined

on this story by colorist Clare DeZutti

and letterer DC Hopkins.

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Julia DePinto is a Brooklyn-based

visual artist and writer. An interest in

visual culture, storytelling, and global

politics have led Julia to connect to

her community through journalism.

She engages artists, activists, and

the general public through on-thestreet

interviews, reporting, and

documenting political events. Julia

received an MFA in Interdisciplinary

Studio Arts from the University

of Connecticut and has attended

residencies in the US, Iceland and

Spain. She is currently an Artist

in Residence at Trestle Projects in

Brooklyn, NY.

Sofia Pipolo is a Digital Media and

Film Production student with a minor

in Sociology at Marymount Manhattan

College. Her collaborative and creative

endeavors have brought her to work

in social media marketing, creative

writing, and on short films. Sofia’s

interest in both media and social

outreach allows her to think diversely

in order to create and curate authentic,

thought-provoking content. Her full

digital media portfolio can be found at



cityWell strives to make wellness

and self care part of everyday life,

not just a luxury.

Dave Kelly is a writer and publisher

of comics. Since 2012, his imprint,

So What? Press, has produced and

distributed over twenty titles. His

flagship series, Tales of the Night Watchman,

about baristas who fight monsters,

is most known for its “It Came from the

Gowanus Canal” story line. He currently

resides in Brooklyn. The co-writer of

this issue’s tale, Katrina Lord, is a

dear friend of D.K.’s who resides in

Milwaukee, WI with her dog Emma.

She visits Brooklyn to enjoy coffee and

bookstores with him.

Front Cover Art: Jennifer

Prevatt is visual artist who works in

illustration, installation, and paper

sculpture. Her introspective studio

practice investigates the intimate

layers of thought and memory within

the scope of dreams. She creates

visual narratives of archetypal thought

patterns within the framework of fairy

tales. After graduating in 2010 with a

BA in Scientific Illustration, Jennifer

spent 8 years abroad. She received

an MFA from Newcastle University

in 2014 and has exhibited her work

internationally. Jennifer is currently

an Artist in Residence at Trestle

Projects in Brooklyn.




















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November 8th

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Gift cards are available online and in our shop!

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Williamsburg, 2014 by Alex Webb

Any book with the word Brooklyn in its title is special for those of us who are fortunate

enough to live here. This one has particular relevance to readers of the Park Slope

Reader however not only because the couple who made it are our immediate neighbors,

but because The City Within that they refer to in their title is “the green heart of

the borough: Prospect Park, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and Green-Wood Cemetery”.

This is, almost literally, two books in one. Rebecca Norris Webb’s photographs and

words that focus on our green spaces are even printed on slightly smaller-sized pages

bound like a sandwich in the center of the volume, whereas Alex Webb’s rather bigger

share of the book takes him on forays across our entire borough.

By Robert Ayers

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He returns repeatedly not simply to Brooklyn’s complex diversities,

but to the beguiling contradictions that are reconciled

here on a daily basis, or in

the case of his remarkable

photographs, in the blink of

an eye or a camera shutter. In

fact he goes out of his way to

accentuate what he calls the

“quotidian, yet sometimes

enigmatic, world around

me” in the images here. In

the visual cacophony of an

image captioned Williamsburg,

2014 for example, the space is

chopped up by construction

barriers, a lamp post, and the

entrance to Bedford Avenue

subway station, while it is simultaneously dragged back

together by the fragments of graffiti and stickers that cover

everything that has stayed still long enough to be covered in

them. And then, in a weird sort of pictorial alchemy, a shirtless

eighties-era muscle man pasted to the wall seems momentarily

the twin of a young guy striding determinedly out of the right

of the picture frame while he lifts his Nike t-shirt and scratches

his toned belly.

Gowanus, 2016 by Alex Webb

So this is more than a book

that confirms how remarkable

our borough is, it is a book that

makes us realize that Brooklyn

is even more than we imagined.

A few of Rebecca Norris Webb’s images are a little simpler.

There is for example her gorgeous Mute Swan, though even

here a strange rectangular

pink glow falls on the swan’s

back and makes the image

somewhat enigmatic. More

often she treats us to wonderful

visual complexities

through her use of deep

spaces filled with details at

different scales, some in and

some out of focus. And she is

a virtuoso of the bewitching

reflection in photographs

like Shimmering in which the

illuminated ceiling of the

LeFrak Center skating rink is

somehow seen as though floating in a spectacular evening sky.

Even if this was the only image in the book it would be well

worth the cover price.

Fortunately there are more than eighty other images here, a

number of which – like Shimmering – I cannot work out how

they were created, and one or two of which – like Alex Webb’s

view of Gowanus, 2016 – juggle fleeting reflections in an equally

entertaining way. Having enjoyed this photograph will make


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my F train ride into Manhattan forever a little different.

Reflections are also present in Rebecca Norris Webb’s poems

and short sections of prose: reflections of the work of other

writers, of their lives and

experiences, and – more

obviously – of the world that

is Brooklyn that she knows

as well as most of us do.

Sometimes the pages of text

that appears in books filled

with photographs are little

more than negligible footnotes.

That is far from the

case here, and Norris Webb’s

use of language is exquisite.

When she describes looking

down into the darkness

from an airplane and “Prospect

Park passes beneath

like a great dark ship,” or

asks “Can the rain multiply

anything that’s blue?” then it is obvious that hers is a genuinely

cross-disciplinary art in which, to quote Alex Webb’s brief

preface, “words and pictures create places where landscape

and memory, history and reverie meet.”

The recurrent delight that this book offers is the chance to

see things differently. Differently to how we had seen them

before, and even differently to how we imagined they were.

In its pages we find a building-wide mural weirdly echoed in

the Scotch tape wrapped around a telephone pole; a woman

dressed as a somewhat

fanciful version of a lobster

while another strips down

to her bathing costume; a

raccoon high in the branches

of a tree, its eyes glowing

ghostly in the darkness;

and two serious little girls

dressed for the Ragamuffin

Parade while behind them

on the sidewalk a couple of

bekilted gentlemen play the


So this is more than a book

that confirms how remarkable

our borough is, it is a

Shimmering by Rebecca Norris Webb

book that makes us realize

that Brooklyn is even more than we imagined. Or perhaps

for each of us our personal City Within is the mixture of what

we know and what we imagine. So, to give the final words to

Rebecca Norris Webb, “I wonder how many of us now – this

moment in Brooklyn – find ourselves inhabiting two worlds at


32 | park slope Reader






A local member

of Brooklyn for

Warren outside the

Park Slope Food Coop

“If you support Elizabeth Warren, what is your plan?

She’s got a plan; what is yours?”

This is the mantra of grassroots organization, Brooklyn for

Warren, a group of Brooklyn- based activists who are ALL IN

for a Warren- 2020 Presidency. The preliminary idea for the

canvassing chapter began in April 2019, not long after the

Massachusetts Senator brought her presidential campaign to

Long Island City. This is the same city where Amazon withdrew

their plans to build a corporate campus, a decision Warren

supported. Founder of Brooklyn for Warren, Milo, began

holding sessions in his Brooklyn home, inviting the public to

join in conversations regarding the need for structural change.

These conversations led to the discussions of a future- America

under a Warren Presidency. Networking with the digital

community of “All In for Warren” quickly spread the word to

Warren supporters living in

the five boroughs, that a local

group was organizing. By June

the small group was visible to

the public, in ways of canvassing,

marching in parades,

hosting happy hours events,

and spreading their work

throughout Brooklyn. They

are also visible on multiple

social media platforms and are

recognized for crafting “Elizabeth

Warren’s Comprehensive

Meme Plan,” a database of

appropriated images that pair

Warren’s policies with pop

culture references.

“We are all about creating

visibility,” says Milo. “Warren

appeals to ALL people and protects

ALL people. This is why

we are building a community of her supporters. We want to

help her become the next President of the United States.”

We connected with the leaders of Brooklyn for Warren’s Policy

and Social Media Teams to discuss the fundamentals of grassroots

organizing, and to learn more about Warren’s plans for

structural change. We wondered how her plans might affect

the five boroughs.

*As a note, Brooklyn for Warren is not part of Senator Warren’s

official campaign and cannot speak directly for her or

her campaign. They do not have insider knowledge into policies

that have not already been made public. The following

questions and answers include policy proposals that Warren

has publicly discussed.


(PSR): In a little over four months time, Brooklyn for

Warren has grown from an idea to a dynamic grass-


roots organization with seven teams, 17 team leaders,

and an email list t with over 1,300 subscribers. Can

you tell me how the policy team evolved?

(BFW) I attended the second house party hosted by Milo, back

in April. As we began to grown, we developed our “Policy of

the Week” segment for our biweekly happy hours. These sessions

teach volunteers about one of Senator Warren’s policy

proposals and give them talking points for how to discuss

them when they are out canvassing, phone banking, or tabling.

As the program quickly developed, it became clear that

we should have a dedicated policy team, which I now co-lead.

We organize the policy of the week segments and are working

on additional tools to give volunteers easily digested summaries

of Warren’s policies.

(PSR): What is the impact social media can have on

a campaign? Do you have any examples of how social

media has increased awareness of Senator Warren’s

presence, policies, and presidential campaign in


(BFW): It helps us organize events and get people involved

and active. Warren herself tweeted out about our presence in

Prospect Park with Cardboard Liz a couple of months ago. It

definitely helped raise attention to what we’re doing here in

Brooklyn. I have great conversations via DM (direct message)

on a daily basis with people wanting to not only get more involved,

but also wanting learn about her plans. Some of these

people reach out because they feel more comfortable with

one-on-one conversations. Also, people have been offering

to send homemade Warren merchandise including buttons,

stickers, and bath towels as a token of appreciation for our


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(PSR): How is Senator Warren going to help rebuild

state and local infrastructure? Are there any plans to

rebuild infrastructure in NYC?

(BFW): Senator Warren has not released an infrastructure-specific

plan, but a number of her plans

address infrastructure in various ways.

For instance, her plan for rural America

invests $85 billion to create a public

option for Broadband Internet access.

Her green manufacturing plan invests

$2 trillion over the next ten years into

green energy research, green energy

manufacturing, and exporting that

technology around the world. Much

of this, necessarily, would be devoted

to infrastructure in various ways. Her

plan for economic patriotism would

create millions of good-paying domestic jobs.

(PSR): There are massive shortages of affordable

housing across the country. NYC’s affordability crisis

affects New Yorkers of nearly every income group in

every community across the five boroughs. Does Senator

Warren have a plan to combat high rent and lack

of affordable housing in NYC?

(BFW): Her plan is a national one, not specific to NYC, but

it would certainly help the severe lack of affordable housing

we face here. The plan would make a historic investment in

affordable housing that would bring rent down by 10% across

America. It also creates 1.5 million new jobs through construction

and rehabilitation of affordable housing and addresses

the historic impact of the racist and discriminatory policy of

redlining, where the government subsidized mortgages for

white families, but not black and brown families. Warren will

subsidize down payments for first time homebuyers in historically

redlined communities, which will help close the wealth

gap between black and white families. It is fully paid for by

imposing an estate tax on inheritances over $7m.

(PSR): Warren’s own story is not unlike the stories

of many working- class Americans and single- parent

families who struggle economically. How does she

appeal to voters differently than her opponents?

(BFW) Warren’s approach and tactics become a part of every

conversation. She is able to communicate through ideas, not

guise or rhetoric. Current and previous Presidents have based

their politics on slogans like “hope” and “great.” Warren’s

politics are based on ideas and plans, not slogans. She’s really

in charge of the conversations, and if you have something that

is consistent and tangibly sound, then you can speak to all


(PSR): There are a number of Democratic presidential

candidates who effectively speak to core American

values and present a strong vision for the future of

our country’s economy. What makes Senator Warren

especially unique to the other presidential candidates?

(BFW): The thing about Senator Warren is that, although it

looks like she has all these plans to solve

all these different problems, at their

core, every single one of her plans is

addressed at fixing one core problem--

the vast inequality in American society.

It’s the problem that she has spent her

entire career studying and trying to

remedy. What makes her array of plans

different than in any other campaign

we’ve seen is that they resonate with

people--they’re not just a disparate

array of white papers--they show that

she has a deep understanding of all the

different ways people are hurt by inequality, whether it is the

racist history of redlining, the huge power imbalance between

the 1% and everyone else, the ways corporations have changed

the rules of the game to their advantage, the ways working

mothers are held back by the lack of child care, and so many

more. And they present an optimistic vision of how our

society can be equal. While her plans are bold and visionary,

they are also very practical. They are fully paid for, and she has

talked about the need to eliminate the filibuster, so that they

can actually become law.

I believe down to my toes (to borrow Warren’s phrase) that

once people get to know Senator Warren, those who are open

to having their minds changed will become convinced that

she is an exceptional candidate who really stands out from the

rest. There was some interesting polling earlier this summer

that measured how closely people were paying attention to the

primary--among those paying the closest attention, Warren

was in the lead. To me, that says that once people have the

opportunity to learn about her, many of them will end up

supporting her because of the strength of her ideas and conviction,

her toughness, her record of getting things done, and

her innate goodness that just shines through.

(PSR): How can our readers contribute to your cause?

(BFW): We welcome anyone of any ability. Everyone has

something to give for the fight-- we see it daily in our group.

From broke students to those who are able to do more than

their $2,800 campaign limit. We welcome those in Park Slope

and elsewhere who want to use their energy to support the

strongest economic and social justice candidate to represent

ALL of Brooklyn. Our success is based on community- building

around Elizabeth Warren, and our team members are all a

reflection of her. It’s a further testimonial to her inspirational

personality and candidacy, and to the people who have come

together to build something. It’s a positive reinforcement


For more information on Brooklyn for Warren, including upcoming

events and ways to contribute, please visit:


38 | park slope Reader



Kevin R. Frech, Commune, Video

The first time I spoke with Johnny was to confirm my participation in Gowanus

Open Studios, a wonderful yearly event sponsored by Arts Gowanus. The annual

mid-October event draws people of all ages and backgrounds from all five boroughs.

It provides artists opportunities to network, while giving the public access to

creative interaction in their spaces.

As a visual artist who occupies a 96 square-foot studio space in an old industrial

warehouse, I’m new to the Gowanus art scene. I moved to Brooklyn in the spring of

2018, but like many artists, I was unable to secure a studio space until the following

year. “You’re not alone,” Johnny later told me. “The scene is always in flux. Artists

have occupied industrial and commercial buildings in our neighborhood for many,

many years, but have also been continually pushed out of their spaces due to new

development and the ever-evolving gentrification of our community. But artists are

resourceful; we’re good at finding new spaces for creating, regardless of whatever

barrier is holding us back.”

Johnny Thornton is the Program Director of Arts Gowanus, a nonprofit organization

that advocates for local artists by organizing events to promote and sustain the

multi-disciplinary art communities of Brooklyn. Part of their mission is to keep

artists in Gowanus and neighboring areas through artist-toartist relationships,

monthly networking, workshops, fundraisers, exhibitions, and collaborations.

Johnny spoke about a small group of artists in the 90s who revolutionized the event

long before Arts Gowanus became the organization it is today.

By Julia DePinto


40 | park slope Reader

For decades, New York City artists have struggled to

find affordable studio spaces; usually seeking unused

spaces in vacant buildings in disused neighborhoods.

According to Johnny, “The problem with this pattern

is that new developments come in and raise the rent

so much that artists cannot afford to stay. Economic

growth and gentrification tend to follow artists, but then

push them out, creating a destructive cycle. This is how

Open Studios was formed. Artists were seeking to form

a community in a developing city that was also forcing

background. The drawings and paintings were on various

sizes of paper and canvas and covered every inch of the

space, from the corners of the ceiling to the cracks in the

floor. Stools, chairs, and easels were also painted, getting

lost in the mammoth installation. I felt I had entered a

dreamscape or memory. But it wasn’t my memory; it was

Johnny’s. I stood in silence for a few minutes, trying to

make sense of my surroundings. To contextualize the

immersive installation and my immediate reaction is to

say that it was quite unsettling. It was a meditation of a

medical document, drawn in visual language, void of any


Soon after relocating to New York for graduate school,

Johnny was diagnosed with an illness that changed

the trajectory of his art career. As a once active, hyperrealistic

portrait painter, he was suddenly limited to

create within the barriers of physical mobility. Though

his health began to deteriorate, he found catharsis in the

repetitive act of drawing the circular cells. In his words,

“My illness changed the way I work entirely.” This too

made me look differently at Johnny’s art. His health has

since improved, and I can now look at the artworks as a

hopeful act.

Gowanus Open Studios is now celebrating 23

successful years. This year’s Open Studio event takes

place the weekend of October 19 & 20 from 12:00

pm- 6:00 pm. The event is open to all ages and

welcomes those who are interested in the process of

art-making, collecting, or simply want to get a

glimpse into the lives of local artists. Take time to

come and explore the arts during this magical fall

weekend. You’ll be glad you did!

Johnny Thornton; Studio View & Installation of Cells

them out.” This problem is not unique to the majority of

New York residents. We live in a city where housing costs

rise much faster than incomes. Massive shortages of

affordable housing have affected many communities in

the five boroughs.

I met Johnny outside of his studio, which is housed in a

restored factory building that hosts private and shared

spaces for artists to create, collaborate and exhibit. He

walked me through a gated back entrance, through a

long hallway, and into his studio-- a space that I was not

entirely prepared to enter. Narrow and rectangular with

tall ceilings, it was filled with paintings of overlapping

red blood cells, loosely rendered and aggressively

outlined in a thick, black paint against a white

In the corner of Johnny’s studio, placed casually

against the sea of blood cell paintings, are stacks of

painted canvas. These highly emotive paintings depict

human forms, contrasting elements of physical and

psychological identities. The gray figures are vulnerable;

they open themselves up to the artist, but gaze past the

viewer, attempting to avoid eye contact. Thick, black

gestural marks lie on top of the figures, loosely outlining

the contours of the body. Johnny describes the new

works as“explorations of the constructed self through

the lens of corporeal degradation and contemporary


I asked Johnny what viewers could expect to see this year

at Open Studios. He responded by showing me a largescale

painting of gestural blacks lines juxtaposed a white


Johnny isn’t the only artist preparing for Open Studios.

Brooklyn-based, multi-disciplinary artist,

Jenn Schmidt and video artist, Ken Frech are also

preparing their studios for visitors this fall.


and all too relatable. Technology is meant

to connect us but it also has the potential to

isolate us. I watched the video several times

through before being interrupted by my own


Another piece, Foundation and Empire,

features a single-channel HD video that

speaks to issues of global warming and ways

that money reshapes our world. In the video,

Frech suspends ten, $100 bills in a block of ice

and uses time-lapse to capture the melting.

Unmistakenly paralleling climate change;

as the cash becomes exposed to warmer

temperatures, the ice melts, causing the entire

structure to become unsustainable.

Jenn Schmidt; Studio View

Jenn works in print-media, graphic design, sound, video,

and site-specific installation. Entering her studio feels like

entering a memoir of the natural world, albeit wrapped

in patterns of psychedelic color and phenomenon.

Her work questions the role of visual iconography and

repetitive actions within a given environment. Prints

on cotton fabric reference the physical body and are

reminiscent of long walks through fields in Belgium,

which is where she connects ideals of femininity and


Jenn showed me multi-faceted images of weeds,

flowers and pinecones; all are elements of nature

that find balance between echo and ecofeminism.

The performative act of collecting weeds encouraged

Jenn to consider ways in which women identify with

nature. “It’s like a protection of self,” she explained.

“The persistence of weeds is a global concept. Often

overlooked, they exist in space and in between spaces.”

Viewers can expect to see Jenn’s newest monumental

artworks, completed recently at an artists’ residency in

Belgium. They may even hear echoes of Corita Kent’s

famous words, “Flowers grow out of dark moments.”

When I visited Kevin Frech, he was arranging monitors

and sets of headphones. Kevin’s work examines the

social practices of Western contemporary society. As

technology improves communication, it also alienates us

from one another and our natural world; regardless, we

continue consuming its resources. Commune involves

a single-channel HD video with stereo sound, and

depicts an assemblage of adults consumed by their

smartphones. The piece is compelling, mesmerizing,

I spoke with Kevin about his work and what he

hopes his art will convey to visitors. He stated

that the videos function on multiple levels,

and that he tries to make art that everyone

can relate to. He noted that in previous years,

children and youth have identified with his

work and understood the difficulty and

absurdity of the pieces.

For more information about Gowanus Open Studios:

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42 | park slope Reader


Caroline P. Cohen

Honest Engagement

When I spoke with Caroline, she was in the midst of another busy day, riding in the car with her familyhusband,

Steve, and two children, Daschel and CiCi. And even over the phone, I could tell she was full

of energy, inspiration, and self-assurance. Back in April, Caroline won first out of four in the Primary

Election for Civil Court Judge. Now, she running unopposed in the November General Election. She

contributes this major achievement to her honest engagement with the Brooklyn community.

— By Sofia Pipolo, pics by Julia DePinto —

For the past two years, Caroline has been a trusted Civil Rights

Attorney, working for a small, “Feminist Litigation Firm.” What’s

that mean? Well, exactly what you would hope. A legal firm

that advises and represents those that have been discriminated

against in the workplace - be it sexually harassed, because of their

status as a caregiver, or for their maternity status. Caroline sites

this leap into law and politics as the best professional decision

she has ever made.

She then quotes Gandhi, “Be the change you want to see in

the world.” After the 2016 election, Caroline, like many others,

felt a call to action. “I couldn’t be as mad as I was and not

try to move into a

position that could

affect greater good.”

These intimate

feelings motivate

many of Caroline’s

personal and

political engagement

decisions. She

continuously speaks

about how she

experiences issues

very emotionally

and takes things

incredibly personally.

Ironically, these are

often the excuses

people have for not

electing women into

positions of power.

But Caroline is

unapologetic with

her feelings. Aside

from showcasing a

sense of humanity,

she understands

them as an opportunity

to translate emotions into a passion and dedication for positive

change. “I was filled with rage. But still, you turn that into

something else. It would be a greater tragedy just to take those

feelings and be like ‘Oh well, this is the world we live in now.’ No,

you take it and you do more with it.”

Soon after, she called her brother saying, “Well, I guess I am

running for office now.”

Similarly, Caroline’s desire to move into law came from

her own mother’s inability to pursue higher education and

a professional career as an attorney. Caroline states that the

death of her mother, Carol, was the most defining moment

of her life, because of the parallel similarities she saw between

her moment of loss and her mother’s. Carol had applied to law

school, but ultimately her father did not support it, saying “You

have been educated enough. That’s it. Hard stop.” In the end,

she moved on to be a successful businesswoman, but still, this

loss was continuously prominent in the determination to pass

on strength to her children. Caroline says, “She saw a lot in me

what she saw in herself - a focus, and dedication, and just a belief

that you can do it.”

Amongst the great values inherited from her mother is the

belief that “you don’t take shit from anybody.” Caroline too

wishes to deliver this energetic self-assurance to others. She

speaks to me about the need to claim your identity and power.


“Be fearless when you’re speaking with people who are dismissive

of you.” I can image Caroline working with her clients, giving

them the same spirited motivation that her words project;

providing them the opportunity, access, and tools to pursue that

which other’s have tried to take away. And Caroline brings this

ferocious devotion to all aspects of her life.

“This cycle I hope to give to my clients, that I hope to give to

my children, that I hope to give to my constituents is that if you

come before me as a judge you will be heard, if you are my client

I will fight for you, if you’re my child I will empower you to speak

for yourself and speak for others.”

Of course, the

transition has not

always been easy.

It continues to

involve months of

long days as it was

never an option to

take off of work for

Caroline - she says,

“My ladies need me.”

So while holding

her 9 to 5 hours, she

would campaign

on the subways in

the morning, knock

on doors in the

evenings, and end

her day with team

meetings between

9:30 and 11 PM. An

almost unbelievable

work schedule for a

mother raising a 6

and 4 ¾-year-old. But

as Caroline states, “I

am the definition of ‘It

takes a village.’ And when I ask her children if they think it’s cool

to see their mom talking with all these people and doing this big

job for the city, rising pre-schooler CiCi replies, “Pretty much.”

Caroline with her campaign team including NYS Senate Candidate Josue Pierre

In the same way that the community has supported her,

as Civil Court Judge, Caroline is focused on giving back and

engaging the community. “And not just during the campaign,

I think that’s a bunch of garbage. You have to be dedicated to

reach out to all the corners of the community if you are going be

a public servant and seek to represent them.” Caroline has made

a major effort to connect with Brooklyn individuals in order

to understand the nuances of each community. For example,

providing comprehensive relief to the multi-decade affordable

housing crisis or directly dealing with Islamaphobia in the

Muslim community. She has been endorsed by Brooklyn Young

Democrats, LGBTQ organizations- the Lambda Independent

Democrats of Brooklyn and the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic

Club, and the Shirley Chisholm Democratic Club. “What I

can bring [to Civil Court Judge position] is a perspective and

understanding of whom my constituents are. And it comes from

living here. I have lived in Flatbush for 10 years. It’s a great joy to

me and my family to continue to be involved in the community.”

As part of her community engagement Caroline co-founded

Ditmas Art, a mixed media arts organization focused on political

discourse. So, we wrapped up our conversation with a question

that as a media creator I often ask others: What do you believe

44 | park slope Reader

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the goal of art and media should be? For

me, the goal is to create work the provokes

empathy. Caroline began by telling me a

story of a former Art History professor

who hated Steven Speilberg films, because

“They told you how to feel.” However, she

finds a distinction between this control

and engaging one’s audience to make them

think in a new way. She states, “It’s all about

opening up dialogue. And that was really

the point of opening up this art salon in our

house. Because we were a community who

were bereft from the 2016 election. And I use

that word purposefully.”

She again recalls the night of the 2016

election with the deeply personal memory of

retreating to her upstairs bathroom, so her

son would not have to see her cry. In those

moments, fear took hold equivalent to that

when she learned her mother had stage four

metastatic cancer. “It felt like the world had shifted under my

feet. So I wanted to create a space for people to bring their ideas…

And to allow them to begin to formulate thoughts. Because

people were grieving. And it was an opportunity for people to


“So, I think, in its best form art is just an opportunity for

people to allow their thoughts to flow.”

Caroline’s thoughts, too, flow from her with purpose

and energy as she speaks with me about these challenges,

accomplishments, and sentiments. All which motivate her to

bring that same confidence to others- confidence not only that

she will fulfill her role as Civil Court Judge, but promise that

in doing so every individual will gain a stronger, louder, and

recognized voice. In our conversation, again and again, Caroline

would proudly proclaim, “I love what I do!” Indulging in stories

of the people, places, and experience that brought her to where

she is today.

“I am very aware that I am indebted to the community. I owe

everything to this community. It is helping me raise my children.

It provided me a platform to meet my boss- who I met in my

oldest child’s moms group. It has given me a spiritual stronghold

in moments of political disbelief. And that love and dedication

will translate to love and dedication on the bench.”q

To learn more about Caroline’s Campaign go to cohenforjudge2019.





Across New York City, Students

George O’Connor poses with 6th graders at Hamilton Grange Middle School in Harlem.


Jacqueline Woodson greets middle school fans at Seth Low IS 96 in Brooklyn.

By Zanthe Taylor


Meet the Writers, which began with a single school in the spring of 2015, has so far reached 12,000

New York City preK-8th grade public school children in Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Manhattan,

with a particular emphasis on Title 1 schools, where a majority of students live in low-income homes.

Michele Weisman can remember back to a time before she became

show O’Connor their work.

a book person. Growing up, her family preferred watch-

The Olympians school visit is a perfect illustration of how

ing TV to turning pages. But in seventh grade at Baltimore’s Meet the Writers excels: Weisman works in close partnership

Pikesville Junior High she encountered books like Animal Farm with each school to find a writer who matches both the students

and experienced the joys of critical reading for the first time. and the setting. “There’s no one formula I follow,” Weisman

Books became central to her long career as a graphic designer

and art director for many prestigious children’s publishers demographics with her extensive rolodex of writers and illus-

explains. Instead, she pairs her knowledge of a school and its

including Children’s Television

trators--painstakingly built

Workshop, Time For Kids,

through visits to book festivals

and Highlights for Children.

and contacts with publishers--to

make each match. She’s

“Middle school can change

your direction,” Weisman says

brought authors of all races,

now, reflecting on how much

ages, and genders into schools;

changed for her when she began

loving books. She’s made

Cam Jansen series, David A.

from the author of the popular

that realization her life’s mission,

spending the last four

and author Sonia Manzano.

Adler, to Sesame Street actress

years connecting 12,000 New

Setting also dictates her planning.

When middle-school

York City schoolchildren with

books and authors through

students encounter a writer in

Meet the Writers, Inc., the

an auditorium, a big personality

like O’Connor goes over like

non-profit organization she

founded in 2015.

gangbusters; for kindergarteners,

In the auditorium at Hamilton

Grange Middle School

on West 138th Street one fall

morning there’s a buzz in the

air, the slightly unruly kind of

noise particular when groups

of tweens gather. As students

pour in, each clutching a volume

from the Olympians series

of graphic novels about

Greek mythology, they curiously

eye the man on stage

next to a blank sketchbook

on an easel. Once they’re seated

Illustrator Bryan Collier engages 3rd graders in the Bronx.

an author may travel

from classroom to classroom,

speaking to small groups sitting

on the rug and answering

questions the children have

prepared in advance. Whether

discussing a sweet picture

book or a challenging young

adult novel, coming face-toface

with its author piques the

students’ interest in a more

personal way from words or

pictures on the page. For many

of these students, Meet the Writers

and the chatter settles to a low hum, George O’Connor, the

author and illustrator of the Olympians, launches into a bravura

presentation. Gesturing energetically, joking around, soliciting

provides their first introduction to a real-life writer or artist

and expands their world of role models to include the creators

of books.

responses from the students, and sketching virtuosically,

Weisman also works hard to choose authors in whom the

O’Connor quickly has the whole auditorium in the palm of his students can see themselves, whether because of their background

or subject matter, and the writers in turn emphasize

hand. Students are laughing and nodding along with his rapid-fire

banter, and even the teachers, staff, and administrators how to pursue a creative passion and turn it into a job. Authors

standing in the back are charmed and entertained. With plain describe their different writing styles in accessible, entertaining

paper and a black Sharpie, O’Connor brings Greek mythology

to life. After his presentation, he stays for almost two hours, and emphasize the hard but essential work of editing. Students

ways-some are planners, while others are more spontaneoustalking

with every student and signing every single book with are fascinated not only by each book’s content, but by the life

a sketch of each student’s favorite god or goddess. Some more and career of the author, and often by the publishing process

extroverted students joke around with him, while a few quieter as well: “How much money do you make?” they ask, or “Did

children confide how much they also like to draw and ask to

48 | park slope Reader

Ruth Chan meets 1st graders and signs books at Sunset Park School in Brooklyn.

you choose the picture on the cover?” The authors’ generous and

honest answers clearly set wheels turning in the students’ minds.

Perhaps some will become writers or artists themselves, while others

are sparked by thinking about the business of books for the

first time. Whether students consider themselves nascent authors

or not, there is value in these visits for each of them.

Meet the Writers, which began with a single school in the

spring of 2015, has so far reached 12,000 New York City preK-

8th grade public school children in Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx,

and Manhattan, with a particular emphasis on Title 1 schools,

where a majority of students live in low-income homes. It has also

helped provide 4,000 signed books: one of Weisman’s main goals

for the future is to be able to hand a book to every student she

serves. From that first school visit in 2015, the program now has

forty events scheduled for the 2019-20 school year, and Weisman

expects that number to grow. Because Meet the Writers operates

with extremely low overhead cost, it has relied so far on small

grants and prize money, as well as the generosity of individual

small donors. Weisman hopes an increase in funding will help

her grow the program, not only in numbers of books but also in

increasing the number of schools and students it reaches. In addition

to the strong presence in elementary and middle schools,

she recently began discussions with a high school, which would be

Meet the Writers’ first. They are also hoping to add Staten Island

and complete the mission of reaching New York students in all

five boroughs. Meet the Writers is now actively looking for strategic

partnerships with complementary organizations focusing on

literacy and education--a recent collaboration with Read Alliance

brought author/illustrator Ruth Chan to meet elementary students

and their high school reading buddies.

“This feels like my small way of moving the needle,” Weisman

explains. It’s creative act of social activism in a climate that too

often feels hostile to the needs of children and the less privileged.




Michele Weisman, Founder and

Executive Director.

Meet the Writers has also

been a way to distill her

life’s experience, from a career

focused on educational

publishing, to her time

volunteering with P.S. 321’s

author visits, to her term as

PTA co-president at Hunter

College High School. Weisman

found herself craving

both new challenges and

new meaning in her work,

and the timing seemed ideal

as her children approached

the end of high school. “I

turned fifty, started running,

and wanted to reinvent

and recharge myself,” Weisman says, and with Meet the Writers,

she has turned that extensive energy and dedication to the

service of New York City’s children. Whether meeting award-winning

authors like Jacqueline Woodson or Elizabeth Acevedo, both

of whom grew up in New York City themselves, or writers who’ve

traveled- sometimes across the country- to speak with them, New

York’s public school students are enriched by one woman’s mission:

to help them find the joy of becoming book people themselves.

50 | park slope Reader




I hover. As a mother, I mean. Sometimes I try not to, and sometimes I lean into it

but either way, it’s my instinct. I was raised by hoverers. I was also raised in Staten

Island. These facts are unrelated but relevant to my point which is: I grew up in the

city but was not a city kid – at least not until I started high school in Manhattan. I was

neither sophisticated, nor saavy, nor independently mobile.

Even as a little girl. I loved Manhattan – the lights! the smells! the

people everywhere! – but I didn’t develop a borough inferiority

complex until later, when I was in middle school. This, of course, is

when one is most susceptible to developing complexes.

My parents would drive me over the Verrazano into Bay Ridge every

morning, and I would dream we’d keep going until we crossed that

cathedral of bridges, with its twinned arches, into the glittering

metropolis of Manhattan. I had a small town girl’s adoration of

the city, which was stoked by my favorite sitcom, Mad About You.

Nothing could be better, I thought, than to live in a doorman

building and order Chinese food every other night. That was the

life I wanted.

And that life was mine, every time I visited my aunt, uncle and

two cousins in their apartment on East 78th Street. I visited them

frequently, for weeks at a time in the summer, like some kind of

reverse Fresh Air Kid. When I was in high school, for almost three

years, I lived with them Monday through Friday, because it took

me just thirty minutes to get to school instead of an hour and a

half and three modes of public transportation – bus, train and,

incredibly, boat.

Staying at my aunt’s apartment was like living in a Mad About You

episode. I would greet the doorman on my way in, take the elevator

sixteen stories up and gorge myself on Chicken Chow Fun and

Moo Shu Pork from takeout containers.

I even had a building bestie, Leah Goldstein. Leah was just my age

and lived four floors below us. Leah was a city kid. She enjoyed an

independence I dared not dream of. She walked places by herself.

She took buses unsupervised. She had HBO and was permitted to

watch anything she wanted, including Fatal Attraction.

I was fairly successful at fitting in with Leah and her savvy,

independent friends, but a close look would have revealed I was an

impostor. For example, I made it through all of Fatal Attraction

without closing my eyes, but had nightmares for months afterward.

If I’m being honest, my palms still get a little clammy when I look

in a bathroom mirror.

One weekend afternoon, when I was about eleven, I was hanging

out at Leah’s apartment, with her and her friends, when someone

suggested we go out for lunch.

“Ooooh, we should go to Hard Rock,” said a girl with killer bangs.

There were murmurs of agreement and within minutes, feet were

being shoved in shoes.

“Let me just go grab my wallet,” I said. “Don’t leave without me.”

I raced upstairs, beginning my begging before the door was even

closed behind me. My mother was called. My request was denied.

I implored my mother. I bargained with her, I appealed to her basic


“You can go,” she said. “As long as your aunt goes with you.”

It was a preposterous idea. It was like offering someone a freshlybaked

chocolate cake that was full of dysentery. I told her as much,

and amped up the waterworks. I was then, and am now, a fast and

voluble crier.

“What if,” my aunt chimed in. “What if Harry and I just happen to

have lunch at Hard Rock too? At the same time? We won’t sit with

you. We’ll just be there, on our own.”

“Because the food is so good,” my uncle Harry said. “And not at all


Beggars can’t be choosers. People who have never been to the

mysterious but inarguably incredible place called “Hard Rock”

must find a way there, even if they are accompanied by a secret

security detail.

“All right,” I agreed, grabbing my wallet. “Just walk really far

behind us. And don’t- you know- talk to me. Or look at me too

much. From now on, we’re strangers.”

I still don’t understand why they caved to my outrageous demands,

but a few minutes later, we were taking separate elevators down to

the lobby, where I rejoined the group. To my horror, they’d decided

in my absence we were going to take a cab to the restaurant. Which

was not part of the plan I’d thrown together with my aunt.

But, I reasoned, this is what city kids do. They probably come out of

the womb hailing taxis. And so, throwing a discrete and apologetic

By Nicole Caccavo Kear, art by Heather Heckel

52 | park slope Reader

[ DISpatches from babyville ]

glance at my aunt and uncle, who were waiting in the lobby, I piled

into the taxi with the other kids.

I wasn’t privy to the part where my aunt and uncle raced for the

next taxi and yelled, “Follow that cab!” All I know is that soon after

our group was seated at a large round table in the big, boisterous

dining area of the Hard Rock Café- every bit as cool as I’d imaginedmy

aunt and uncle walked in and were ushered to a table on the

upper level.

I followed suit as Leah and the other kids ordered burgers, fries,

milkshakes. It was, I thought, the best meal I’d ever eaten. The

burgers were juicier, the fries crispier, the milkshakes creamier

than their outer borough counterparts. I felt so suddenly grownup.

I was keenly aware that I was in the middle of an important


I would never be the same after dining (mostly) unsupervised at

the coolest restaurant in the coolest city in the world. After this

meal, I’d be an adult. A saavy, sophisticated adult. I’d be ready to

pay rent for a studio apartment and tell tourists the fastest way to

get to Bleecker Street from anywhere. It was a straight shot from

here to Mad-About-You city -iving bliss.

And then the waitress brought our bill.

We were short. Significantly so.

“You guys, we forgot about tax!” shrieked Leah.

“Well, isn't that, like, optional? Like a tip?” one of her friends


Panic percolated among the group as it was concluded that tax was

not optional. What would happen to us now? Would the waitress

call the police? Would we have to wash dishes?

I glanced up and found my aunt and uncle paying their own bill.

They’d just turned from a liability to an ass-saving asset.

“Oh my God, you guys!” I exclaimed to the group. “This is so crazy

but . . . I think that’s my aunt and uncle up there.” I pointed to

their table. “How weird is that? They must be eating here too!”

“Can you ask them to lend us some money?” Leah asked.

“Yeah, sure,” I agreed.

My aunt and uncle did not bother to mask their delight at this

unexpected reversal.

“Sorry,” my uncle teased. “But we have no idea who you are. We’re

just perfect strangers enjoying a delicious lunch at the worldfamous

Hard Rock Café.”

Back then, I didn’t understand this delight. Now that I’m a mother

of kids around this age, I understand it all too well. It’s not just the

simple satisfaction of being able to wield an, “I told you so.” It’s the

desperately-needed confirmation that you, the parent (or parent

proxy) know what you are doing. That, despite all the misgivings

and mistakes, the bad calls, the wrong-headed battles waged (and

lost), that you still possess enough parental instinct to get the job

done. More specifically, it’s a welcome reminder that your kid (or

surrogate kid) still needs you, even when they insist they don’t —

and never will again.

So it was with immeasurable pleasure that my aunt and uncle

descended the stairs to serve as a real-life deus ex machina.

“Hi guys,” my uncle said. “I hear you’re a little short? We can cover


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I emerged from the lunch a hero. Or at least, the guy that knew

where to find the hero.

When the bill was settled, my uncle asked: “How are you guys

getting home?”

“Oh, just walking,” Leah said.

“We are too,” he replied.

They trailed us the whole way home. q

Nicole C. Kear is the author of the forthcoming middle grade book

Foreverland (Macmillan Kids, April 2020), as well as the chapter

book series The Fix-It Friends, and the memoir Now I See You.


Serving Brownstone Brooklyn since 2014

54 | park slope Reader

e a t I N G l o c a l

Rediscovering Runner and Stone’s

Homemade Fare

with a Twist

Not much has changed at Runner & Stone, a Gowanus based restaurant, bar, and

retail-wholesale bakery that’s been in operation for the last seven years, and no one

seems to want otherwise. According to general manager Julio Herencia, the restaurant

was among the first to open in the area, back when New Yorkers complained about

how smelly the canal was, and the warehouses of the neighborhood weren’t known

for housing breweries and barbecue. In spite of this fairly long history and dramatic

neighborhood change, locals are rediscovering Runner & Stone, something Herencia

attributes to the great care that the restaurant devotes to sourcing and preparing


Article and Photos by Viviane Eng


It’s so wonderful to have created

a business where the employees

like to spend time, and where

I frequently see customers and

employees getting together and

collaborating. The inter-personal

exchange that occurs around

and because of food is truly

inspirational on a daily basis.

together when they opened Runner & Stone in

December 2012.

“Since he is a chef and I’m a baker, we

discussed how to combine those two crafts to

create an all-day business that would help us

diversify in terms of business, as well as give us

both the creative outlet we were hoping for. We

came upon Gowanus as a kind of geographical

compromise, with me coming from Lower

Manhattan and Chris coming from Bay Ridge,”

wrote Endriss in an email.

“We make our own butter, our own ketchup—

we’ve never bought a sausage. We make our own

sausages. You name it, we make it. It’s borderline

annoying,” said Herencia with a smile.

In a time when restaurants are scrambling to

maintain quality amidst new minimum wage laws,

increasing food prices, and skyrocketing rents,

Runner & Stone has stayed true to its commitment

to sourcing locally when possible, developing

relationships with organizations like the Park

Slope Food Co-op (which sells Runner and Stone

bread), and, simply, spending time with their food

to make it as delicious as it can possibly be.

“Both of the owners are often in here for 18

hours a day,” said Herencia. “Peter’s hands were

in the dough until about four o’clock today and

Chris works 10 to 14 hour days. I think that shines

through with the product.”

Chef Chris Pizzulli (Blue Ribbon Brooklyn) and

Head Baker Peter Endriss (Per Se) are cousins and

had long been discussing plans to start a business

It turned out that Gowanus was an apt place for

Runner and Stone to make a home for itself. The

neighborhood’s industrial-turned-early-thirtieship

identity mirrors that of the restaurant, which

has become a local favorite for families, young

couples on date night as well as regulars who are

56 | park slope Reader

Rediscovering Runner and Stone

content sitting on their own at the bar. In a way,

Runner & Stone is also part industrial, part trendy.

There is somebody in the bakery at all hours of

the day, a small room that is mostly ovens. These

bakers and their apprentices prepare bread to be

packaged and sold to places like The Park Slope

Food Co-Op, while also kneading dough that

will become their signature Bolzano miche, or a

Chef Chris Pizzulli and Head Baker Peter Endriss

baguette, sliced and served onsite with a creamy

herb-infused chicken liver pate.

In the candlelit dining room, surf rock plays

in the background as the dinner crowd enjoys

a selection of pastas, all made in-house from

scratch, paired with wine from a mostly Italian

selection. Unbeknownst to some, Runner & Stone

also serves its own original cocktails, often infused

with syrups from the lavender, dandelion, and

rosemary grown in their small rooftop garden.

From the dining room, where the mood is relaxed

and slow, it’d be impossible to tell that the

nighttime baker hasn’t even started his day’s


The dining room at Runner & Stone looks like

many others in Brooklyn, it’s a little dim, there’s

exposed brick, and wine bottles line one wall

from floor to ceiling. But if one looks a little

closer, on the wall near the entrance, the exposed

brick isn’t really brick at all. Rather, the wall

is made from the first 1,000 bags of flour that

the restaurant used, which were then filled with

concrete. They look pillow-like and many first

time visitors, including myself, feel inclined to

touch them. The pub tables along the same wall

are made from reclaimed Brooklyn water towers,

a fact that is nearly undetectable, unless Herencia

comes by and tells you firsthand, which he

probably will. Though he is the general manager,

he enjoys socializing with the customers and

taking orders when the pace is slow. He tells me

that he’s been invited to customers’ birthday and

Christmas parties. They ask about his family and

his weekend.



“The highlight of operating the restaurant is

definitely the community that Runner and Stone

has become, a community of both customers and

employees,” said Endriss. “It's so wonderful to have

created a business where the employees like to

spend time, and where I frequently see customers

and employees getting together and collaborating.

The inter-personal exchange that occurs around

and because of food is truly inspirational on a

daily basis.” q

Interviews have been edited and condensed for


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58 | park slope Reader

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“Autumn in New York, why does it seem so inviting?” -Vernon Duke


Jaya Yoga

It’s the Time of the Season for Yoga

Is it the awe-inspiring blend of amber-gold foliage beneath the blue sky, the crisp breeze, and the scent of

pumpkin-everything? The energy reforms every season and autumn prepares us for the transition for chilly

winters ahead. What doesn’t serve us need to bid adieu to create space for forthcoming new energies.

This is a good time to begin with practices that align our mind, body and spirit. What could be better than

yoga then? While collecting multi-hued leaves, we found beautiful yoga studios along our way. Have a look

and decide what’s best for you.

By Swati Singh


62 | park slope Reader

Prospect Heights Yoga

184 Underhill Avenue, Prospect Heights

A short walk from Park Slope towards Underhill Ave and you

will find a turquoise board catching your attention. Prospect

Heights offers a wide range of practices for various levels from

basics and foundations to faster flows. Meditation, dynamic

and Vinyasa, restorative and alignment-based classes and

Pilates is on their rich platter. Experienced teachers, friendly

atmosphere, no-frills attitude, and their sliding scale model

makes sure that they are accessible to all. An unlimited intro

month for $75, intro week for $25. They partner with different

social justice organizations and causes each month; aditionally

partnering with Rooftop Reds in the Brooklyn Navy Yard for

Wednesday and Sunday evening classes.

They offer a unique karma yogi program where students can

support in-studio maintenance and projects in exchange for

free classes.

By the community and for the community!

Align Brooklyn

579 5th Avenue, 2nd Floor, Park Slope

Align Brooklyn extends a warm welcome on the 5th Ave. Owned

by a chiropractor who is a specialist in posture, myofascial

therapy, exercise rehab and movement, adds unique services to

exhaustive list of their offerings. Hands-on teachers and a balanced

approach with focus on vitality make this a great place.

Yoga classes include practices of Vinyasa Flow, Restorative,

Therapeutic, Iyengar, Hatha. Apart from that, Pilates and barre

and functional fitness classes are also in their schedule.

One-week unlimited trial membership is for $35. They also offer

a monthly Unlimited Wellness Membership Giveaway. Apply

on thier website. And do not miss their Yin series and Yoga

Wall workshop this Fall.

Yogis and Yoginis

432 6th Avenue, Park Slope

A red-brick building adorned with Buddhist prayer flags welcomes

you on 6th Ave. Yogis and Yoginis shares its space with

the Shantideva Center, a Tibetan Buddhist Meditation Center.

They believe in the symbiosis of meditation with yoga and

reserves time for Samatha meditation (calm abiding) in every


Beginners can opt for Starter and Basic yoga classes. Intermediate

yoga and open level yoga classes are for those who already

know basics and want to step up a rung. The uniquely offer

Kundalini Yoga, Qi Gong, Yoga for individual attention. Y&Y

also offers children classes that correspond with adult classes

for parents or caregivers who want to practice while their kids


A new student special offer is 3 classes for $30.

Y&Y will have a Restorative Sound Journey on Friday, September

20 at 7:45 pm. It’s a 75-minute immersion in devotional

song, healing sounds, and profound relaxation. They believe

the voices generate collective energy; so then they lie down



children adult prenatal postnatal

• • •

(new student special 3 classes for $30)

708 Sackett Street | between 4th & 5th Avenue | Brooklyn, NY 11217 | 347.987.3162

64 | park slope Reader

for deep relaxation with the healing sounds of gongs, singing

bowls, chimes, and other sacred instruments. Space is limited

and the cost is $ 25.

What are you waiting for?

Jaya Yoga

1626 8th Avenue, Park Slope

A red brick building on the 8th Ave curtained by Pin Oak tree

is a spacious and radiant yoga studio, aged over 20 years. They

offer Hatha yoga in all levels, including special offerings such

as Restorative Yoga, Kids Yoga, Prenatal, Meditation, Yin Yoga

and 200/300 Hour Teacher Training. Additionally, they conduct

workshops in chanting, yoga philosophy, anatomy, individualized

aspects of vinyasa, and private classes. Reiki treatments

and massages are also available.

Knowledgeable instructors and a community vibe make it a

great place to practice. They strive for an intentional harnessing

of energy, a dedication to continuous learning, and a series of

movements to strengthen and calm the body, mind, and spirit.

This fall season, they are reintroducing their 10-series kids

classes, 30-hour yin immersion workshop, and Pranayama

training for teachers.


Yoga Sole

Third Eye Yoga

433 7th Avenue, Park Slope

Located on 7th Ave, Third Eye Yoga is about a physical & mental

lifestyle, not a complicated shape or a stressful workout.

They are not interested in large crowded classes where everyone

gets lost in the mix, rather they offer personalized programs

built upon evidence-based physiology and biomechanics. With

over 10 years of existence, the place has garnered more than 100

five star reviews and all for good reasons. This place is peaceful,

welcoming, and more than willing to listen to you and your


From handstand to savasana, from sitting to standing, they

break it down to the core building blocks that lay the groundwork

for all body movement.

Guess what, Park Slope Reader gives you one more reason to try

this place. They will give you $50 off on any of their program

of your choice if you mention this article. Maybe, show them

the copy? q

Align Brooklyn

Yoga Sole

254 Windsor Place, Windsor Terrace

Neatly tucked in a quiet corner in Windsor terrace, wearing a

green canopy shed, Yoga Sole welcomes you with open arms

and promises to change your perspective if you think yoga is

not for you. They offer Therapeutic Yoga, Yoga Tune Up, different

speeds of flow classes and Stretch and Strengthen classes.

They have an introductory offer for 3 classes at $39 and

1-month-unlimited pass for $99. Supportive and friendly environment,

experienced teachers who bring their own unique

style makes this a must-try place.

For the Fall season, they will be offering a special Restorative

Yoga Series along with live music and yoga events. They are also

leading a 25-hour continuing education therapeutic teacher

Here are a few more yoga studios that are well worth checking

out as you decide which is the best fit for you this Fall.

Bend and Bloom Yoga

708 Sackett Street, Park Slope

Park Slope Yoga Center

837 Union Street, Park Slope

Juniper Yoga & Healing Arts

639 Vanderbilt Avenue, Prospect Heights

So, where is the autumn breeze taking you today?





You know how nerve-wracking it can be to have a baby? Well buying or selling

a home can be just as scary. Putting your signature to a listing agreement

or submitting that offer is not unlike seeing that positive pregnancy

test. Things get real. Real fast.

Suddenly all those dreams you’ve had over the years about owning a home or starting a family collide

with reality. The journey to parenthood or homeownership is not without serious decisions to make or

emotional ups and downs, and can sometimes feel pretty exhausting.

As a former UK based midwife, I’m often asked why I went into real estate. It’s way too long a story

to tell here, but what I do always say is that they’re both helping professions and that they actually have

more in common than you’d think (although working as an agent is a little less messy!)

By Lindsay Owen

Here’s an example. As a midwife, I would always tell my clients

to try and relax and enjoy the process. I’d suggest they

write their birth plan as specifically as they could so we could

go through it and then advise them to ceremoniously burn

it. Why? Because nobody can predict what will happen during

labor any more than you can predict what will happen during

your journey towards buying or selling. All you CAN do is make

sure you have a truly wise and supportive advocate in your midwife

or doctor, and that that person will do as much as they can

to help you achieve your ideal birth.

As a real estate agent, I do much the same thing when advising

my clients. I’ll often ask “If you could wave a magic wand

and have this sale or purchase go exactly how you want it to,

what would that look like?” Making that happen then becomes

my top priority, but sometimes, as illustrated by that burned

birth plan I have to prepare

my clients for some little

bumps in the road.

So - to prove that being a

broker really IS kinda like being

a midwife, here are a few

examples of the advice I’ve

given to those on their way

to home ownership or parenthood...






The Midwife’s Advice

Getting pregnant can take time, and that’s totally normal.

Try not to get despondent. Failing to see that blue line on the

pregnancy test month after month is super frustrating but try

to relax and stop thinking about it as much as you can (easier

said than done, I know). Enjoy your baby free time by doing

things that you may have to put on hold as parents to very

young children - a romantic vacation with just the two of you

springs to mind. Try for a year (using ovulation predictor

sticks might help as can quitting smoking) and then

change your approach - it might be time to talk to a fertility


The Broker’s Advice

Be comfortable with the possibility of looking for a while. It

takes 9 months to grow a small human and it may take just as

long to find and close on your perfect home. A good buyer’s

broker won’t tire of you or your search and will stick by your

side. And remember, it’s not you. It’s so much more likely to be

a lack of inventory or a competitive market. Believe that your

place is out there - my clients have often found their dream

home just as they’ve decided to give up their search.

Everyone needs a little love from

their midwife or broker. We all

need to have our fears understood

and appreciated and when

we choose someone to guide us

through our journey we’re all

looking for a little TLC and encouragement.





The Midwife’s Advice

Morning sickness SUCKS, there are no two ways of saying it.

If you often feel worse first thing in the morning, it may be because

your blood sugar is low so it’s a good idea to keep a snack

by your bed and eat it before you get up. Ginger biscuits (sorry,

cookies!) are perfect for this as ginger is a natural anti-emetic

which can really help and the sugar in the cookies will give your

blood sugar a lift.

The Broker’s Advice

Once that offer is accepted, however excited you might be

it can literally be nauseating as you go through due diligence

in your race to sign a contract

and secure your deal. Here’s

when a great buyer’s broker,

inspector and in particular

a great real estate attorney

come in. It’s their job to

guide you through everything,

protect your interests

and help you make informed

decisions. Hopefully, with a

great team working on your

behalf, you’ll be able to keep

your nausea at bay!




The Midwife’s Advice

A baby will usually come when it’s good and ready so don’t

stress if you’re overdue. Remember 37 - 42 weeks is full term

(not 37 - 40), you can’t schedule a natural birth and only

around 5% of women actually deliver on their due date. Talk

to your doctor or midwife about the risk factors for you to go

over 40 weeks, but in my experience, healthy, fit and well women

with low-risk pregnancies are just fine to wait it out past

41 weeks. Both my babies were over 41 weeks, they were NOT

small at 9.5lbs each and they were just fine…

The Broker’s Advice

Understand that closing dates are often scheduled just a

week or two before the closing so it’s really hard to plan for

them or predict exactly when they’ll be. It’s just part of the process.

When submitting your offer, work with your broker to negotiate

an ‘on or about date’ for closing, (which gives you 30

days leeway past that date if necessary) and work out a backup

plan if you can’t close EXACTLY when you want to.

That might mean as a seller asking for the option of a

post-closing leaseback in your contract (where you can rent

the home back from your buyers for a short period until you’re

ready to move to your new place), or as a buyer that might mean


Photo by Virginia L. S. Freire

Is Your Advisor

a Fiduciary?

If you are unsure, ask your Advisor.

Or better yet,

for your family's protection,

have them sign a fiduciary oath.


A Financial Advisor

held to a Fiduciary

Standard occupies

a position of

special trust and

confidence when

working with a

client. As a fiduciary, the Financial

Advisor is required to act with undivided

loyalty to the client. This includes

disclosure of how the Financial Advisor is

to be compensated and any corresponding

conflicts of interest.


The advisor shall exercise his/her best efforts to

act in good faith and in the best interests of the

client. The advisor shall provide written

disclosure to the client prior to the engagement

of the advisor, and thereafter throughout the

term of the engagement, of any conflicts of

interest which will or reasonably may compromise

the impartiality or independence of the advisor.

The advisor, or any party in which the advisor

has financial interest, does not receive any

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contingent on any client's purchase or sale

of a financial product. The advisor does not

receive a fee or other compensation from

another party based on the referral of a client

or the client's business.


641 President Street, Suite 102

Brooklyn, NY 11215


Helping Individuals Create and Preserve Wealth TM

thinking about extending your lease month-to-month, paying

for a few extra weeks rent, or finding temporary accommodation

and storing your furniture briefly to bridge the gap between

the end of your lease and your move to your new home.

It’s a royal pain, I know, but a good broker will help with all

of this - just another reason to have someone you trust and who

will advocate for you and guide you.


When I think about the convergence of my two careers, and

how midwifery has influenced the way I work as a real estate

agent, it comes down to two words: love and discipline.

Everyone needs a little love from their midwife or broker. We

all need to have our fears understood and appreciated and when

we choose someone to guide us through our journey we’re all

looking for a little TLC and encouragement.

I think that’s why I’ve formed such good relationships with

my clients. Because I get that. Because, as a midwife and a broker,

I’ve been honored to be with families at some of the most

important yet vulnerable moments in their lives. I know how

essential it is to be a calming, supportive and reassuring companion

and how taking the best care of my clients is incredibly

meaningful, not just financially but emotionally.

And the discipline? Well, giving birth or selling a home isn’t

easy. But in the most part, it’s a process that just takes some

self-belief and discipline. I have to be super disciplined in doing

the best job I can, but so do you.

Whether I’m guiding and encouraging you as you push that

baby out or telling you what you’ll need to do to prep your

home to sell, if you can trust me and be open to doing what I

need you to do - from changing to a new position to push to

painting your home prior to photography - if you can really be

disciplined despite your doubts and trepidation, then it can be

a lot easier than you think.

And on the other side of it all?

Oh wow, that really is the sweet stuff and it makes EVERY-

THING worth it.

Lindsay Owen is a real estate agent with Compass based in the Park Slope office

and can be contacted at




Chinese Herbs


911 Union Street, Grdfl. Brooklyn, NY 11215 | 718.398.5284 |


70 | park slope Reader

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Ervand Abrahamian

Amy Fonda Sara

What brought you to Park Slope?

My family grew overnight from 2 to 4--and then to 5.

We left Manhattan with few regrets in 1983. Before then, I had not

set foot in Park Slope, nor even in Brooklyn.

What is your most memorable Park Slope moment?

Taking kids and pet on walks in the park especially to the meadow.

If you could change one thing about the neighborhood, what would

it be?

Less gentrification. Less empty store-fronts. Less banks.

What do you think Park Slope will look like in 10 years?

More tall buildings- unfortunately.

The Slope Survey returns for its 14th installment

with author and educator Jed Abrahamian.

What are you reading, would you recommend it?

My work requires me to do too much reading. For relaxation I prefer

movies or tv mysteries, especially Vera, Midsomer Murders, and

Morse (Endeavor). Certainly not Downton Abbey.

Jed was born in Iran, grew up in Iran and England, and

moved to New York in 1963. He has lived in Park Slope

since 1984 and joined the coop in 1990.

Professor Emeritus of History from Graduate Center and

Baruch College in City University of New York. Jed is an

author on the history of modern Iran, his latest book is

“The Coup: 1953, The CIA, and the Roots of Modern

US-Iranian Relations” (New Press).

What is your greatest extravagance?

Eating out.

If you couldn’t live in Park Slope or in Brooklyn, where would you


I can’t imagine any other place with such a great park, neighborhood

feeling, and public transport- plus BAM.

Who is your hero, real or fictional?

Heros are to be avoided.

Last Word, What’s is turning you on these days?

The hope that Trump nightmare will have to end.

72 | park slope Reader

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