Thursday, January 29, 2009

Church Avenue BID press release

Alan writes:

We'd like to pass along a press release that may be of interest for your blog. The Church Avenue Business Improvement District is forming a committee to address streetscape issues, and we are looking for community participation. Please see attached press release for details, and feel free to pass this along to any other community groups that would be interested. Thanks.

Project Coordinator
Church Avenue Business Improvement District
884 Flatbush Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11226
(718) 282-2500 x235
If you're interested in learning more, see this press release. Church Avenue stretches from 98th St. in Brownsville through a myriad of neighborhoods before coming to Kensington. So depending on what direction you're facing, we're either the engine or the caboose.

Trivia night at Visions continues...

A last minute reminder for all our trivia adversaries out there:

Thursday, Jan 29th - Team Trivia Night
We have added an Extra Trivia Night in January
Please note the new time...
8:00 pm Sign-Up – Play begins at 8:30 pm SHARP
Team Trivia – 2-6 people Per Team
Prizes for 1st and 2nd Place
½ Priced Beers All Night
2 for 1 Martinis All Night
20 % off Wings and Fingers

725 Coney Island Ave

See you there!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Ask Kensington: What will the switch to digital mean for my TV reception?

We've all seen those ads on TV. Some of them seem honest and helpful, others seem like a scare tactic from Cablevision. The question is very real though... what will the switch to Digital TV mean for me? This may seem like it's not really a Kensington-specific question, but airwaves vary based on many things, and one of them is location.

Dawne writes:
With the big transition to digital coming up, I would love to see a discussion on whether anyone in our area has had any luck with HDTV antennas, particularly indoor antennas. I live in a 6-story apartment building on Cortelyou, just west of Coney Island Ave. For those of us who are still trying to resist signing up for cable....
Now I have some experience myself with the new ATSC (Advanced Television Systems Committee -- the new acronym replacing our old NTSC standard) signal, so I'm going to try to share what I know. I've been using a cheap $25 Terk TV-5 Digital antenna for about 3 years now to receive free HDTV over the air (OTA). You'll get the big networks in crystal clear HD beauty... technically even better than cable or satellite. Why? Because the cable companies compress the signal so they can redistribute it more easily. Is the difference noticeable? Usually not. You'll also get a few other channels that you'll probably never watch and some things you may not have known existed. Did you know that NBC offers NBC Weather Plus? It's an all-the-time weather channel from NBC 4. This brings me to another topic...

Channels - A slightly simplified list
  • 2.1 - CBS
  • 4.1 - NBC
  • 4.2 - NBC Weather+
  • 4.4 - NBC US (seems to be a national feed with a lot of sports/news)
  • 5.1 - FOX
  • 5.2 - MyTV (non-HD stream of 9.1)
  • 7.1 - ABC
  • 7.2 - ABC Plus (infomercials!)
  • 7.3 - ABC Now (news, weather)
  • 9.1 - MyTV
  • 11.1 - CW
  • 11.2 - Latin
  • 13.1 - NET (PBS)
  • 13.2 - NET (Non-HD)
  • 13.3 - NET Latin
  • 21.2 - PBS
  • 21.3 - PBS
  • 21.4 - PBS
  • 23.1 - Latin
  • 25.1 - PBS
  • 31.1 - ION
  • 31.2 - QUBO
So yeah, lots of channels, and they changed around all the numbers too! Basically the channels x.1 are the regular HD channels. The x.2, x.3, etc are generally of lesser broadcast quality.

But how do they look for real?
In short, really, really good. My antenna is pretty small, but aside from having to occasionally turn it 90° for certain channels or adjust to follow a drifting signal, most channels come in flawlessly. If you have a giant old antenna sitting on top of your building you should DEFINITELY use it. It absolutely should work. Don't let the guys at J&R tell you that you need something fancy. All you need is a TV, an ATSC tuner and a UHF-VHF antenna. New HDTVs include the ATSC tuner, so if you have one just plug in to the antenna and you're all set. If you need a tuner, check out the coupon program the feds are offering here: Fill out the form and they'll mail you a $40 coupon card to use at Radio Shack or Best Buy or wherever you buy your batteries.

So, Kensington, anyone else out there soaking up the digital goodness? Tell us how it's working for you or fire away with some questions below. I'm gonna go watch American Idol now.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Restaurant Wars gets sticky

Some bright morning in the not-too-distant-future, I expect to wake up and find that they've opened up a Waffle House in Kensington. Later that day you may happen by the new joint and see me passed out, wheezing on the tile floor, distended belly treating my t-shirt like a sausage casing, my palms and face tacky with mapley goodness. Pathetic and sad though I may appear, don't cry for me... for at this moment my life would be complete.

Until that day, we have Faros, Church Ave Restaurant Cafe, and Corner Cafe. Choose wisely in the poll on the right and comment below.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Long live Buzz-a-Rama

Sunday's New York Times featured an article about one of Kensington's most celebrated (and quirky) businesses. I'm still hoping to see Buzz-a-Rama open one day. I assume I'm a slot-car prodigy and will continue to do so until proven wrong.

Here's a snippet from
Most fads can survive one assault from the next big thing, or maybe two — but 44 years later, Buzz-a-Rama is hanging on, if barely, in the face of several generations’ worth of electronic competition. Coin-operated video games were the first threat. Radio-controlled cars. Computer games. Games on iPhones. Wii. Mr. Perry, now 73 and still known as Buzz, said 30 or 40 other slot-car tracks were operating in the city in the late 1960s, but so far as he knows, Buzz-a-Rama is the last of its kind in the five boroughs.
Read more here and seriously, try to get over to Buzz's if you can. I know I will.
Thanks to Patrick for being the first to tip us off to this.

Update: I got into Buzzy's today and the place was rockin! A local news team was in there covering the high speed action and said there would be a full story on at 10pm. If you get News 12 Brooklyn, be sure to tune in for the fun. If, on the other hand, you're like me, maybe someone will TiVo it for you...

Friday, January 23, 2009

Clothing swap at Sycamore

Sycamore, the flower shop that magically transforms into a bar when the planets align (or every evening around 6) is hosting their first ever clothing swap. I'm not really familiar with the concept myself, but apparently you show up with your bags of unwanted clothes, and everyone takes what they want out of everyone else's bag. The rest goes to charity. According to this here flyer, the swap begins at 2pm on Saturday, January 24th (that's tomorrow, folks) and ends when the last pair of courdouroys are swapped or the Genny Cream Ale runs out. Just be sure you don't slip in the mud on the way to the bar, ruining the very pair of pants you were about to swap.

Sycamore is located in Ditmas Park, on 1118 Cortelyou Road, between Stratford & Westminster.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Ask Kensington: Would you like a local Yoga / Kickboxing studio?

So while I'm pretty sure my roundhouse kick could wipe the floor with Jean-Claude Van Damme, I could probably tune up my One-Legged King Pigeon pose. Is anyone else interested in some local classes?

Wilhyn Elizanda asks:
I am asking you all from the community to advise if you would like to see a YOGA/PILATES/KICKBOXING studio on Church Avenue. I drive to Windsor and feel the need for us in Kensington to benefit from a yoga studio right on Church Avenue. Your opinion are valued.
You know the drill, Kensington. Stretch out and speak your mind in the comments area below.

Maki Sushi space for rent

We received word this morning that the space occupied by Maki Sushi on Fort Hamilton Parkway is now for rent. This, sadly, will make for one fewer food option in the neighborhood. So, other than Sushi Sushi in Windsor Terrace, what Sushi options are left to the folks of Kensington?

The owner of the space is looking for a new renter or a possible partnership opportunity. Interested parties should contact the number on the For Rent sign.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Basmati now open on Church!

Basmati, the new Indian Restaurant on Church between E2nd and E3rd, opens today!

A reader writes:
I was very happy to see that Basmati has opened today! They are
offering very reasonably priced Indian/Pakistani/Bangladeshi food (for
veg dishes prices are $3.99-$4.49. A samosa is .85. They have a lunch
special for $5.99) They are on Church btwn e.2nd and e.3rd. They
deliver. Their number is 718.972.9111.
So if you're like me and have been dreaming of bathing in mulligatawny closer to home, this is big news. Give it a whirl and let us know what you think in the comments!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Local house fire sparks massive response

A fire on E. 4th St. between Ave. C and Beverley tonight resulted in a very large turnout from multiple firehouses. Anyone have any more info? According to a firefighter on the scene, no one was injured. Anyone have any more info?

Brooklyn back in the day: Kensington Edition

from gowanuslounge:
This is McDonald Avenue near Avenue C in Kensington in 1980. The photographer writes: “This is where the F train begins its rise to become an elevated train going out to Coney Island. I have to apoligize for my finger but I remember how nervous I was taking this picture with my new camera. I just got it and didn’t want to get ripped off. Funny thinking back … I was only 1 block from home and I felt so far away.” It all feels very, very far away. (See picture)

Friday, January 16, 2009

More endangered Bus Lines.

In addition to the possible reduction of B67 service, it has also come to our attention that the B23 Cortelyou Road bus is facing complete elimination by April 2009.

From a local flyer:
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has proposed the ELIMINATION of the Cortelyou Road B23 bus route by April 2009.

YOU can help us fight it!

Visit to sign our online petition to save the B23 route

Attend the MTA’s Public Hearing on this and other service cuts on Wednesday, January 28th, 6 PM, at the Brooklyn Marriott. For more information, visit

Sign CB14’s Petition Today!
This one is easy the link, sign the petition. The line, as stated in the petition, provides unique access to the Q, B, F, D, and M trains, the Cortelyou Road and Flatbush Avenue commercial strips, schools, restaurants, hospitals and cultural institutions.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Help Sean Casey Animal Rescue win a Makeover!

Sean Casey Animal Rescue is in the running to win a Million Dollar Shelter makeover, which will create room for more animals in the shelter, and help find homes for more animals who won't otherwise have a chance.
We ask that each volunteer commit to earn 100 points a day on zootoo, a site that is like Myspace for pets. The contest goes from now until March 13th but other rescues are working hard and fast!

To earn 100 points a day is easy:
  • 50 points for each friend you refer who signs up.- as many as you want
  • 200 for every pet you adopt from Sean Casey Animal rescue.
  • Up to 3 videos of your pet per day at 25 points each.
  • Up to 5 photos of your pets per day at 15 points each.
  • Two journal entries on anything for 15 points each.
  • Rate 3 pet products per day for 20 points each.
  • Comment on up to 5 news articles on zootoo for 5 points each
  • up to 5 pet wars per day at 1 point each.
  • And answer one question (many different topics) per day for 4 points.
That's a total of 324 points per day, without adopting! So you don't need to do all of it just some. The more points you earn, the more you're helping. We need everyone's help! More volunteers who consistently help are great even if they earn less. But a CORE group of volunteers is needed.

Just follow the link to begin:
Make sure your supporting Sean Casey Animal Rescue and Shelter zip code 11218!!
Thank you for your help and support!
This is a great local organization that could use our support. Let's all do our part to help.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Thursday Quizzo at Visions!

Quizzo is back! After a preempting by our very own Festivus last month, Visions Bar and Restaurants is ready to release their bimonthly pub trivia game back into the wild.
Quizzo at Visions
8:30 pm Sign-Up – Play begins at 9:00 pm sharp
Team Trivia – 2-6 people Per Team
Prizes for 1st and 2nd Place
½ Priced Beers All Night
2 for 1 Martinis All Night
20% off Wings and Fingers
Bar trivia nights are old hat for Jill the MC/Bartender and she runs a fine show. Come on out and meet some locals. We'll be there with a couple other people, ready to take on all comers.

Visions is near the Southwest corner of Coney Island and Cortelyou.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Kensington's IHM Catholic school to merge

We hardly knew ye

A hot topic on a local mailing list, it seems likely that the school at Immaculate Heart of Mary on Fort Hamilton will be closing at the end of the year to merge with Holy Name on Prospect Park West.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn proposed Monday to close at least 14 of its elementary schools as part of a reorganization that officials said they hoped would stem a steady decline in enrollment that has plagued Catholic school systems nationwide for decades.

Some schools would close to merge with others. In Brooklyn, Immaculate Heart of Mary would move into Holy Name. In Flushing, Queens, St. Michael and St. Ann schools would close to consolidate with St. Mary’s Nativity. (Read whole story)
This seems to be rather distressing for parents of IHM students, although Holy Name is by all reports a fine school. Anyone have any insider info on the particulars?

T-Mobile begins its campaign to conquer Kensington

Maybe someday it'll be a theater again.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Save the B67!

A multitude of readers and concerned residents have contacted us regarding the possible demise of the B67 busline that runs to Park Slope and beyond.

According to this highlight of the proposed budget cuts, B67 weekend and weekday service would be cut completely, which would be a major blow to the residents of Kensington and other nearby neighborhoods who rely on this line.

Here's what you can do to help:

Brooklyn Public Hearing
6pm on Wednesday, January 28
NY Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge
333 Adams St, Brooklyn

Contact Michael Bloomberg's office via Email (through

Contact the Head of the MTA via Email (through

Contact Governor Patterson via Email (through

Thanks to everyone who sent this in. Let's save the B67!

Free skating in Kensington! (on the sidewalks)

Our section of Brooklyn has been dealing with this problem since at least 1905, and there doesn't seem to have been much progress. At least half of the surfaces between my door and the F train are still dangerously slippery even though the last flake fell about 30 hours ago.
Administrative Code NYC.
§ 16–123 Removal of snow, ice and dirt from sidewalks; property owners' duties. a. Every owner, lessee, tenant, occupant, or other person, having charge of any building or lot of ground in the city, abutting upon any street where the sidewalk is paved, shall, within four hours after the snow ceases to fall, or after the deposit of any dirt or other material upon such sidewalk, remove the snow or ice, dirt, or other material from the sidewalk and gutter, the time between nine post meridian and seven ante meridian not being included in the above period of four hours.
This may not be news to everyone. If you own a house, you are lawfully bound to remove the snow and ice from your sidewalk. If you rent, your landlord is lawfully bound to make sure it gets done. And if you're Foodtown, as reader LavenderPhoenix points out, you definitely have to make sure your customers and passers-by have safe foot paths. But what's to be done? I would imagine this is the sort of thing 311 was created for, but it might be easier to just call Foodtown at 718-871-6161 and politely state your concerns.

Does anyone else know of any businesses who haven't done adequate snow and ice removal? Also, does the entirety of E.3rd St. between Beverly and Ave C count as a business? If so, I have a phone call to make.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Share and share alike

We know you're out there. We've see the traffic reports. There are hundreds of thousands of you, possibly even millions* of you, who are reading this site but aren't interacting with it!

People of Kensington, Make your voice heard! Share your stories, opinions, and concerns by emailing us, and don't forget to comment! Most of you have logins already, but for the few of you who don't, you can get one on in about 90 seconds flat. You don't even need to put in ANY personal information...just pick a name and a password. 90 seconds to give yourself a voice. 90 seconds to freedom. 90 seconds for America.

* figures hyperbolized for the sake of ego

Friday, January 9, 2009

An open letter to Am-Thai: still awesome

Dear Am-Thai Chili Basil,

The previous post that occupied this space, a post about your health inspection, was, in retrospect, a bad idea since yours was basically on par with the other local restaurants. I've taken it down in acknowledgement that posting it without at least posting similar information about other restaurants was probably a mistake (especially since it's personally my favorite Thai restaurant in the 'hood)

Completely my fault. Jake has washed his hands of this terrible post. I have flogged myself 300 times with a fistful fettuccine, as my ancestors were wont to do when they erred as grievously as I have. I have stopped short of the ceremonial self-lynching only long enough to redeem myself to you and the good residents of Kensington, who deserve much better than the sub-par standard witnessed in the aformentioned post. I offer my apologies to the good people at AM Thai and offer them an olive branch: I will gladly eat complimentary meals every day for the rest of January to showcase my confidence in your food handling practices. Please contact me at the address on the right to work out these details.

Sheepishly, and with much chagrin,


Thursday, January 8, 2009

More filming in Kensington

Reader Julie tipped us off that there is more filming going on at the Flatbush Jewish Center this week. Apparently, they're filming a crime drama called Holy Rollers.

From IMDB:
Set in 1999, "Holy Rollers" follows the journey of a young Hasidic Jew, Sam Gold, from an Orthodox Brooklyn community who innocently gets lured into the world of ecstasy drug trafficking by a friend, Barak Zimmerman, with ties to Jackie Solomon, an Israeli drug dealer. Story is inspired by actual events in the 1990's when Hasidim were recruited as mules to smuggle drugs into the United States.
Sounds gripping. Anyone been asked to be an extra?

Thanks Julie. Keep the tips coming!

Local Spotlight: Gideon Kendall

Meet Gideon Kendall. For the past 15 years he has been working as an artist, illustrator, animation designer, and musician in Brooklyn. His impressive list of accomplishments include illustrating a slew of books ("Dino Pets", "Littlebat's Halloween Story", "The Caveman's Pregnancy Companion"), TV Production Design ("Pepper Ann", "The Kids Next Door") and playing in various bands in and around Brooklyn. We had an opportunity to speak with Gideon and ask him a bit about his life, work, and living in Kensington.
How long have you lived in Kensington, and do you plan to stay here?
My wife (Julie Peppito) and I traded in our Park Slope co-op for our Kensington house two years ago. Barring environmental or economic apocalypse, or a professorship at an art school in a nice college town, we will never leave.
What types of things do you typically create?
Children's books, Comic Strips, Drawings, and Songs.
Do you have a particular piece of which you are the most proud?
First and foremost would be my son Milo (right), who is almost six months old. Every day I am overjoyed, overwhelmed, flabbergasted and exhausted by him. As far as illustration, Dino Pets (written by Lynn Plourde, Dutton, 2007) is my best published work so far. The sequel, Dino Pets at School, comes out next year. I have written and illustrated my own picture book, You're It!, about a group of kids who turn into monsters when they play tag, that I'm very excited about. I'm looking for a publisher. In terms of fine art, I've been working for several years on a series of very detailed black and white drawings. Although I think they have been progressing well, I am still most proud of a relatively early one that is a portrait of me and my wife Julie (left). Musically, my new band The Ditty Committee is just getting off the ground. We've written some nice songs, though, and you can hear demos. The musical project I am most proud of, is in fact a Musical. My old band Fake Brain wrote and performed a ridiculous multimedia rock opera which we performed in a limited run at Bowery Poetry Club in 2005. (watch a clip).
Do you have a favorite artist or one who has influenced you the most?
In my formative years it would be a 7-way tie between Dr. Seuss, Robert Crumb, Rembrandt, B. Kliban, MC Escher, Marvel Comics & Durer. Currently, I'd have to say my wife Julie (, followed by Dave Cooper, Jacek Yerka, Artsybasheff & Mark Ryden. Musically, I grew up with an odd mixture of Devo, Bob Dylan, hardcore punk, early hip hop, Pink Floyd, Gang of 4 & MX80 Sound. Currently I listen to Randy Newman, Grandaddy, The Hives, Momus, The Divine Comedy & GBV. Also, I'm slowly developing an appreciation of jazz and ragtime.
Do you draw any inspiration from the neighborhood?
Absolutely. In Dino Pets, all of the houses and scenery are based on Ditmas Park. In Kensington there is so much to wonder at: I am fascinated by the gaudy silver and gold fences and the fortress-like brick fronts that some have chosen to gird their humble homes with. I have also sampled most of the unpronounceable eastern European and Russian beers that are available. I draw strength from the delicious tacos available from various purveyors, as well as from the spicy chickpeas and nan at Madina. Being an artist and a musician has been made so much easier with the magical K-town perks of basement, driveway, attic and garage.
Does your music influence your artwork and vice versa? How so?
I don't know about influence, but I would say that both my art and music are concerned with the same things: body parts and fluids, the innate wierdness of existence, the horror and beauty of nature, and the stupidity, cruelty and occasional loveliness of human beings.
Finally, is there anything you'd like to plug?
I think I've plugged my various enterprises quite thoroughly already in this interview, so I'll just say this: Kensington Blog rules!
Thanks, Gideon. You can find out more about Gideon's various endeavors at his website. If you know someone you'd like to see spotlighted here, let us know! Drop a line to the address at the top right. You know you want to.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Kensingtonians in the News

Former Lt. Edith Lynn, retired Brooklyn Cop (and current Kensingtonian), has written a tell-all book about the inefficiencies of the NYPD.

From Brooklyn Eagle:
Is the average amount of time to process an arrest too long? Are police officers’ decisions being impacted by factors outside of their control? If so, what can we do to improve the situation?

These are some of the questions that retired Brooklyn police officer Edith Linn, currently a professor at Berkeley College in New York, asks in her new book, “Arrest Decision: What Works for the Officer?" (Read More)
Anyone have any stories of police inefficiency in the neighborhood?

Sim-Sim Café makes Village Voice best of 2008

From the Village Voice:
Sim-Sim is one of New York’s rare Azerbaijani cafes, and just in case you’ve forgotten, Azerbaijan is an oil-rich former-Soviet republic in the Caucasus Mountains, a region sandwiched between Georgia and Iran. (Read more)
Good for Sim-Sim. From what we've been told, this is the only authentic Azerbaijani restaurant in Brooklyn, although I wouldn't take that to the bank. Back in October, the Voice did a real review of the joint, and gave it high marks -- high enough, apparently, to make Best of 2008.
Sim-Sim Café is located at 312 Ditmas Avenue, between E.3rd and E.4th.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Fundraiser/Party for local politician

Local Kensingtoner and reader/contributer Allison is hosting a house party and fund raiser for Josh Skaller, a Democrat running to replace Bill de Blasio. You may have met Josh at Festivus. I was too busy airing grievances to speak to him but by all reports he's a nice guy.

Read more about this event at KensList.

Revived 'Cupid' Filming in Kensington this week

Everything old is new again.

We've received reports of something filming in Kensington this week. After a little digging and a couple logical leaps, we've come to the conclusion that they are going to be filming episodes of the newly revived ABC series 'Cupid', some piece of baloney that only lasted 15 episodes in 1998.

Let's hope things go better for them. In the meantime, I guess residents of E. 3rd between Ablemarle and Caton will have to park somewhere else. Thanks to reader Kris for the tip.


Victim of bus fatality indentified

If any of you folks have been following this sad local story, it may interest you to know that the victim of the hit-and-drag Bus incident on 36th St. has been identified.

from nydailynews:

The man struck and dragged to his death by an out-of-service city bus in Brooklyn was identified Sunday as a 21-year-old Russian immigrant, police sources said.

Igor Ovodenko was struck by the B67 bus on 36th St. in Kensington on Saturday night as the bus drove to a nearby depot.

The driver will not face criminal charges, said police. (Read whole story)

Our thoughts are with Igor's family at this difficult time. Please, everyone, be careful out there.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

KensList update

Turns out the email address we originally posted was non-functional. We've gotten several postings since fixing the address, so if you tried to submit a listing and never saw it go live, please send it to the corrected address:


edit: Also, please do not send anything other than specific listings to this address, as it is specially designed to handle these requests. If you have a question about Kenslist or an existing posting, just drop us a line at the regular address.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

So the holidays have been keeping us busy...

...but we'll be back, we promise. We just need a few days out of dodge to let '09 sink in and we'll be on the keys with lots of posts in no time. Until then, send in your stories and photos of how you rang in the Twenty-O-Nine Kensington style. Embarrassing, post-champaign photos are appreciated, but not required.

Happy New Year, Kensington.