02/21/17 10:40am
A lesson from the past: doc recalls beloved Bed-Stuy beat cops who "never fired one round"

Joe and Kenny on their beat as scooter cops. Photo via Travis Benn

In 2017 Brooklyn, the idea of having a relationship with your local beat cop feels definitively foreign: indeed, many people probably don’t even realize they have a neighborhood patrol, let alone what precinct they live in. We often think of cops’ relationships with the communities they police as exploitative, unnecessarily violent, generally problematic and far from neighborly. That perception has been a nationwide issue for years, making Joe Willins’ and Kenny Kaufman’s story all the more inspiring.

Willins and Kaufman were beat cops assigned to Bed-Stuy’s 79th precinct back in the days when the area was defined not by its historic housing stock and rapid gentrification but by record-breaking crime, rampant drug use and poverty. They formed a “two-man homicide squad” who used their relationships with the community to make the 79th a safer neighborhood for all — and without once firing either of their guns in their 20 years of service.

Now, Willins’ neighbor Travis Benn is making a documentary, The Scooter Cops of Bed-Stuy about his and Kaufman’s adventures. Production will hopefully wrap by the end of summer, given they can find enough money. It’s certainly a welcome addition to an otherwise bleak national dialogue: a tale of two cops who were actually able to live up to the NYPD traits written on the side of squad cars: “Courtesy, Professionalism, Respect.”

“Here are these two cops interacting with the community and taking criminals off the street without humiliating them or kicking the crap out of them,” Benn said of the partners’ career and legacy.  (more…)

02/16/17 3:09pm
Pamela Colman Smith tarot cards

Pamela Colman Smith in the early 1910s and eight cards from a 1st edition Rider-Waite deck, originally published in 1909 (photos via Wikipedia and The World of Playing Cards)

If you’ve ever seen a tarot deck, it was most likely illustrated or inspired by the drawings of Pamela Colman Smith, an England-born, Jamaica-raised, Brooklyn-educated artist. She graduated from Pratt Institute in 1897 and became a theater designer who was once hugely influential in the world of esoterica but has been all but forgotten today.

For those of you not in touch: tarot cards are an expanded, occult version of playing cards used to tell fortunes and perform other rituals. They’re believed to have originated in Europe in the late 14th century, and have since become a canvass for a variety of non-traditional illustration themes, including Lisa Frank tarot and Twin Peaks tarot. (more…)

06/19/14 1:42pm
veselka

It’s already good food, but it’s even better when its so cheap it’s practically free. via Facebook

[UPDATE: It’s happening! Wednesday, July 23 from 6pm to 6:54pm, per Veselka’s Twitter account]

Keep some change in your pocket after those nickel cocktails, because we’ve got more throwback prices for ya. East Village staple Veselka is celebrating their 60th anniversary with a throwback to 1954, [h/t New York Observer] featuring their original menu and prices!  And back in the day, nothing was priced over $1.60 (the highest item being bigos and mashed potatoes), a big change from a $14 brunch plate accompanied by an infamous wait on Sunday mornings… (more…)

11/10/11 7:41am

Are you savvy to your building's history?

The most curious aspect of my Bushwick apartment, after the painstakingly hand-painted portrait of Capt. Jack Sparrow on one wall, is the one room that’s about six inches off the ground. A drunken neighbor explained the history of 308: previous tenants turned that room into a grow room and needed floor space for the hardware (the painting, however, remains a mystery). If you don’t have a neighbor with a deep well of hyperlocal history, the New York Public Library is ready to help, as long as you’re ready to dig. Gothamist tells us the library has laid out step-by-step instructions on how to find out who lived in your building, why it was built, what changes were made and other neat things about the ghosts of the city’s past. (more…)