Monday, March 31, 2008

TransGas No More

[From the Greenpoint Gazette]

On March 20, proposed plans for a TransGas Energy (TGE) Power Plant on the Brooklyn’s waterfront were laid to rest, thanks to the New York State Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment (Siting Board).

The site lies north of the East Williamsburg State Park, along Bushwick Inlet at bordered by North 12th and North 14th Streets and Kent Avenue to the East River.

TGE filed a proposal to create a 1,000 megawatt cogeneration facility on late December in 2002. Originally, the plant was to be above ground, but TGE changed it to an underground facility in November, 2004. They changed the proposal again to an above-ground facility in the summer of 2007. The Siting Board rejected the proposals’ first and second phases as well.

The facility would convert natural gas into electricity for the City’s usage.

The proposal still resides on TGE’s website and includes both the above-ground and below-ground designs. The below-ground plans would include a waterfront park. The plant would have been the largest in New York City.

TGE made their proposal more appealing to the community with promises of affordable housing and better air quality.

According to the Greenpoint-Williamsburg Waterfront Task Force and the Pace Energy Project, the TGE plant would exude 1,075.32 tons of toxic emissions per year as well as increase levels of PM 2.5, which is a health risk, according to the U.S. Supreme Court and New York Court of Appeals, linked to asthma, cancer and heart disease.

The Siting Board is made up of seven members: four commissioners, from the NYS Departments of Environmental Conservation Pete Grannis, Health Richard F. Daines, M.D., Economic Development and Public Service, the latter serves as the Chairman of the Siting Board, Garry Brown. The role of the Board is to determine whether proposals for energy facilities adhere to the New York State’s Energy Plan and its impact to the environment and neighborhood.

According to the Siting Board, the facility is incompatible with health and safety concerns, doesn’t sit well with the City’s plans to develop the waterfront into a more recreational-TK friendly zone, harms to the environment and residential areas.

The Greenpoint-Williamsburg waterfront is already undergoing drastic changes, with housing developments rising and opens spaces for parks being cleared.

In its place, the City will create a waterfront park on Bushwick Inlet, 28-acres.

Aiding the fight against TGE was Greenpoint Assemblyman Joseph Lentol. “The Greenpoint Williamsburg area is quite simply starved for open space and this will only continue as more and more people move into our neighborhood,” Lentol. “This park will be a much needed victory for open space and our community. I am absolutely thrilled. “

According to Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe said the park will include “boat launches, picnic grounds, soccer fields, wetland preserves and a 2-mile bicycle and pedestrian path along the East River waterfront.”

The City looked to acquire the land from Bayside Fuel in 2005, but TGE’s application was still pending. Now that the plan is rejected, the City is able to acquire the area, possibly through eminent domain

Sunday, March 23, 2008


I'll write about my road trip and other nonsense later, but I just wanted to share this: I was accepted to Emerson's Print and Publishing M.A. program!!! So this fall, you'll know where I'll be...

Sunday, March 16, 2008

North Carolina

Now in North Carolina, getting ready to leave Graham's house. The drive was long (thank you, Josh) and now we're heading out to Nashville. More later.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Palestine on Facebook

So people who live in Israeli settlements on Palestinian land consider themselves part of Israel. They added themselves to the Israeli network on Facebook, but come one day, they found themselves part of the Palestinian network. This is kinda funny.

On the Road to Memphis

Come tomorrow morning, Josh and I will be on our way to Richfield, Nashville and Memphis.

Thank god. I needed to get out of the city.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Those Moments of Travel

"The supreme moments of travel are born of beauty and strangeness in equal parts: the first panders to the senses, the second to the mind; and it is the rarity of this coincidence which makes the rarity of these moments."

--Robert Byron, First Russia, Then Tibet

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Memorializing Industrial Brooklyn

Greg Lindquist in his studio in front of an unfinished painting of the Domino Sugar Refinery in Red Hook.

Dreary and solemn, the Red Hook Sugar Refinery stood empty and alone, against the gray-streaked skies of Brooklyn. Nearby, graffiti covered a dark wall against that same sky.

These aren’t photographs. Rather, these structures, which are most likely soon to be destroyed and replaced by luxury apartment buildings and condos, will live in paintings done by 28 year-old Greg Lindquist.

With his show, Industry at the Elizabeth Harry Gallery in Chelsea, Lindquist is recording the changes in Brooklyn, specifically in Williamsburg, Red Hook and Greenpoint.

To Lindquist, the warehouses he painted are the markers of industrial Brooklyn and the U.S.

The buildings are “signifiers of the industrial revolution and of importing, exporting and production in the United States,” Lindquist said. “As globalization takes over our means of production, we’re passing on the blue collar jobs to other countries. So we no longer need these spaces, and they’re being turned into more housing and residential developments.”

“The common thing is decay and the replacement of decay with luxury and development,” he said.

Lindquist described his theme as “looking at landscape as a way of expressing, landscape as a memorial or landscape as a way of expressing memory.”

During his undergraduate degree at the North Carolina State University of Design, Lindquist was taken with World War II monuments and memorials. Going to Europe on a grant, he traveled through these areas and read about their histories. He was interested in “hat role in our collective memory, like concentration camps and these spaces from World War II and the Holocaust played in those cultures.”

Then, while at Pratt for his MFA, Lindquist shifted his focus to what he referred to as “abstract paintings based on the landscape.”

He came to realize that what he was drawn to wasn’t memorials of specific events, but really just landscape as memorials.

“I realized when I looked around me,” Lindquist said, “I was like, ‘Oh, this is happening right here, right now,’ and I felt an overwhelming urge to document that.”

In regards to development in Brooklyn, Lindquist said, “It’s a really complicated issue. It’s really exciting for me to see this happening, but at the same time, I’m really skeptical about the amount of urban planning that’s gone into it.”

He finds that the new luxury buildings “disrupt a certain continuity of urban fabric.” Though, he does make the comparison between the new developments and his own work.

“I’m making luxury objects as well, but commenting on them,” Lindquist said. “The most ironic thing that could happen is if I make these paintings, and then someone buys them and puts them in these condos. This hasn’t happened yet, to my knowledge.

“That’s the complexity of art,” he continued. “You’re equally condemning and celebrating something, and they both use the same material vocabulary of construction and decay.”

Lindquist paints over stretched linen over rigid supports, because the linen will show up behind the paint. He’s “interested in the materiality of the object.” He also uses an acrylic stainless steel medium which further enhances the industrial feel to the paintings. For the paintings in Industry, Lindquist walked around Brooklyn and took pictures, which he then digitally edited and created into slides. He painted from those slides.

Lindquist became interested in abandoned landscapes since growing up in North Carolina. He explored the North Hills Mall in Raleigh in 2003, which, at the time, was being demolished. “It was really intense,” he described, “because you go inside these spaces that you see filled with products and people and then you see it empty with everything removed from the shelves.” This was during the beginning of the Iraq war and he said, “You see all these crumbly things and it’s very desolate and kind of apocalyptic at the same time.”

“It was one of the first malls in the East coast, so it had a lot of history to it, too,” he added. “So I have some relationship with empty spaces that I feel drawn to and feel the need to make things about.”

Next on his list are surface mines in Arizona, which relates to his show, "Industry."

“These mines have been shut down and they have very interesting geometric patterns and formations and a completely different color palette,” from Brooklyn.

The former Eastern Block countries also hold Lindquist’s interest. He heard of a concrete factory that was the sole concrete factory for the entire Soviet Union. “It’s this massive, sprawling Community concrete architecture,” he described.

Often, Lindquist thinks about whether he’d move his studio and home to Manhattan. Recently, Lindquist and his brother stayed in Manhattan at a friend’s apartment. After spending some time there, “it got really disorienting, claustrophobic and kind of dense pretty fast.”

When they came back to Brooklyn, they walked by McCarren Park and Lindquist realized there was still snow in the ground. He didn’t see any snow in Manhattan.

“That kind of indicates that open space is still here [in Brooklyn],” Lindquist said. “And it also goes back to the point of that open space being quickly supplanted by development. There is this overwhelming urge to do something about it, but as an artist, I don’t think I’ll ever be an activist.”

After bringing up the point that being an artist is similar to being an activist, Lindquist replied, “That’s the main goal in making art: to raise awareness. You are alerting people to your cause.”

"Red Hook Revere Sugar Refinery (Flattening the Remains, The Age of Steam)", 2007, oil on metallic on linen, 17 ½ x 50 inches.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Nashville: Little Kurdistan

So apparently Nashville is known as, among other nicknames, Little Kurdistan. Since Kurdistan isn't an official country and Turkey and Iraq constantly fight over the borders (just like Kashmir and Tibet, though no fighting involved with Tibet), there are many Kurdish refugees. Because of this influence, Kurds recently protested the war in northern Iraq. And, apparently, there are four mosques in Nashville. I wonder if this will be obvious when we're actually there.

Driving to Memphis

This Saturday, after relaxing and getting ready Thursday night and Friday in Selkirk, Josh and I will embark on a road trip to Memphis, Tennessee, with planned stops in Richfield, North Carolina and Nashville, Tennessee.

This is the kind of trip I need, especially now.

Josh is interested in the music scene there, so we're going to hit up Graceland in Nashville, Beale Street in Memphis and other various places. One of my goals is to check out the Mississippi River, which apparently smells bad, but I don't care. We only have a week for the trip, which is why Memphis is the perfect destination. If we drove straight to Memphis without any stops, it would take about 19 hours.

I'm hoping to make more stops along the way, like hideaways in the Appalachians, with time permitting. (Rob's helping us out with this area.)

And then there's always the drive back.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Building a Park at the End of India Street

[From the Greenpoint Gazette]

With the surge of interest in Brooklyn's waterfront, attention is now turned to the northernmost point of the borough. The Greenpoint Waterfront Associate for Parks & Planning (GWAPP), Open Space Alliance of North Brooklyn (OSA) and the New York City Parks Department invited Greenpointers last Tuesday at the Greenpoint Coffee House to discuss the future of the end of India Street.

In their efforts to create more park space in Greenpoint, GWAPP set their eyes on the East River's edge on India Street. Thanks to the Kaplan Foundation and GWAPP's own fundraising efforts, GWAPP procured enough money to conduct a study in order to see if the pier at India Street could be saved and used as a park.

Development is already rampant along the edge of Brooklyn with developers creating mixed-housing and retail space. They are also offered incentives to make waterfront esplanades that are accessible to the public. So far, Stephanie Thayer of OSA said 4 out of the 6 developers already agreed to these terms.

Because of this incentive, there was no need to GWAPP's study. It was then decided that they would instead build an interim community park. They wanted to "use the money to actually build something," Thayer said. The purpose of Tuesday's meeting was to decide what Greenpoint wants for the park. They wanted to "talk about all the cool things we want to do," Eric Peterson, the Brooklyn Park and Recreation Manager, added.

Peterson's role is to seek improvements to this short-term project, as he put it. Because of the park's temporary status, there are a limited number of options. First, they must build on top of the concrete instead of ripping it out because it requires too much attention from the New York State government.

Ideally, the designs would be decided upon from February and March. Then the designs would be given to the contractor in April. Construction would happen in spring and the park would open in the summer. The fourth of July was a possible opening date. Some participants spoke of how it would be nice to see the fireworks from the Brooklyn coastline. That, however, becomes a problem when the fence is taken into consideration.

The park's designs have to accommodate the active warehouse at the end of India Street. There needs to be enough room in front of the park so trucks can load and unload. It was suggested that there be a barrier in front of the park, so cars don't drive onto it. A fence around the park also becomes necessary because the business doesn't want trespassers.

Building a new fence or some type of barrier along the water's edge is necessary in order to protect people from the water. Instead of the typical riprap edge. which consists of rocks gradually sloping into the water, there is a jagged shelf that drops directly into the water. Once you're in, "you can't really get out," Peterson explained.

"New York City also has a ridiculously strong risk management issue," he said, "because people like to sue." The edge of the pier is also crumbling.

The landscape architect suggested putting up jersey barriers instead. Another participant suggested greenery along the waterfront. Barbara Mcglamery, from GWAPP, took that idea further and suggested plants and planters of different heights.

The landscape architect suggested putting up jersey barriers instead. Another participant suggested greenery along the waterfront. Barbara Mcglamery, from GWAPP, took that idea further and suggested plants and planters of different heights.

Another idea was to build an elevated park. Playing off that, Mcglammery and a friend proposed an amphitheater for the view, built further inland. In response, Peterson suggested that it would provide a space for the homeless to stay.

"The most important thing is the view," someone said. Peterson said he would see what is possible.

Because Greenpoint is also an arts neighborhood, it was suggested that different artists and artisans be solicited to work on benches and planters for the park. When it comes time for the park's demolition, these objects can be removed and used somewhere else in the neighborhood. Bench styles were also chosen, the members settled on a 1930-style bench.

Since grass cannot be planted because it needs at least 3 feet of soil, someone brought up the idea of Astroturk or some sort of soft surface for children. Peterson also spoke of a color treatment for the park's pavement, in order to distinguish it from the regular street.

There was also a discussion as to what plants and trees should be there. Mcglamery said there should be space for community gardens.

There is approximately $120,000 for the interim park, from GWAPP/Kaplan and New York State. It isn't possible to pull in more money, so "we have to work with what we have," Peterson said.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Aspire High

While working on web stuff for the Rail today, Phong told me, "Sweetie [that's what he calls me, that and Princess], you know what I decided?" I replied with the requisite question, "What?"

"I'm going to fall in love," he declared.

"Is that your goal for the year?" I asked.

"No, it's not a goal; it's my aspiration."

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Bits: Alt+Ctrl+Delete & More About Israel & Palestine, Owning an Island, Owning (a Portion of) a River and Chinese Ramadan

On the Palestinian side of the West Bank Wall, photo by filippo minelli


"A compendium of geek graffiti" by Daniel Terdiman, from geek gestalt via

I gotta say, I really like that.


"Your Own Private Island" by Kristina Dell, from Time

I gotta say, it sounds pretty tempting--owning your own island? If only I was rich...oh the things I could do. But then again, that's as bad as private waterfront, right?


"Georgia Claims a Sliver of the Tennessee River" by Shaila Dewan, from New York Times

Once more I will say this: that's the kind of articles I'd love to write, but with a more international-spin to em. And the article's well-written, too.

One of the cover stories of the New York Times Magazines sometime late last year concerned the water drought in the West and how it's a big deal. (The pictures were gorgeous too and await adorning my room, somehow...). That's one of the reasons Georgia wants to claim that part of the Tennesee River as their own. And another reason as to why this story caught my attention: the idea of defining borders and ownership. And, I'm sure, it's about pride and defining and broadening Georgia. Bigger is better, right?

And awesome quote:
"Mayor Ron Littlefield of Chattanooga, Tenn., said he was disappointed that [Georgia State Senator David J.] Shafer did not seem to be having the fun that the mayor sees as one of the joys of Southern politics. 'I saw him grumbling that we didn't seem to be taking it seriously," Mr. Littlefield said. "Well, I'm sorry, we're not.'"


"Dispatches from China's Wild West: Ramadan in China" by Joshua Kucera, from Slate

I thought this Ramadan article was kinda late...isn't Ramadan held during a somewhat universal time (I know Saudi Arabia's and I believe the U.S.'s start within a day apart and end the same way, depending on the moon or something)? Or maybe he wrote the article earlier...

Anyway, I really, really like Slate's foreign Dispatches feature, because they actually cover interesting, varied topics. I found an entire series for Bangladesh, which made me happy. And that's something else I'd be interested in.

And it's fascinating, the whole the blend of two cultures, or rather, the attempts of co-existence between two cultures, in this case a more Arabic and then the Chinese culture.


"Mourning tents spread on Gaza Strip" by Ed O'Loughlin from The Age

And this kinda made me tear, especially his quote, because you know it rings true with people from both Palestine and Israel, yet no one hears their voices and they're the ones suffering.


"Israel closes charities in West Bank" from Press TV

But. It's not their land. How does Israel have the right to do that? What the hell?


"Impossible Travel" from KABOBfest

A long, long, long list of travel restrictions for Palestinians/Gazans/West Bankers (is that correct?) within the Israel/West Bank/Gaza area.


"Israelis, Arabs Join to Save Wildlife" by Lauri Copans, from AP

That is pretty damn awesome, working together and for a good cause.

Costa Rica Recognizes Palestine

So Costa Rica recognizes Palestine, in order to promote peace and establish ties, as any reasonable country should. Israel can't handle it so much so that they "indefinitely postponed" a meeting between Costa Rican Preisdent Oscar Arias (who, it has to be noted, is also a Noble Peace Prize winner) and an Israeli diplomat.

I say good for Costa Rica and the other countries that recognize Palestine. I like Costa Rica and Ecuador even more for moving their embassies from Jerusalem to a less-controversial Israeli city, Tel Aviv. Yes, there are Islamic countries that still refuse to recognize Israel, but that's a stupid move on their part. Costa Rica has it right: don't cut off ties with Israel, but maintain relations with the eventually (and hopefully) state of Palestine.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Unfinished Paths to Nowhere

Because it's dangerous to cross the streets in Bangladesh, there are overhead pathways. At a major intersection near outer-Dhaka, these pathways remain unfinished, like many things in the country.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Reporting on Israel & Palestine

So, a Palestinian holocaust, eh? Why isn't this being talked about?


Recently, the lead article on the New York Times website was about the Israel-Gaza rocket exchange. (Before, the main photograph was an Israel's woman's response to Gaza's attack, but now it's a picture of a Palestinian child being buried.) The first thing that popped out to me was the actual chronology of the events and then the order of the events within the article. Israel did in fact fire first, but that's mentioned briefly in the third paragraph and then more bluntly in the eighth paragraph. In the lede, the journalist states that Gazans fired into Israel, but that was in reaction to the initial rockets launched by Israel. The same order of facts is reflected in other papers and news services like the AP.

Isn't the whole point of being a journalist is to report the facts and not mislead the readers?

Then, while making my daily news rounds, I noticed a similar article in the International Herald Tribune (which is owned by the New York Times) about the air strikes, written by the same person. The article covered the same, basic information as the NYT's article did, but the spin is different--the article doesn't have that same Israel-slant to it. Instead, she reports on what happened. So, we have the same writer covering the same event, but the stories are slightly different and are published by two different newspapers within the same company. Where did the difference happen?