DARE Books heads South


Desmond A. Reid, owner of DARE Books, is moving his business from Fort Greene to Florida.

If it weren’t for DARE Books I would never have known that a black man invented the bottle. The store opposite BAM is closing after 20 years of selling books devoted to African Americans, and the store window alone is an education (for some of us anyway). The owner, Desmond A. Reid (DARE, get it?) blames the loss of a city text book contract as the reason for the move (he also has a publishing business), but it’s hard to deny the appeal of the pull factors: selling the building he’s owned for 20 years to set up shop in Orlando, Florida. “I’m sick of the snow and the ice,” Desmond told us on a visit to the store on a blustery winter day.

He’s seen his share of neighborhood changes. Back when he opened, there were prostitutes on the sidewalk  and a “welfare hotel” on the corner. There was no Atlantic Center, no Metrotech Center and, he says, he bought the whole building so he’d never get forced out by a greedy landlord.

The neighborhood, and the city, will feel the store’s loss.

(PS the non-refillable bottle was invented in 1899 by Robert Randolph Reynolds)


stile_wide_crpThere was an odd scene outside the Lafayette C stop this morning: MTA workmen were lifting out part of the subway turnstile as a part of what turns out to be regular maintenance. The workmen told me the stiles (technically, “barriers”) get changed after a million turns, which amounts to about 2 years. By my calculations, that’s about 1,370 turns every day. That’s at least according to the workman, who sounded like he knew what he was talking about. Anyone notice if the turnstiles there are any shinier now?

Continue Reading »

Back in business

The Griffin on Lafayette on a sunny, 60 degree day.

The Griffin on Lafayette on a sunny, 60 degree day.

I know, I know. We haven’t posted for months and here we are back again, acting as if we never stopped. Well, after a long absence, caused mainly by unforgiving work schedules and general life turbulence, we’re back in business and posting again. When we can.

Continue Reading »

New bike shop on Lafayette?

bespokes1That’s according to the sign on the window beside The Pig on Lafayette and S Elliot. It’s gonna be called Bespoke Bicycles, and if the shop is more than a mere pun, you’ll be able to have your bike tailor-made (but it’s probably just a pun). About time we got a bike place in the neighborhood.

Tree Huggers on Myrtle

brances_woman_backThe outline of the tree on Myrtle and Carlton looked a bit unnerving the other night, so it was a relief to see the figure of a man hugging the trunk was an art installation when I went back in the light of today’s winter sun. It’s a year-long installation that’s part of an international project called “Tree Hugger.”

It was built using available branches and twigs back in August (so sorry, if this is old news), but it’s a different sight in every season and it had passersby stopping to gawk today. The artist, Wiktor Szostalo, says it’s to “remind us that we humans are still very much a part of our natural surroundings.” Any other public art projects in the neighborhood?

The Paramount Returns?

We may be late to the news on this, but just read that Long Island University, having built a new athletics center, is planing to have the Paramount Theater on DeKalb and Flatbush returned to its former glory as a movie palace (or general theater?). News and background on the Paramount here.

A quickie with no photos at this point but: it would appear that a snazzy new Ralph’s has reopened – it was buzzing last night, looking something like a 1940s milk bar holding a party for the mafia (I mean that lovingly). Perhaps we didn’t notice it before but it now seems to be officially called Ralph’s, a vintage sign over the door to prove it. The makeover is stylish. Hope we can do most of our shopping there and not at Fresh Garden or Evil Deli, both of which have evil prices.

Also, during our nightcap at Moe’s, we discovered that Moe’s has shaped up also: no more masking tape on the ceiling. The walls have been painted, new armchairs in place at the window booth. And the naked woman has been taken from the wall. Ok, we hope she comes back.

Point is: the oldies in the ‘hood are not going to be pushed out. Go Ralph’s!