Thursday, August 24, 2006

John 20: 24-29

Crack Watch Update: Doubting Thomas Edition.
It seems the original crack monitors were removed and replaced recently with a totally different numbered set. This kind of sabotages our attempt to bring you, the faithful public, 24hour Live Crack Updates. So now that all of our crosshairs have been re-set to zero, only the Department of Buildings will really know if the foundation of 1504 8th Avenue is still on the move. All this power in the hands of so few?

These clandestine actions by unknown agents of the D.o.B. will do nothing more than to feed the widening crack conspiracy theories that people in the Amateur Crack Monitoring community have privately feared for far too long. I couldn't possible go into each and every theory being discussed tonight in the internet A.C.M. chat room, but let's just say this kind of thing has happened before. Enough said.

"Blessed are they that have not seen yet have believed."

So where do we go from here skeptics? I don't blame you for your lack of confidence. I have struggled with my own doubtful attitude. I have suspended judgment up until now in the belief that only hard core scientific testing in the steady, graceful hands of The Surveyor, might provide some absolute truth and dispel the rumors. Then again, I have seen the cracks for real, and they seem to be getting wider.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Seeing Red

Me likes the new way Stop Work Orders are now being posted on the Department of Buildings' Building Information System (BIS) web page.

In the past I never really knew if a SWO had been imposed without reading through and deciphering all the fine print of an Environmental Control Board violation.

In the past when you called the Buildings Department or talked to a 311 DoB representative on the phone about the status of a construction site, they were never really sure either. Now we have those shameful scarlet letters for everyone to plainly see the moment the page comes into view. All you need to do next is to cast ye stone on the red SWO to open a link to another page with all the details. Witchcraft ye say... Maybe the DoB is gettin' puritanical on us. "Mr. Hawthorn, may I remind ye kind sir, that you will be needing a permit for that public scaffold!" Oh, the moral dilemmas of personal responsibility.

So for now, Ye Ole Violations pile up. It looks like someone else's backyard has been "spited". A 311 complaint (no address) made on August 9th brought out a building inspector who then wrote a violation. This brings the total to four. I have not been able to arrange an appointment yet with the DoB to have the damaged backyard re-inspected.

In my backyard, the construction site is turning figuratively into a dust bowl of sorts. All it's missing is a bleached cow skull and some tumble weeds. Occasionally the "cowboys" come around. Radusky and his posse mostly stand in a circle, shake their heads, wring their palms for awhile and then leave. Sometimes they kick rocks, spit, and wipe their brows with handkerchiefs. Sometimes they just want to cuddle.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Mayor Proclaims "Baby the Corpse Flower Bloom Day"

Borough President Marty Markowitz Proclaims "Baby the Corpse Flower Bloom Day." Congratulations are in order! The bloom should last 2 or 3 days. I expect Saturday to be a mad house. I don't know about you folks, but I'm off to the Gardens! Smell ya later.

UPDATE: BBG Baby Video now available!

"Baby" has two fathers:
Alessandro Chiari has been the plant propagator at BBG since 1998. He has an MS in Tropical Agriculture from the University of Florence, Italy, and a Ph.D in Plant Science from the University of Connecticut. Before coming to the United States, Alessandro worked in the field of horticulture in Zambia, Paraguay, Chile, and Italy.

Mark Fisher is foreman of the Steinhardt Conservatory and curator of the Tropical Pavilion at BBG. He has been at the Garden since 1984. He has a BS in ornamental horticulture from Colorado State University.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Stopped work

Nothing much happening at the site since the Stop Work Order was issued. Four additional boring tests were made to a depth of 60'. I understand that no water was discovered during the tests, yet the steel pilings that have been installed so far have standing water at 36 feet. Still no way of knowing what exactly is going on behind the big velvet curtain that is the Brooklyn Department of Buildings. The rumor that Radusky has filed new foundation plans has so far turned out to be just a rumor. A trip to the DoB reveals no new anything having been filed.

The DoB came by the other day to check on whether the backyard garden wall has been repaired as ordered. No one was home to allow access. Nothing has been done. No one contacted me about making repairs. I need to call and make a date with an inspector. I am not sure how another fine by the Environmental Control Board will get us any closer to getting the wall repaired.

When you have your first child you worry about the usual things, like germs and falls from the changing table. Sometimes at night you find yourself dreaming these horrifically exaggerated death scenarios like when your child is sucked out a shattered airplane window on the way to visit grandma's house. Highly unlikely. Recently a sickening image crosses my mind now and again concerning those 60' deep piles. Most of the steel tubes have been left uncovered, and having an 18" wide opening, they are just big enough for a small child to slip into. I will spare you the details of my nightmare as to what happens after the child falls. Needless to say, there would be no hope of surviving such a fall seeing that the bottoms are filled with water. With so many small children playing in the area and the construction fence having many unsecured openings, this catastrophe may not be so far from reality. I will tell the inspector when he comes if they could repair the fence and cover the holes.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Amorphophallus titanum! Extremely Large and Incredibly Stinky

Green thumbed New Yorkers have been waiting since 1939 to get a good whiff of this very rare and odiferous plant that smells like rotting flesh. Yes, the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens has a monstrous 10 year old specimen about to bloom this week (if Mother Nature cooperates), in the exhibition space formally housing the C.V. Starr Bonsai Museum. It looks like the minature trees have fled the building until Titan Arum has finished flowering. The fragrance is strongest the first eight hours after the blossom opens, which most likely will be Friday.

For those of you who have never heard of, seen, or smelt the "corpse flower" before, it has all the orafacatory charm of an unemptied deli case in an Astoria blackout. Imagine a tall, green, freakish, supermodel doused with Chanel #666.

New Yorkers who claim last week's heat wave provided ample opportunity to savor just about every vile smell known to man, can save themselves a trip, and check out BBG's live web cam

As a special treat for members-only, during Members-Only Summer Hours on Wednesday, August 9, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., BBG's Plant Propagator, Alessandro Chiari, and Foreman of the Conservatories, Mark Fisher, will talk to members about "Baby" and titan arum in general.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Bricolodged Village

While most of the civilized crack watching world has gathered outside 1504 8th Avenue, waiting for even the slightest movement in the crosshairs, I thought we could take a little walk around the neighborhood and check out some of the newer developments.

Here's a recent photo of Brickolodged Village on 22nd Street in Greenwood Heights. I hear the management company, in trying to maintain the architect's absolute design symmetry, requires every tenant to follow a strict set of rules and regulations when it comes to anything that might alter the exterior look of the towers. They can be pretty fascist about it and God forbid you screw up and hang your bath mat out on the balcony on a Tuesday, when everyone knows that bath mats go out on Mondays. And then ONLY if EVERYONE agrees the night before. I think they even have a mini-blinds coordinator on staff. Looks like everyone is trying their best at maintaining the artist's vision.