Saturday, June 30, 2007

Live and let diorama.

- Detail from the Museum of Natural History.

I love a good diorama. Still life is in the details. A plastic fly placed strategically on an open eye lid, sipping the acrylic tears from some fallen hero. Nature Morte fills me with a sense of wonder rarely experienced in real life. Miniatured. Frozen in time.

"Come on, who doesn't like flocking? Pink asbestos laden artificial Christmas trees? All I need is my trusty reversible Shop-vac, a 1 gallon bucket of spray-on-type Vietnamese tennis shoe adhesive and a large plastic bag filled with pink asbestos flakes and it's Look out Christians".


It's been tough finding a school for our three year old son this Fall. I probably waited too long before starting the process and now everything is full up. Well, at least he's learned an important lesson on procrastination. Thankfully we just received our acceptance letter from Kanal Kidz Fine Finishes Day Academy, an auto body repair/child care facility. It's literally where "Montessori meets Monster Garage". Located in the fashionably up and coming G Slope, it's just below Second Avenue and steps from where the Gowanus Canal water eventually becomes part of the Atlantic Ocean.

The "ladies" at Kanal Kidz seem genuinely concerned about what's bestest for my three year old. We had originally applied to the Carrol Berkley School's pre-k program, $20,000!!!, but Miss Carrol just informed us that they intend to phase out their student smoking areas by 2010, so who knows what other student clubs and activities they intend to cut from their next budget at my child's expense.

That why we like Kanal Kidz. They didn't just charge us a $100 application fee like the other 17 schools, knowing full well they didn't have any more open spaces left. A popular scam amongst these institutions!

Yes, they do provide respirators for kids under two as required by law. Yes snack time is provided for in a well ventilated area.
Yes, they do have an outdoor play space. What little boy doesn't need His time to blow off a little steam? Brown Field trips, or as the polite ladies at Kanal Kidz like to refer to them as, "Fields of Color Trips", are just a gypsy cab ride away.
Yes, the $25 initiation/hazing fee includes all materials and supplies.
No, they don't have a pool. But yes, they do have a pool table and a swim team. Go figure.

With all the time I have been wasting interviewing various Park Slope preschool principles, there has been little free time left to work on my scale model Warcraft props, and thus my role playing has unfortunately suffered. As the Beaver would say "on account'ah".

I have been practically eaten out of house and hive by the dozen or so members of the IMBYBLOGSPOT.COM editorial/ role playing staff (Those bastards still live in my illegally converted cellar, rent free!) and the financial strain has starting to seriously cut into my mental fantasy life.

My Masterpiece, The Ruinous Entrance to the Underhive!

Two years worth of work! This particular table top apocalyptic urban landscape has been specifically designed, built, and painted all by myself for low-key skirmish battles. Basically toxic hand to hand combat stuff. The limited lines of sight allow for great sneak attack scenarios.. if you know what I mean.
IMBY on wood - "I use balsa wood, and... Masonite, for Gods sake!
IMBY on sand - "I use model railroad ballast."

IMBY on styrofoam- "Of course I don't ever recommend use of the white beady stuff you often find as packaging material, it just doesn't hold up. I suppose you could also use something else, as long as it can be shaped, painted and flocked."

I caught my nanny huffing Volatile Organic Compounds again. Three strikes and you're out, I always say. I don't need to shrink wrap my head in some dry cleaner bag filled with 3M Brand Spray Mount to escape reality. I have my dioramas. And this lovely Blog.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Subcellar #2 slab shots

Pictured below
Looking north and east. Surrounded by re bar, the square base of the passenger elevator is now visible in the foreground.

Pictured below.

Looking north and west. In the far corner the base of the service elevator that will stop at all three levels of parking

One slip and it's a looong way down to the bottom.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Dumpster Karma

Once upon a time, 15th Street between 7th and 8th Avenues was a long, dark, desolate place where you could clandestinely strip a stolen car or dump an illegal load or two of garbage in peace without fear of feeling the local constable's night stick on the back of your head.
Less than a decade ago you could still find on this mixed-use block of 15th Street an auto repair shop, a paper bag wholesaler, a few parking lots, and a commercial bakery specializing in traditional Mexican sugar frosted breads and buns. When these businesses closed for the evening and their gates came down, instantly there were plenty of dark deserted corners for shit to happen.

The Wheel of Life is missing its hubcap.

It certainly was an interesting process, watching an abandoned automobile decompose over time. You might not even notice it at first. A car parked a little up on the sidewalk, maybe even left facing in the wrong direction of traffic. One tire missing, axle propped up on a plastic milk crate or a cinder block salvaged from the big pile of contractor's debris dumped on the sly some time the night before.

However, a few days go by, and now it's hard not to notice the broken front windshield, drivers side door missing, and the hood left open with various wires hanging up and over the front fender. By the time a week has passed you begin to wonder what would actually be left behind, apparently of no resale value.
Picked clean, the carcass would accidentally catch fire, spontaneously combust, so to speak. In the days to follow the burnt out wreck would eventually reincarnate itself as a neighborhood dumpster for locals to pack full of any and all kinds of garbage. Finally, overfilled and bursting at the seams, a white number drawn with crayon on its only fender, the car would sit, and sit, until Sanitation eventually found some time to tow it away.

The Monster of Impermanence.

These days you don't see cars getting stripped any more in the South South Slope although plenty of them still seem to disappear on a regular basis. You don't see the blatant dumping of DIY construction debris either. That's why I was surprised the other day to see this contractor guy back his dusty blue Chevy van up against this empty dumpster parked on the street in front of the future site of the Armory Plaza and unload. The empty dumpster came from the fenced in site, having been moved just hours before in order to make way for the delivery of additional construction equipment. In no time his van was empty and the dumpster was full. He even took the time to sweep out the back. The more things change the more they stay the same.

Monday, June 18, 2007


Builders Corp., the foundation contractor for Armory Heights, LLC. is now being allowed to work Saturdays by the Dept. of Buildings.
After Hours Work Variance Permits grant permission for weekend work between the hours of 10am and 4pm. I was under the impression that they are usually only handed out during times of dire emergency where repair delays could mean additional damages and danger to the public. In this case the permit specifies, "To prepare matte foundation in sub levels of job site to stabilize the foundation walls". From what I have seen and heard this past weekend, the remedial work includes just about every type of construction that was being performed during the regular work week.

Officials for the DoB have apparently decided that a Full Stop Work Order at this stage in the operation would only make the foundation even more unstable. Better to let them finish the bottom slab and possibly prevent any more damage from happening, I guess. Does this include building forms and pouring the cement for the walls as well? There still is a Partial Stop Work Order in effect for any work 25 feet from the eastern 8th Avenue property line.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Brooklyn Blumpkin photo of the Day

Rear end of 1504 Eighth Avenue. I have been trying for weeks to attract a more upscale kind of clientele to our blog. I have finally succeeded. From now on I plan on using the term "Blumkin" in every post. Thanks Google!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

South Slopers Attempt Reverse Blumpkins

In what's becoming an all too familiar sight in the South Slope--property owners openly engaged in the architectural equivalent of the fabled "Reverse Blumpkin".
Now more than ever, it seems the act of trying to rebuild a building while it's being simultaneously knocked down has become the accepted norm. Others on 15th Street have experimented with this masonry fetish before with less than stellar results. 396 15th street comes to mind.

She's been literally torn inside out, in broad daylight no less, while her neighbor tries to finish his foundation at the exact same time. Accidental exposure is one thing, but blatant exhibitionism is pushing even my limits of decency. What's to stop unsuspecting women and children from looking past the construction fences to witness this depraved and humiliating act. More recently, 1504 8th Avenue has been caught unveiled.

See there, beneath the blue tarp!

Socially progressive collapse resistance
In our minds eye it doesn't matter if the practice is officially permitted by the Brooklyn Department of Buildings. A blumkin is still a blumkin, whether the property owners are willing participants or not. Others may claim that there are no unwilling participants, but more often than not, those others are the very real estate developers who's gaping, unprotected holes have forced their neighbors on to their knees.

New York City stands on the verge of unloading its century-old building codes, in favor of nationally and internationally accepted construction codes and building standards. Let's see what effect this will have here in backwards Brooklyn.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Tangent pile foundation covered.

The basement, cellar, and subcellar tangent pilings get covered with concrete.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Brooklyn property owners stuck with the repair bills.

The sad truth.

Unscrupulous developer teams up with dangerously inept foundation contractor and equally inept engineering firm, to build in a neighborhood comprised of 100+ year old homes .

Department of Buildings fails to adequately supervise and enforce the building code by allowing work to proceed against approved plans.

Adjacent buildings crumble.

Buildings Department cites property owners for failing to maintain their buildings.

Buildings Department blames property owners for contributing to current condition of their buildings, implying that property owners didn't react quickly enough to implement costly emergencey repairs to ''save'' buildings.

Property owners spend $100,000 or more on repairs.

Property owners spend thousands more on legal costs to recover damages.

Developer finishes building, sells off units, disolves limited liability company, and moves on to next neighborhood.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Dimora Condos Open House

The Dimora 361 Sixteenth Street.

"21 Streamlined Lofty Residences with soaring ceilings throughout each apartment, gives these modern condominiums a carefree and soothing feel, thus creating solace."

What may be something of a rare and unusual occurrence in Brooklyn's South Slope- A new condo development that actually improves on what existed before without disrespecting and disrupting the quality of life for the surrounding pre existing neighborhood. Maybe this is only possible because the developer/architect/builder has plans to occupy one of his units and has been on the job site from day one, personally handling most of the common construction problems before they become nightmares for the neighboring property owners. As recent developments go, this one may be a dream. In the end, I guess it will depend on whether any promises made end as promises kept.


If I was in the market for (let's be honest, if I could afford) new construction in the South Slope, I would definitely try and attend the Grand Opening Party this Thursday June 7th at 6pm and the Open House on June 10th from 12-4pm. I don't think these will stay on the market for long. Maybe I wouldn't even wait that long.

From the outside everything looks to be top notch. For a pre-party look at what awaits on the inside check out the Dimora's web page. Try out the virtual walk-through tour. My only complaint is that the web site is vague as to how the 21 Units are being divided up. No square footage-No prices listed. There are floor plans however. (What no bathtubs or closets!) I guess you can work out the details over wine and cheese later in the week. Update: Prices range $479,000 -$769,000 for between 645-1160 square feet. Thats about $750 per foot.

The closest competition, and I mean that geographically and not aesthetically, is Karl Fisher's "timeless and enduring" Suite 16 farther down 16th Street below 6th Avenue. For comparison sake, there is currently a luxury 2 bedroom 1460sf condo for sale in Suite 16 for $1,115,000.
The prices of private one and two family row houses on 16th Street have continued to rise, and now hover around $1.4 million. If you ask me, 16th Street between 7th and 8th Avenues is the most appealing location. Now if we can just figure out where the 21 new families are going to park their cars.

Some "Before" and "During" photos.

1504 Veiled

Veiled scaffolding went up this weekend as workers prepare to remove and replace the damaged rear brick facade of 1504 8th Avenue. There is a layer of "brownstone" stucco veneer that conceals the brick on this rear wall. It will be interesting, biblically speaking, to see if the building is indeed savable.

Friday, June 01, 2007

I have cracks in my pile caps...What should I do?

DIY Tip of the day.

A reader writes in that they have these annoying cracks forming in recently poured concrete pile caps and do we at IMBY.BLOGSPOT.COM know of a quick 'n easy remedy to conceal them. "We have DoB inspectors coming over for brunch this afternoon and don't want them to be distracted."

We think... toothpaste for the cracks and grilled asparagus and prosciutto salad for brunch should do the trick. Don't forget the ice cold mimosas!