Posts Tagged ‘Brooklyn’

Brooklyn bees know what’s up

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Hey trashies, I know it has been a while, but have you been following this crazy story about the secret pot farm hidden underneath Dell’s Maraschino Cherries Company in Brooklyn? You may remember that back in 2010, Brooklyn rooftop beekeepers complained that their honey had turned bright red and way too sweet thanks to bees feasting on the super sweet discarded cherry waste discarded by the same factory.

Cherry red honey

Cherry red honey (photo via Grist)

We posted about it here in 2012, along with links to a similar phenomenon in France where beekeepers documented blue and green honey later traced to M&M factory waste; and I even tasted some mildly affected honey during a tour of Eco Brooklyn’s show house.

It turns out, that in addition to possible illegal dumping — allegations police investigated after bee keepers complained — the factory served as a front to a local marijuana farm. And as you may have read, the owner of the factory shot himself when investigators found his pot plants. A tragic end to a fascinating story. Inquiries continue to determine whether the dumping of cherry waste has contributed to polluting the water in Red Hook, a neighborhood already shouldering more than its fair share of industrial strain on the local environment.

Nice detective work, bees! Someone needs to make a movie out of this one.

Polar Vortex Trash

Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Polar Vortext Trash

My friend John Kearney took this photo today in Prospect Park of all the broken plastic sleds.

In related New York Winter news, I can’t get enough of this girl and her dog.

71 Square Miles

Friday, September 6, 2013

Artist Jennifer Maravillas created a cartograph of Brooklyn representing each block with a piece of trash collected on that block.  This project — — combines so, so many of my favorite things into a massive, tidy, beautiful collage. Check out the work in progress here. Prints of past, equally political and whimsical for sale here.



Thanks to Oriana of Brooklyn Spaces for pointing it out to me.

Eco Brooklyn

Friday, May 17, 2013

Eco Brooklyn Inc. is a contracting, landscape and design firm run by Gennaro Brooks-Church, who relies nearly exclusively on reclaimed materials and coined the phrase “Build it Forward.” In the corporate world, “Live the Brand” is a phrase you hear a lot. Brooks-Church embodies the concept. He and his family live in an ever-improving green show house implementing and testing creative ways to eliminate waste (grey water systems), breath second and third lives into discarded building materials (beautiful reclaimed wood floors, an old fire escape fashioned into stairs), and create a space connected to the neighborhood and local environment (a natural pool). A while back, I took a tour of this whimsical space complete with a roof garden and bee hives, a project by


Photo via

Ever since, I have followed the company Facebook page, where I recently learned they have stocked their pond with local fish and frogs. Track new projects undertaken by Brooks-Church and his team of interns via social media, or schedule a tour and head over to Gowanus to check it out for yourself.

Trashy Valentine

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Never too late for a trash-themed Valentine. LOVE this tour of the shiny eggs via New York Shitty (blog name extra apt on a post like this).

Reminds me of an afternoon I spent in the area, marveling at the digester eggs and melancholy shoreline.



Brooklyn Spaces

Friday, January 21, 2011

My friend Oriana, whose name you may recognize as a frequently-thanked tipster, has an amazing new blog project of her own called Brooklyn Spaces documenting creative use of space in our fine borough and interviewing the masterminds behind each project. The latest entry on the community garden and guerrilla gardening group Trees Not Trash will be of particular interest to readers of this blog.


Photo by Maximus Comissar (ripped from Brooklyn Spaces)

Members set up planters made from used tires and other recycled material around the Bushwick neighborhood, built a community garden out of a previously garbage-filled lot and have requested and helped to plant thousands of trees throughout the area.  Also, they have a cute tagline: “Putting the bush back in Bushwick.” Check it out Oriana’s interview with co-founder Kate here.

Green Vinyl

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Hello from Mumbai! Apologies in advance if posts this week and next are a bit stripped down and sans images, I’m traveling over the holiday season with limited internet connection. Vacation from the day job, however, does not mean a slow down in the influx of trash tips. Today’s came from Brooklyn Based, a local email newsletter I subscribe to (and which you should sign up for if you, too, live in Brooklyn). The update for today, entitled Green Vinyl, can be found online and read in full here. It features Brooklyn Phono, a local record making company that has started to offer recycled vinyl as an option for bands and labels interested in pressing a record. Check out a video of the process here.

I’m hoping my band can opt for green vinyl when we make our first 7″ this Spring. Our studio, Clean and Humble Recordings, is also located in Sunset Park, so I can’t think of a more local choice.

Speaking of the studio and recycling records, does anyone have any ideas for reusing 78’s made of shellac? My bandmate, Flex Unger, the owner/operator of Clean and Humble, recently inherited 7 crates of crap records and is taking ideas for what to do with the raw materials. You may recall from past posts that Flex is big into DIY recording and musical recycling, e.g. sampling old records to mix new beats and salvaging old instruments to build new ones.

Post ideas for upcycling 78’s in the comments, please.

Newtown Creek

Monday, November 1, 2010

It’s been an unseasonably warm fall in New York, which was perfect last Saturday for a tour of Newtown Creek—the industrial waterway that serves as part of the border between Brooklyn and Queens—with photographer (and Brooklyn native) Anthony Hamboussi who recently published a gorgeous book of photos also called Newtown Creek.

Newtown Creek the book

Tony was nice enough to revisit a lot of the vantage spots he frequented to create the book. We spent around five hours exploring different views of the creek and comparing the sites as they are now to some of the images preserved in his book. It was especially cool to see the huge shiny silver wastewater treatment plant “digester eggs” up close and in person and then flip backwards through the book to recall various points of their construction. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, I encourage you to visit the space between Brooklyn and Queens to see these massive metal eggs that separate sewage from water.

For me, a highlight was getting to see a barge up close. They’re huge!


We also stopped to peep local graffiti art, like this metal welded piece by the legendary “Revs.” I love how this piece is structured so that the sun itself becomes the tag.

Fuckin Revs

In addition to the predictably industrial bits, we saw some naturally beautiful hidden bits of beach.

Pretty beach

And stumbled upon art in unexpected places.


All in all, it was a great day. I lost count of how many times we crossed from Brooklyn to Queens or Queens to Brooklyn. It was a lovely interborough adventure. I recommend checking it out for yourself. And whether or not you make the trek in person, I recommend checking out Newtown Creek the book. My five hour tour pales in comparison to the five years Tony spent photographing these in-between and unused spaces.  His next project is a study of “La petite ceinture,” the abandoned railway tracks that encircle Paris like “a little belt.” Now THERE’s a tour I’d like to take!

Thanks again, Tony!

Trashy snowplows

Sunday, December 20, 2009

As we had about a foot or so of snow falling down on Brooklyn, I’ve been enjoying studying how my new home city deals with snow. First impression, not surprising, is that it melts away, seemingly before it has time to shift from white to exhaust pipe brown. Second impression, a tad more surprising, is that the necessary remowal of snow from streets is being carried out by trash trucks. Three questions pop up in my head:

  1. Why?
  2. What are refuse collectors going to use to collect trash while there’s snow on our streets?
  3. What happens to the system of picking up trash bags from the pavement when the pavements of our streets are covered in three feet of plowed snow?
Snowplow truck pictogram, by Kriss Szkurlatowski

Snowplow truck pictogram, by Kriss Szkurlatowski

Hamilton Avenue Marine Transfer Station

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Filmmaker, photographer and location scout Nathan Kensinger publishes two photo essays per month on his blog dedicated to “the abandoned and industrial edges of New York”. In yesterday’s offering, he turned a gritty eye to the Hamilton Avenue Marine Transfer Station, which was decommissioned with the closing of the Fresh Kills landfill, but is now open for bids from solid waste management companies should any be interested in retrofitting the space.

Courtesy of Nathan Kesinger Photography

Courtesy of Nathan Kesinger Photography

As it is summertime and as I am obsessed with this shit, I have been spending a lot of time lurking about the abandoned and industrial edges of the city. Luckily, I have friends who enjoy similar pastimes.

But in addition to a general interest in the waterfronts around my home, I have a particular soft spot for marine transfer stations because they were at the heart of my entree into the world of trash and subsequent life as a garblogger. As a journalism student at Columbia,  it was following the debate over whether or not to reopen a nearby marine transfer station that opened my eyes to the fact that New York had no longterm solid waste management plan and that the impact of that absence of planning hit poor people first.

I got REALLY into that story. Once, while canoeing on the Gawanus Canal, I even tried to paddle into the Hamilton Avenue Marine Transfer Station. That was five years ago. And as Kensinger’s post points out, the thing is still standing there, useless and empty (he also brings up the whole superfund Gowanus deal, which is about the millionth reminder that I need to read up on that). Anyway, useless though it may currently be, this space sure does look nice in Kensinger’s photos. I recommend clicking through to see them all.

More on marine transfer stations and my trash as class awakening after the jump. Jump!

FIDO fights trash

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Fellowship for the Interest of Dogs and their Owners (FIDO), “serving Brooklyn’s off-leash community” have had some trash-related gripes lately. Follow the drama here. Thanks for the heads up, Elizabeth.

Holy trash in Brooklyn

Sunday, July 5, 2009

As its hot and weekendish all over, your dear Swede is paralyzed. Good then that friend from home, Anna, ventured out with my camera and documented this cute piece of street trash divinity.

Holy trash Brooklyn style

Holy trash Brooklyn style

Dumpster divers on the high art seas

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Photo via New York Magazine

As you may have heard, a crew of 30 artists, gearheads and dumpster divers from Brooklyn rolled up to the Venice Biennial in a fleet of vessels made of New York City trash. They built the boats to resemble one the street artist Swoon saw in a dream.

While I have mixed feelings about the often self-congratulatory artistic happenings that come out of North Brooklyn and the street art scene in general, I can appreciate that my skepticism is both a bit knee-jerk and shared by the practictioners themselves. For example, I first learned about Swoon when I heard her speak on a panel on street art where divirsity came up a lot (in that self-conscious way it tends to in academic settings referencing hip hop culture), as did the fact that the mostly white street art scene (born of art schools) benefits from the same badass caché now afforded to grafitti (born of the ghetto) while the “risks” taken by the “outlaw” artists of today’s movement don’t match those taken by the bombers of the 80’s. Not by the farthest stretch of the imagination. Case in point: you’ll notice the NY Mag article uses Swoon’s real name repeatedly. Let’s see if she gets arrested for vandilism.

That said, potential jail time isn’t a prerequisite I use when judging art I like. And I truly enjoy the wheatpaste prints Swoon puts up around town. Sometimes, art is just pretty and fun. Bonus points for using trash.

“The culture of eating and building out of Dumpsters is not an endpoint, not what any of us wants to be doing,” Swoon says. “It’s about living off a bad culture that we wish didn’t exist and making the resources that contribute to that situation no longer available to you.”

For more on Swoon, I recommend searching the lovely and amazing clearinghouse, Wooster Collective. That’s how I found this Walrus TV video.

Hey, Victor, note that they may take these trash ships to the Copenhagen climate change meeting. Now that might spice things up!

Can’t get enough? More photos are over at PSFK.

As the worm turns

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Brooklyn Based digs into worm composting. A practical read for those of you who live in (sniff) North Brooklyn. And a short and sweet justification for urban composting for the rest of us.

Organ Donor

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

My friend Flex Unger has a small recording studio in Brooklyn full of broken toys and good intentions.  A lover of to-do lists, Flex recently went around the studio taking pictures of the things he’d like to fix or convert in the coming months, which he posted on his blog along with short descriptions of the forthcoming projects.


Organ parts

[NOTE: This post has been updated to correct gross errors in my understanding of all things technical.  Despite years of wood shop, metal shop, power shop, a class on bike repair and accelerated physics, I still don’t quite get how to take things apart or put them back together again.  Apologies if you rushed out to try these projects at home between 5 and 11pm EST.]

My favorite of these resolutions is the master plan to deconstruct and recycle an old Viscount organ (shown above, in pieces) to make a portable drum machine and build an amplifier and a mini organ.  Inspiration for extracting the organ’s drum machine came from the YouTube clip below; and from a primal calling to amass the world’s largest collection of portable beat-making devices.  The hope is to use a 1/4 inch jack from the organ’s circuitry so that the device can be output into an amp.

Project #2 is an amplifier that will serve purposes equal parts form and function.  Flex has an oven range—rescued from the trash!—attached to a wall that is supposed to reverberate for an echo effect.  If I understand correctly, by extracting the organ’s speaker and its covering, he can a) preserve the attractive vintage fabric look of the Viscount and b) use it to build a makeshift PA that will carry sound over to the oven range.


Organ fabric

Project #2 has the added bonus of incorporating this rad-looking Zenith tube radio found on the streets of Brooklyn, which will serve as the amplifier.


Tube radio

For the third and final project, Flex plans to collect the remaining parts and put them back together in the form of a mini-organ.

Stay tuned for progress reports.  And if, by chance, you’re in the market for a green recording studio for your next creative audio project, consider Clean and Humble, a trash and artist-friendly space.

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