10/13/16 1:49pm

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There’s a pair of swans in Prospect Park. And I love them.

Every time I walk through the park–which is fairly often, once or twice a week in the summer – I make sure to find my swans. I love watching their long, graceful necks twist and turn, how they duck underwater to catch some sort of food, and then shake off, flat-footed, along the shore.

One day a few summers back, my dog, Buckley, spotted one of these swans floating on the lake. I could see his tiny dog-brain working: “Oh. My. God,” he was thinking. “This is the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen. I must catch it.”


A person’s spirit animal is an essential distillation of selfhood.


I wanted to see what would happen. I was pretty sure the dog wouldn’t actually harm the swan (nor the swan the dog)–I knew that swans were fierce, and my dog was a coward. I was confident he wouldn’t even get close. So I let go of Buckley’s leash and watched him charge at the bird.

When it saw the dog, the swan reared up, spreading its wings to their full span–at least six feet–and hissed the fiercest hiss at him. Buckley immediately retreated, racing back to me, away from the huge animal. Swans are killers. Swans are ferocious. Even my dumb dog knew better than to mess with them.

When I saw the huge, beautiful animal hissing, I immediately identified. I, too, seem unthreatening, even charming. But, like the swan, I throw down. I’m not afraid to hiss at anyone–or whatever the human equivalent of spreading my wings and hissing would be.

On our walk back home, I texted my dad.

“I realized that if I were an animal I’d be a swan,” I wrote.

“Excellent,” he responded. (more…)

07/01/16 1:23pm
The splash pad at LeFrak Center at Lakeside is a pretty sweet spot in the summer. Photo: Prospect Park Alliance

The splash pad at LeFrak Center at Lakeside is a pretty sweet spot in the summer. Photo: Prospect Park Alliance

Optimal ages: 2 and up
Good for mixed groups: Yes
Bathroom access: excellent
Food: Lots of options
Price point: basically free if you bring a picnic

My son is just 16 month old; his attention span for everything save climbing on top of our coffee table and standing on the toilet, turning the faucets on the bathroom sink on and off is fairly limited. When he was a baby he napped in the stroller through the cherry blossoms at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens and the new Whitney (he burped so loud after a feeding session on one of their Hudson River-facing couches that other museum goers gave him a round of applause). Now though, he’s a toddler with very strong opinions who attempts to launch himself out of that same stroller when he grows weary of my overly-grown-up pursuits, so after a few failed excursions that were not age-appropriate I learned my lesson–it’s just not worth it to drag a little kid an hour each way on the subway to something he’s not ready to dig. Especially when we can just walk 15 minutes to visit Franklin, the pig who lives at Crest Hardware in Williamsburg and I’m like, mom of the year.

New York is so full of cool stuff to do with kids though, that I’m always eager to join groups of mixed ages for excursions, so when my sister visited a few weekends ago with my two-year-old nephew I was excited to venture to Prospect Park to visit the splash pad at LeFrak Center. The trip from North Brooklyn wouldn’t have been worth it just for my son to splash around for 20 minutes, but with my nephew and a friend’s almost four-year-old and a picnic in the mix, it was a totally successful day trip. (more…)

08/11/14 8:00am
St. Vincent (Shore Fire)

St. Vincent Photo: Shore Fire

You couldn’t have asked for a more fitting finale to this season’s Celebrate Brooklyn! at Prospect Park than Saturday night’s show-stopping performance by St. Vincent. To a packed crowd at the bandshell (what do you expect–the show was free), the band delivered an arresting set of cutting edge, futuristic music It wasn’t your typical alternative rock show thanks to the band’s driving force, the charismatic Annie Clark. (more…)

04/22/14 9:54am

Fewer crowds at Lakeside's new roller rink makes it a lot easier to lace up your skates. Photo: Kate Hooker

Fewer crowds at Lakeside’s new roller rink makes it a lot easier to lace up your skates. Photo: Kate Hooker

My boyfriend has a Spotify playlist entitled Roller-Rama that is all hot jams he remembers from the roller skating rink in the town he grew up in: “Candy Girl,” “Supersonic,” “Somebody’s Watching Me.” For my part, I don’t think I can ever hear “Walk of Life” by Dire Straits without being instantly transported back to a middle school birthday party at Happy Wheels. That was probably the last period of my life when roller skating was a semi-regular occurrence for me, so I was relieved to discover when I arrived at the newly resurfaced LeFrak Center in Prospect Park this past weekend that the tunes haven’t changed much in the last two decades. Or maybe the rink was targeting the 10am Easter Sunday crowd that I joined, parents about my age whose young children were hanging on to them and the walls for dear life as they experienced having their tiny feet strapped to wheels for what was probably the first time.

Whatever the reason, hearing Lenny Kravitz’s “It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over” blaring through the Parkside Avenue corner of Prospect Park as I paid my $14.53 for admission and skate rental made me feel glad that I’d made time during a jam-packed holiday weekend to lace up some roller skates and take a few laps. (more…)

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12/18/13 10:05am
Fri December 20, 2013

TWBTA-Prospect ParkBloomberg may not have made the city more affordable, but he helped make its parks bigger, better, and more spectacular than any other mayor in our lifetimes, leaving us with plenty of green space to forget, for a moment, what we spend on rent. This Friday, another crown jewel of his legacy opens–Prospect Park’s $74 million dollar Samuel J. and Ethel LeFrak Center (a name familiar to anyone who has ever passed beautiful LeFrak City on the L.I.E.). What that means for us this winter are two mammoth ice rinks, one covered by a green roof whose ceiling resembles a starry sky, and an uncovered one closer to the lake and reminiscent of skating on a frozen pond, like New Yorkers did in Olmstead & Vaux’s time. While it seems strange that anyone would miss “the old funky crappy homely rink with its barebones facilities and unhealthy snack bar,” as one commenter claimed he would on this video preview of the rink, the Robert Moses relic couldn’t deliver the year-round fun the new LeFrak Center will, when it turns into a water play area and roller rink from April through October. Park goers can also now enjoy 26 restored acres of the park’s Lakeside section, including eight acres we never even used before. Starting Friday at 9 am, you can get a rink-side glimpse of this gift to the city seven days a week, for $6 on weekdays and $8 weekends (skate rentals are $5). Enter at the Parkside and Ocean Aves. entrance.

10/24/13 1:02pm
Click on the map for an interactive version where you can chart your run.

Click on the map for an interactive version where you can plan your run.

Hey runners who frequent Prospect Park–it will be closed tomorrow because of security related to President Obama’s visit to the Pathways in Technology Early College High School in Crown Heights. Kindly enough, Green-Wood Cemetery has opened their gates and offered runners a sanctuary for one day only. On Friday, Oct. 25 you may run the paths of this National Historical Landmark form noon to 6pm. The cemetery is normally off limits to runners.

Runners can enter Green-Wood at either 25th St. and 5th Ave. or at 35th St. and 4th Ave.  Parking is available at the 25th St. entrance, between the entrance gate and the iconic Gothic Arch.

You can read about the history of Green-wood, which was a popular afternoon picnicking spot in the 19th century, and about some of the notable New Yorkers who are interred there in our article, Our Famous Dead. More than 600,000 people, including Boss Tweed, Leonard Bernstein and Jean Michele Basquiat have been laid to rest in Green-Wood–be respectful to them all.

07/31/13 1:40pm

It’s a happy accident that this week’s show recommendations begin with a mellow evening at one of my favorite more intimate venues and grow in literal and auditory dimensions, culminating with three big, stadium-sized, stiletto-heeled kicks in the pants (if you can swing Beyoncé’s steep ticket prices), with boisterous pop rock, legendary soul swagger and dance-ready arrangements along the way.

BEST 1990s THROWBACK
Beth Orton
Wednesday, July 31
8:30pm
Tickets $30
The Bell House (149 7th St.)

Folk music mingles with electronica in the hands of English singer-songwriter and 1990s mainstay Beth Orton. The often moody electronic elements combined with Orton’s haunting, signature vocal lilt made her tunes ideal for early aughts film and television soundtracks like Vanilla Sky and Roswell. Orton’s recent releases rest more heavily on her folk inclinations, which we hear with rich and poignant precision on her latest album, 2012′s Sugaring Season. Her voice still bears the influences of Joni Mitchell and Nick Drake, but with a maturity and plainspoken honesty earned after almost 20 years in the biz.
(more…)

07/24/13 9:14am

This week’s list of shows features some serious guitar-toting heavy hitters. New Order plays Williamsburg, Bob Dylan, Beck, Wilco and Ryan Bingham spend a day at the beach, and Trampled by Turtles headlines a bill chock-full of strings. But there’s some serious new talent on the list, too and on these long summer nights, plenty of time to see them all.

NEW WAVE FLASHBACK
New Order with Holy Ghost!
Wednesday, July 24
5:30pm
Tickets $62
Williamsburg Park (N. 12 Street and Kent Avenue)

British new wave band New Order spent much of the past 23 years breaking up and making up, but the group is on-again this summer with a North American tour that stops at Williamsburg Park this Wednesday. Comprised of the remaining members of iconic post-punk band Joy Division, following the suicide of lead singer Ian Curtis, New Order recorded some of the catchiest synth-based dance classics of the 1980s and its latest album, this year’s Lost Sirens, retains some of that frenetic, dance-floor pace while leaning more heavily on guitar riffs and chord progressions.

(more…)

07/20/13 11:23am
Wed July 24, 2013
The Prospect Park Alliance Junior Committee is hosting its 11th annual Summer Soiree this Wednesday with live music, cocktails and a silent auction. Photo: Prospect Park

The Prospect Park Alliance Junior Committee is hosting its 11th annual Summer Soiree this Wednesday with live music, cocktails and a silent auction. Photo: Prospect Park

Look forward to hump day this week instead of just trying to get over it by heading to Prospect Park for its annual Summer Soiree on Wednesday evening starting at 7pm. The cocktail gala is being hosted by fashion maven Diane von Furstenberg at the Prospect Park Boathouse, so dress to impress and bring your dancing shoes. The fête features performances by The Drums–expect beach-pop anthems from this Brooklyn band, who’ll be joined throughout the night by fellow local outfits Tamaryn and DJ Kilo Kish. Tickets are $85, but proceeds go to the park, so the price tag comes with extra karma points–if you want to save yourself $10, grab three friends and get in for $75 each.

07/19/13 7:42am

The 1871 Design of Music Island and Prospect Park. Photo: Courtesy the Prospect Park Alliance

The 1871 Design of Music Island and Prospect Park. Photo: Courtesy the Prospect Park Alliance

Brooklyn’s Prospect Park was designed for idyllic strolling and losing oneself in the wonder of nature, but even its architects, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, recognized that park visitors would also want places to gather for amusement. So the landscape architects set about imagining their park’s only formal setting–Music Island.

Check out a full photo gallery of the newly restored Concert Grove and Music Island on our Facebook page>>>


An innovative marvel when it opened, Music Island was radically altered by the addition of Wollman Rink to the park in the mid-20th century, and spent the last 50 years in a state of disuse. Now an ambitious plan has restored the island and the area around it.
(more…)

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