Monday, June 30, 2014

No Lions, No Tigers, No Bears, but Oh My: The Prospect Park Zoo, Brooklyn, NY

Prospect Park Zoo

It is no understatement to say that we moved back to the Slope for the Park.  We spend every nice weekend day there, and often a sunny weekday afternoon too.  The boys have gone to CBE day camp there, played SFX little league on the fields and both of us worked there for Brooklyn Heights Montessori summer back in the day.  But the highlight by far is the Prospect Park Zoo.

A member of the Wildlife Conservation Society, it is smaller than it's more famous partners the Bronx and Central Park Zoos.  It has fewer Sea Lion shows than it's other partner the New York Aquarium, but it is the perfect way to spend a beautiful afternoon with your two fav boys.  

We rode over with my new Father's day bike.  We hit the Farm animals first off, because who doesn't want to fee a Jacob four-horned sheep?  I then lost Sydney to the Peahen (wife of the more colorful peacock), her little chicks and the amazing employee who filled my sons head with so many facts Liji and I couldn't retain them all.  

But when push comes to shove, the Lewis Levin boys are primate fans.  I love the Marmosets, Sydney wanted to take home the Golden Lion Tamarins, but Liji was smitten with the Hamadryas Baboons and their big pink tushies!  But, just as we were leaving the red pandas behind we hit one of three daily Sea Lion shows.  Now this is nothing compared to our backstage passes to the seals with Aunt Kathy at the New England Aquarium, but it was a great way to wrap up a perfect day.  So bike on over or take the B61, but whatever you do, don't miss the best show in Brooklyn!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

"On the Waterfront" at Pier 6 at Brooklyn Bridge Park, Brooklyn, NY

Pier 6
Brooklyn Bridge Park
Brooklyn, NY

When we first moved to Brooklyn back in '04, nobody was hanging out at the piers.  Then came Magic Mike and they transformed.  Like Bloomberg or not, the waterfront is unrecognizable from the industrial days of the largest shipping port in the world.  "On the Waterfront" was a great Brando flick to show to my students about union corruption on the docks, but I sure didn't want to hang out there.

Pier 6 was a pioneer, long before the Long Island city, Red Hook and Manhattan pier transformations.  And it just keeps getting better.  We first came to Pier Six years ago when the urban oasis of Governor's Island ferry launched from there.  Then we started hoping the B63 for the amazing playground, especially Slide Mountain and the Waterlab.  Where else can you climb a tower in Brooklyn, plummet down a hundred foot slide or get drenched all in view of the Manhattan skyline?

Today, with our friends William and Elle we stepped it up a notch.  Elle's super cool dad Andy suggested the beer garden rooftop at Fornino's and neither the ice cream, the views or the beer disappointed.  So whether you are heading off for a bike ride on the Island, a volleyball match at the piers, a free kayak spin or a walk over the Brooklyn Bridge, stop here first or last, but don't miss Pier 6.

Friday, June 27, 2014

The Boys of Summer at Luna Park, Coney Island, Brooklyn, NY

Luna Park
Coney Island
1000 Surf Avenue
Brooklyn, NY

There are a million and one reasons to venture out on the F train to Coney Island.  Back in the day Pop pop Art used to walk over every day from his digs in Brighton Beach, throw on some baby oil and burn to a crisp.  Our boys have been heading out there since before they could walk. From the beach boardwalk to a Cyclones game,  from the Mermaid Parade to Nathan's Famous 4th of July Hot Dog Eating Contest this place is a blast!

Mayor DeBlasio and family take in the Mermaid Parade!

But what has drawn the boys' summer camp at CBE more these last few summers has been the resurrection of the boardwalk amusements.  The original Luna Park was amazing at the turn of the last century.  It included a giant elephant hotel, the real bearded lady, and Thomas Edison's first nickelodeons.   My dad rode the original Steeple Chase as a kid.  My grandparents went on dates to escape the hot, sticky city.  But we came for the updated rides and a little bit of Nathan's.

Luna Park is the newest of the small, independent parks.  We always hit Deno's Wonder Wheel first; a giant swinging, spinning, towering ferris wheel with a view from the beach all the way to Manhattan on a perfect day like today.  While we didn't even make it on the historic Cyclone, or the new enticing Thunderbolt, the boys fav today was the Wild River log flume.   The second time was a charm, as the ride clobbered the hot sun with a few misty splashes in line to a full soaking at the finish.  So, come for the rays, come for the bumper cars, or just to watch a crazy parade (I recommend NOT dressing up in Egyptian costumes on the "Shark of the Covenant" as I did back in '05) or just come for the fireworks, but you ain't been to Brooklyn if you haven't been to America's original funland. 

Yeah, that's me, pre-dadventures, back left

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Rock, Rock, Rockaway Beach, The Rockaways, Queens, NY

Rock, Rock, Rockaway Beach
97th Street and Shorefront Parkways
The Rockaways, Queens

If you are not a Ramones fan, then you must be a Bloomberg New Yorker.  Rockaway beach is a passion of my boys, mainly cause they love the song "Rockaway Beach."  Like Joey Ramones New York of the '77 this beach has all the grit and all the cool of CBGBs.  This ain't no Jersey shore, but it surely isn't the Cape either.  

Hurricane Sandy did a number on this entire flood plane.  The boardwalk is still missing, you have to climb a prefab dune over a giant metal pipe to access the water, and there is construction fencing everywhere.  But like every good New Yorker that fateful fall, we pitched in for the recovery; the boys helping to make sandwiches at their synagogue Congregation Beth Elohim. "CBE Feeds" has since gone on to feed over 185,000 victims.

But the don't be fooled, like their neighbors Coney Islandthe Rockaways are back!  Those annoying hipsters are even checking in to the Playland Motel.  The amazing Food Court a la Williamsburg's Smorgasburg  features the Lobster Joint Rockaway Beach Surf Club and more.  Name another city beach where you can get fresh brews, fresh smoothies, lobster rolls or arepas.  So hop the A train or the BQE, but get back in time to get back to the "city that never sleeps."

Single A Ball by the Sea: The Brooklyn Cyclones at Coney Island, Brooklyn, NY

The Brooklyn Cyclones

Single A Affiliate for the New York Mets

MCU Field
1904 Surf Ave.Brooklyn, NY

We are back in Brooklyn; been back for three years.  back in the borough where my grandparents were raised.  The boys are bigger.  They have new friends.  Beantown is behind us, but never far from our hearts.  While we don't make it to Fenway as much these days (although we did get to see Game SIX, even stayed for Papi's MVP ceremony) we still love baseball.  I coach Little League for Liji (soccer for Sydney) in the Saint Francis Xavier League, a wonderful, fun-filled intro to the game of dreams for both boys.  They have both decided shortstop is for them (Nomar!)

So how do you fuel the flames of baseball passion in a city known for two of our hated rivals? (Yes, we go dressed in Sox gear to Yankee stadium, old and new many times and we go to City Field each year with little league to march across the turf with thousands of little leaguers).  What does a Sox fan do?  We go to Single A ball with 800 of our closest PS 321 classmates.

What better way to relaunch the blog after a three year hiatus than the most family-friendly event in Brooklyn.  Every seat is good (we sat four rows up from the field for $16), we got free "BC" hats (again) and besides the ridiculously long line for hotdogs, the staff is so kid-friendly it's one of the few places in New York where you can let the kids roam and get their new hats signed by the cheerleaders (I know!), Sandy the Seabird and King Henry the MC.

So come to Coney Island; catch a game, ride the new Thunderbolt, grab a hotdog at Nathan's or just chill on the beach, but make sure to check out the game at MCU field.