Archive for October, 2008

Jewish basketball stars from the LES

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008

Opening today at the Village East in Manhattan is a documentary by David Vyorst called The First Basket, about basketball’s popularity among inner-city European Jewish immigrant boys from the 1920s to the early 1950s. Read the brief Times review here. One of the topics discussed is “the role of basketball as a middle ground for second-generation Eastern European immigrants as they established their own American identities, and the corresponding conflicts between old world tradition and American culture.”


Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

Babka and friends from Greenpoint

Halloween inspired Seth Kugel’s Weekend in New York column of Oct. 26, where he talks about pastries and desserts from India, Pakistan, Greece, the Middle East, Puerto Rico, and Senegal. These treats are a good way to a get a taste of something different without spending a lot of money in these dire economic times.

Basque music & history

Saturday, October 25th, 2008

I must admit that I haven’t thought about Basques in New York, even though I have a Basque-English dictionary.* But here they are, playing music, next Saturday afternoon.

Marilu Navas of the Society of Basque Studies will moderate an afternoon of Basque music with cultural and historical commentary, with the participation of Euzko Etxea—The Basque Club of New York and the Basque International Cultural Center, at 2 pm Saturday, Nov. 1, at the Museum of the City of New York, Fifth Avenue at 103rd St. It’s free with museum admission.

The history of Basque immigration to the New World begins about 200 years ago. According to A Travel Guide to Basque America, Basque navigators came to Mexico with the Spaniards, and many joined the Mexican fight for independence from Spain. The first Basques in the United States worked in California, and for decades afterward Basque communities were primarily (entirely?) in the Western states, which explains why they don’t show up on my radar of New York immigration.

*The Basque language (Euskara) is very interesting because it’s not an Indo-European language, and, in fact, according to The Languages of the World, “no connection between Basque and any other language has ever been proven.”

Is Greenpoint losing its Poles?

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008

On Sept. 22 I went to Germany, so I failed to mention the Sept. 21 Times story on the changing demographics of Greenpoint, “A Land of Opportunity Lures Poles Back Home.” With Poland’s admission to the European Union, it has become a better place to find a job (or, with an EU passport, anywhere in Europe is a better place to find a job). This is similar to what happened when Ireland had its economic boom a few years back.

Fortunately, Greenpoint is not pierogi-free yet. Moving Sidewalk photographer Steve Bonilla checked it out this afternoon and says there are still plenty of Polish people and businesses, including meat markets, pharmacies, and beauty shops.

He also saw a car smash into the HSBC at the corner of Manhattan and Greenpoint. Apparently no one was seriously hurt.

Italian food

Saturday, October 18th, 2008

The Lower East Side Tenement Museum presents Food and the Italian-American Experience, a conversation with authors Laura Schenone (The Lost Ravioli Recipes of Hoboken: A Search for Food and Family), and Louise Fili (Italianissimo: The Quintessential Guide to What Italians Do Best) about their own roots and the role of food in Italian immigrant culture. The talk is at 6:30 pm Thursday, Oct. 23 at the museum bookstore, 108 Orchard St. RSVP to events(at) The talk is free; you’re on your own for dinner.

More dancing!

Thursday, October 16th, 2008

It’s the tarantella and more at 2 pm Saturday, Oct. 18, when Coro d’Italia performs Italian song and dance at the Museum of the City of New York (Fifth Avenue at 103rd St). Visitors can join in the dance and bang on the tamburello and tammorra napoletana.¬†Free with museum admission. Call (212) 534-1672, ext. 3395, for more information.

Panel on immigrant foods

Wednesday, October 15th, 2008

“Emerging and Disappearing Immigrant Foodways” is the topic of a panel discussion at 4 pm Thursday, Oct. 16, at the Fales Library on the third floor of Bobst Library at NYU, 70 Washington Square South. Admission free for NYU students or employees; $10 donation suggested for the general public. Call (212) 992-9018 for more information.

Dancing, discussion, and dishes

Tuesday, October 14th, 2008

Folk Feet on Fifth, a demonstration—with food—celebrating the neighborhood dance traditions of Bay Ridge and Sunset Park (which encompasses a lot) will be held Thursday. Participants include:

  • Newyorican salsero Carlos Vasquez
  • Cliff Matias of Redhawk Native American Arts Council
  • Paul Busse, Norwegian Folkdance Society of New York
  • Benito Bravo, Mexican folkl√≥rico dancer
  • Greek dancer Chrisafo Madimenos
  • Lebanese debke hot stepper Jad Lebbos
  • Victoria Hofmo, Founder of the East Coast Scandinavian Museum
  • Arab youth dance group director Sheren Attal
  • Senior citizen folk dancers of Brooklyn Chinese American Association
  • and unspecified other Irish & Scandinavian contributions.

The event is from 6 to 9 pm Thursday, Oct. 16, at the Danish Athletic Club, 741 65th St, Brooklyn. (Not really 5th Avenue; it’s between 7th and 8th.) It’s free! To RSVP or learn more, call (718) 625-0080 or e-mail