1. Red Hook park pier at 8am in the early summer. Where black fisherman still exist and grab some time together before the pier becomes crowded and can enjoy their fishing tradition with an unobstructed view of the Statue of Liberty. You can hear and the ocean lapping against the land making hard to remember that you’re in Brooklyn. This place is rugged and open, and seems to remain a secret. In one case, one of the fishermen asks if I want to see what he caught, I look over and into his bucket, scream and recoil when I see a bloated, bluish, thorny looking fish with bulgy eyes reminiscent to Blinky. They all laugh and I respond with, that fish is so ugly you cant even use it for bait!
2. The Gowanus Canal located between Red Hook and Park Slope, and on the edge of Carroll Gardens is a sacred place that you will never have to compete with a tourist or any local for that matter, to have view while a leaning against the Union street bridge, one of the four bridges that this toxic canal passes through. Mostly known as the dumping ground for the Mafia back in the day. It sits on the edge of Carroll Gardens which has a reputation as ‘home’ to the mob. Al Capone’ wedding took place just a few blocks away in this predominately Italian neighborhood in St. Ann’s.
3. Carroll Gardens, is a place I call home, with tree-lined streets that meet Smith Street, the main strip, otherwise known as, ‘Little France’. There is Bartabec, Robin de Bois, Patois and a hair salon, Salon de Quartier. Patois, was a great little restaurant with horrible service, but heart warming food. It houses a dinning room with a hearthy fireplace, reflecting a cozy and intimate environment. It closed up and moved away from Smith street two years back to the city. It was wonderful for brunch where you could once indulge in roasted duck with poached eggs, unlimited Bloody Mary’s and coffee, and brown bread with butter that tastes like cream. It reminded me of having a late lunch in Dingle, Ireland.
4. Red Hook Recreational Center and Pool is the best thing to do to beat the heat. All you need is a bikini, a lock for your stuff, and some money. Claim a spot for your towel towards the end of the large, Olympic size pool (this is the pool they were going to use if we were granted the summer Olympics.) After a few laps, cross the street to the Latino Food Stalls, and enjoy some home-made Guatemalan tamales and Salvadorian empanadas. Burn it off, with a 5-block walk over to Sixpoints Brewery for a pint of Brooklyn’s finest atop the balcony to enjoy views of the sun set.
5. Pearl River is an over-priced, Asian store on Broadway close to Canal that specializes in super cool trinkets, you know, of all of the things you don’t need, but must have once inside. You go for two bags of the brown rice loose tea, and walk out with everything ranging from little silk purses, to bamboo placemats, wooden blinds and one of those cute ceramic waving, one-eyed cats. Once you have burned through your wallet, after making that one final purchase of a gold dipped dog with money in it’s mouth, for the Year of the Dog, you spend what ever you have left over on stocking stuffers and gifts for out-of towners on Canal street.