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I’m writing this under the happy haze of my very first successful batch of gluten-free vegan brownies – after over 1 1/2 years of rock hard chocolate-like disappointments! Last week’s Brooklyn Book Festival was pretty okay. You have to keep in mind that book festivals, by nature of bringing a bunch of bookish types together, can only be so rockin.

In truth, the walk there down 4th and Atlantic avenues was the best part. First we have some street art strung to the fence outside an elementary school. These flowers are cut from plastic bottles and hand painted. When the light catches them at the right hour they glow like stained glass.

Park Slope street recycled street art

Walk a few blocks further north and you get to see this mural showing all these brick buildings as a place where dancers and astronomers and families live.

mural on 4th Avenue Brooklyn

Turn down Atlantic Avenue through my old neighborhood of Boerum Hill. It was nice to see that these new luxury buildings haven’t pushed out all of the small Middle Eastern restaurants and dive bars that give the area its flavor. Change isn’t always bad, and pretty inevitable in this borough. The buildings are much more colorful at least.

Atlantic Avenue Brooklyn, NY

You arrive at the book fest and see there’s no false advertising here. Indie presses from around the tri-state area all converge to sell some books and lit mags. The super smarties offer some kind of discount or have an author at the table to sign.

Award for the most friendly goes to American Poet. A woman there gave me a copy of the journal and a smile that made me wonder if we knew each other. Then the guy let me make my very own button with Rimbaud’s handsome mug.

‘scuse me while I make some buttons

The other festival highlight for me was discovering Coral Press. What caught my eye was their little pink Cadillac.

Coral Press Cadillac at the Brooklyn Book Fair

The fellow at the Coral Press stand wins the award for most animated. He used all sorts of hand gestures to describe the music fiction they publish. I dropped a $1 and bought a “digital download”, which is a cool little compilation of first chapters from their books. I’ll probably buy whichever one has the best first chapter – though haven’t cracked the compilation open yet.

The real score of the day was a stack of 5 back issues of Ploughshares for $5. This used to be one of my favorite pubs, but I haven’t read it in years so can’t wait to catch up. That’s it for the book fest beat.

Walking back, we passed over the Gowanus Canal where some folks were spending their Sunday canoeing. I’ve always thought this this would make a perfect location for Lloyd Kaufman’s Toxie to build a little love nest and stir up some trouble across the water in suburby Carroll Gardens.

Of course, when I finally got to meet Kaufman at a fancy party on the Upper East Side years ago, I was too tongue tied and we wound up chatting about Charlie Chaplin instead. Kaufman wins the award for most charismatic and most able to pull off green plaid pants in a very deep-pocketed crowd of hedge fund managers.

kayaking on the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn

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