Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Eating Goat Eyeball Tacos in Staten Island

Forgotten Borough went out to eat with Robert Sietsma, The Village Voice Food Critic. We at Forgotten Borough would rather pet and cuddle goats, but to each his own. The vegetarian options were delicious! Go! Taqueria Puebla (1285 Castleton Avenue, 718-720-1447). - CvB

The eyeball-popping parking lot mural was a harbinger of what was to follow.

By Robert Sietsma, The Village Voice.
It was a gothic conclusion to a very gothic day. It started out with a trip on the Staten Island Ferry to New Brighton, to a neighborhood overlooking New York's Upper Bay that was once the site of a Revolutionary War fort, which had honeycombed the ground underneath with secret passages.

A friend and I had gone there to see the art of Cynthia von Buhler, who plays feminist rifs on Renaissance paintings and retrofits carnie machines with contemporary messages. The art was ensconced in a four-story house on a very high promontory that had been built by a Spanish couple in the 1920s, and seemed very Addams family. Room after room was painted in a garish color, and a series of terraces climbed a hill out back, punctuated with wrought iron arches and wooden patio furniture.

One painting showed a female St. Sebastian pierced by arrows with a bottle of Ajax poised overhead, another showed a many-breasted woman lactating into the mouths of beasts. In the basement, a hollowed-out male figure had a literal rat-race in his stomach--a Plexiglas cage in which lab animals were deposited during an exhibition, and there were Mason jars in which were displayed menstrual blood, fingernails, and other body products.

Climbing up and down the stairs made us peckish, so we headed off late in the afternoon for a Mexican restaurant another friend had tipped me to in in Port Richmond. Taqueria Puebla (1285 Castleton Avenue, 718-720-1447) - referring to a southern Mexican state from which many new New Yorkers have emigrated - shared a strip mall with a bodega and a martial arts academy, whose parking lot logo was a fighter with eyeballs popping out...Continue HERE at The Village Voice website.


Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Most Beautiful View in all of New York City

Is it Rome? Is it San Francisco? Nope, it's New York City!

Friday, March 5, 2010

SOLD Fort Hill Castle Is Up For Sale

Open House this Sunday, September 12, 2010 from noon - 2PM. Email info@cvbspaces.com to R.S.V.P.I know, I know! Our slogan says that we took the ferry to Staten Island and decided to stay. We wish that we could, but life has taken us elsewhere. It's silly to own two large houses on either side of Manhattan, so we will keep The Lakeside Lodge and get a place in Manhattan.

My heart will always live in Staten Island and I'm still here all of the time. I'm helping to promote SHOW gallery, helping many of you get film and photo shoots at your gorgeous Staten Island houses (through my locations company, CvB Spaces), and I'm continuing to write this blog.
The house has been written about all over the place. Here are a few links:
The New York Times:
Looking for a House and a Turret, The New York Times
House call: Animal Kingdom, Time Out NY
Across the Harbor, a Historic Gem, The New York Times
The Prodigal Buzz, Brownstoner
St. George, Staten Island Wonderland, Forgotten NY
It also appeared in magazines like Seventeen and Vogue and on NBC News and NY1 News.

To see a slideshow of the house go HERE.

Here are the details below:

Fort Hill Castle
Exotic Beauty of Yesteryear

Price: $715,000
Location: St. George, Staten Island, NYC ( the house is a 7 minute walk to the Staten Island ferry terminal. See the step-by-step commute with pictures HERE and HERE.)

Fort Hill was a British fort during the revolutionary war. While some of the tunnels and munitions are still buried in the hill, the fort no longer stands. In the late twenties, another fort-like structure was built as a home, Fort Hill Castle. This unique urban Mediterranean villa was commissioned by the original owners to resemble a specific castle in Spain. The very private garden, in full bloom from April through October, features a small koi pond, 112 varieties of flowering plant and flower, fountains, and statuary. The upper deck has a gazebo and a fire pit. There are two backyard decks and a front deck. There are distant water views.

The interior has original plaster walls hand rubbed with layers of intense jewel-toned paint to bring out their texture. There is chestnut woodwork and hardwood floors on every floor in the home. The grand curved staircase is hardwood and wrought iron. Many of the doorways in the home are arched.

Square footage: 3,500 interior, 4 finished floors, 5,000 square feet of land

Rooms: Living room (with arched doorways and a working fireplace), formal dining room, sunroom, eat in kitchen (with a beautiful built in gothic dining nook and a Sub Zero refrigerator), master bedroom suite (with a private bathroom with a Jacuzzi tub, bidet, and separate shower), 4 full bathrooms, powder room, library, billiard room, tower room, laundry room, bar room (with a working fireplace), two car garage (connected to the house under ground).

To see a slideshow of the house go HERE.
If you want more details like taxes, etc. send us an email to info@cvbspaces.com

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Second Saturday

From The Staten Island Advance:

Time for 'Second Saturday'
By Tevah Platt
February 11, 2010, 7:30AM

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Because it’s smaller than others in New York City, the arts scene on Staten Island’s North Shore expresses itself in periodic flashes.

I try to be there when the pyrotechnics crackle. They illuminate my borough in a fleeting aura of cool and make me feel part of a community as everybody goes “oooh.”

Staten Island Second Saturdays, a monthly, one-night “art walk,” was inaugurated on Jan. 9 as six galleries and nine private households opened their doors to anyone interested in taking a gander.

The organizers of the event, Brendan Coyle and Amanda Curtis, of the living room-based Assembly Room gallery in Tompkinsville, billed it as a chance to expose local artists to the rest of New York City and an attempt to “boost cultural tourism and the economy of this quickly-growing artist community.”

Part cultural experience, part social event, the art walk brought together creative people from the belly of the North Shore, especially New Brighton, Tompkinsville, and St. George, for fun, wine and mutual support.

“It’s a no brainer. We have to be aware of each other and help each other out, and art doesn’t thrive without an audience,” said Coyle. “.¤.¤.Stringing together the common interests of disparate underground artists and movements seems to be the thing to open a vein for the lifeblood of the neighborhood to flow through.”

I came from Tompkinsville in a bit of a rush that evening. I left my reporter’s notebook at home and instead brought my dog, Fergus.

Popping into four apartments along Stuyvesant Place and Corson and Central avenues, we saw a woman enclosed in plastic and painted white, ceaselessly knitting. We saw a sagging, conceptual goldfish bag full of Pepsi. I wielded a chainsaw sculpted from pipecleaners while a matching headset played a vocal track by the artist, Don Porcella, vocally imitating the tool. Nyyyuuuuh, nyyyyuuuh. Fergus smelled welcoming people, fresh paint and the odd house cat.

The venues were uncrowded, but the flow was constant, one of the curators said.

People familiar with participating artists were likely to run into people they knew.

And yet the shows and private settings offered intimate glimpses into the lives and minds of strangers.

At one point, I realized that everyone I saw out on that cold night had map in hand, and was participating in this tour of strange worlds. Central Avenue temporarily became a blank museum hallway linking exhibits.

And linking neighbors with neighbors.

The second Second Saturday is Feb. 13.

Assembly Room
6 p.m. to midnight; 15 Corson Ave. 2nd Fl., Tompkinsville; Curators: Brendan Coyle and Amanda Curtis; Artists: Katie Torn, Tom Ronse

Blue Mohawk Lounge
(time TBA); 9 Corson Ave. 3rd Fl., Tompkinsville; Curators: Johann Rublein and Leilani Pickettl; Artists: Leilani Pickett, Shawn Bishop-Leo, Eliza Bazillian and music by Automatons Anonymous at 9:30; DJ Maciej Lenart

Valentine Cave (SelzeRez)
9 p.m. to midnight; 180 Corson Ave., New Brighton; Curator: Ann Marie Selzer and Industrial Television’s Ed Droogie; “Best in Underground” screening

ETG Cafe
208 Bay St., Tompkinsville; Curator: Steve Jones Daughs; Live Music: 8pm Brian XO opens; Pheobe Blue and Tommy Bones Blurple CD Release Party; Paintings: J. Montana

Nick Fevelo, performance and sound installation
7 to 8 p.m.;33 Central Ave. 6G, St. George; Curator: Nick Fevelo; Artists: Nick Fevelo and Alma Benussi

15 Cent
7 to 11 p.m.; 15 Central Ave. #2A, St. George; Curators: David and Jen Bianco and Sabrina Mazza; Exhibition: Installation and Live Entertainment

SHOW Gallery
6 to 9 p.m.; 156 Stuyvesant Pl., St. George; Curator: Theo Dorian; Exhibition: GLAM! by Mick Rock

Top Flight
6 to 10 p.m.; 100 Stuyvesant Pl. A5, St. George; Director: Don Porcella; Artists: Patrick Dintino, Don Porcella

Parish Grill
Dinner until 9 p.m.; (some galleries on the tour will offer a 10 percent discount coupon); Artist TBA.

Mandy Machine
6 to 9 p.m.; 100 Stuyvesant Pl. G-1; Installation Director: Mandy Morrison

Papouli’s Restaurant
8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.; 9 Hyatt St., St. George; Mural by David White

7 a.m. to 10 p.m.; 36 Richmond Terr., St. George; Valentine’s Day astrology love forecasts by Adrianna Goffredo and Tarot readings by Patti Earl

CPG Gallery (Creative Photographers’ Guild)
1 to 5 p.m.; 814 Richmond Terr., Livingston (entrance on Tysen Street); Exhibit: “Rear View” featuring Marilyn Kiss; In honor of Valentine’s Day, CPG invites you to bring your favorite love poem to read aloud in the gallery; the first 10 readers will receive a Lee Simms chocolate heart.

Richie’s Lot
Noon to 5; 18 Van Pelt (@ Richmond Terrace), Mariners Harbor; Exhibit: Richard Plunkett’s “Muskrat Husk” animal skinning, “not for the faint of heart.”; (The rodents in question were killed in the course of nature by the artist’s dog.); Keg of beer for early birds

St. GeorgeNoon to 6; 11 Phelps Pl.; Director: Gary Brant; City LightsArtist: Joseph Greenberg

Art at Bay
6 to 9 p.m.; 70 Bay St.; Director: Tim Moran; “Art Recycling” with Day de Dada, and “Residual Effects” exhibit featuring Barbara Beyar, Ed Davin, Phyllis Forman, Joyce Malerba Goldstein, Timothy Moran, Denise Mumm, Lenora Paglia, Vincent Verdi

Staten Island Museum
Noon to 5;75 Stuyvesant Pl., St. George; Exhibit: “Growing a Collection: Recent Art Acquisitions”; Free admission

Cargo Cafe
120 Bay St., St. George; Music and art TBA; For updates, check www.assemblyroomgallery.com

Monday, January 18, 2010

The New York Times Visits Our Neighbors

Connie Rosenblum discovered my locations website and wrote about a beautiful victorian I list. She asked me if I knew of any modern houses in the St. George area and I recommended my neighbor's house. Kevin and Tina call their house "The Modernish". Here's the article:

Architect-Friendly, Child-Tolerant


Published: October 16, 2009

ON Fort Hill Circle in St. George, Staten Island, nestled amid an assortment of shingle style, Italian Renaissance, Dutch colonial and Tudor houses, there sits an unassuming red-brick split-level. This structure was designed by a local architect named Albert Melnicker and built in 1949 by the Lipsons, a dentist and his wife.

Tina Vultaggio, 39, an architect who grew up in the island community of Great Kills, and her husband, Kevin Rice, 40, an architect from Houston, met the Lipsons nearly a decade ago.

Mr. Rice and Ms. Vultaggio were newly married and had been stunned by the price tags they saw when they went house hunting in Brooklyn and Manhattan. But when they met the Lipsons, who at that point were in their 80s and already spending much of the year in Florida, things began looking up. The possibility of acquiring the older couple’s house on Fort Hill Circle, which was priced at $325,000 and had 1,900 square feet of space, was immensely appealing.

By Sept. 11, 2001, they were in contract, with the closing set for three weeks later. The morning of the terrorist attacks, the younger couple, who at the time both worked in Manhattan, emerged from the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel minutes after the plane hit the first tower and watched, horrified, as scraps of paper from the offices flew through the air.

It seemed the worst possible moment to be buying a piece of the city.

“We asked ourselves, should we be buying in New York at all?” Ms. Vultaggio recalled.

Her husband added: “We wondered, should we walk away from the deposit? Should we move to Montana?”

Despite misgivings, they decided to proceed. And now, eight years later, they are well settled in the trim brick house. The household now includes a son, Jonathan, 3. And they have no regrets.

Throughout the house are items appropriate to a couple who both have careers in the world of design. Mr. Rice is the project leader for the redesign of Lincoln Center’s public spaces at Diller Scofidio & Renfro, a firm whose work includes the redesign of the High Line. Ms. Vultaggio works as an urban designer in the Staten Island office of New York’s Department of City Planning.

Unsurprisingly, both are what Mr. Rice describes as “unrepentant Modernists.”

“There’s something very appealing about this midcentury period,” he said of the house. “The open layout, the way everything flows. There’s lots of light.”

Being architects, they talk a lot about the elevation of the house, the face it presents to the world. They are taken with the fact that the windows are modular casement units all the same width, combined in a variety of arrangements.

Yet as much as the couple love the bones of the house, over the years they have made changes. The first thing they did after they arrived was rip out the living room’s white wall-to-wall carpet, which covered a pristine oak floor. Next up came the small windows in the dining area, then sheathed by white curtains and painted shut. The windows are now exposed and flood the space with light.

The living room is furnished largely in white — “We’ll re-cover the sofa when he’s 6,” Ms. Vultaggio said gesturing toward her son, who this day was banging away at Tinkertoys in a corner — and the furnishings are pleasantly eclectic. A Corbusier chaise longue — “Nearly every architect has one,” Mr. Rice said — sits opposite a turn-of-the-century oak breakfront from Texas.

On a wall in the entryway are spare 18th-century prints from a treatise on architectural education by Bernardo Vittone, an Italian architect from the Rococo period. Here and there are pieces of furniture that Ms. Vultaggio describes as “fancy Italian things that were bought at sample sales but that we couldn’t have afforded otherwise.”
When you walk into the kitchen, you feel as if you have entered a hall of mirrors, so gleaming are all the surfaces. The countertops are covered with gray-green Swiss gneiss, the shelves are a rich cherry wood, the glass tiles on the walls glow with a cool greenish tint, and all the appliances are stainless steel.

The design of what was originally a galley kitchen, which the couple redid largely by themselves, looks as if the space could have been reconfigured no other way. But even for a pair of architects, inspiration came slowly.

“We started drawing designs when we first moved in,” Mr. Rice said. “We were sketching it for three years.”

For better and sometimes worse, the house came equipped with many of the original furnishings. Some have been lovingly preserved, and others were retrofitted for a new century, as is especially evident in the family room. The table and chairs are Danish modern, and the sofas are the work of a Modernist designer named Harvey Probber, who enjoyed a brief flurry of late-in-life attention in trendy venues like Wallpaper magazine. (If you turn over the turquoise cushions, you can see the original nubby orange fabric.)

The macramé blinds are original, as is the pecan paneling, which Mr. Rice describes as “real wood veneer.”

“Very Brady Bunch,” his wife said dryly.

Period touches also abound upstairs, among them the original square tub in one of the bathrooms, a cast-iron fixture configured on the diagonal and executed in a color Ms. Vultaggio likes to call pistachio. The sailboat mobile in Jonathan’s bedroom is a decorative accent appropriate for a child whose mother’s résumé lists her main interest as “sailing on Raritan Bay.”

In the back of the house is a patio, which Mr. Rice built with his father-in-law one Saturday afternoon. It is equipped with not one but two grills — one gas, one charcoal — because, as Mr. Rice pointed out, “I’m from Texas, and I’m not letting go of my culture.”

The patio faces an expanse of lawn fringed with greenery, including what Mr. Rice describes as “the obligatory fig tree,” a cherry tree acquired through the city’s MillionTreesNYC program, and arugula grown from seed provided by Ms. Vultaggio’s father. In this tranquil space you can hear the bells from Brighton Heights Reformed Church and watch the antics of the resident squirrels, cardinals and blue jays.

Ms. Vultaggio’s mother, who comes by twice a week to baby-sit, still lives in the house her daughter knew as a child. But even though Ms. Vultaggio has returned to the island of her birth, she does not feel as if she were shuttling back in time.

“I felt this was different from the Staten Island I grew up in,” said Ms. Vultaggio, who is a first-generation American. (Her parents came from Italy.) “It’s more urban and diverse, and a lot of the people who live here came from someplace else. When I moved back, I didn’t feel as if I was coming home.”

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Staten Island Blog Looks To The Hills

Ben Braw House - 1935

Ape Shall Not KIll Ape takes a look at some of St. George, Staten Island's hills. I have included a few of the photos here, but take a look at the post for more information and antique maps.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Look to the Hills

Perhaps you've noticed that the North Shore of my beloved Staten Island is littered with hills? Well it is.

Once they were all refuges for wealthier seeking insulation from the rest of us. Elevation lifted them away and above us. In that time great mansions covered many of those hills (see the Ben Braw pictures). Later, meaner times lead to the demolition of those manorial estates and the subdivision of their property as is seen in the differences between the map of the C. A. Low Estate and the photo of the same place twenty-five years later.

Fort Hill - 1933 (Note: You can see the tower of Forgotten Borough's Fort Hill Castle on the hill, behind, and to the left of the tudor home).

Pavillion Hill - 1933