TABLES IN THE UN....
THE SUMMIT OF THE UNITED NATIONS
DONATION TO THE UN MADAGASCAR 5 (REPERMAD U.S.)
At a formal meeting held at UN headquarters, the President Marc
Ravalomanana was officially presented to the United Nations a gift of Madagascar
to the Secretary-General Kofi Annan. It is a trunk of petrified wood aged 225
million years dating from the Jurassic era, "said President RAVALOMANANAN
before the guests and the UN TV. Immediately after the inauguration, the
Secretary General of the UN wished to thank the President and the Malagasy
people. The United Nations is pleased to receive a gift so magnificent, has he
said, adding that this move is another example from Madagascar in its deep
commitment and unwavering to the United Nations. This donation will enhance the
artwork and other items from the member states, set at Headquarters said the
Secretary General of the UN. This gift silicified wood came from the region of
Morondava, Isalo Group II, in western Madagascar. Very original, it can
recognize the silicified wood in the design of cellular tissue and wood growth
rings marking age.
The President Marc
Ravalomanana made a donation to the UN: A piece of wood of the
Jurassic era, over 225 million years old!
Stand made by Majestic Reproductions
Brooklyn, New York
Kofinas Annan thanked "Madagascar"
Kofi-"Are you sure Mark is a true?"
- Ravalomanana "Yes Kofi! The Chinese have not had time to make
Tuesday 27 October, 2009
Built on the Block
by Ashton Applewhite
The Brooklyn Rail - April 2007
My mother loved pears, the shape of them. When my parents moved into an
apartment, she seized the opportunity to ditch the Danish modern table we’d
grown up around, and drew a big pear. She hunted down a beautiful slab of dark
marble embedded with oyster shells, and had it cut into the shape of the pear.
My architect brother-in-law designed two pedestals, and the marble pear became
the family dining table.
My boyfriend Bob is extremely particular about tables, the shape of them. He
loved my mother’s pear-shaped one. Newlyweds could rub knees at the tip, six
or seven more filled out its curves, and it could seat 12 and still feel
intimate. I wanted one.
Eventually my mother’s table made its way to my sister’s dining room in
Cleveland. Soon after, Bob and I left Manhattan for the wilder shores of
Williamsburg. Seduced by the big sky and the grimy remnants of industrial New
York, we bought a little house on North 7th Street. Behind its drab exterior sat
a little garden—or what became one after an above-ground swimming pool had
been carted away and a lot of dirt carted in.
One of our favorite things about our new neighborhood was the
industrial-residential combo: factories and warehouses cheek by jowl with
vinyl-clad houses and brick tenements. Typically, cities separate manufacturing
and residential areas to insulate inhabitants from industrial noise and
pollution, and factory owners from complaint-prone residents. Williamsburg and
Greenpoint are exceptions. A century after its industrial heyday, this is still
the place to buy galvanized sheet metal by the acre or lease a dump truck.
Exploring our new neighborhood, Bob and I loved peering into cavernous
warehouses or over graffiti-covered walls, stumbling on dumpsters full of salmon
heads, mountains of manhole covers, linear feet of rye bread.
As the weather warmed, we started checking out patio furniture, but most of
it seemed designed for Palm Beach pool-sides or faux-Adirondack retreats. Then
it hit me: we needed a pear at the heart of our new garden. So I asked my sister
to make me a template like the one my mother had drawn 25 years earlier. On
Bob’s and my next outing, we looked into the dust-filled interior of Marble
& Stone Creations, Inc., just around the corner on Kent Street. “Why
don’t you ask them about the table?” Bob suggested.
I made my way past shy Polish stoneworkers and racks of marble and granite
and limestone slabs, and spread out my template in the crowded back office of
handsome, look-alike owners Gregory and Harrison Muller. They didn’t bat an
eyelash. To spare me the expense of purchasing an entire slab from a wholesaler,
they checked out the “scraps” on hand and sent me home with a sample piece
of Pietra Cardozo, a warm gray stone from the Tuscan town of Cardozo.
I ran right back with a thumbs-up from Bob and a deposit. I also asked what
the neighborhood had been like in 1991, when the business moved here from
Manhattan’s Bond Street.
“Still very rough,” said Gregory. “Tons of prostitutes and hardcore
junkies. On the alley running to the river from North 7th Street you’d see
homeless people scampering out of homemade shelters. Harrison walked the dog one
day and found a dead body with its head bashed in.”
“What about legs for the table?” he asked, back to business. “You want
them in stone?”
Oh, right, legs. Gregory suggested Falcon Laundry, which he assured
me was right across the street from our house. I drew a blank, but though there
was no sign out front the dark red building across the street from us did say
“Falcon Laundry 1930” in white brick under the battered cornice.
Unlike the big door into Marble & Stone Creations, which generally sits
open to a spectacular view of the midtown skyline, Falcon’s door was shuttered
down to the sidewalk. But when I knocked on the little side door, Wally Siegel
ushered me into the home of Majestic Reproductions. Low-hung fluorescents and a
single skylight illuminated a wildly cluttered desk, walls covered with bars of
chrome and brass and angle-iron, hulking gray machines, metal
furniture-in-progress, and flecks of gold leaf hovering in midair.
Majestic moved to Williamsburg in 1982, when the landlord sold the showroom
on 21st Street out from under Wally and his brother. At the time they’d been
doing business with Durable Iron Works, which was run by an 80-year-old
Ukrainian named Wanger. Mr. Wanger agreed to sell the business on North 7th to
Wally’s brother Sid on the condition that they employ him three days a week,
“and we needed him — he was an ace mechanic,” said Wally.
“We have 100-year-old equipment from that guy, drill presses, a bender that
was a Rube Goldberg special, and they work great, better than the computerized
stuff. Wanger was a hardened guy. When we got here, there was one light on, and
he’d turn it off when he ate lunch. In the winter, heat, forget it. We came in
and turned the heat on.”
Sales at Majestic are handled by Wally’s chatty, Canarsie-born nephew Marc
Siegel, who recalled the days of hookers and crack addicts on North 7th when I
asked him what the neighborhood used to be like. “Every time I walked out the
door I was propositioned. I saw a guy sitting in a truck put a needle in his
vein — and then he drove away!”
As Marc tells it, neighboring Brownsville went downhill because the original
residents moved out and nobody kept an eye on things. But the old Polish ladies
in Williamsburg and Greenpoint hung in there. “Here, they kept sitting out
front, and they saved the neighborhood.”
Then came the kids for the cheap rent—“crazy white hippies, living in
communes,” in Wally’s words. The pioneers arrived in the early ‘80s, just
a trickle at the end of the decade when boarded-up storefronts on Bedford Avenue
began to open up, and then a flood in the ‘90s. Eager to cash in on the influx
and the resulting spike in residential rents, dozens of owners converted their
industrial buildings. The Greenpoint-Williamsburg Rezoning of 2005 accelerated
the process. The change was primarily intended to allow residential building
along the river, but despite explicit community demands that the
neighborhood’s industrial tenants and mixed economic makeup be protected,
quite a few inland blocks were rezoned as well—including those around the
future home of the pear table.
The results are visible everywhere you turn. Famous for their suburban
McMansions, the Toll Brothers set up shop on Bedford Avenue to sell the 40
condos in their North 8 building, now nearing completion. A block south, the
warehouse at the corner of North 7th and Kent just yielded to a battalion of
earthmovers. Another Toll Brothers development on the river at North 5th, the
first of the three luxury high-rise towers of Northside Piers, seems to be
sprouting a story a day (23 down, six to go).
Sandwiched between these sites, Marble & Stone Creations is feeling the
squeeze in more ways than one. “We have construction vehicles blocking the
entrance to shop on daily basis,” Harrison complained. For a year now,
Gregory’s been snooping around looking to buy property. “The writing’s on
the wall because we rent,” he says. “We know that sooner or later we’re
going to get pushed out.”
Walk-ins like me and my pear are rare, and Gregory doesn’t envision new
work coming from future condo dwellers. Business is finally good enough that he
figures the shop could actually qualify for a mortgage, “but the prices are
incredible. It would be sad if we had to leave.”
The owner of their building won’t sign a long lease, but he sympathizes
with the Mullers’ predicament. “He’s a tradesman like us. He’s not a
real-estate developer,” Gregory explains. A “steel guy” with a shop in
East Williamsburg, the landlord can’t compete with the scale of new
construction: most of the steel going up in the neighborhood is coming from
City officials describe the rezoning as an inevitable consequence of the flow
of industrial jobs to the developing world, “but in fact it’s not a
post-industrial economy,” protests Peter Gillespie, executive director of
Williamsburg’s Neighbors Against Garbage. “It’s true that widget
manufacturing can be done cheaper in China, but anything that could have gone
overseas went years ago.” Yet, all over the city, mixed-use zoning is yielding
to the seemingly inexhaustible thirst for luxury housing.
“All the Ma and Pa operations are gone,” says Marc Siegel. “They’re
being driven out because of the zoning.”
The jobs that are disappearing can’t be outsourced. They rely on the unique
combination of a huge population of artists and designers capitalizing on an
established base of manufacturing expertise and facilities. A lot of
industries—set-building for the City’s theaters and television studios, for
example—thrive on this mash-up. The area’s furniture-makers, carpenters,
sculptors, metal- and woodworkers compete on the basis of skill and taste, not
They also require easy access to their customer base in the tri-state area;
Gregory may pop into Manhattan several times a day. Neither they nor their
clients want to schlep to Jamaica or Sunset Park, while a trip across the river
isn’t the hurdle it used to be.
“Now they see the high-rises on Kent and they’re all saying, ‘Wow
what’s going on here?’” Siegel comments, shaking his head at the prospect
of glitz on the waterfront.
Having paid a fortune for our cruddy little house, Bob and I are hardly
innocent bystanders, but we fervently hope Williamsburg’s distinctive mix of
artists and manufacturers persists. And we love the table that epitomizes this
A week after I visited Majestic, the legs were delivered from across the
street and the table rolled around the corner on a dolly. Harrison and three
workmen lifted the slab into place, stepped back to admire their handiwork, and
headed back to the shop. Bob and I stayed in the garden, beaming.
The pear is elegant and weatherproof, and we got it made without leaving the
About the Author
Ashton Applewhite lives in Williamsburg. She is the author of Cutting
Loose: Why Women Who End Their Marriages Do So Well and writes for the
American Museum of Natural History.