[gowanus + art = agast]

It’s once again coming to that wonderful time of year when the leaves fall into the toxic soup we know and love as the Gowanus Canal, and the artists in the neighborhood open their studios to share their fume-inspired creations. This is the Annual Gowanus Artists Studio Tour (AGAST), of which I am a devoted fan. The tour is actually a really cool opportunity not just to see lots of inspired and interesting art — everything from conceptual installations to marble sculpture to a stained-glass studio — but to get inside those weird, funky, fascinating old industrial buildings that dot the landscape. Plus, you will surely consume your fill of Goldfish, mini-KitKats and cheap

The tour will be taking place from 1 to 6 on Saturday and Sunday, October 20 and 21. As usual, I’m going to try and visit as many of the galleries as I can. Hope to see you there!

[not a republic?]

The 423 Smith blog has an exciting post about the Notary District, as it has dubbed the “no man’s land between Park Slope, Red Hook, and Carroll Gardens.” Of course, the Russo Realty signs are a landmark for those of us who regularly use the Smith & 9th St. subway station.

Of course, the times they are a-changin’. Sometime last year, DKNY attempted to get a hold of the fabled Russo for some notarizing action, but there was no response. More ominously, the Dock War boat has been removed, and there are signs of impending construction. For how much longer will Brooklynites delight in the glorious profusion of ineffective marketing that is Russo Realty? (Via Curbed.)

In other neighborhood news, Curbed notes the construction of new housing down where Court St. runs into the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. Some of the apartments appear to be practically on the expressway, which would not make for a happy lifestyle. Sometimes you just have to wonder what the developers are smoking.

[smith street food news]

Frank Bruni of the New York Times today reviews Porchetta, the new Smith Street eatery that replaced Banania, and gives it one star, along with a mix of praise and complaint. We haven’t tried it out yet, but I have to say that the decor goes past the funky to the spazzy, which hasn’t lured us in. Considering today’s review, I feel like I should try it, but also that I should be ready for disappointment. (You can peruse the menu here.)

In other neighborhood food news, Smith & Vine, the excellent boutique wine shop with the unbeatable $10-and-under table, is moving to bigger digs nearby:

As of the first week of February 2007 (the year of the pig!!), Smith & Vine will be relocating to our new home at 268 Smith Street, directly across the street from Chestnut Restaurant between Degraw and Sackett.

Now we know this sounds crazy, but in the end, it’s gonna rock! We will have a private tasting room and much more space for you to browse and take your time while you shop.

If we don’t see you before, then stop by and check out our new digs.

Also be sure to check out their sister store, Stinky Brooklyn, where they can recommend just the cheese to go with your newly purchased wine.

[agast again]

It’s comin’ round again: the Annual Gowanus Artists Studio Tour, aka AGAST, which I documented in detail last year (1, 2). I don’t know whether I’ll work so hard again this year, but I do intend to make the rounds. As always, I highly recommend this opportunity to see a lot of very good art and explore some of the homes and warehouse spaces scattered around the Gowanus Canal area. (Via 423 Smith.)

[forza italia, carroll gardens style]

The Carroll Gardens section of Brooklyn, where I live, is one of Brooklyn’s old Italian neighborhoods. Al Capone was married at the church up the street, and there’s a social club just a couple blocks from my building where old men still hang around and argue in Italian.

So you can imagine that yesterday was a big day for the locals. Occasional correspondent Robert Ooghe came through with the pics.