Category Archives: Arts & Culture

Arts & cultural activities and events in Bricklyn

Unique Space Flight Park Opens Downtown

Feb. 18, 2023

by Samantha B. Fortune, Bricklyn Eagle Health & Science Reporter & David Plater Blue, Metro Desk Reporter

Showcasing an imposing BASA BrickR-4 rocket,📍 Bricklyn’s new Space Flight Park has opened to the delight of many Bricklynites.

📍 BASA is the Bricklyn Aeronautics & Space Administration, comparable to America’s NASA.

Bricklyn’s new Space Flight Park, located in the center of downtown, and surrounded by the buildings of Upper North, West, East, and South Streets.

The BASA BrickR-4 rocket, used in several 1990-era launches,📍 will serve a new mission: as the central attraction in the newly dedicated “Space Flight Park.”

📍Unknown to most, Bricklyn’s BASA BrickR-4 rocket’s design has — with adjustments for scale — been used as the model for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket being used for the Artemis space missions. Unfortunately, NASA has not publicly credited BASA for its’ pioneering 1992 rocket design!

The BrickR-4 rocket displayed in Space Flight Park is no longer functional, and has been emptied of fuel and other equipment. But it still evokes memories of the salad days of Bricklyn’s space flight program, a program that, with the cooperation of the League of Inland Cities, also involved astronauts from three other Inland communities.

Space Flight Park: How the Pieces Came Together

Legotary President and High School History teacher Jerry Plater-Zybrick next to the BrickR-4 rocket at Space Flight Park.

Jerry Plater-Zybrick, head of the Legotary told the enthusiastic opening-day crowd that “Space Flight Park offers a dramatic, unique experience,” adding that “the Legotary is proud to have supported its assembly.”

The idea of restoring one of Bricklyn’s old rockets, and in the process creating a downtown park honoring Bricklyn’s space flight program, came from members of the Bricklyn Legotary.

Many in the community responded, helping the Legotary raise the funds needed to transport the giant rocket to its new home. Volunteers, including half a dozen members of the Bricklyn Laborers’ International Union, helped build a new gantry tower. The tower was closely modeled after the original gantry, unfortunately disassembled and discarded twenty years ago.

View of the newly assembled gantry tower. Volunteer construction workers donned space suits while working on the tower.

Winifred Tiler Jackson, Chief Historian of the Realm, noted that “it’s incredibly important that we preserve and celebrate key parts of Bricklyn’s history, and here we have one of the actual rockets used to send Bricklynites into space.”

As Tiler Jackson added, “the project is more than just a preservation project, it’s also a project that has built pride among Bricklynites in what our small Realm can accomplish when we pull together.”

Chamber of Commerce head Tom Brickorti stressed that the park would rapidly become a major attraction not just for Bricklynites, but for visitors, and noted that “the funds being put into developing the Park will be more than repaid by money spent in Bricklyn by new visitors who want to see our magnificent Space Flight Park.”

Planning Director Tim Brickedy.

City Planning Director Tim Brickedy and members of the Planning Commission were among the first to envision this novel park, recognizing it as a great fit for this long underutilized space in the heart of downtown.

Brickedy chuckled in recounting that, “some nearby residents and office workers thought we would be launching rockets from the middle of downtown, but we reassured everyone that the rocket on display would be fully decommissioned, and empty of fuel or any other equipment. It’s not going to be blasting off!”

To help implement the project, the Planning Commission last year recommended, and the Federal Council adopted, a zoning change that increased the maximum height of structures in the downtown district from 15 to 20 inches. This allowed for Space Flight Park to display a BrickR4 rocket which, along with its platform, comes to 19.5 inches in height.

Looking Back, But With Hope for the Future

Astronaut Sue Tiler Torres in her space suit, accompanied by her daughter Alicia on a rooftop overlooking the new Space Flight Park.

Posing beside one of the new signs for Space Flight Park we found Bricklyn Astronaut Sue Tiler Torres, with Alicia, her seven-year old daughter.📍

📍Sue Tiler Torres was one of the last group of three astronauts certified for flight in 2012. But none have yet been in space, as funding for the space program was slashed the following year. Only several unmanned flights took place between 2013 and 2018. Since then the Bricklyn space program has been on hold.

For Tiler Torres, the new Space Flight Park is “a hopeful step towards reviving the moribund Bricklyn space flight program.” As she adds: “When citizens of the Realm of Bricklyn, are so beautifully reminded of the wonders of space flight, and how much we accomplished just three decades ago, I hope they will support efforts to better fund our space flight program now.”

Alicia also had a few words to share with us: “The new park is so very cool. I love it! I’m going to be an astronaut like my Mom one day, and I’m going to go to the Moon!”

Rocket Moving Day Photos

Finally, credit is due to the Bricklyn Department of Public Works, and workers at the railyard, for helping in the complex, multi-stage move of the rocket and its boosters from the railyard to downtown.

Booster rocket leaves railyard en-route to its new home downtown.

Booster arrives downtown along West Street.
Crew off-loads the booster rocket near the entrance to Space Flight Park.

Reader Responses to this Story:

To the Editor: “I live in the third floor apartment on Upper North Street that is right next to the so-called Space Flight Park. This park will soon be a noisy hang-out for young people with nothing better to do day and night. Or even worse, it’ll be filled with that doomsday Preacher Johnny Kahn and his gang.

Will the police keep an eye on goings on in the park? Or will they just hang out at the police station eating donuts all day like my good-for-nothing son Homer? I bet we all know the answer to that question!” — Abraham Jebediah “Abe” Simpson II (Grampa Simpson)

To the Editor: “I take this occasion to congratulate the people of Bricklyn on their achievement in opening Space Flight Park. Folks, the story of Bricklyn is a story of progress and resilience. Of always moving forward. Of never, ever giving up. It’s a story unique among all LEGO nations. You are writing the next chapter in the great Bricklyn story.

When world leaders ask me to define Bricklyn, and they do, believe it or not, I say I can define it in one word, and I mean this: possibilities. Bricklynites, you don’t think anything is beyond your capacity. Everything is a possibility. You’ve proved it again today.” — U.S. President Joe Biden

To the Editor: “Very interesting that letter from U.S. President Joe Biden you received. Sounded a bit familiar to those of us who sat in The Exchange building connected to the Outland Internet watching him give his “State of the Union” address. Say it ain’t so, Joe!” — John Tiler Quincy, South Bricklyn, VT

Please email the Editor your comments or questions.

Victor Borge Retrospective at the Palace

  • by Gloria Vanderbrick, Bricklyn Eagle Arts & Entertainment correspondent
  • July 25, 2021

Summary of Article ➤ Bricklyn’s Palace Theatre offers a retrospective of some of the most memorable performances of Danish-American pianist and humorist Victor Borge.

Bricklyn’s Palace Theatre, venue for the Victor Borge retrospective.

There’s a definite air of excitement in Bricklyn — especially among the senior crowd — over the upcoming Victor Borge retrospective at the Palace Theatre, co-sponsored by the Danish Heritage Society & Bricklyn City Arts.

Some Bricklynites recall with pleasure when, as youngsters back in the 1950s and ’60s, they first had the chance to see Danish-American star Victor Borge on television. Many more recall hearing their parents tell of this legendary musician, humorist, and all-around talent.

The ability to connect the Bricklyn Palace Theatre to YouTube so that Bricklynites of all ages can enjoy some of Borge’s most memorable performances is thanks to the cooperation of the Bricklyn and Burlington consular offices. As readers know, network connections between Bricklyn and Outland services (such as YouTube) are normally restricted to Kyndige. An exception was made for screening the Borge performances.

About Victor Borge

Victor Borge in concert, August 25, 1957. Photo by Joe Clark, Detroit. Wikimedia Commons.

Just a bit of background about Borge before viewing one of the archival broadcasts. Born Børge Rosenbaum in 1909 to parents who were both talented musicians, Victor was similarly endowed. He gave his first piano recital at the age of just eight.

As Borge got older, a good-natured sense of humor became an integral part of his performances. As writer Norman Berdichevsky observes, “Victor Borge launched a career that stemmed from his irrepressible humor.”📍

📍From Norman Berdichevsky, An Introduction to Danish Culture (2011). Berdichevsky, who now teaches Hebrew at the University of Central Florida, spent seven years in Denmark teaching geography in Aarhus.

Borge was proud of his family’s background as Danish Jews. With the beginning of the Nazi onslaught, Jews in Denmark — as in all of Europe — were at extreme peril. Yet, as Berdichevsky recounts: “One of [Borge’s] pre-War comedy routines … lampooned the Nazis by asking what the difference is between a dog and a Nazi. ‘A Nazi lifts its arm.’ Not surprisingly, Borge’s name was among those who were to be immediately arrested following the German army’s invasion of Denmark … “

Fortunately, Borge — who was in Sweden giving a concert as the Nazis were invading Denmark — quickly made his way to Finland where he secured passage on the last neutral ship leaving Northern Europe for America as the Nazi occupation of Denmark began.

Once in America, Borge quickly showed his talent, becoming a part of Bing Crosby’s Kraft Music Hall radio show, and then appearing in films, on stage, and on television. While Borge became an American citizen in 1948, he continued to be called “The Clown Prince of Denmark” and “The Unmelancholy Dane.”

Borge, who died in 2000, remained proud of his Danish roots throughout his life. This is part of his continuing appeal to Bricklynites, most of whom share the family story of being Danish immigrants to America. He also remains an honored figure in his native Denmark. ✥

But now, let’s take a few minutes to watch some vintage Victor Borge:

Coming next at the Palace, watch Victor Borge do his highly entertaining “Phonetic Punctuation” on the Ed Sullivan Show.

Rooftops Feature Weathervane Animals!

  • by Amanda B. Starr, The Bricklyn Eagle’s Metro correspondent & Melody B. Olsen, High School student intern at The Eagle
  • July 8, 2021

Summary of Article ➤ Bricklyn City Arts presents a dramatic exhibition of weathervane animals on downtown rooftops.

Rooftop weathervanes co-sponsored by the Bricklyn Legotary

Bring your kids & family to downtown Bricklyn! On display on rooftops are a dozen weathervane animals — some fearsome, some friendly.

Bricklyn City Arts, with the support of the Bricklyn Legotary, is bringing drama to downtown right in the middle of Summer. Join our downtown weathervane festival!

Some background on the debut of this exciting downtown arts festival from our new student intern at the Bricklyn Eagle, Melody B. Olsen, a rising Junior at Bricklyn Regional High School:

What an Incredibly Awesome Idea!

Hi, it’s Melody B. Olsen, reporting here for the Eagle:

Jerry still wearing his Giraffe outfit from the Carnival — how cute! But watch out for Jaws, Jerry!

Wow. My first time writing for this truly highly esteemed paper! Here goes!

The incredibly awesome idea for these rooftop weathervane sculptures you’ll see flourishing downtown came from Jerry Plater-Zybrick, an English teacher at Bricklyn Regional High School (for full disclosure, which I guess I have to do, I had Jerry as my teacher last year).

Jerry’s got kind of goofy looks, but he’s awesome, and an easy grader to boot! Some of you may also know him from his honchoing (that a word?) the Bricklyn Legotary. But I’d bet more of you know his incredibly awesome wife, Hilma, the stellar President of the Federal Council. Well obvi, they’re the real power couple of the Realm!

Up on the roof of the old North Street building eyeing a polar bear weathervane sculpture.

Anyways, Jerry (and I’ll just keep using his first name as indeed everyone calls him Jerry, not “Mr. Plater-Zybrick” which is so 20th century) came up with the truly awesome idea of putting those animal sculptures — the ones that you know have been sitting in the High School storage shed for maybe forever — on downtown rooftops. Way to go, Jerry!

Bricklyn City Arts, that dope group that cares about arts and stuff got on board. They got talking with the business folks downtown, and everyone agreed it would be simply incredible to have those animals looking out from the rooftops!

Photo of several of the animal weathervanes along South Street from the News 3 helicopter.

The Awesome History of Weathervanes!

I also learned in probing around for this article (and, OMG, yes there’s work to being a student intern here at the Eagle! — and I really don’t mind!) that weathervanes, including vanes with animals and whales and such, have a long history, even back to cock vanes on top of churches in those Middle Ages (you know what I mean! don’t make me blush!) Even forever ago in BC times there were weathervanes in ancient China and Greece. What’s more, our ancestors in Denmark loved weathervanes! Yes, they’re incredibly awesome!

Rooster weathervane in exhibition at the American Folk Art Museum

Thanks to Duane Sandville for sharing this awesome photo of a weathervane he took at the American Folk Art Museum! I also went to my “go to” source in school: Wikipedia. Here’s what Wikipedia says about cock weathervanes:

“Pope Gregory I said that the cock (rooster) “was the most suitable emblem of Christianity”, being “the emblem of St Peter”, a reference to Luke 22:34 in which Jesus predicts that Peter will deny him three times before the rooster crows. As a result of this, the cock gradually began to be used as a weather vane on church steeples, and in the 9th century Pope Nicholas I ordered the figure to be placed on every church steeple.”

I learned that weathervanes don’t have to be of animals. Here’s one Duane sent me that he saw in the American Folk Art Museum of a horse drawn hook & ladder. It was made for the City of Barre, Vermont’s new firehouse in 1904. Pretty awesome!

So, head on downtown, and get yourself up on one of the rooftops! What a boss view you’ll get! TBH, the weathervanes were 100x more incredible than I expected! Truly awesome! (jeez and sorry, Editor Walt told me not to repeat words, but the weathervane animals really are TRULY AWESOME!). Gotta go. ✥

➤ Note from Editor Walt Brickman: Hope you don’t mind the youthful enthusiasm of our new student intern! I’ve inserted links to that stellar resource, the Urban Dictionary, for a few words or phrases Ms. Olsen uses you might not be familiar with. There were some I’d never heard of, though I don’t have a teen or pre-teen in the house!

I also wanted you to read Ms. Olsen story unfiltered by a staid Editor like me — though to tell the truth, I’d say I’m incredibly awesome too! Of course, we can all lay blame for the flagrant use of the word “awesome” on the Lego Movie! Don’t believe me? Watch the clip below that’s had well over nine million views.