08/26/16 11:02am
Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan (James Veall)

Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan Photo: James Veall

“If we don’t get married, engaged or even nail down a boyfriend soon—my god, we might as well as go ahead and book a room at Singapore Casket because our lives would already be over,” says Jazzy, the main character and narrator in Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan‘s debut novel Sarong Party Girls.

Jazzy is a twenty-something Singaporean on an urgent mission: to find a rich, white, ex-pat boyfriend (an ang moh) to marry and have a Chanel baby (half white/half Singaporean) with. As part of the hunt, she and her sarong party girlfriends frequently go to clubs where they are treated like VIPs, down drinks with abandon, and hook up with guys who may have potential. To the casual observer, Jazzy might appear to be a gold digger whose main concern in life is avoiding the fate of her former friend, Sher, a sarong party girl who eventually married an ah beng (a Singaporean man) and settled down. Through her adventures and mishaps with men both white and Singaporean, Jazzy explores the often uncomfortable mix of romance, status, and money in her world.

While Sarong Party Girls (published by HarperCollins) is often hilarious, it’s also a sobering read as it raises questions about misogyny, gender politics at work,  class differences, and materialism. In addition, the book also gives the reader a sense of modern Singapore in showcasing the clash between old traditions such as the bustling wet market, where old-timers go buy fresh produce and seafood in outdoor stalls; and new ones, such as the hipster nightclubs that young people frequent. An essential ingredient to the authenticity of the book is Tan’s use of Singlish–a patois spoken by most Singaporeans that’s a mixture of English, Mandarin, Malay and other languages—which Singapore’s government is trying to discourage through its “Speak Good English“campaign. For Jazzy and her friends Singlish is the lingua franca of all informal spaces. It comes in the form of shared wisdom: “This matter of getting an ang moh husband–if we are smart–it’s best to try and fasterly settle.” And is also the language of their own thoughts:  “But then I thought about how chio I looked tonight. In my Seven jeans, my backside was super power!”

The vivid details as well as the language can be traced to Tan’s background as journalist and a native Singaporean. She arrived in America at age 18 to study at Northwestern University and later worked as a staff writer for The Wall Street Journal and The Baltimore Sun. Prior to Sarong Party Girls, Tan wrote the memoir A Tiger in the Kitchen and edited the fiction anthology Singapore Noir. The former Brooklyn Heights resident spoke to Brooklyn Based about the story behind her first novel.

What inspired you to write the book? (more…)

08/25/16 10:30am

Whether you’re headed out of town for Labor Day, already planning ahead for a fall road trip, or just need something new to listen to while you clean your apartment or commute, here are the six podcasts we’ve been buzzing about here at Brooklyn Based. Since so many podcasts figure out what they are as they go along, they often change significantly, over time, so starting out at the beginning can be disappointing or misleading. With that in mind, we’ve provided suggestions for a couple of particularly good episodes to get you started on each show. Happy listening!


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Another Round, Buzzfeed: When Hillary Clinton wanted to appear on a podcast, she (or more likely, her savvy PR staff) did not call Terry Gross or Ira Glass. She didn’t follow President Obama’s lead and appear on Marc Maron’s podcast, WTF. Instead, she asked Heben Nigatu and Tracy Clayton of Another Round for the interview, and America is more enlightened for it. Nigatu, a writer for Late Night with Stephen Colbert, and Clayton, a Buzzfeed writer, capture the way your smartest, funniest best friends talk when no one else is listening. With bourbon.

They’ve talked with Lin Manuel Miranda, Melissa Harris Perry (from whom they got the real scoop on why her show ended), and Valerie Jarrett, among many others, about pop culture, racism, sexism, the insidious effects of white privilege, politics, and occasionally, whether or not squirrels have the right to exist. Simultaneously funny and illuminating, these discussions will have you nodding your head in agreement so hard you hurt your neck and laughing to yourself on the train like a crazy person. They may even force a tough but important self-examination of your own privilege and how it comes at the expense of others. (more…)

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08/24/16 3:02pm
Hasbrouck House, a two-hour drive from NYC, is a historic property that's been updated with luxe amentities, spectacular grounds and a brand-new restaurant and bar. Photo: Emma Tuccillo

Hasbrouck House, a two-hour drive from NYC, is a historic property that’s been updated with luxe amenities, newly forged trails and a brand-new restaurant and bar. Photo: Emma Tuccillo

A lake, a 55-foot pool, access to a 100-acre neighboring orchard, and miles of newly forged trails that you can explore by foot or a bicycle at the ready. Also: nightly bonfires. These are some of the things that you can enjoy at the new Hasbrouck House, a meticulously renovated historic hotel and restaurant two hours north of New York, opening September 2.

Spread over 55 acres in the Hudson Valley, the boutique hotel features 20 unique rooms and suites, centered around a 1757-built Dutch Colonial stone mansion and nearby carriage and stable houses. Each room offers a mix of vintage and modern touches, from the beautiful hardwood floors to the vintage rugs to the custom mattresses with luxe Frette Linens and marble showers filled with Kiehl’s bath products. (Some even offer fireplaces and soaking tubs.)

Its central location means you’re a short drive from hiking in the Catskills, climbing in the Gunks, or exploring Woodstock or Kingston.

You should save at least one night for the hotel’s new restaurant and bar, Butterfield at Hasbrouck House, a joint collaboration with the team behind New York City’s Comodo and Colonia Verde restaurants. Executive chef Shawn Burnette, formerly of the Breslin in Manhattan and Husk in Charleston, has revitalized the property’s original, centuries-old smokehouse and utilizes neighboring farms and orchards for his housemade lamb sausage, crispy local vegetables, and fried chicken for two, among other delicious offerings from his original, Hudson Valley-inspired menu.

The property has Brooklyn roots too—it’s owned by Gowanus Hospitality Group, whose venues, The Green Building and 501 Union, host our annual wedding fair each year. We’ll be debuting a Hudson Valley Wedding Crashers Nov. 5 at Hasbrouck House.

They’ll be hosting lots more events, like the Phoenicia Flea Sept. 3 and 4. Head up to check it out, or stay awhile and book one of their stunning rooms now.

Before dinner, order a Hudson Valley Mule made with White Pike Whiskey at the bar. All of its light fixtures and lamps (along with those in the other common spaces) were made by Materia Designs down the street from Hasbrouck House. The wallpaper was designed by Fornasetti, produced by Cole & Son in England. Photo: Emma Tuccillo

Before dinner, order a Hudson Valley Mule made with White Pike Whiskey at the bar. Once you’re in the main dining room, you’ll be in the original house built by the Hasbrouck family in 1757, older than the United States. Photo: Emma Tuccillo

 

In the Cub room, warm up by the wood-burning fireplace (or book one of the rooms with a gas fireplace). All of the light fixtures and lamps in the common spaces were made by Materia Designs down the street from Hasbrouck House. The wallpaper was designed by Fornasetti, produced by Cole & Son. Photo: Emma Tuccillo

In the Cub room, warm up by the wood-burning fireplace (or book one of the rooms with a gas fireplace). All of the light fixtures and lamps in the common spaces were made by Materia Designs down the street from Hasbrouck House. The wallpaper was designed by Fornasetti, produced by Cole & Son. Photo: Emma Tuccillo

 

Two of the suites have soaking tubs. Photo: Emma Tuccillo

Two of the suites have soaking tubs. Photo: Emma Tuccillo

 

Each room features artwork by local artists, including fine art photographer and owner of Barloga Studios, Roy Barloga, whose photographic studies are individually printed on handmade Fair Trade Nepalese paper. Photo: Emma Tuccillo

Each room features artwork by local artists, including fine art photographer and owner of Barloga Studios, Roy Barloga, whose photographic studies are individually printed on handmade Fair Trade Nepalese paper. Photo: Emma Tuccillo

08/24/16 2:17pm
Afropunk is this weekend. Photo: Afropunk

Afropunk is this weekend and promises to be nothing short of amazing. Photo: Afropunk

It kind of feels like we are the only ones in Brooklyn at the moment, I Am Legend-style, so if you are reading this, rest assured that you aren’t alone and there is plenty of stuff going on around here for the next seven days to round out your Ideal Week. (Also, no actual vampiric-zombie beasts. That we have first-hand knowledge of.) Who needs the Hamptons or Maine or Cape Cod?  In case you haven’t noticed the weather right here is downright amazing, and we’ve got perfect conditions for all sorts of outdoor activities, including the annual Afropunk Festival at Commodore Barry Park. The multicultural live music showcase returns for both days this weekend, and the incredible lineup includes acts like Ice Cube, TV on the Radio, Fishbone, Janelle Monae, Tyler the Creator, George Clinton, Living Color, Ceelo Green, and Shabazz Palaces. There are still some tickets left, so snap ‘em up while you still can.

If you’re more of a comedy aficionado than a music junkie, the Brooklyn Comedy Festival is also in town this week, bringing all kinds of talent to venues scattered throughout the borough. Check out the schedule here and pencil in a show or two to ensure you pack a good dose of laughter into your plans.

Swale actually does open this weekend (we jumped the gun last week). Photo: Regina Mogilevskaya

Swale actually does open on Governors Island this weekend (we jumped the gun last week). Photo: Regina Mogilevskaya

It appears that we jumped the gun last week on the opening of Swale’s floating food forest, but it is open to the public at Governors Island as of this Friday, so that’s another option for your weekend adventures. We’ve got a lot more on our hit-list too, so please read on and have a fabulous Ideal Week! We’re taking next week off to squeeze the last drops of fun and relaxation out of summer, though we’ll be keeping our Facebook and Twitter updated with options. We’ll be back in full force after Labor Day, rustling up the best tips for how to spend your free time in Brooklyn, now and forever. (more…)

08/23/16 11:07am

Photo: Al Rodriguez Photography

Even your wildest adventures in New York City apartment hunting won’t prepare you for the tour of House 17 in Nolan Park on Governors Island that is The Enchanted Realm of René Magritte. Conceived, produced, and directed by Exquisite Corpse Company, this site-specific play is a skillfully envisioned interactive piece of theatre that invites you into the life, the loves, the art and the home of the iconic surrealist painter.

We meet René (and his bowler hat) just a few minutes in, as he explains that he’s trying sell his childhood home following the death of his father. René (played delightfully by Max Henry Schloner, who manages to combine near-perfect strokes of charm and neurosis) doesn’t just want to leave his home; he wants to tear himself away from the ghastly clutches of his memories, which include hallucinations of his suicidal mother (Blair O’Leary, wet-haired and wild-eyed, terrifying and wonderfully effective), and a mysterious gentleman named Mr. Fish (superbly comedic Lee Collins), who may or may not be a fragment of René’s consciousness. (more…)

08/22/16 2:32pm
We'll take a triple. Photo: Spencer Starnes

We’ll take a triple. Photo: Spencer Starnes

Ice cream for lunch. That’s the late summer mantra that has gotten us through these last few, painfully muggy weeks. Brooklyn is awash in ice cream, whether you’re talking a straightforward strawberry cone from the Uncle Louie G.’s on your corner, or the flavor explosion that is the salted crack caramel ice cream at Ample Hills. Dairy sensitivities aside (in which case, head to Van Leeuwen for a vegan scoop instead), you’d be a fool not to dive in and sample a few while the weather is still warm.

In celebration of frozen confections we talked the nice folks at OddFellows Ice Cream on Kent Avenue in Williamsburg to let photographer Spencer Starnes hang around for a few hours while they made a few batches of ice cream, and some boozy popsicles to boot. OddFellows pasteurizes all their dairy in-house for an exceptionally creamy and delicious base. From there, the flavor combinations really know no bounds, and the shop has served more than 200 different scoops since they opened in 2013. We dare you not to run out and get a cone after taking a peek at these pictures.  (more…)

08/19/16 8:32am

SPLD_CLIPPERGIVEAWAY_BROOKLYNBASED_600x400 (1)

The lead-up to Labor Day always makes us feel as though we need to do every last, fun thing before September. But it’s not as if this supremely pleasant weather is going away. We have another full season of beautiful weekends ahead, one of which could be spent cruising the New York harbor in a tall ship, with a Bronx Brewery beer in hand.

Enter now for a chance to win a sweet afternoon aboard the Clipper City with 3 of your friends during one of their craft beer cruises Sunday, Sept. 11. You’ll get cheese, charcuterie and tastings of 5 different Bronx Brewery ales and lagers as you sail around lower Manhattan in a 158-foot-long sailboat, the largest of its kind in New York. You can even help the crew raise the sails!

08/18/16 11:00am
Trish Nelson is BanterGirl. Photo: Trish Nelson

Trish Nelson is BanterGirl. Photo: Mindy Tucker

For Trish Nelson, stand-up comedian, actor, and producer, a serious career epiphany came covered in mashed potatoes.

She had been ensconced in the New York comedy scene for five years, doing stand-up, producing live shows at Joe’s Pub (including Women of Letters), 2A, and the Ace Hotel, and working in the restaurant industry to pay the bills. One sweltering summer night three years ago, the restaurant she managed was selling food at an event on the Williamsburg waterfront and Nelson found herself, she says, “serving chicken in waffle cones, covered in mashed potatoes and truth be told not pleased, looking at my life thinking, Is this it? Is this the choice that I’ve made?”

One of her customers however, turned out to be an AEG Live executive, and the chance meeting transformed a moment of despair into an opportunity, leading Nelson to an internship, a new position, a crash course in producing live events (including Amy Schumer’s and the Broad City’s national tours), and eventually, to BanterGirl. (more…)

08/17/16 12:17pm
See the Rooftop Films screening of "Author: The JT LeRoy Story" in the courtyard of Industry City Thursday night. Photo: Regina Mogilevskaya

See the Rooftop Films screening of Author: The JT LeRoy Story in the courtyard of Industry City Thursday night. Photo: Regina Mogilevskaya

It feels different today, right? In the early morning hours, we’re talking before 7am, there was even a hint of fall in the air for a few moments. It might be a good day to live dangerously and eat your lunch in the park or even take a stroll, for fun, come afternoon.

Speaking of which, is anyone else’s local park looking a little rough around the edges these days? On my way to work yesterday I noticed at least four absolutely overflowing trash cans around McCarren Park. Impressively, park goers were trying to keep it in check and had semi-neatly piled excess trash next to the barrels, but it was pretty clear that no one had emptied them in some time. Then this morning when I took my son to Cooper Park it seemed like the grass hadn’t been cut in weeks and the number of cigarette butts, plastic bottles and assorted trash littered all over the place had really reached peak grossness. I know that summer must be a very busy season for the Parks Department, but we’re not talking about a big storm that brought down a ton of branches and debris. We’re talking regular maintenance. How about some teen summer gardening and landscaping jobs that also involve trash pick-up? And that concludes my New York City rant for the day.

In more adorable news, today through Aug. 21 you can adopt a black cat for free (or a black kitten for $50, usually $125) at the ASPCA’s Adoption Center on East 92nd Street. You’ll even get a free cat carrier in the deal. For those of you plan-aheaders out there, check out this adults-only camp-out at the Bronx Zoo coming up in on Oct. 14-15. Tickets are pretty steep at $350, but they include unlimited beer and wine, plus dinner, s’mores, breakfast, a tent rental and a souvenir mug. I suspect this is a childhood fantasy come true for at least a few of you. Tickets are also on sale for the Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival, which is coming up sooner than you think on Sept. 15-17. These shows always sell out so get your tickets now (and a few extra for your flakier friends), and then feel that smug sense of the well prepared come September. As for this week, whether you want your comedy right now, have always dreamed of entering a kimchi eating contest or just want to listen to smart people have an interesting, civil conversation, we have a whole week of fun planned out for you. Read on, friends.  (more…)

08/17/16 9:00am
Photo by Sunny Jhooty Photography via Brooklyn Greenway Initiative

Photo by Sunny Jhooty Photography via Brooklyn Greenway Initiative

Sponsored By Brooklyn Greenway Initiative.

Brooklyn Greenway Initiative is the 501c3 non-profit committed to the development, establishment and long-term stewardship of the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway.

Created By BlankSlate

On Saturday, August 27, hundreds of cyclists will ride en masse along 7.5 miles of the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway at the inaugural Brooklyn Bike Rave, a glowtastic night ride with lights and music.

Brooklyn Bike Rave, hosted by Brooklyn Greenway Initiative, is New York’s first event of its kind and allows the participant to become an integrated part of the experience by bringing their own creativity and lighting up their bikes, dressing up and playing music from a synchronized playlist, while experiencing the energy of nocturnal Brooklyn at its best. (more…)