02/23/17 9:14am

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The Lobster Shift is a monthly column by Kenneth R. Rosen that explores the city and its inhabitants in the hours between dusk and dawn.

Nothing had yet caught fire. After my late shift, I fell fast asleep.

I’d spent the night wandering in a haze, a low mist applied across the city invariably and without discretion. I stepped around patches and had nowhere to go but home, wondering whether there was somewhere for me to be and all I’d forgotten it. A strange tickle lapped at my neck and I felt like someone was behind me. I turned fast. No one was there, but every few steps along Queens Boulevard I took to turning back. Checking just in case.

Eventually I found my way home, careful as I crossed the streets, dodging headlights sponged in mist. I could see a police cruiser down the block, and counseled myself, No way, it’s not for you.

This state of paranoia never settles, and is often encouraged by the anonymity of nighttime. In my bones I feel an unshakable guilt, a teasing disruption in my liver and heart, a menace trapped inside my own menace. Sometimes I misplace it, seeing a police officer to set it upon or bestowing it on an unsuspecting girlfriend or another confidante. The paranoia stays and becomes second-nature. It is necessary to survival. I have lived with it always.

Someone once told me that if I were to look skyward more often, into the haze above Manhattan, I would come to see more, feel more grounded, become better situated and aware of these feelings inside this unnatural spree of concrete and metal. Hear something enough and it becomes your own philosophy. I heard those words—look up, dammit, look up!—and learned that my compass relied on the two towers that could be seen from almost anywhere–The Empire State and One World Trade. There are the pencil skyscrapers, light dribbling out the windows, but nothing like these. That’s where the collective hopeful ambitions come from. Excelsior!

My childhood in the city was spent looking down, navigating cracks in the sidewalks, bursting through crowds gathered at crosswalks. I had a fast pace, strode like I belonged, moved with a purpose and, for that reason, never gleaned much of the city. So I’m starting to look up these nights, pacing around on the streets, mindless and enthralled just the same. It’s when I am in this trance that I can peer up at these buildings and see inside them vignettes of lives I will never lead. (more…)

02/22/17 2:58pm

It’s Wednesday again, which means it’s time for a new installment of Your Ideal Week, which now and for the foreseeable future will necessarily involve a smattering of #resist and #persist activities.

Speaking of which, I owe a debt of gratitude to whoever put the “refugees welcome” sign on the Statue of Liberty yesterday–that small, peaceful yet powerful act injected some hope into my day and that’s something to give thanks for. The fight for inclusion, diversity, and basic fairness marches on, but the news this week is that we are heading towards 70 degrees for the next several days…in February! Sure, it’s another sign that we are deep in the throes of a self-inflicted climate crisis that will only be hastened along by the cabal of short-sighted, incompetent goons who hold our fate in their hands, but it doesn’t mean you can’t take the opportunity to get outside and feel the warm sun on your face. Maybe it’s time to treat your vile winter hooves to a pedicure (or the revolting/fascinating experiment that is Baby Foot), or take the bike in for a tune-up, or head upstate for a hike.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with staying in either–there are still probably a few movies you need to cram in before the Oscars on Sunday, and tomorrow is National Chili Day so it’s great time to cook up a pot of warm, stick-to-your-ribs goodness (or pick some up at The Brooklyn Star or whatever joint you prefer in your nabe). If you’re looking for something out of the ordinary to do tonight, the Greenpoint YMCA is hosting rope jumping phenom and double-world-record-holder Adrienn Banhegyi, who has performed with Cirque du Soleil and at the Rio Olympics, tonight at 7:30pm. And planning ahead for Ideal Weeks in the near future, you can count down to March Madness in person when the ACC Tournament hits the Barclays Center from March 7-11, or score a ticket to LoftOpera’s upcoming performance of Rossini’s Otello at LightSpace Studios in Bushwick on March 16, 18, 20, 23, 25, and 27. 

But until then, take a peek at our list of happenings in and around town between now and next Wednesday, and have yourself an Ideal Week, friends!

(more…)

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02/21/17 10:33am
Photo: Brooklyn Scouts

Photo: Brooklyn Scouts

Let me introduce you to the 5th Brooklyn Scouts, where their motto is “traditional scouting for everyone.”

Don’t be fooled by the word “traditional.” Part of the Baden-Powell Service Association (BPSA), an all-inclusive scouting organization that has been in existence worldwide since 1907, the 5th Brooklyn Scouts is not the gender-segregated experience that you remember from being a Cub Scout or a Brownie, and does not have the same history of discrimination against gay and transgender children and leaders. (Last month, The Boy Scouts of America finally announced that they would allow transgender boys to join.)

Just as importantly, Brooklyn Scouts seamlessly blends the joys of forest school, the community service of a social justice club, and outdoors-focused field trips, all for $180 for the entire year. Children spend a lot of time outside, and learn real skills.

The Brooklyn chapter speaks openly about their challenge to diversify in their Park Slope enclave, which is a focus for their organization this year, as well as a historical value of the organization. “Scouting has even transcended and risen above racial divisions and prejudices in the movement’s past,” says scoutmaster Jillian Tate. “Our founder, Lord Robert Baden Powell, refused to allow racial segregation in scouting until his death in 1941–even in countries like South Africa and India where the ruling colonists attempted to create all-white organizations.” (more…)

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02/20/17 2:59pm

immigrantTeeshirtfront

In thinking about Action Trumps Hate for this week I bookmarked dozens of stories on my phone and laptop, because there is such a blinding whirlwind of bad ideas being put into action every single day. Just now, while writing that sentence I remembered all over again that Scott Pruitt is heading up the EPA now. Say goodbye to breathing “air” and drinking “water,” folks.

The theme that emerged from the chaos of stories about non-existent terror attacks in Sweden, whatever that press conference was supposed to be and all things Kellyanne Conway was immigration.

A clear picture is beginning to emerge. The Trump administration is actively working to reduce the number of immigrants and refugees in the country through a two-pronged approach. One, by limiting the number of new immigrants coming in to the country by reducing the number of refugees we accept and attempting to enforce a travel ban on citizens from seven Muslim-majority nations, leveraging Islamophobia to do so. Two, by detaining and deporting immigrants who are in the country illegally, whether or not they have committed a crime, leveraging the deep socioeconomic divide in the country and working class despair to do so. (more…)

02/20/17 9:02am
Come by for a game of shuffleboard. Photo: Georgia Kral

Come by for a game of shuffleboard. Photo: Georgia Kral

Chef Dale Talde and the Three Kings Restaurant Group may have just closed two Brooklyn establishments–Pork Slope and Thistle Hill Tavern–but they haven’t turned their backs on the borough.

Instead, they have opened Atlantic Social, a massive restaurant (130 seats) and sports bar (50 stools) that they hope will appeal to Brooklynites and guests visiting the nearby Barclays Center.

“We want this place to be for the die hard sports fan but also the people who could give two shits,” said Three Kings partner David Massoni. But “at the end of the day, you can’t deny there’s a sports bar element. There are 16 TVs.”

Sixteen televisions, indeed. Atlantic Social also boasts a game room, which Massoni says they are calling “the parlor,” with a shuffleboard table and classic arcade games like Ms. Pan-Man and Big Buck Hunter. There are leather couches and an inviting gas fireplace in the room, too. A pool table is on its way. The game room is open to anyone but can also be rented out for parties.

“We want it to be feel like a friend’s parents’ basement,” Massoni said. (more…)

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02/17/17 1:25pm

Yesterday immigrants, both legal and undocumented, went on strike around the U.S., underscoring their contribution to the workforce and the country. Some McDonalds shut down. The Davis Museum at Wellesley College, where Hillary Clinton was valedictorian in 1969 removed every piece of art created or donated by an immigrant from its halls, leaving many spots bare.

Meanwhile, Immigration and Customs Enforcement continue to defy state officials from red and blue states alike in an immigration sweep, the largest since Trump took office and one that many advocate groups are saying is more significant that what they’ve seen in the recent past. According to a report from immigration advocacy organization New York Immigration Coalition, 40 were arrested by ICE agents across the New York area in a five day span, and 600 across the country.

According to The Nation,  “One hundred and sixty immigrants were arrested in the Los Angeles area; some 200 undocumented immigrants were arrested in Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina this past week….Another 200 people were arrested throughout the Midwest: in Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, and Wisconsin.”

ICE claims that said raids are, as a spokeswoman told radio station WNYC, “ not unusual for a week long operation’,” and that  “95 percent of them had criminal records.’”ICE spokeswoman Rachel Yong Yow told the Nation on

New York Immigration Coalition spokeswoman Thanu Yakupitiyage believes ICE is exaggerating the number of those arrested with previous criminal records. As she explained in an email to Brooklyn Based, “They aren’t “raids” necessarily–but they are targeted enforcement pick-ups by ICE. If you read the memo [a leaked memo NYIC obtained], you’ll see that the way ICE justifies it is as operations targeting people with “criminal convictions.” However, people beyond those with convictions have also been swept up in some of the arrests.” (more…)

02/16/17 10:00am
Mozart's Sister - credit: Rebecca Storm

Mozart’s Sister | Photo: Rebecca Storm

If Mozart’s Sister, Canadian indie pop musician Caila Thompson-Hannant’s current project, has got you wondering whether Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart actually had a sibling, then let’s start with a quick musical history lesson. Yes, the famed composer had an older sister named Maria Anna (1751-1829). Like her brother, Maria was also a musical child prodigy who toured with Wolfgang and performed for audiences throughout Europe. Some have even said that Maria had an influence on her younger brother, according to a Smithsonian article, she transcribed Wolfgang’s first symphony, and another researcher claimed that she composed works for her brother so he could learn how to play the piano. But her music days ended when she turned 18, (and her family insisted she focus on getting married) while Wolfgang’s career continued to flourish into adulthood and eventually legend. Over time, Maria Anna’s life and contributions have surfaced in articles, books, a play, and a movie, after she had been relegated throughout history as a footnote to the career of her more famous bro.

It’s fitting that Thompson-Hannant named her project after an unsung female musician who was independently talented in her own right. For her new album, Field of Love, Thompson-Hannant called her own shots throughout production and recording. The follow-up to her 2014 full-length debut album Being, Field of Love is a celebratory, romantic electropop record: dizzying atmospheric synth sounds, infectious dance beats and Thompson-Hannant’s child-like yet soulful vocals buoy uptempo tracks like “Eternally Girl,” “My Heart Is Wild,” and “Moment 2 Moment.”

If Field of Love sounds like something out of the ’90s, that was by design–it was during that period that Thompson-Hannant developed her love for dance pop.

Thompson-Hannant, who previously played in the band Shapes and Sizes, is returning to the States for some upcoming show dates, including one at Brooklyn’s Silent Barn tonight, as well as several showcases at SXSW in March. Brooklyn Based spoke with this emerging musician who, unlike the Mozart’s actual sister, has stepped out on her own without being in someone else’s shadow. (more…)

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02/15/17 12:38pm

Insa is throwing a dance party Sunday night to raise money for refugees affected by Trump’s hideous travel ban. Video: Insa

Buenos miercoles, todos, and welcome to another edition of Your Ideal Week, our weekly roundup of eats, activities, readings, cultural events, and other gatherings happening in and around the best borough. Hope everyone survived the snowstorm OK, and maybe had a fun day off/wfh in PJs day in the process? And then of course we had Valentine’s Day, which in my case involved a sugar binge and resultant crash yesterday that was the stuff of legend. I blame it on the colleague who brought in V Day-themed pixie sticks, which I’ve always maintained is the laziest candy. Think about it: At some point someone literally sat in a Big Candy boardroom and gave this approximate pitch: “We take actual, plain sugar out of the Domino box, see, and then we dye it and put it in a rolled up piece of paper and sell it. Mic drop.” Needless to say I’m still feeling the effects. . . And now these latest revelations that Trump et al. had improper and possibly treasonous dealings with Russia, which everyone is acting surprised about for some reason even though we’ve all known this was the case the whole time. Hillary Clinton was screaming it from the rooftops during the campaign and Trump himself was joking (?) about it in tweets but now we all have to feign shock like we do when a friend’s boyfriend pops the question after they spend months picking out a ring together. Whatever, don’t hate the player, hate the game, I guess? Unless by “the player” you are referring to an elected official who deliberately compromises the safety and sovereignty of our nation, in which case, hate away. Hopefully, this will continue to erode the legitimacy of this administration and hasten the end of this nightmare without causing too much irreversible damage to US interests here and abroad, but we live in The Upside Down now, so who can say for sure?

Moving right along, this week brings (not my) President’s Day, which is a double-edged sword in 2017 as it means a reminder of the utter disaster that is currently playing out in the White House but also a long weekend. We’ll give you some great ideas of how to spend your free time between now and next Wednesday but before we get to that I wanted to let you know about Nitehawk Cinema’s upcoming Film Feast revolving around John Carpenter’s 1986 cult classic, Big Trouble in Little China. Nom Wah Tea Parlor and Lagunitas are collaborating on a five-course menu inspired by specific moments in the film, with dishes like “Chinatown Dumplings,” “Pork Chop Lost in an Alley” and “Green Eyes” (interpreted as Matcha lotus sesame balls). It will be delicious and it will definitely sell out (I’m still mad I missed the window for the Coming to America Film Feast earlier this month) so be sure to pick up a ticket now, even though the event won’t happen until April 18. Once that’s taken care of, take a gander at our picks of things to do over the course of the next seven days and, until next time, have yourself an Ideal Week! (more…)

02/14/17 10:50am
Photo: MNDFL Williamsburg

Photo: MNDFL Williamsburg

Taking deep breaths and closing your eyes to meditate in your cluttered bedroom, under fluorescent lights at your desk, or even on a crowded train is not exactly ideal, but it’s still an effort that many of us put forth as often as we can. Studies showing that meditation helps with everything from stress to fatigue to monkey mind, plus convenient apps like Headspace and Calm have inspired a new interest in the ancient practice and devotees swear that even the F train can yield moments of inner calm. Still, imagine that there was a dedicated space–a soft, undisturbed room in the middle of the city–the only function of which was to house a group of people who wanted to escape the hubbub and work on their mindfulness. Sort of like a yoga studio for meditation.

Now there is, and you can find it in Williamsburg.

MNDFL exists to enable humans to feel good,” says Lodro Rinzler, meditation teacher, author, and co-founder of MNDFL, a meditation studio with locations in Greenwich Village, the Upper East Side, and now Williamsburg. “It was a natural partnership from the beginning,” says co-founder Ellie Burrows, who met Rinzler while volunteering for his non-profit. “I knew that I wanted to open this studio, but I couldn’t have done it on my own. I’m not a meditation expert, I’m just a lover and practitioner of meditation.” (more…)

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Partner Post
02/13/17 11:59am

loveunion

Before heading into busy wedding season, Gowanus Hospitality is bringing back its popular four-day conference/retreat, The Love Union, for wedding industry creatives February 27 to March 2. Each morning begins with a group yoga session, followed by co-working and networking at creative workshops and panels discussions on topics like “How can feminism and wedding planning co-exist?” One special evening will feature the Moth-style story slam,“Wedding War Stories 2.0,” where vendors will share their crazy-but-true tales of near disasters in event planning.

Built into each day’s schedule are ample opportunities for wedding pros to treat themselves to massages, manicures, catered meals and drinks, and complimentary treats from partners like Wild Flour. As the organizers explain, “It’s our way of showing love back to all of the vendors who fill our space during the year with their hard work.”

RSVP for the special events and learn more at theloveunion.com.