11/26/14 12:16pm
Shoppers at Rough Trade NYC (David Chiu)

Shoppers at Rough Trade NYC (David Chiu)

Forget about the turkey and football: the real tradition around Thanksgiving is Black Friday, the unofficial holiday in which crowds flood the big box stores in the wee hours of the morning hoping to score that big plasma TV, iPad, or down jacket on the cheap. Fortunately on a somewhat lesser scale, Black Friday is also the occasion when independent record stores put out some really cool limited-edition releases in conjunction with the annual Record Store Day event held every spring. It’s a great opportunity to support your local record stores, which are still somewhat of an endangered species despite vinyl’s resurgence in popularity, and to get some snag some rare stuff that will most likely sell for big bucks on eBay. (By the way, please don’t do that–it’s so crass).

Below is an abbreviated list of some noteworthy items coming out for this Record Store Day Black Friday as well as a directory of Brooklyn record stores that will be participating on Nov. 28. You can check out the full list of releases here. And if you want to get an idea of how much these items cost, check out Bull Moose’s site.

Some words of advice from someone who’s been there, done that: 1) Check with your record store in advance to see if they are carrying what you are looking for.  2) Find out what their store hours are since they may open early just for this occasion. 3) Get there early, even before they officially open–you can expect a long line of other record geeks outside.

Happy music hunting folks! (more…)

11/26/14 8:19am
If you're playing tour guide this week or have time for a Manhattan field trip, check out John Gerrard's Solar Reserve before the massive LED screen outside Lincoln Center disappears. Photo: Inaki Vinaixa

If you’re playing tour guide this weekend or have time for a Manhattan field trip, check out John Gerrard’s Solar Reserve before the massive LED screen outside Lincoln Center disappears. Photo: Inaki Vinaixa

Whether you’re leaving town to spend Thanksgiving with your family, or sticking around to host 25 Charlie Browns, the fact that we’re a day away from the start of holiday season means that we can all collectively start to wind down at work and kick back with friends and family. Unless, of course, you work in retail. What began as one day of shopping on Black Friday has morphed into a string of events, including Small Business Saturday, which indie booksellers have embraced by inviting local authors to work shifts throughout the day– Phil Klay, the veteran who just won the National Book Award for his short story collection, for instance, is just one of the writers who’ll be at BookCourt. Then #GivingTuesday arrives, like a charitable cleanse for all our consumer excesses. If you’re looking for good organizations to donate your time or money to, try the four we recommended last year.

As you mentally prepare for the online sales ahead (or you’re stuck at home because of a cancelled flight) you can feast on a $25 fish fry at Fort Defiance tonight, in honor of Evacuation Day, an actual holiday dating back to the Revolutionary War but much more fun when recast as the day before everyone skips town.

Here are seven more ways to make the most of your Thanksgiving week. (more…)

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11/25/14 12:00pm
Hot chocolate with marshmallows doughnut at Cream Doughnuts. (David Chiu)

A hot chocolate with marshmallows doughnut pairs nicely with a cup of tea at Cream Doughnuts. Photo: David Chiu

When it comes to doughnuts here in Bay Ridge, we longtime residents know where to go for some sweet fried dough. First, there are the mom-and-pop standbys like Mike’s Donuts near 69th Street and 5th Avenue and Leske’s Bakery on 76th Street and 5th Avenue. And of course, there’s always the ubiquitous Dunkin’ Donuts. But unlike such Doughnut Plant in Chelsea, or Doughnuttery in Union Square, Bay Ridge isn’t exactly known for its high-brow variations of the treat beyond the jellied and glazed varieties–at least the last time I checked. (more…)

11/25/14 8:00am
This doesn't have to be your problem.

This doesn’t have to be your problem.

Yes, Thanksgiving week is the busiest, most hassle-filled travel time of the year. It’s just part of the holidays, like that cranberry jello salad your aunt always makes, or the tense mood that strikes the table whenever your cousin’s awful boyfriend opens his mouth. For New Yorkers, getting to the airport is either expensive, time consuming, or both, even in the best of traffic conditions. All three of our major airports, JFK, LaGuardia and Newark rank at the very bottom of Bloomberg Businessweek’s Airport Frustration Index, with LaGuardia receiving the lowest marks of any airport in the country in almost every category.

We can’t magically get you to your gate without delays or irritation, but we do have a few suggestions for saving time and money on the way to the airport, including a ridesharing app that could be your Uber replacement, and some public transportation tricks. (more…)

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11/24/14 9:04am


There are neighborhood haunts, and then there are bars worth traveling to because the cocktails are just that good. Our Behind the Bar series profiles the bartenders at these destination watering holes, and in this installment, we pay a visit to Matthew Belanger, head bartender at Donna, the stylish cocktail bar under the Williamsburg Bridge where Brooklyn Tacos are served up seven days a week.

First NYC bar job: A barback at Freeman’s, where he first met Donna’s owner Leif Huckman
Where he drinks when he’s not working: Dram, Maison Premiere, Attaboy, Milk & Honey, Death & Company, Nightcap. “Extra Fancy is popular with cocktail professionals. They have a great drink menu and they serve food until 3am. It’s always a who’s who of cocktail people.”
What he orders: “Every bartender will tell you the ‘handshake’ for bartenders [to size up the other's skill] is a daiquiri. It’s partly because the daiquiri is so maligned–it has a connotation that it picked up post-Prohibition that has very little to do with the classic daiquiri. The classic daiquiri is really dry … it’s not a blender drink with a ton of sour mix that makes you terribly hungover the next day. If someone sits down at your bar and asked for a daiquiri, you’re going to be like, ‘Where do you work?’” Often though, after a long night of testing cocktails, Matthew prefers just to drink cheap canned beer.
Current cocktail culture pet peeve: The propensity for bartenders and cocktail people to try and outdo each other by “finding the next gross thing”–a trend that accounts for the popularity of challenging ingredients. But he thinks things have gotten out of hand. “People are taking shots of Angostura bitters! It’s legally defined as not potable. You shouldn’t want to drink this. On the one hand I appreciate it, but on the other I’m like, can we please stop trying to provide whose mixological dick is bigger? Can’t we just enjoy the things that we enjoy?”

Photo:  M. Alexander Weber

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11/21/14 3:00pm

souda-kawa-dish-wanted-design-industry-city-american-field-brooklyn-made-holiday-eventKawa Dish by Souda | via Industry City

Sponsored By Industry City.

American Field and Made in Brooklyn Holiday Market events celebrate the undeniable quality of American-made goods, November 22-23.

Created By BlankSlate

This Saturday and Sunday join Industry City for American Field and Made in Brooklyn Holiday Market. Both events celebrate the industriousness of the American spirit, and the undeniable quality of American-made goods — including those made right here in Brooklyn. Both events will feature clothing, goods, and accessories as well as music, food, live demos, and workshops. Visit American Field and Made in Brooklyn Holiday Market at 274 36th Street, between 2nd and 3rd Avenues.

11/21/14 1:53pm

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“Sometimes you mess up the pancake and you have to make a new pancake.”

Sandra Allen, deputy features editor at BuzzFeed, cracked this joke at Indie Media Camp in relation to stories that don’t become the “hits” you expect them to be, but she may as well have been speaking about the entire business of independent media. On Thursday, we heard from 25 great speakers–editors, writers, CEOs, marketing managers, social media pros–all of whom taught us a great deal about what it means to make something stick online, whether it’s a great headline that will inspire you to click through, the kind of photo that will get repinned thousands of times, or your own site, into which you’ve poured your heart, time and hard-earned money.

We want to thank everyone who came and our IMC sponsors: car2go, Squarespace, MailChimp, EventbriteGreystone Cellars from Terlato WinesBrooklyn Brewery, Gimme! Coffee and The Joe Tea & Chips Company. Without them we couldn’t have offered a reasonable ticket price. So many conferences cost hundreds, plural, of dollars to attend, making them prohibitively expensive to bootstrapped start-ups and indie media folk like ourselves. Many thanks also to 501 Union, Purslane Catering and Be Better Studios for making everything look and taste so good.

We’re also very grateful to the speakers who ducked out of work early or spent the entire day with us, took the time to prepare talks that inspired and informed us, and were candid about their experiences. Since we didn’t film the entire day, we’re going to share some highlights from IMC the old-school way. (more…)

11/21/14 10:00am
An embarrassment of kale salads. Photo: Annaliese Griffin

An embarrassment of kale salads. Photo: Annaliese Griffin

I’ve hosted Thanksgiving nine times over the past 10 years, and it’s something I love to do. Gathering around a table with a mix of old friends and new faces and then watching the whole thing (d)evolve into a drunken dance party is my favorite thing. It’s always been a team effort, with lots of help from my husband, sister, brother-in-law and friends, and it’s always a labor of love, but over the years I’ve noticed that some people make great guests, others…not so much. Here’s how to up your guest game, from the perspective of a long-time host. Oh, and those of you out there who still send hand-written thank you notes? You are modern day heroes. 

11/21/14 8:39am
Take control of the turkey--it's the main event after all. Photo: Gabrielle Sierra

Take control of the turkey–it’s the main event after all. Photo: Gabrielle Sierra

Ah, Thanksgiving, a magical holiday that gathers friends and family around a table filled with flowers, candles, food and an obscene amount of wine.

Whether you’re hosting a traditional Thanksgiving, or a Friendsgiving before you head to the family homestead, coordinating a big dinner can be hard work, and unexpected issues can crop up before, in the middle and even after the event.

Over the past few years I’ve become a Friendsgiving pro, hosting a group of pals each year before we all scatter across the country, but these lessons work for any big dinner party. Here are a few tips and tricks that can lighten your workload, streamline your planning, and help make your holiday as easy as pumpkin pie. And as sweet as pumpkin pie. And as delicious as pumpkin pie.

Mmm pumpkin pie.


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