09/03/15 12:06pm

We really mellowed out this summer, abandoning all but the beachiest of books, giving up on True Detective after a few dark and confusing episodes (turning to Mr. Robot instead), and eating ice cream for dinner instead of cooking or even bothering to go out for a real meal. It’s September now though, time to get ahold of ourselves and pick up a novel, hit a museum, try a just-opened restaurant, listen to new album and re-engage. Here are 10 cultural items and events we’re looking forward to this month.

You may not see Eugene Mirman shoot lasers out of his eyes at the Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival, but there will be plenty of other dazzling performances. Photo: Eugene Mirman

You may not see Eugene Mirman shoot lasers out of his eyes at the Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival, but there will be plenty of other dazzling performances. Photo: Eugene Mirman

10. Despite its self-aggrandizing name, the Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival is actually a wonderful place to discover lesser-known comedians destined to become Daily Show or SNL superstars. Every September, it takes over The Bell House and Union Hall for a string of days, and as usual, the shows filled with celebrity stand-ups have already sold out. But as BB contrib Kate Hooker wrote around this time last year, “The secret to the festival is that the less star-studded line-ups are where you’ll see tomorrow’s new favorite funny person.” Case in point: Jo Firestone, whose innovative shows like Punderdome 3000 have become a staple of NYC nightlife, is in pole position for breakout success, and she is in two EMCF shows, including the aptly named “From the Basement of Union Hall to Network Television in 2-3 Years.” Get tickets while you can, festival runs Sept.18-21.


CNNZvYWUYAA0lkC9. Whether you are a card-carrying Jonathan Franzen fan, or you have yet to be moved by his depictions of the unhappy, All-American family and his critiques of modern life, there is reason to be optimistic about his new novel, Purity, which has attracted praise for actually being a pleasurable read. The internet has never been kind to Franzen–mainly because he says ridiculous shit, like toying with adopting an Iraqi war orphan–but his recent interview with Terry Gross revealed his endearing side, and his Sept. 26 reading as part of the Brooklyn Voices series with Greenlight Books and St. Joseph’s College is a chance to hear the Great American Novelist in person. Tickets are $30 and include a copy of the book–so you may want to download a copy in advance, then retrieve the hardcover version for your shelves.


A tart from last season of "The Great British Baking Show." Photo: BBC

A tart from last season of “The Great British Baking Show.” Photo: BBC

8. Imagine if you will, a magical tent in the middle of the English countryside. It’s been outfitted with 13 baking stations complete with ovens, mixers, canisters of flour and sugar, scales, whisks, everything necessary to bake. Under that tent 13 talented home bakers will toil to create cakes, biscuits, pastries and puddings of all kinds. They’re competing against one other, yet they’re remarkably kind and funny, popping by one another’s stations with a cup of tea or a word of encouragement while their bakes rise in the oven. This is The Great British Baking Show, hands down the most delightful food competition ever created. The passionate amateurs competing for the title of England’s top baker are so lovely, so engaged and so skillful, you’ll be held rapt as they prepare obscure European confectionary and towering tea cakes. If it sounds dull, just give it a try, there’s something soothing and civil about this show that’s hard to explain, but easy to adore. Season two (for America, there are more seasons that have aired on the BBC) starts on Thirteen Sunday, Sept. 6, and if you haven’t added the PBS app to your Roku or other device, this is your chance to do so (and binge on Antiques Roadshow after the baking is over). (more…)

09/03/15 10:00am
Angel Deradoorian (Bennet Perez)

Angel Deradoorian | photo: Bennet Perez

It’s been six years since we’ve heard new music from Angel Deradoorian, formerly of the acclaimed indie band Dirty Projectors. But that’s not to say that she’s been slacking off since the release of her EP Mind Raft in 2009. In addition to working on her own music as Deradoorian, she has also collaborated with the likes of Flying Lotus, the Roots, Vampire Weekend, and the Killers’ Brandon Flowers. In fact, Deradoorian started work on what would become the new album The Expanding Flower Planet four years ago.

“I started writing for it,” she says. “There were a couple of years where I wasn’t really focusing on that because I was just focusing on Dirty Projectors. I moved out of the city, I was going through a lot changes. So after leaving the band, I just had to kind of start over again in a way. It took me quite a bit of time to figure out how I wanted the music to sound and be presented and to get it out there. So I’ve been working the whole time.” (more…)

09/02/15 10:22am
See indie darlings Beirut perform for free at the Bell House on September 10, but the catch is that you have to rsvp today. Photo: Beirut

See indie darlings Beirut perform for free at the Bell House on September 10, but the catch is that you have to rsvp today. Photo: Beirut

Labor Day is upon us, and if you’re sticking around this weekend and looking for the best ways to get the most of summer’s last hurrah, we’ve got oodles of ideas for stuff you can do to pass the time.

But before we get to that, there’s some urgent admin to take care of. Beirut, everyone’s favorite indie band involving glockenspiels and flugelhorns, is performing a free show at The Bell House on September 10 in honor of the release of their new album, No No No, the following day. To make sure you get a coveted spot, you’ll need to compete with the Internet masses when the rsvp link goes live at noon today.

And next weekend is our Total East Williamsburg Immersion, where bars will be pouring a bevy of Brooklyn beers and local shops will be honoring tons of deals on food, homemade goods, vintage clothes, and more. Be sure to get a ticket in advanceto reserve the lunch you want.

As for this week, if you’re looking to add to your bartending repertoire, Huckleberry Bar is mixing things up with its Thursday night cocktail class. The featured ingredient this time is Baijiu, which is apparently the best-selling spirit in the world even though you’ve probably never heard of it. Slug a few cocktails using the high-proof booze, and then learn how to sling your own by calling the bar at 718-218-8555 to reserve a seat.

You’ve been saying that this is the summer that you’re finally going to get up to Storm King Art Center, the spectacular outdoor sculpture park in Orange County, so just do it already! If you need an extra push, consider the fact that you can get a double dose of high culture this Friday and Saturday night, when the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Company will stage sunset performances of The Tempest (just in case you fell down on your other promise of going to see Shakespeare in the Park this summer). Tickets are just $10 (although that doesn’t include admission to the park), and you can even preorder a picnic dinner here.

Straight Outta Compton, a biopic chronicling the ascendance of rap group N.W.A., is a bona fide summer hit that has consistently topped the box office since it was released a few weeks ago. BAM is just one of the many theaters around town where you can catch a showing of the movie, but it will also be screening other 90s West Coast flicks like Friday, Boyz n the Hood, and Menance II Society this week as part of a Set It Off: LA Hip Hop on Film series running from Friday to Tuesday. For an entirely different kind of cinematic throwback, you can watch Wet Hot American Summer over and over and over again (just like you did in college) at Videology’s Wet Hot American Labor Day marathon starting at 2pm.  The cult classic about summer camp and all the characters you encounter there will be screened 5 times in a row,with 10-minute breaks in between and “bug juice” available for purchase. 

However you decide to spend the last real weekend of Summer 2015, we here at Brooklyn Based wish you a happy and healthy Labor Day full of fun and sun. Here are some more of our tips on how to make the next week a truly ideal one:


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09/01/15 11:20am

The café at Freehold is designed for working. Photo: Elaheh Nozari

When you walk into Freehold, a coffeeshop, bar and all-around venue that opened on Williamsburg’s south side last month, the first thing you see on the menu board, below the wifi password, is an unattributed quote: “If you always do what you love, at least one person is pleased.” (A Google search identifies Katharine Hepburn as its speaker.)

It neatly sums up the vibe of the place–this is where you come to work on your passion project, and if you’re one of the lucky, entrepreneurial few whose passion project is also their career, then you’re Freehold’s target demographic.

The day-to-night hang spot on S. 3rd and Wythe is a hybrid between a members-only club like SoHo House and the lobby of a boutique hotel, like the Ace, but it lacks the exclusivity (or membership fee) of the former and the tourists of the latter. It’s egalitarian and welcoming, if very cool feeling. A sense of belonging comes not from an actual membership, but from the comfort of being able to spend an extended stretch of time working there without worrying whether you’ve ordered enough lattes and croissants, which is what I did for a few days to see if this was the freelance workspace of my dreams.


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09/01/15 10:32am
(Jonathan Blanc/The New York Public Library)

(Jonathan Blanc/The New York Public Library)

“So while my heart’s gay and foolish and free and still can sing its song
Share every precious moment with me, don’t wait too long”

–“Don’t Wait Too Long” from September of My Years (1965) by Frank Sinatra

As another summer winds down, and with fall just around the corner, it’s advisable not to wait too long if you haven’t yet visited the New York Public Library’s retrospective show Sinatra: An American Icon. This free exhibit about the Chairman of the Board, which opened last March, will be close this Friday. Coinciding with the 100th anniversary of Sinatra’s birth, the multimedia presentation features photos, clothing, awards, audio and video recordings, art and memorabilia associated with Sinatra during his lifetime. It’s an opportunity for fans and visitors to explore the life of one an entertainers ever who left an indelible mark on pop culture. (more…)

08/31/15 11:29am

Apparently there are now too many restaurants in America and not enough chefs, with this whole fancy-eatery-on-every-corner thing spiraling a little out of control. Brooklynites will plead guilty as charged, but no, we’re not about to stop now. The fall season is the busiest time of year for new restaurant openings–here are our top 10 to look forward to around the borough.

10. Werkstatt 

Potato madness comes to Coney Island Ave. (Photo: Werkstatt)

Potato madness comes to Coney Island Ave. | Photo: Werkstatt

The chef who formerly owned Thomas Beisl in Fort Greene will bring Austrian cuisine and a biergarten atmosphere to a  stretch of Coney Island Avenue that could use a little restaurant love. The new Kensington spot will pour German (and Brooklyn) beers, draft wines and cocktails (including a Von Trapp Spritz which marries vodka, grapefruit liquor, bitters and sparkling wine), along with some snacks like celery root schnitzel, housemade bratwurst, and giant pretzels with Hungarian-style cheese. 509 Coney Island Avenue (at Turner Place); 718-284-5800; werkstattbrooklyn.com (more…)

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08/27/15 10:12am
Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 12.30.27 AM

Harry (Ashley Springer) flexes his magic moves. Photo: The Impossibilities

If you’ve come to associate web series with meandering plot lines and shoddy production values, writer/director Anna Kerrigan’s latest project The Impossibilities just might challenge your reservations about the format. The new series—released via Vimeo and filmed in New York City over the course of just thirteen days—tells the story of Willa, a quirky, lesbian yogi, and Harry, a misanthropic magician, as they fumble through personal and professional challenges as creative types in New York. Since premiering in the spring, the show has cast a spell on viewers with its balance of relatable, yet ridiculous moments and its unconventional premise. Last month, The Impossibilities team took home the award for Best Screenwriting at the Melbourne Web Fest. (more…)

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08/26/15 11:26am
The King of Pop would have turned 57 on Saturday, and Spike Lee is throwing his annual Brooklyn Loves Michael Jackson party in Clinton Hill. Photo: Brooklyn Loves Michael Jackson

The King of Pop would have turned 57 on Saturday, and Spike Lee is throwing his annual Brooklyn Loves Michael Jackson party in Bed-Stuy. Photo: Brooklyn Loves Michael Jackson

As we head into the last gasp of summer before Labor Day signals the return to the real world, people are finally back from vacation and trying to cram everything in before school starts and your job gets judge-y about your casual start time and creative interpretation of what constitutes professional attire.  There’s loads of awesome stuff happening all over the place this week, so take advantage of the long hours of daylight and get out there and do it– you won’t be sorry when the furious hoarfrost returns in a few months.

You have the Brooklyn Comedy Festival to thank for the slew of standup and improv shows popping up at various venues throughout the borough this week. One of our top picks is the special BKFC edition of Late Night Basement, Chris Rose’s live monthly talk-show-style act that was crowned the city’s best comedy show by New York Magazine earlier this year, at Public Livestream on Friday night. The all-star lineup includes Heems of Das Racist fame, the ladies behind Be Here Nowish, Seaton Smith, and Dan Soder, and not only is the show free, but it boasts $3 beers from Sixpoint.

You should really rest up for Saturday though, because there’s so much going on that you might want to double or triple up. In addition to the debut of the Waku Waku Japanese pop culture fest (see below), the day brings several parties to celebrate Michael Jackson on what would have been the pop icon’s 57th birthday. Spike Lee is throwing his perennially popular Brooklyn Loves Michael block party in Bed-Stuy, but this year it’s being combined with the official unveiling of Do The Right Thing Way, the stretch of Stuyvesant Avenue between Lexington and Quincy that was recently renamed in honor of the 25th anniversary of Lee’s influential film. Spike doesn’t have the block party market cornered though, as Clinton Hill’s annual Brooklyn Bazaar is back for another day of beats, bites, art, and fun taking place along Lexington Avenue. They’re also hosting their own tribute to MJ–a best dressed Michael Jackson competition with a cash prize–so you don’t even have to change your outfit.

You can keep the 80s style grooves going into the night at Brokelyn’s 80s Splashback Party, which represents the first-ever adults-only takeover of the splash pad at the LeFrak Center in Prospect Park. Lola Star’s Dreamland roller disco will be rocking its hair metal night dance party on the rink, while the good folks from Brokelyn will be hosting water gun fights, games, drinks, and a summer raffle at the mini water park starting at 7pm.

Get a little dark on Sunday at Morbid Anatomy’s Summer Flea Market, which is hosted by the Bell House from noon to 6pm. A variety of vendors will be on hand to hawk unusual wares like taxidermy, “artful bones,” curious antiques, and insect shadowboxes, so the market is where it’s at if you’re into that stuff. Incidentally, my septuagenarian mother recently fulfilled a lifelong dream by taking a skunk taxidermy class at Morbid Anatomy (don’t ask, she’s an artist) and trust me, that place is worth a visit if you still haven’t been.

For plan-ahead purposes, if you were captivated by the Wikileaks story and its implications for journalism and government secrecy, you’ll probably want to pick up tickets to another Bell House event happening on September 8. To celebrate the release of his new book, The Wikileaks Files: The World According to U.S. Empire, award-winning journo Jeremy Scahill will be joined by none other than Julian Assange (via live video feed) for a conversation and Q&A. If you buy a $10 ticket, you’ll go home with a free copy of the book.

We’ve got lots more in store for you during this Ideal Week, though, so read ahead for our favorite ideas of how to keep yourself busy in the seven days that are stretched out ahead of you:


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