Articles by

Kate Hooker

Kate is a lawyer and writer who is a relative newcomer to Brooklyn, having fled the East Village a few years back in search of outdoor space and, apparently, kale and kombucha. Kate and her cocker spaniel sidekick, Hurley, are thoroughly enjoying their new borough and all the benefits of grill ownership. When she isn’t working, Kate is often found trying out new restaurants and bars (particularly those that trade in oysters, craft beer, and pie), listening to comedy podcasts, and watching college basketball.

02/08/17 12:06pm
It's Valentine's Day next week--may as well have a little fun with it. Valentines: Brandon Bird

It’s Valentine’s Day next week–may as well have a little fun with it. Valentines: Brandon Bird

The image of our current President screaming at CNN alone in the dark or wandering around the White House in a bathrobe at all hours that emerged in media accounts last week managed to drum up the closest thing to sympathy that I can possibly muster for that individual (don’t worry, it’s not that close).  I read that his usual dinner is a Big Mac served on a silver platter, which I promptly recognized as precisely what I fantasized being rich and powerful meant when I was seven. I tried to imagine how much time he spends doing the most vapid and boring task I can think of–poring over ratings of various network and cable television shows–to gather fodder for his inarticulate Twitter tantrums. I thought about the fact that his idea of a vacation is to fly to a hideous golf resort in Florida that he owns to eat grey, well-done steaks in an ostentatious country club while surrounded by the spineless lackeys who fawn over him. Or that this is what passes for a decent joke in the dismal, humorless world of his Congressional allies.

No, of course this thought spiral didn’t make me actually feel sorry for a man whose laziness, narcissism, casual cruelty, and incompetence will destroy lives in the weeks, months, and years to come. But they did make me feel luckier than usual that I get to live in a place where thousands of people spontaneously torpedo their day off to trek to JFK with homemade protest signs to stand up for people who are in danger, not because they are paid to but because they actually care about people who might not be exactly like them, which is a concept that many on the right can’t seem to grasp. And that it’s a city that constantly presents new opportunities to make, do, read, see, talk about, eat, and experience a diverse array of creative, funny, delicious, and thought-provoking things. Below, I’ve highlighted some of the best examples happening over the next seven days.

First though, there are two new plays from across the pond being staged In Brooklyn this week: The excellent all-female adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Tempest at St. Ann’s Warehouse (which I saw and recommend), and Escaped Alone, which opens with some pretty stellar advance reviews at BAM on Wednesday. Make it a real night out by grabbing dinner at Fort Greene’s Roman’s before or after the show–they’re running a special on penne all’arrabiata all month and will donate proceeds to Planned Parenthood. As for me, I think I will try to track down a copy of Art of the Pie, the first book selected for Food52’s new Community Cookbook Club, and hunker down with my rolling pin in the snowstorm expected tomorrow. Or, get out the glitter and glue that’s buried under your bed and make valentines for your friends like you did when you were seven, or send them the awesome SVUtines above. Spread the love. Whatever you all get up to this Ideal Week, I hope that  it keeps you sustained and inspired as the outside world roils on. (more…)

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02/01/17 7:31pm
We can come together on nachos, yes? They're gluten-free, easily vegetarian or vegan, delicious no matter what and that big football game is this weekend.

We can all come together on nachos, yes? They’re gluten-free, easily vegetarian or vegan, delicious no matter what and there is that big football game is this weekend.

Yesterday during one of the obsessive Twitter rabbitholes I often find myself in nowadays, I saw a tweet that said something like, “I think what I’m going to miss the most about the Obama administration is sleeping at night,” and it really struck a chord. Since the inauguration, I feel I’ve been stuck in a never ending loop of bad news, fearful speculation, and mounting anxiety, and based on the people I know and whom I’ve met at protests and rallies, I’m not alone. It’s exhausting. And it’s definitely not possible to continue at this pace or stress level for much longer. Don’t get it twisted, I still plan to #resist as much as I can and I hope you will too, but we’re looking at a long road of horrible things we’ll have to deal with ahead, and if we get totally derailed every time someone responds nastily to a story we publish about Muslim women in Brooklyn being afraid for their safety, we’ll lose the ultimate fight.

So, I’m declaring this a Trump-free Ideal Week, just like good old days, when the rule of law and basic civil liberties were things we could take for granted and it felt okay to just make normal, fun plans with friends. The activities I’ve rounded up below will take you through the time during the next seven days when you’re NOT marching or calling senators or feverishly debating whether we’ve handed the keys to a diabolical cabal of evil geniuses who shrewdly created the conditions that would set the stage for a coup, or just a bunch of bumbling idiots who have no idea what they are doing and think a “speech” like this is acceptable. You need to take breaks–we all do. But before I delve into a week of Donald-free dalliances, I do want to do a quick plug for a screening of a new nonpartisan documentary film about two former refugees who are now living in Syracuse, N.Y. The film will be shown along with a variety of other shorts starting at 7pm on Tuesday night at Long Island City’s The Local NYC in collaboration with Indieworks. The current state of our country demands that we keep hearing the stories and opinions of people who don’t share our day-to-day experience, and this seems like a great way to get some of that exposure.

Have a great week, and keep fighting the good fight! (more…)

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01/25/17 1:04pm

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Happy Wednesday, and congrats on making it through another week! This one felt particularly major, what with a historic transfer of power, a massive, worldwide display of resistance, a Nor’easter, and a fresh barrage of anxiety-producing tweets from The Joker, Bane, the leader of the free world.

Now that the sun is finally giving us a little love again, it’s a great day to get outside for a walk, run, or bike ride to clear your head. A few weeks ago, I spent an hour exploring Green-Wood Cemetery on a crisp afternoon and it’s something I heartily recommend to those who have never been. Pro tip: The gates to the main entrance close at 5pm sharp, and if you dawdle and assume there’s a couple of minutes of leeway, the guard will lock you in, even if he drives by on his way to lock up and fully sees you’re still there, at which point he will ignore your cries and disappear for 20 minutes while you wonder whether you can survive a subzero night in a graveyard full of fallen Revolutionary War soldiers. Never fear, though, he’ll eventually come back and release you (with a couple of stern words about following the rules) and maybe in the meantime you will have made friends with a couple visiting from Germany who were also trapped.

There are a ton of fun things to do this week in our incredible, indefatigable town, and we’ve gathered up some of our favorites for your scheduling consideration. Happy exploring! (more…)

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01/18/17 12:22pm
Image: Shepard Fairey/We The People

Image: Shepard Fairey/We The People

In this case, calling it an Ideal Week is a tad optimistic. We’re standing on the precipice of a momentous event and it is scary as hell. If I was at all mollified after the election by thoughts like “it can’t possibly be as bad as It seems, surely someone will keep him in check,” that hope simply couldn’t endure in the face of Paul Ryan dabbing while announcing that millions of Americans will lose access to health insurance or Jeff Sessions whitewashing his dismal views on race. It’s impossible to not be preoccupied this week, and even though I did manage to find a few non-Inauguration related activities to recommend to you, the bulk of what people are planning and organizing around here these days is somehow connected to the power shift that is looming ominously. Along with many friends, neighbors, coworkers, and family members, I’ll be in DC for the March on Saturday, but there are plenty of protest events happening right here too. There are a lot of us who aren’t OK with what is happening, which is an unfortunate reality for Trump and the only thing that feels comforting about this situation.

However you choose to spend the weekend, do something that makes you feel good. Perhaps one of our suggestions below will fit the bill. It looks like any measure of sanity and reasonableness in this administration is going to have to be hard-won by us, the people, and we need to do everything we can to ensure that we’re primed for the fight. Onward!

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01/11/17 2:10pm

Every week as I think about what to write about in my intro to this column, I swear that this is the week that I’m going to finally stop ranting about Trump and move on to more pleasant topics like oh, I don’t know, literally anything. But man, I’ll be damned if that guy doesn’t cause some kind of brouhaha every single Tuesday (or really any other day ending in y) that is impossible for me to ignore when I’m writing on Wednesday morning! This week, I’ll leave it to the intelligence agencies and the media to investigate and shed light on the latest news regarding his alarming ties to Russia and to the professional comedians to tackle #PEEOTUS, and try instead to ease my inauguration blues by focusing on the commendable goals that President Obama set out in his utterly beautiful farewell address last night.

Next week I’ll be in DC for the Women’s March, letting his successor know that I am just one of millions of citizens who intend to keep a close watch on civil rights, freedom of speech and a continued sense of a truly civil society throughout his tenure, but for the next several days I’d like to take the opportunity to marvel at the hard work and thoughtful, principled decency that has been the hallmark of this president’s tenure. This is the week we honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as well, and that we have the opportunity to reflect on two great men who made unifying people and tackling real injustice their lives’ work is extraordinary in and of itself, but all the more so when contrasted with a grown man who tweets “Unfair!” every time he is legitimately questioned.

To me, this Ideal Week is going to be about spreading positivity. If you have Monday off, think about ways that you might be able to use the time to help someone in your life or in your community, or to connect with someone in a real way that does not involve cynicism (or the internet, for that matter). I’ve said here before that I personally find art helpful, as I suspect many of you do too, so I will note that the next few days are your last opportunity to see The New Museum’s wildly popular Pixel Forest exhibit by Swiss artist Pipilotti Rist before it closes on Sunday. You can also give yourself the gift of laughter and snag tickets to see comedian Mike Birbiglia work out new material on Monday night at Union Hall before they disappear (they go on sale at 1pm today and will definitely sell out). 

Whatever you do this week, do it in a way that makes you feel intentional and strong and true to yourself and your community. I think that we are all beginning to realize that there is more power in that than we knew. (more…)

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01/04/17 2:57pm
Photo:

See Big Lazy at Union Pool this week. Photo: Big Lazy

Well, we made it to 2017! Happy New Year everybody! I don’t know about you all, but I’m utterly spent. The holiday season this year was an absolute gauntlet, what with the usual stressors of present shopping and parties and trying to finish out the year strong at work plus everyone I know getting nailed with either a stomach bug or a cold or both and the increasing pressure to remain casual in the face of mounting political uncertainty. Somehow every holiday-related gathering I attended seemed to end up in discussion about Trump and how the Democrats managed to screw things up, and they somehow always turned heated and awkward, which is bizarre given the fact that every single person involved had voted the same way. It seems that those of us who care about government ethics, equal opportunity, the environment, human rights, and basic fairness and civility are engaged in a bit of a collective freakout as January 20 draws closer, and it’s hard to keep it together, or even to find much else to talk about. At the same time, there’s a pervasive feeling that we need to buck up and charge ahead, without getting too mired in the past that we can’t change or hysterically speculating about what’s to come. It feels like a test, and to be honest it’s downright exhausting.

So, my New Year’s resolution, to the extent I do those things at all, is to truly get on with it. There’s stuff I have control over and stuff that I don’t, and obsessing over the latter won’t help me or anyone else in 2017. But at the same time I am going to expand my own perception of what I do have the power to influence. To be kinder and more understanding and more aware of what goes on outside my sphere is not very hard to do (it’s a hell of a lot easier than making it to the gym five times a week, for example) and, if we all did it, the payoff would be tremendous. It is certainly a better way for me to spend my time and energy than, say, reading and becoming incensed by a certain someone’s tweets or arguing about Hillary’s emails (still? When will it end?).

Time to shift the focus, but that doesn’t mean blunting the resolve to try to be an agent of change, and that’s where I find art particularly inspiring. Lots of musicians, writers, comedians, painters, sculptors, dancers, and other creative types are out there already, getting on with it, making noise and shifting perspectives. They are doing it every day, right here in New York City, and we are all so lucky to have virtually unfettered access to this mercurial, roiling, dynamic elixir of new thought and creativity and beauty that is conjured up all around us all the time. Get out there and see some of it this week. Here are some ideas that struck us as particularly fun and motivating ways to get yourself back in the swing of it during this first Ideal Week of the new year.


Thursday, January 5

The instrumental trio known as Big Lazy consists of an electric guitar, an acoustic bass and drums. That spare line-up is able to conjure up gritty, emotional spaces and moods with music that has been described by The New Yorker as “stunningly beautiful” and by Time Out as “virtuosic.” Composer Stephen Ulrich, who scored Bored to Death, has led the band in various incarnations for the past two decades, and a group of esteemed alumni like Charlie Giordano of The E Street Band and Peter Hess of The Philip Glass Ensemble will be reuniting at Union Pool on Thursday night for a celebration of the 20th anniversary of Amnesia, the group’s debut album. The show starts at 8pm and tickets are $10 each; Brooklyn-based ensemble Barbez and Primitive Sound System will be on hand as well.

(more…)

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12/21/16 7:29pm
There will be fireworks at Prospect Park on New Year's Eve. Photo: Andrew Gardner

There will be fireworks at Prospect Park on New Year’s Eve. Photo: Andrew Gardner

It’s officially winter, which means we’ve only got a handful of days left until we can finally put 2016 in the rear view. Can I speak for all of us and say don’t let the door smack you in the ass on your way out, year of ruinous hellfire? It’s all symbolic and somewhat arbitrary, but I can’t help but feel that it will be the ultimate catharsis to start with a fresh page on the calendar and renewed focus on what lies ahead? And man, do we ever need some decent, smart people like our beloved BB readers to be on top of things and ready for action in the new year.

So, it is definitely my holiday wish that everyone gets some well-deserved time off next week to rest, re-energize, and curl up with a book in front of a fire somewhere. It goes against every overachieving, ambitious New Yorker’s most basic instincts, but there is serious power in actually forcing yourself to do nothing for a day or two every once in awhile. So please do that if you can. If you need some inspiration, here’s Vulture’s list of 2016’s best new TV shows that you can binge-watch in your PJs.

Because we’ll all be off celebrating the holidays with our families and friends next week, we decided to round up our list of fun ways to usher in 2017 and present it to you this week, figuring that after a few days of doing nothing next week you’ll be good and antsy and ready to blow it out. We’ve also collected a few great stories from Brooklynites-about-town about their own memorable New Year’s Eves past, which we’ll be posting throughout the rest of this week. For now though, Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, and the happiest 2017 to all! Onward! (more…)

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12/14/16 7:31pm
Dyker Heights is the New York City capital of Christmas. Photo:

Dyker Heights is the New York City capital of Christmas.

The holiday season makes us do some pretty dumb things, like spending heaps of cash on crap that our loved ones don’t want or need, eating pannettone, and setting foot inside any NYC post office with the expectation of receiving service and a smile. But I’d argue that the time honored tradition of getting schnockered with colleagues at what feels like a never ending stream of “work holiday drinks” occasions is the worst/stupidest thing that I do with consistency at this time of year. Take last night, for example, when an innocent “team dinner” at a Mexican place in the East Village rapidly devolved into a situation where I was taking a cab home from 7B Horseshoe Bar at 2am, ON A TUESDAY. “Why, why, why would you do this?,” I’ve been asking myself all morning, as memories of various inappropriate things I said to coworkers in my margarita-induced fugue state come flooding back. Today, I feel like I’ve been run over by an Uber XL, I look like a Walking Dead extra, and I am staring down a Gcal of endless meetings one after the other, with no one to blame for any of it but myself! Hopefully you all are smarter with your time, but if not keep in mind that adding more structure to your week might prevent some bad decision making later.

This week, there’s tons to do all over the city, but let’s be honest, most of us will be frantically shopping for holiday gifts. Two great places to find unique presents and support indie artists are the Brooklyn Makers Market, which is at the Williamsburgh Savings Bank Building from 11-7pm Saturday and Sunday, and the Renegade Craft Fair, which is at Industry City for the final weekend of its holiday run. You could also brave the polar vortex and check out the world-famous Dyker Lights with some friends (pro tip: head to Tanoreen in Bay Ridge afterwards for some truly incredible Middle Eastern food). Or you could check out one of the many other cool things that are happening during this Ideal Week, which we’ve listed below with links. Whatever you end up doing, stay warm and remember: friends don’t let friends get four hours of sleep on weeknights! See you next week! (more…)

11/30/16 5:49pm

 

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Welcome back from what I hope was a relaxing long weekend! If the amount that I’ve heard that weird version of Baby, It’s Cold Outside (which Shazam tells me features Seth McFarlane, for some reason?) while going about my daily routine is any indication, the holiday season is upon us. And while that means lots of running around and stressing about what to buy people and eating and drinking too much, ’tis also the season to remember those around us for whom the holidays are not the whirlwind of cocktail parties and high-stakes cookie exchanges that the TV commercials would have you believe. Especially given the heightened anxiety and vulnerability caused by the recent ascension of our orange overlord, it’s a good time to donate time or money or coats to help people who need it, and to reach out to that friend who had a particularly tough 2016 and ask them if they want to go for a walk or get a drink. It’s a nice way to show you care, obviously, but I bet it will make you feel more connected, grounded, and focused on what’s really important too.

This week, we’ve found a ton of fun ways for you to spend your spare time—whether you want to watch a movie, hear jokes, cook, eat, create, give back, ride, or shop. Read on and take note of the things that strike your fancy, and make sure you make the most of another Ideal Week. (more…)

11/23/16 1:43pm

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First and foremost, Happy Thanksgiving to our vibrant and wonderful Brooklyn Based community! In what has been an objectively grim year, capped off with one of the more unsettling political developments in the modern era, feeling “thankful” hasn’t been top of mind of late, but know that our appreciation for you, our loyal readers, has never flagged. We are endlessly grateful for your continued support and for the opportunity to share our stories, tips, events, and news about our beloved borough with you. We wish you peace, joy, and relaxation this Thanksgiving weekend.

In the spirit of the season, we have to admit that despite all of the downers occasioned upon us recently, there are loads of other things to be thankful for too, and these sometimes come from the most unexpected places. Take this example: On a particularly grumpy morning last week, I was cursing all aspects of my life as I pushed on to a crowded R train to make my way into the city. The most enjoyable part of my morning ritual is when I get to fold my NYT Arts section into quadrants and dive into the crossword puzzle, which transports me from a lurching, smelly subway commute into a fun-for-a-dork-like-me exercise in word play. This particular morning, though, it seemed that there was a vast conspiracy afoot to prevent me from being able to concentrate on my comforting little grid and its clues for more than 10 seconds at a time. Among the characters I encountered: a woman in a coat evidently made of Shi-Tzus who was playing Bejeweled at full volume on her iPhone, a group of teenagers for whom yelling expletives on a crowded subway was apparently the apex of comedy, and a man standing near me whose breath, to put it as succinctly as possible, sucked. Just when I was considering whether to ratchet up my passive aggressive paper rustling and eye-rolling to out-and-out glaring, I heard from the other end of the car the unmistakable strumming that all New Yorkers know will inevitably be followed by a “Ladies and Gentlemen. . .” and some sort of inescapable “show” that no one wants or needs at 7:30am. “Are you f’ing kidding me?,” I thought to myself as my irritability levels rose to an unprecedented high and I steeled myself to perpetrate a bonanza of audible sighing and muttering.

But then something crazy happened happened. The busker, a petite man with an unnaturally cheery disposition, broke out into an infectious, rollicking rendition of Rockin’ Robin that was actually pretty great, complete with well-placed tap dancing routines, skillful crowdwork, and a megawatt smile that made it impossible to look away. Suddenly I was smiling too, not to mention tapping my foot with the beat—we all were—and as the guy took us all the way over the Manhattan Bridge, the mood in the car full of hardened NYC subway commuters shifted seismically. People took out their earbuds to listen, the hipsterish dude next to me said incredulously, “This guy is really good,” and even the surly, cursing teens put some loose change into our entertainer’s hat. By the time a group of us got off at Union Square, we were all looking each other in the eye, smiling, and saying things like “have a good day” to total strangers. I had been depressed for days about the looming Trump presidency and his increasingly disturbing picks for top positions in his administration, but that day I basically skipped into work. And I was reminded of something important, which is that no matter how awful it gets, it is never bad enough to extinguish the power of the limitless reserve of talent, beauty, diversity, decency, and common experience that we are blessed to encounter in our lives.

Because this Ideal Week includes Thanksgiving and a long weekend where we assume that lots of you will be out of town or otherwise occupied with family and friends, we are skipping our normal day-by-day roundup of events and activities this time around in favor of a brief list of things for which we are feeling extra thankful this year. (more…)

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