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.

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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…)

12/07/16 2:38pm
Emma Straub was one of the first Brooklyn residents we including in our "Five Questions, One Drawing" series a few years ago. Illustration: Steven Weinberg

Emma Straub was one of the first Brooklyn residents we including in our “Five Questions, One Drawing” series a few years ago. Illustration: Steven Weinberg

Well Brooklyn, what are your plans for the week? Oh right, I guess that’s actually our job, to help you figure out the best way to spend the next seven days. This time of year is always tough–it’s dark when you get out of work, the holidays require a good amount of organization, energy and cash, and it just seems so appealing to cozy up to a book and forget the outside world exists.

Maybe I’m just feeling that way because of the news that Brooklyn author Emma Straub is planning on opening a bookstore somewhere in the Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Columbia Heights area, to keep independent book selling alive in the wake of BookCourt’s closing at the end of the year. Straub herself, not to mention her juicy novels, is a delight and I can’t wait to do next year’s holiday shopping at her sure-to-be bright and cheerful store. Somewhat related, The New York Times asked writers around the world to name their favorite bookstores and the list is like a nerd’s dream vacation planner.

Not that you asked, but the two books that have been keeping me on the couch lately are Zadie Smith’s wonderful new novel Swing Time and Eight Flavors, The Untold Story of American Cuisine by Sarah Lohman, filled with the fascinating history of ingredients that you wouldn’t expect to make the cut. (Curry powder? What?) Like every other white, liberal American, I also have Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance on hold at the library, but that’s a whole other story.

Truly though, there are a lot of ways to enjoy the week ahead that are not in your apartment and we’ve compiled our top picks here. Get out there and have some fun.  (more…)

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12/06/16 12:09pm

nooffice

Admit it, even if you have a remote boss who barely gets in your way, you have a few grievances you’d like to air. Well, save em up for this Friday night, Dec. 9, at the 6th annual No Office Party hosted by Brokelyn and the skint. It’s the one holiday office party where you stand little chance of running into your colleagues (and if you do, they must be cool). Which means you can really make an ass out of yourself, especially considering that this is the first year it’s held on a Friday night.

Along with the very satisfying, on stage boss-dissing, there’ll be live-band karaoke from the famous Rock Star Karaoke, DJ Doctor Mister spinning holiday tunes, a holiday photo booth, sexy Santa and Lady Santa, tasty food from Yeah Dawg and drink specials, plus a few surprises.

Kiss this “terrifying garbage fire of a year” (Brokelyn’s apt words) goodbye with your freelance and corporate cohorts at Littlefield. Tix are just a low low $5 in advance ($8 at the door), and you get a free tote from Artists and Fleas when you buy beforehand. A portion of the proceeds will go toward local organizations that will help fight the Trump administration, too. If you do go, be sure to tell him He’s Fired.

11/30/16 5:49pm

 

short-stack

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

typorama-3

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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11/21/16 4:55pm

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Since Thanksgiving, you’ve likely explored in the far reaches of your kitchen where you hide the gravy separator and the tart pan. You were probably reminded of how many pots and platters you never ever use, which is a good thing, because on Tuesday, Dec. 13, we’re inviting you to bring your tired cooking tools and trade up for fresh goods at Brooklyn Based and 61 Local’s Great Cook Swap.

Gather all your gently used cookware, cookbooks, unopened spices and fancy foods taking up precious space in your kitchen and apartment, and bring them to 61 Local, where you can find the cookware you want and can actually use.

When you arrive you’ll get tickets for trading based on the tiers listed here. (If you want to trade in a different category, just bring enough items to get to that tier.) As a Great Cook Swapper, you’ll also be able to score $6 beers and $9 wines all night using a secret code we’ll supply the night of.

The party starts at 6:30 and runs until 10pm. At 9:30, we’ll announce three random winners who will each get a $100 gift certificate to online grocer Peapod.com, and open up all leftover goods to anyone who wants them.

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