04/26/17 5:01pm

Check out Onderdonk House this weekend.

It’s another wet Wednesday in early spring, but never mind the rain–we’ve got galoshes and a carefully curated list of awesome stuff happening in Brooklyn over the next Ideal Week. Before we get to all that though, I have to share some exciting news, which is that after a year of sweaty workouts at the Y on 9th Street, I finally crossed paths with the mayor and his security detail there last night! Still no insight as to why he makes the commute from the UES for the Y, which it should be said was keeping its women’s locker room at a balmy 97 degrees yesterday, but it was fun to see De Blasio navigating the same tangle of treadmills and ellipticals that us hoi polloi toil away atop on a daily basis.

In other news, did you read about the new bar in the East Village that donates all of its proceeds to causes threatened by Trump and his unscrupulous, out to lunch band of hooligans? Coup, which is brought to you by the cocktail experts behind Death & Co. and Amore y Amargo, is the city’s first not-for-profit bar, and it’s an opportunity to streamline ritual happy hour de-stressing and your need to partake in some feel-good activism.

This weekend, the perennially popular Sakura Matsuri Festival hits the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, with over 60 events and performances celebrating Japanese culture and cherry blossom season taking place over both days. As I mentioned in a previous post, the crowds at this event can get pretty intense, especially in the afternoon, so it might be worth trying another option this year: The New Amsterdam Festival in Ridgewood. (You’ll be hearing us extol Ridgewood’s virtues again soon–we’re headed there for the first Immersion of the season June 3!) The Ridgewood Historical Society and House of Yes are teaming up to celebrate Dutch history and culture in style, with food, interactive arts, lawn games, an artisan market, a bier garten, and LOTS of tulips. It’s going down from 11am-9pm on both days at the beautiful and historic Onderdonk House property which, if you haven’t seen it, is definitely one of those things that you won’t be able to believe exists in the middle of New York City.

And finally, to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, Nitehawk Cinema will be screening Three Amigos! next weekend, complete with live music from a Grammy-nominated all-female mariachi band and a special brunch menu featuring the breakfast food of the gods, chilaquiles. The show starts at 11:15am on both May 6 and May 7 and costs $16 per person, and tickets will probably sell out so we’re giving you a heads up now.

In the meantime, please take a gander at our picks of goings on about town in the week to come. Stay dry today and make this an Ideal Week to remember. (more…)

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04/25/17 2:24pm

Yesterday marked four years since the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh claimed the lives of 1,132 garment industry workers when the factory building they were in collapsed. Brands like Zara, Walmart, Joe Fresh and The Children’s Place were all found to have been producing clothing at Rana Plaza.

Fashion Revolution Week, April 24-30 this year, is a movement to demand clearer supply chains and safer working conditions, and asking fashion brands for a greater commitment to cleaning up the production of clothing, which is one of the biggest industrial polluters in the global economy.

The truth is that there is enough clothing on the planet to keep us all warm and dry well into the future. Not participating in fast fashion by curbing your shopping habit, or hitting vintage and thrift stores is the best way to reduce waste. You can also shop with these ethical fashion companies that provide safe working conditions and living wages for workers.

Another tactic is to shop local.

New York City was once the capital of the garment industry, and it was also one of the centers of the workers rights movement, which was galvanized, in part, by the horrible tragedy of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. The women, largely Jewish and Italian immigrants, working at Triangle were sewing a fast-fashion forerunner–the fitted, puffy-sleeved tops that were essential to the Gibson Girl look. Different century, same story as Rana Plaza.

Today, the fashion industry is still alive and well in New York City, but most off-the-rack pieces are constructed thousands of miles away in Vietnam, China and India. There are still a handful of garment factories in the city though, and increasingly young, quality-obsessed companies that sell primarily online or in pop-ups are producing New York-made garments that you can feel good about buying and wearing. As a rule they’re more expensive than your average Gap tee, but of course they are. They pay your neighbors a living wage. Here are a few of our favorites. (more…)

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04/24/17 11:29am

Just five minutes to smoothie magic with Greenblender.

Last week the internet enjoyed a rare moment of harmony as it gathered together to mock Juicero, the high tech juice company that raised $120 million to hawk $400, wifi-enabled juicers. A meticulously reported Bloomberg story and accompanying video demonstrated that despite its boasts of aircraft-grade aluminum and four tons of pressing power, it was possible to squeeze Juicero juice packs–which you cannot buy without first purchasing the juicer, called The Press–by hand, to pretty much the same effect.

A tech writer friend and I have had an ongoing joke about Juicero since this gushing New York Times profile of founder Doug Evans came out last year, the punchline being, if you’re a certain type of white guy (read: unconventional, but rich, with a charming if slightly sociopathic personality), you can get Silicon Valley dollars like you have an ATM card, no matter how dumb your idea is.

But here’s the rub–I like drinking juice or smoothies for breakfast, and most juicers really are a pain to clean and I get annoyed by my own lack of creativity when it comes to my smoothie game. Surely there must be some kind of juice interruption that actually delivers, without having to purchase a $400 lie.

There is and the company started in Brooklyn, of course.

Greenblender, to use a tired, but useful formulation, is Blue Apron for smoothies. For $49 a week (less if you commit to several months at a time) you get recipes and ingredients for five different smoothies, two servings of each. You just pop them in a blender and voila, breakfast in about five minutes. Technically these are smoothies–no pulp or fiber is removed, it’s all blended all in there, but they’re much more fruit and vegetable foward than your standard smoothie, which is really a milkshake in disguise. Think of Greenblender concoctions more like super juice. You could not squeeze these ingredients with your bare hands and get a drink from your efforts. (more…)

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04/20/17 10:50am
Photo: Casey Scieszka

The view from the Spruceton Inn. Photo: Casey Scieszka

It all started just a handful of years ago, a slow and steady migration of Brooklyn residents packing up their belongings and heading north–to the mountains, to cabins, to a respite of crisp greenery and stillness.

Or did it?

In reality, city folk have been settling in various counties of upstate New York for generations. The only reason it’s lately been deemed a phenomenon is because social media is now here to chronicle every minute detail of said migration, from photos of people packing up their Cobble Hill apartments to Boomerangs of bonfires crackling in their new yards.

Over the last couple of years, everyone from The New York Times to Vogue has covered the influx of New Yorkers foregoing the mind-numbing squeals of the subway and crowded city parks for long drives in the mountains and afternoons spent hiking, foraging, and buying fresh produce right from the farm. Plus, a hammock or two. We sought out these souls and met Megan Brenn-White (a international marketing business owner, real estate agent, and former resident of Clinton Hill), Sarah Jane Suarez (a former Dumbo resident and co-owner of Gaskins), Casey Scieszka and her husband Steven Weinberg (the people behind Spruceton Inn and former residents of Park Slope) and Alecia and Tom Eberhardt-Smith (co-owners of Eberhardt Smith and former residents of Lefferts Gardens and Sunset Park).

They settled all across upstate New York, from West Kill to Germantown, for all sorts for reasons. Some had family nearby, some had aspirations of opening up their own businesses, and some accidentally turned a vacation into real life. Pretty fabulous “oops” if you ask us. Here’s what these ex-Brooklynites had to say about their moves to the mountains.

(Note: yes, we are aware that there is some debate about the exact definition of “upstate New York.”  For the purpose of this article we have defined it as Hudson Valley towns at least 100 miles north of New York City.”)

BB: Why did you move upstate?
(more…)

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04/19/17 5:06pm
It's the anniversary of Prince's death on Friday. Photo: @brooklynbased

It’s the anniversary of Prince’s death on Friday. Photo: @brooklynbased

Hi everyone and welcome back from Easter/Passover/a weekend in which we had a totally random 90 degree day! It’s time for another Ideal Week roundup, and this week we’ve curated a well-rounded assortment of ways that you can spend your time eating, imbibing, and celebrating spring in and around Brooklyn. If you feel an extra bounce in your step (or shooting pain in your sinuses), that’s because spring really is here, and the ramp guy is at the farmers market to prove it! Why not celebrate the wonderful time before every day is 90+ degrees by treating yourself to a pedicure, a bike tune-up, or a leisurely outdoor rosé-drinking date with a friend? Or try something new on Friday, when Pioneer Works is hosting a new, experimental Groupmuse Massivemuse that is interactive and encourages audience movement. On Saturday or Sunday, you can eat, drink, and party to your heart’s content at Beer Mansion, a weekend-long beer fest brought to you by Brooklyn Brewery Mash, Eater, and a bunch of stellar local businesses. Saturday is Earth Day, which means that 30 blocks of Manhattan are being declared blissfully car-free from 10am-4pm, and it’s also time to join the March for Science, which has been garnering a lot of press of late, if you’re into public funding for science.

For those of us that are still mourning the untimely passing of Prince, the anniversary of his death on Friday is a tough reminder of the remarkable talent and personality that we lost. But it might be therapeutic to attend one of several events going on this week that commemorate the Purple One, including Questlove’s Purple Anniversary edition of Bowl Train on Thursday night, House of YES’ Dirty Thursday Prince party on the same night, or the Skint’s Celebration of Prince at Littlefield on Saturday night.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg on this Ideal Week in April–read on for many more potential plans and have a great week! (more…)

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04/18/17 12:33pm
Denise Mei and Cait McLaughlin team up at class 3 of the W/T/F Bicycle Repair and Maintenance Intensive on March 29 at the Lutheran Church of St John the Evangelist in Brooklyn for women/trans/non-binary identifying individuals. Photo: Kate Ryan

Denise Shu Mei and Cait McLaughlin team up at the W/T/F Bicycle Repair and Maintenance Intensive for women/trans/non-binary identifying individuals. Photo: Kate Ryan

The early birds entered through the red door of Williamsburg’s Lutheran Church of St. John the Evangelist at 5:45pm. They descended a flight of stairs to a basement with tile floors, chairs stacked against the wall, the lingering smell of incense.

And a bike workshop.

“Take a sticker, and write your name and pronouns,” said Denise Shu Mei to newcomers.

One woman carefully printed “Erika” and “she/her” before sticking it to her shirt front.

 

This was the third and final class of Mechanical Gardens‘ inaugural W/T/F Bicycle Repair and Maintenance Intensive. The hands-on classes were open to women, trans persons, and non-binary individuals.

The waitlist for the series, which stands for Women/Trans/Femme, was long and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Instructor Sera Stavroula said it will not be the last.

“People were excited that it wasn’t a 101 thing,” said Stavroula, 29. “There are classes like that: “Women’s Intro to Bikes,” “Women’s Intro to Riding,” “Women’s Intro to Flat Fix.” She said she wanted to offer something more challenging.

Erika Jozwiak ponders her maintenance options at class 3 of the W/T/F Bicycle Repair and Maintenance Intensive on March 29 at the Lutheran Church of St John the Evangelist in Brooklyn for women/trans/non-binary identifying individuals.

Erika Jozwiak ponders her maintenance options. Photo: Kate Ryan

Each night Stavroula focused on a different system, how it functioned, potential issues that might arise, warning signs, ways to fix the problem, and how much the repair should cost at a bike shop. She said students got their hands dirty and sized chains, recabled shifters, and changed tires and brake pads. They learn to diagnose and fix problems, and if they need to take their bike into the shop, this class should demystify the process.

Stavroula, who has worked with bikes for six years, was the first female mechanic at a pro-shop in Richmond, VA. Today she works as the Bike to School coordinator and a mechanic at Recycle-a-Bicycle in Dumbo.

“You go into a bike shop and it’s a lot of guys,” said Stavroula. “It’s hard to access that space if you don’t have experience.” (more…)

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04/17/17 10:54am
Photo: Georgia Kral

Photo: Faun

If you’re a wine drinker then you’ve probably heard some bottles described as “natural wines.” On menus around town from casual pizza spots to special occasion restaurants, natural wines have become wine directors’ darlings, as well as favorites with diners. Here’s what you need to know.

But what is natural wine?

It’s debatable, really. In the past 10 years, just what is natural wine has been a heated topic in certain circles. We like what Eric Asimov, The New York Times wine writer, has to say about it: “I have always considered the lack of a definition of natural wine to be a great strength … It’s an ideal, rather than a set of rules.”

Those underlying ideals include making wine with as little intervention from the winemakers as possible. That means limiting the addition of preservatives (sulfur) and flavors, and allowing each harvest–which, as with all crops, changes from year to year based on any number of factors–to sing its own tune. Many big name wines, whether you’re talking Yellow Tail or Veuve Clicquot, are made to be consistent year to year. Each bottle tastes the same. Natural wine vintages can vary wildly, and that is considered a desirable reflection of the growing season.

Natural winemakers also let the naturally-occurring yeasts act as the agents of fermentation, rather than adding other yeasts.

“You can’t be a natural winemaker if you’re using cultivated yeasts,” said Mike Fadem, co-owner of Ops in Bushwick, which pours from a constantly rotating list of natural wines. “If you’re letting it happen on its own naturally people are afraid it’s less control, or you’re less likely to get the exact same thing every year.”

But not knowing exactly what you’re going to get is part of the excitement, he added.

(more…)

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04/12/17 9:10pm

old-train-platform-1450997

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.

How often do we pass a place and remember someone from our history? It’s a curious bit of personal tradition for me to swing through Philadelphia and think of Shannon; Washington, D.C., to bow myself against the memory of Amy; Miami resonates with Evan; in Delaware I think of my lost friend Hilary; Trenton is for Dakota; Charleston is for Hannah; and Savannah is for Georgia, a girl named for the state I once called home.

Here I find myself between them again, traveling on a train with stops along the northeastern corridor, a place scattered with memories.

This corridor and these women stay connected in my mind; the electric charge that once existed between us persists against the erosion of time on memory. And on a 10:10pm northbound Amtrak late last winter, after a weary month of traveling with stops in D.C. and Richmond, the Carolinas and New Jersey, I realized that some places remain shallow reliefs of the people with whom you experienced them. (more…)

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04/12/17 1:17pm

Weird week so far, huh? A couple of days of incredible weather felt like a fresh, hopeful beginning, but then all it takes is a glance at the internet to reveal another elementary school shooting, airlines committing assault against their customers, David Letterman’s mom dying, and the usual stream of myriad abominations from the Trump show. It would be great if we could all just have a really good stretch of positive stuff only (or at least not actively bad stuff) for a while, don’t you think? Excessive optimism can feel a little phony and is tough to muster in a constant onslaught of somber news, but the internet sometimes delivers a glittering shard of seaglass amidst the gloomy flotsam. Case in point: I ran across this poem by Maggie Smith (no, not the Dowager Countess) on Twitter the other day and it struck me as at once lovely and grim and encouraging and an utterly fitting reflection of my mood these days:

Good Bones


Life is short, although I keep this from my children.

Life is short, and I’ve shortened mine

in a thousand delicious, ill-advised ways,

a thousand deliciously ill-advised ways

I’ll keep from my children. The world is at least

fifty percent terrible, and that’s a conservative

estimate, though I keep this from my children.

For every bird there is a stone thrown at a bird.

For every loved child, a child broken, bagged,

sunk in a lake. Life is short and the world

is at least half terrible, and for every kind

stranger, there is one who would break you,

though I keep this from my children. I am trying

to sell them the world. Any decent realtor,

walking you through a real shithole, chirps on

about good bones: This place could be beautiful,

right? You could make this place beautiful.

This week is an ideal one to add something good of your own into the mishmashed kaleidoscope of heartbreaking, happy, gorgeous hideousness that is life on this planet at the present moment and push for a collective net positive. I’m gonna give it a shot, anyway. But that certainly doesn’t mean I can’t get good and mad and head on over to the Tax March at Bryant Park at 1pm on Saturday–hope to see some of you there! In the meantime, keep your head up everyone, and check out our other ideas ideas of ways to fill up your time between now and next Wednesday. (more…)

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04/11/17 9:00am
An awesome example of rocking the full unicorn. Photo: Anya Krotova

An awesome example of rocking the full unicorn. Photo: Anya Krotova

You’ve probably noticed unicorn everything these days, whether you’re drinking your unicorn latte or sporting a unicorn manicure. For a deep dive into the history of this unicorn beauty trend, I recommend reading this article in Racked about how it came to be. If you’re scrolling through your Instagram feed wondering how you could possibly rock a rainbow mane, we talked to Anya Krotova, a stylist at Exhibit Salon, a self-described unicorn factory. She gave us the scoop on how to avoid looking like unicorn poop. (more…)

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