02/23/17 9:14am

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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.

Nothing had yet caught fire. After my late shift, I fell fast asleep.

I’d spent the night wandering in a haze, a low mist applied across the city invariably and without discretion. I stepped around patches and had nowhere to go but home, wondering whether there was somewhere for me to be and all I’d forgotten it. A strange tickle lapped at my neck and I felt like someone was behind me. I turned fast. No one was there, but every few steps along Queens Boulevard I took to turning back. Checking just in case.

Eventually I found my way home, careful as I crossed the streets, dodging headlights sponged in mist. I could see a police cruiser down the block, and counseled myself, No way, it’s not for you.

This state of paranoia never settles, and is often encouraged by the anonymity of nighttime. In my bones I feel an unshakable guilt, a teasing disruption in my liver and heart, a menace trapped inside my own menace. Sometimes I misplace it, seeing a police officer to set it upon or bestowing it on an unsuspecting girlfriend or another confidante. The paranoia stays and becomes second-nature. It is necessary to survival. I have lived with it always.

Someone once told me that if I were to look skyward more often, into the haze above Manhattan, I would come to see more, feel more grounded, become better situated and aware of these feelings inside this unnatural spree of concrete and metal. Hear something enough and it becomes your own philosophy. I heard those words—look up, dammit, look up!—and learned that my compass relied on the two towers that could be seen from almost anywhere–The Empire State and One World Trade. There are the pencil skyscrapers, light dribbling out the windows, but nothing like these. That’s where the collective hopeful ambitions come from. Excelsior!

My childhood in the city was spent looking down, navigating cracks in the sidewalks, bursting through crowds gathered at crosswalks. I had a fast pace, strode like I belonged, moved with a purpose and, for that reason, never gleaned much of the city. So I’m starting to look up these nights, pacing around on the streets, mindless and enthralled just the same. It’s when I am in this trance that I can peer up at these buildings and see inside them vignettes of lives I will never lead. (more…)

02/22/17 2:58pm

It’s Wednesday again, which means it’s time for a new installment of Your Ideal Week, which now and for the foreseeable future will necessarily involve a smattering of #resist and #persist activities.

Speaking of which, I owe a debt of gratitude to whoever put the “refugees welcome” sign on the Statue of Liberty yesterday–that small, peaceful yet powerful act injected some hope into my day and that’s something to give thanks for. The fight for inclusion, diversity, and basic fairness marches on, but the news this week is that we are heading towards 70 degrees for the next several days…in February! Sure, it’s another sign that we are deep in the throes of a self-inflicted climate crisis that will only be hastened along by the cabal of short-sighted, incompetent goons who hold our fate in their hands, but it doesn’t mean you can’t take the opportunity to get outside and feel the warm sun on your face. Maybe it’s time to treat your vile winter hooves to a pedicure (or the revolting/fascinating experiment that is Baby Foot), or take the bike in for a tune-up, or head upstate for a hike.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with staying in either–there are still probably a few movies you need to cram in before the Oscars on Sunday, and tomorrow is National Chili Day so it’s great time to cook up a pot of warm, stick-to-your-ribs goodness (or pick some up at The Brooklyn Star or whatever joint you prefer in your nabe). If you’re looking for something out of the ordinary to do tonight, the Greenpoint YMCA is hosting rope jumping phenom and double-world-record-holder Adrienn Banhegyi, who has performed with Cirque du Soleil and at the Rio Olympics, tonight at 7:30pm. And planning ahead for Ideal Weeks in the near future, you can count down to March Madness in person when the ACC Tournament hits the Barclays Center from March 7-11, or score a ticket to LoftOpera’s upcoming performance of Rossini’s Otello at LightSpace Studios in Bushwick on March 16, 18, 20, 23, 25, and 27. 

But until then, take a peek at our list of happenings in and around town between now and next Wednesday, and have yourself an Ideal Week, friends!

(more…)

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02/21/17 10:33am
Photo: Brooklyn Scouts

Photo: Brooklyn Scouts

Let me introduce you to the 5th Brooklyn Scouts, where their motto is “traditional scouting for everyone.”

Don’t be fooled by the word “traditional.” Part of the Baden-Powell Service Association (BPSA), an all-inclusive scouting organization that has been in existence worldwide since 1907, the 5th Brooklyn Scouts is not the gender-segregated experience that you remember from being a Cub Scout or a Brownie, and does not have the same history of discrimination against gay and transgender children and leaders. (Last month, The Boy Scouts of America finally announced that they would allow transgender boys to join.)

Just as importantly, Brooklyn Scouts seamlessly blends the joys of forest school, the community service of a social justice club, and outdoors-focused field trips, all for $180 for the entire year. Children spend a lot of time outside, and learn real skills.

The Brooklyn chapter speaks openly about their challenge to diversify in their Park Slope enclave, which is a focus for their organization this year, as well as a historical value of the organization. “Scouting has even transcended and risen above racial divisions and prejudices in the movement’s past,” says scoutmaster Jillian Tate. “Our founder, Lord Robert Baden Powell, refused to allow racial segregation in scouting until his death in 1941–even in countries like South Africa and India where the ruling colonists attempted to create all-white organizations.” (more…)

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02/20/17 9:02am
Come by for a game of shuffleboard. Photo: Georgia Kral

Come by for a game of shuffleboard. Photo: Georgia Kral

Chef Dale Talde and the Three Kings Restaurant Group may have just closed two Brooklyn establishments–Pork Slope and Thistle Hill Tavern–but they haven’t turned their backs on the borough.

Instead, they have opened Atlantic Social, a massive restaurant (130 seats) and sports bar (50 stools) that they hope will appeal to Brooklynites and guests visiting the nearby Barclays Center.

“We want this place to be for the die hard sports fan but also the people who could give two shits,” said Three Kings partner David Massoni. But “at the end of the day, you can’t deny there’s a sports bar element. There are 16 TVs.”

Sixteen televisions, indeed. Atlantic Social also boasts a game room, which Massoni says they are calling “the parlor,” with a shuffleboard table and classic arcade games like Ms. Pan-Man and Big Buck Hunter. There are leather couches and an inviting gas fireplace in the room, too. A pool table is on its way. The game room is open to anyone but can also be rented out for parties.

“We want it to be feel like a friend’s parents’ basement,” Massoni said. (more…)

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02/16/17 10:00am
Mozart's Sister - credit: Rebecca Storm

Mozart’s Sister | Photo: Rebecca Storm

If Mozart’s Sister, Canadian indie pop musician Caila Thompson-Hannant’s current project, has got you wondering whether Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart actually had a sibling, then let’s start with a quick musical history lesson. Yes, the famed composer had an older sister named Maria Anna (1751-1829). Like her brother, Maria was also a musical child prodigy who toured with Wolfgang and performed for audiences throughout Europe. Some have even said that Maria had an influence on her younger brother, according to a Smithsonian article, she transcribed Wolfgang’s first symphony, and another researcher claimed that she composed works for her brother so he could learn how to play the piano. But her music days ended when she turned 18, (and her family insisted she focus on getting married) while Wolfgang’s career continued to flourish into adulthood and eventually legend. Over time, Maria Anna’s life and contributions have surfaced in articles, books, a play, and a movie, after she had been relegated throughout history as a footnote to the career of her more famous bro.

It’s fitting that Thompson-Hannant named her project after an unsung female musician who was independently talented in her own right. For her new album, Field of Love, Thompson-Hannant called her own shots throughout production and recording. The follow-up to her 2014 full-length debut album Being, Field of Love is a celebratory, romantic electropop record: dizzying atmospheric synth sounds, infectious dance beats and Thompson-Hannant’s child-like yet soulful vocals buoy uptempo tracks like “Eternally Girl,” “My Heart Is Wild,” and “Moment 2 Moment.”

If Field of Love sounds like something out of the ’90s, that was by design–it was during that period that Thompson-Hannant developed her love for dance pop.

Thompson-Hannant, who previously played in the band Shapes and Sizes, is returning to the States for some upcoming show dates, including one at Brooklyn’s Silent Barn tonight, as well as several showcases at SXSW in March. Brooklyn Based spoke with this emerging musician who, unlike the Mozart’s actual sister, has stepped out on her own without being in someone else’s shadow. (more…)

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02/15/17 12:38pm

Insa is throwing a dance party Sunday night to raise money for refugees affected by Trump’s hideous travel ban. Video: Insa

Buenos miercoles, todos, and welcome to another edition of Your Ideal Week, our weekly roundup of eats, activities, readings, cultural events, and other gatherings happening in and around the best borough. Hope everyone survived the snowstorm OK, and maybe had a fun day off/wfh in PJs day in the process? And then of course we had Valentine’s Day, which in my case involved a sugar binge and resultant crash yesterday that was the stuff of legend. I blame it on the colleague who brought in V Day-themed pixie sticks, which I’ve always maintained is the laziest candy. Think about it: At some point someone literally sat in a Big Candy boardroom and gave this approximate pitch: “We take actual, plain sugar out of the Domino box, see, and then we dye it and put it in a rolled up piece of paper and sell it. Mic drop.” Needless to say I’m still feeling the effects. . . And now these latest revelations that Trump et al. had improper and possibly treasonous dealings with Russia, which everyone is acting surprised about for some reason even though we’ve all known this was the case the whole time. Hillary Clinton was screaming it from the rooftops during the campaign and Trump himself was joking (?) about it in tweets but now we all have to feign shock like we do when a friend’s boyfriend pops the question after they spend months picking out a ring together. Whatever, don’t hate the player, hate the game, I guess? Unless by “the player” you are referring to an elected official who deliberately compromises the safety and sovereignty of our nation, in which case, hate away. Hopefully, this will continue to erode the legitimacy of this administration and hasten the end of this nightmare without causing too much irreversible damage to US interests here and abroad, but we live in The Upside Down now, so who can say for sure?

Moving right along, this week brings (not my) President’s Day, which is a double-edged sword in 2017 as it means a reminder of the utter disaster that is currently playing out in the White House but also a long weekend. We’ll give you some great ideas of how to spend your free time between now and next Wednesday but before we get to that I wanted to let you know about Nitehawk Cinema’s upcoming Film Feast revolving around John Carpenter’s 1986 cult classic, Big Trouble in Little China. Nom Wah Tea Parlor and Lagunitas are collaborating on a five-course menu inspired by specific moments in the film, with dishes like “Chinatown Dumplings,” “Pork Chop Lost in an Alley” and “Green Eyes” (interpreted as Matcha lotus sesame balls). It will be delicious and it will definitely sell out (I’m still mad I missed the window for the Coming to America Film Feast earlier this month) so be sure to pick up a ticket now, even though the event won’t happen until April 18. Once that’s taken care of, take a gander at our picks of things to do over the course of the next seven days and, until next time, have yourself an Ideal Week! (more…)

02/13/17 10:33am
Jip Bap is a traditional Korean meal. Photo: Mokbar

Jip Bap is a traditional Korean meal. Photo: Mokbar

For Chef Esther Choi, her food is her life. Literally.

Choi, owner and chef at the Chelsea Market Korean ramen shop Mokbar opened a Brooklyn location of the restaurant last Wednesday. And she lives right upstairs.

“I wanted to babysit!” she said.

For a chef whose cooking is heavily inspired by her family and cultural heritage, it makes sense that her home and work life are so entwined.

More jip bap to love. Photo: Mokbar

More jip bap to love. Photo: Mokbar

At Mokbar Brooklyn, which is on Flatbush Avenue near Bergen Street, Choi wanted to show “how I eat at home and how I grew up eating. How my grandma cooked for me everyday.” To that end, the menu expands greatly on the Chelsea Market location with larger dishes and a focus on jipbap–“real, traditional Korean cooking,” she said.

A jipbap order consists of a main dish, usually a protein like short ribs or pork belly, accompanied by soup, rice and a variety of banchan–small, seasonal, vegetable dishes.

“We bring it out in a big tray,” said Choi, excitedly discussing the format of the meal, which she emphasized was created with non-Korean diners in mind. “On the tray we have soup, rice, mains and seasonal small plates that wrap it all together.” (more…)

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02/09/17 1:06pm
Is it real, or is life in LA all just a dream?

Is it real, or is life in L.A. all just a dream? Photo: Regina Mogilevskaya

Brooklyn versus L.A. It’s a battle as old as…well, it’s old. For years, it seems that there has been a steady influx of people fleeing New York and setting up camp in Los Angeles. Perhaps you’ve lost a neighbor, a book club member, a friend, or even a significant other to the epidemic. Perhaps you’ve chuckled over a particularly excellent New Yorker piece on the matter, or accidentally lost half an hour of your life scrolling through an acquaintance’s Instagram full of tacos, sunshine, and otherworldly hikes. Maybe you’ve even daydreamed about the move yourself, perhaps while being herded like cattle through the Union Square subway station at rush hour on a Tuesday morning.

It’s undeniable that a certain culture of escape has always underscored life in New York, increasingly as of late. Sure, we’ve got it pretty damn good here, but what if we lived in a place without slush puddles the sizes of lakes? What if we were able to afford an apartment with normal-sized bedrooms? What if we could be happier? What if?

Brooklyn Based chatted with four former New Yorkers who migrated west to Los Angeles: Erica Reitman (an interior designer and writer, and previously the blogger behind Fucked in Park Slope), Eli Edelson (a television coordinator and writer), Heather D. Orozco (now a Realtor, formerly a talent buyer at The Bell House and Union Hall), and Adam Rotstein (a copywriter and comedy writer). They came from Crown Heights and Bed-Stuy and Park Slope—some had lived in Brooklyn for as little as two years, others were closing in on a decade when they left. Today, they’re scattered across the Los Angeles neighborhoods of Glassell Park, Boyle Heights, Mt. Washington, and North Hollywood, respectively. While their personal experiences have varied, they can all agree two things when it comes to the Los Angeles versus Brooklyn debate: The Mexican food is incomparable, and none of them currently harbor any dreams of ever moving back to our borough. (more…)

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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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02/06/17 11:08am

I know it’s supposed to be 60 degrees on Wednesday, practically outdoor movie weather, but it’s only the beginning of February folks, we’ve got lots more winter to make it through. How do we get the chill out of our bones (and hearts)? Eat. And do it with friends and loved ones.

Here are seven of the the hottest dishes in Brooklyn–served piping hot, swimming in spice or just imbued with that magic so-hot-right-now-sauce. They’ll lift your spirits, stop your nose from running and maybe get your eyes and mouth watering at once.

Making uni and sweet potato pierogies at Olmsted is a labor of love. Photo: @olmstednyc

Making sweet potato and uni pierogies at Olmsted is a labor of love. Photo: @olmstednyc

Sweet potato and uni pierogies at Olmsted

Chef Greg Baxtrom and crew keep hitting the nail on the head with their stylized version of American classics at Olmsted. First came the crab rangoon, which were made with kale, served in a take-out Chinese style box and now the acclaimed Prospect Heights restaurant is making their version of pierogi, filled with the “it” ingredient that just won’t stop: sea urchin. These babies are another fine example of what can happen when high meets home-y.

Olmsted, 659 Vanderbilt Ave., Prospect Heights (more…)

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