06/21/16 11:58am

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Gay Pride is Saturday here in New York and while we usually write about Pride events (including Brooklyn Pride which was June 11), this week we wanted to take the opportunity to bring you a few different stories from the queer community and really mark the occasion.

Here in New York City, I sometimes let myself get lazy about just how much homophobia exists in the world. It’s like somewhere between Six Feet Under and the Supreme Court striking down DOMA, after my first gay wedding and before my first married gay friends divorced, I decided to believe that this particular kind of hate had been eradicated, like polio or smallpox, stamped out by common sense, progress and love.

Of course I knew that wasn’t entirely true, but living in Brooklyn it was easy enough to believe. Until last weekend. Until Orlando. Until 49 members of the LGBTQ community were murdered because they were loving life and living for it.

I look at my various social media feeds and thing that really fills my heart and makes a lump in my throat is the utter lack of hate coming out of the gay community. People are hurt and angry and so, so sad. They want change, they want the conversation to move past the empty posturing our elected officials pantomime their way through every single time gun violence erupts in this country on a mass scale. What I don’t see is anyone calling to prevent refugees from entering the U.S. or rounding up Muslims who are already here. I see a conversation. I see a hunger for solutions. And I’m humbled by that.

So here at Brooklyn Based, in a really fucking weird year for politics and everything else, during Pride Week in New York City, it’s really the very least we can do to run stories that remind our readers that Brooklyn is gay as the day. To say unequivocally, everyone has the right to feel the love they feel, to express their own identity in the manner of their choosing, to ask to be called by a name or a pronoun or an adjective that feels good to them, to be themselves without permission. We’re all human, we’re all amazing creatures, we’re all so different and so alike, and truly, the LGBTQ community reminds us all of that all the time.

Thank you.

05/20/16 1:40pm
The new beer garden brewing in the Navy Yard--Brooklyn Brewery's rooftop restaurant and pub, coming in 2018. Rendering: Davis Brody Bond

The new beer garden brewing in the Navy Yard–Brooklyn Brewery’s rooftop restaurant and pub, coming in 2018. Rendering: Davis Brody Bond

These days, it’s hard to navigate a New York City beer blog and not hear frequent mention of the many great craft breweries taking over the city. There’s Other Half, Grimm, Finback, Singlecut, Transmitter—the list, like the road, goes ever on and on. But before this city gave us $8 craft beers, there was a small brewery based out of Williamsburg, struggling to revitalize the city’s rich and storied history of beer brewing.

On Sunday, news broke that this “small” brewery would be expanding to the Navy Yard, and made plain just how successful Brooklyn Brewery has been at reviving the local craft beer scene, here and abroad. Since they opened their doors nearly 30 years ago, the brewery has not just expanded its reach locally—it’s gone well beyond Brooklyn. Roughly half of its beers, most of which are brewed upstate in Utica, are sold outside the city of New York. It’s what’s made Brooklyn Brewery the 12th largest craft beer brand in the country and number one exporter of craft beer in the U.S.

But over the next decade, Brooklyn Brewery hopes to cement its legacy and presence in the city of New York. The crown jewel of this plan is this week’s announcement that the 28-year-old company will open a new 75,000-square-foot brewery, complete with a rooftop brewpub and restaurant—in the 215-year-old Brooklyn Navy Yard’s Building 77. Once the operation is up and running in 2018, Brooklyn Brewery will produce about 130,000 barrels of its beer within city limits (the Williamsburg location currently brews 80,000 barrels a year). (more…)

04/26/16 10:30am
A 2014 prototype of Citizen Bridge. Its design has evolved dramatically since then. Photo: Nancy Nowacek

A 2014 prototype of Citizen Bridge. Its design has evolved dramatically since then. Photo: Nancy Nowacek

Two years ago we told you about an artist’s plans to bridge the distance between Red Hook and Governors Island—a mere 1,400 feet—with a floating bridge that would allow pedestrians to walk across Buttermilk Channel for just one day. We won’t be slipping on our boat shoes just yet to make the crossing, but Nancy Nowacek’s crazy, beautiful scheme is a lot closer to happening. It’s just going to take a little more engineering, and some backers for her Kickstarter that just launched last week. (more…)

02/11/16 11:26am
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Cover art by Maya Renfro

A YouTube link landed in our inbox last night, and the first clue of its content, prior to watching it, was an album cover mashup of Elton John and Bernie Sanders, with Bernie’s name above the years spanning his (potential, two-term) presidency, 2016-2024. The second was the song name, “Hold Me Closer, Bernie Sanders.” If you thought that Tony Danza riff on ‘Tiny Dancer’ was funny, watch this.

MIXTAPE: a cover band for hipsters—who is playing our Wedding Crashers Live showcase Feb. 22—came up with the parody after a recent gig. When their set was over, Elton’s classic song came on, and lead singer Melanie Flannery’s husband, Danny Sher, the drummer, started singing, “Hold me closer, Bernie Sanders…” Flannery says she rolled her eyes, then laughed hysterically. “You know,” she said at the end of the night, “I think there’s something there and I think we could really do something with it.”

This wasn’t much of a stretch for Flannery and her husband, who may be feeling the Bern now, but have always been politically active. Flannery worked for Amnesty International earlier in her career and her husband, she says, “follows politics like most people follow sports.” They were at Obama’s first inauguration, but it never occurred to them to write a song for him as they have for Bernie.

“We love to make music, and we’re all really inspired by Sanders. It just made sense.” Flannery wrote the lyrics, and together with her husband, their sound engineer, Alex Wernquest, Wesley Nichols and Wernquest’s girlfriend Lindsey Poleck (who helped fine tune the words), they recorded the whole thing in Wernquest’s Catskills studio, Basement Floods, on Super Bowl Sunday afternoon. It’s up on their site, holdmecloserberniesanders.com, where there is a link to donate to his campaign, too.

“We wanted to launch it as the New Hampshire primary results were coming in. We knew he was going to win, and we wanted something to rally around. We want people to celebrate with it, be inspired by it and I wanted people to have a bit of a laugh.”

Asked if she could imagine writing a similar song for Hillary if she were to get the nomination, Flannery emailed back, “That’s a tough one. I can imagine it, because I don’t think she’s an awful candidate, just not my preference, and certainly better than any option on the right. I think the first line would be, ‘Chicago baby, was First Lady, now the first femme president.'” That works, but it doesn’t have the same element of surprise as the first line of her Sanders tribute, when Flannery switches “seamstress for the band” to “Polish-American Jew.”

01/26/16 12:55pm

 

Its not always like this. Photo: Annaliese Griffin

Its not always like this. Photo: Annaliese Griffin

So, how many icy lagoons did you step in, on your way into work this morning? It might seem like a strange day to talk cycling in New York City, what with the record-setting snow mounds still looming on every corner, but really, at its core, the blizzard we just experienced is a story about transportation and our frequent lack of control over how and when we get from place to place. Right now is not a great time to ride a bike, what with the rivers of slush everywhere, but for most of the year cycling gives you more control over your commute, and the way you navigate the city, than any other form of transportation, save walking in your own neighborhood.

Even before the snow, transportation woes were very much in the news, considering the possibility that the L train may close for up to 18 months for repairs (this article has an in-depth analysis of what that would mean for affected neighborhoods), and the announcement that the MTA will renovate 30 stations, eight in Brooklyn, over the next few years, which will shut those stations down during repairs. There are more bike lanes than ever in New York City, so it’s a great time to start thinking about how to get yourself off that crowded train and onto a bike.

Cycling in the city can feel intimidating though, so we spoke to Rich Conroy, director of education at Bike New York, about how to ease into riding a bike safely. (more…)

06/12/15 11:31am

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It’s a stupidly familiar story–Jesse’s Deli on Bond and Atlantic in Boerum Hill is being forced out the neighborhood by a rent hike of more than double the current rate. Locals have rallied to try and save the bodega, and their morning bacon, egg and cheeses, to no avail. According to Evan Vetere, the photographer who took these shots, the landlord (who DNAinfo reports as being Karina Bilger, of Bilger Design & Development) mailed back a petition that more than 1,000 neighbors signed, pleading for a more reasonable rent increase. Didn’t just throw it away and ignore it, mailed it back. Here’s a video from NY1, for more info on the neighborhood effort to keep the store open.

It seems that’s Jesse’s final appeal comes down to humor, with the help of a large format printer. Sign us up for all the brunch meats, please.

05/29/15 10:38am

cheatsheet1Backyard BBQ season is here, friends, and it’s time to ratchet up your party convo game. Here to help is a roundup of articles that caught our attention over the past month, which should give you plenty to of ammunition for your next social gathering. Happy weekend, everybody!

  1. The Department of Justice’s decision to pursue criminal corruption charges against 14 FIFA officials has been covered in depth by every news outfit this week, but the Washington Post had a sobering look at the practical toll of FIFA’s relentless rule-breaking and self-dealing, as measured by human lives lost as a result of the decision, allegedly influenced by extensive bribery, to allow human rights denier Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup. (more…)

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05/19/15 3:30pm

415UdMBlLVLLast week, New York magazine ran an as-told-to account of a landlord who exemplified the worst of what we think about heinous real estate practices in New York. He was just one person, though–and really the most reprehensible one–featured in DW Gibson’s new book, The Edge Becomes the Center: An Oral History of Gentrification in the Twenty-First Century. Gibson spent three years interviewing people who are all involved in the story of how New York’s neighborhoods have radically changed over the past 15 years. He chose the most compelling personalities from all sides of the conversation–landlords, tenants, architects, developers, and activists–to deliver personal accounts that put faces on the established narratives surrounding gentrification, like the effect that market-rate renters have upon rent-stabilized tenants in the same building. We learn how a man who moved into his Crown Heights apartment in the first grade is later taken to housing court ostensibly because he upgraded his cabinets (just as the building’s landlord has offered him $30,000 to move); how one Bed-Stuy native jumps in front of headphone-wearing newcomers to get them to become more present; and how a Ridgewood architect sees the evolution of land use in New York as vital and as natural as the evolution of language.

It’s a truly absorbing book, and it sold out on Amazon in a matter of days. You can find copies on the shelves of local bookstores like Greenlight, though, where Gibson will be reading tomorrow night at 8pm. Below is an edited version of our interview.

Brooklyn Based: A point you often make in the book, and that you hear from the various people you interviewed, is that gentrification is not just an us-versus-them debate. There are many different types of gentrifiers. And it seems as though the gentrifiers that long-time residents get most upset about are the new residents who don’t seem to want to engage at all with the existing community. People who have just moved to a neighborhood simply because it’s cheaper.

If every new resident just engaged with their new community in a meaningful way, do you think gentrification would no longer be as loaded or as bad a word as it is?

DW Gibson: I would say yes. I don’t think it’s a panacea and it would fix everything, but to answer your question precisely, I don’t think it would be as toxic of a word as it is. This is one of the points in the book that I can speak to directly as an individual, as a New Yorker.

I live in Flatbush, Brooklyn, on a small street where it’s safe to say the vast majority of the folks who live on this block are Caribbean. They’re from Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago. I’m very different from them on the surface. I feel conscious about that. I feel aware of that. And the best that I can do, and what I strive to do is simply to develop personal connections with all the people around me, my neighbors and the people down the street and introduce myself and get to know them and become involved in the community in any way I can.

I think if everyone was doing that type of engagement, it would be a first big, huge step toward taking away a lot of the animosity. Because I think there are issues with gentrification on a policy level and we need to talk about those in terms of the things we give developers. Then there are issues with gentrification on an interpersonal level–how we conduct ourselves on the street and how we do or don’t engage our community. (more…)

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05/13/15 2:26pm
A screening of "Paris is Burning" sparked a heated debate on Facebook when the ballroom community the film represents was not invited to present it. Image: Mirimax

A screening of ‘Paris is Burning’ sparked a heated debate on Facebook when readers learned that members from the ballroom community the film represents would not be presenting. Image: Miramax

As of today, over 7,000 people have RSVP’d yes for Celebrate Brooklyn’s screening of Paris is Burning, the famous documentary that explored ball culture in 1980’s New York. By comparison, only 1,384 people have RSVP’d for Krosfyah, the celebration’s second most attended event, and just 179 people have accepted invitations for Lucinda Williams. Normally, this would be cause for Celebrate Brooklyn to celebrate itself, but over this past weekend, their Facebook page exploded in anger. While Paris is Burning examines ball culture produced by Trans /Queer People  of Color (TQPOC), all of the presenters listed on the bill for that night–including director Jennie Livingston and DJ JD Samson–were white. None were from the Ballroom community. (more…)

05/01/15 10:43am

There is an upside to the coyote invasion, air sex is real, and one of our major exports today are major-league jerks. These are just a few of the fascinating stories we enjoyed over the past month. Read on for 10 inspired conversation starters for your next happy hour or picnic in the park.

  1. Obviously, the death of Freddie Gray and the resulting protests in Baltimore and elsewhere are at the top of everybody’s mind at the moment. While taking the media to task for acting shocked by the existence of long-standing systemic problems in Baltimore earlier this week, Jon Stewart quipped, “”You know your city’s fucked up when its last, most successful employment program was casting extras for a show about how fucked-up your city was.” He was referring, of course, to The Wire, which shined a light on Baltimore’s race and poverty issues and is widely considered one of the best television shows of all time. The Marshall Project posted a Q&A between Bill Keller and David Simon, the show’s creator, about the dynamics that led to the breakdown of police/community relations that is at the root of much of the unrest.
Ginger's Bar in Park Slope is one of a dying breed. Photo: Ginger's Bar

Ginger’s Bar in Park Slope is one of a dying breed. Photo: Ginger’s Bar

  1. Did you know that there are only four lesbian bars left in New York City? And that that’s more lesbian bars than you’ll find in any other city in the country? Heather Dockray wrote a fascinating piece for us exploring the possible reasons for the precipitous decline in places that were once considered “the church of the lesbian community” at a time when more women than ever identify as queer.

  1. Diane Sawyer’s blockbuster interview with Bruce Jenner last Friday night, in which he came out as a transgendered woman, was a huge step in the right direction for trans awareness and acceptance, and this Slate article does a nice job explaining how it has already changed the conversation in profound ways. But The New Yorker points out another pleasantly surprising result of Jenner’s revelation: The Kardashians, a family that literally built an empire on superficiality and appalling behavior, reacted to the news with tolerance, love, and unconditional acceptance.

    (more…)

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