09/27/16 9:32am
A protestor holds a sign at a Concord, New Hampshire city council meeting. Courtesy of VANISH Films.

A protestor holds a sign at a Concord, New Hampshire city council meeting. Courtesy of VANISH Films.

If it wasn’t for the strip mall parking lots in the background, it would be easy to mistake Missouri for Mosul in the opening shots of Do Not Resist, Craig Atkinson’s, infuriating and important documentary investigating the militarization of American law enforcement.

The film opens on Friday, Sept. 30 at Film Forum, and feels incredibly timely in the wake of the deaths of Terence Crutcher and Keith Scott last week at the hands of police officers, and the police response to protests in Charlotte where Scott was killed. While Do Not Resist screened as part of the Tribeca Film Festival earlier this year, and at the Nitehawk in July followed by a Q&A with Atkinson, this is the first extended run for the film in New York City. (more…)

09/08/16 9:08am

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After playing at over 140 festivals, the award-winning documentary Landfill Harmonic is finally having a big screen debut in New York City. Co-directed by Brad Allgood and Juliana Penaranda-Lofus, the film follows the journey of one very unlikely children’s orchestra from the slums of Paraguay to arenas all across the world. Why so unlikely? Each instrument in the orchestra is made from garbage. (more…)

08/25/16 10:30am

Whether you’re headed out of town for Labor Day, already planning ahead for a fall road trip, or just need something new to listen to while you clean your apartment or commute, here are the six podcasts we’ve been buzzing about here at Brooklyn Based. Since so many podcasts figure out what they are as they go along, they often change significantly, over time, so starting out at the beginning can be disappointing or misleading. With that in mind, we’ve provided suggestions for a couple of particularly good episodes to get you started on each show. Happy listening!


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Another Round, Buzzfeed: When Hillary Clinton wanted to appear on a podcast, she (or more likely, her savvy PR staff) did not call Terry Gross or Ira Glass. She didn’t follow President Obama’s lead and appear on Marc Maron’s podcast, WTF. Instead, she asked Heben Nigatu and Tracy Clayton of Another Round for the interview, and America is more enlightened for it. Nigatu, a writer for Late Night with Stephen Colbert, and Clayton, a Buzzfeed writer, capture the way your smartest, funniest best friends talk when no one else is listening. With bourbon.

They’ve talked with Lin Manuel Miranda, Melissa Harris Perry (from whom they got the real scoop on why her show ended), and Valerie Jarrett, among many others, about pop culture, racism, sexism, the insidious effects of white privilege, politics, and occasionally, whether or not squirrels have the right to exist. Simultaneously funny and illuminating, these discussions will have you nodding your head in agreement so hard you hurt your neck and laughing to yourself on the train like a crazy person. They may even force a tough but important self-examination of your own privilege and how it comes at the expense of others. (more…)

02/08/16 10:23am

When Carnitas El Atoradero closed its doors last spring, the news inspired laments far beyond the pint-size storefront in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx. Many a food blogger had documented their obsession with the authentic Mexican fare owner Denisse Lina Chavez had been serving, luring mole-lovers to a quarter of the Bronx that doesn’t usually get many visitors from other parts of the city.

El Atoradero started as a tiny temporary taco operation run out of the back of Chavez’ small Mexican grocery, and quickly expanded into a not-much-more expansive restaurant next door. The eatery continued to attract fans as Chavez whipped up mouthwatering Mexican dishes with imported ingredients that she sometimes risked life and limb to track down. A lease dispute led to its close last year, but Mott Haven’s loss is Prospect Heights’ gain. Brooklyn resident Noah Arenstein (a partner in Bushwick’s Arrogant Swine and a loyal fan of Chavez’ culinary creations), had the brilliant idea of reopening El Atoradero in a space he’d already been working on (formerly home to the short-lived Mason & Mug).

So just half a year later, the newest incarnation of El Atoradero is here, with Chavez trading in her hole-in-the-wall for a full-size restaurant that’s much larger than its four-table predecessor, and complete with upgrades like a custom masa machine for fresh tortillas made on-site, plus a few Brooklyn-style additions (think blood orange wheat ale and $4 Mexican coke). The new Atoradero features returning favorites like picadita rellena–a shallow boat of masa (corn dough), slightly thicker than a tortilla and filled to the brim with a meat of your choice, and quesadillas with squash blossoms or huitlacoche (a Mexican corn fungus).

Perhaps the most notable new addition is the fact that the new masa machine turns out exclusively blue-corn creations, which makes for hearty tortillas that stand up to Chavez’ very saucy meats, and sturdy blue-corn chips to dip into her delicious guacamole. The Mott Haven pricing did not come along for the ride (that would probably be too much to ask given Prospect Heights rents these days), and it’s perhaps safe to say that $15 cemita sandwiches and $20 plates of cochinita are unlikely to be luring many Bronxites down this way any time soon.

Mole enchiladas (Photo: El Atoradero, Instagram)

Mole enchiladas Photo: El Atoradero via Instagram

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09/18/14 9:00am

marine parkThere’s something I’ve always found vaguely unsatisfying about short story collections, even by authors I adore. The luxury of a novel, for me, is to sink into a fictional world for an extended period of time and to fall in love with the characters I meet there. Short stories don’t allow enough time for that, and as an editor with a constant backlog of articles to read and assign and a million other publications to keep up with, their format makes me feel like I’m working, not escaping.

None of those things are true about Marine Park, the astonishingly good collection of short stories from Brooklyn native, Mark Chiusano.

Rather than a group of disconnected narratives, Marine Park feels like you’re reading an experimental version of the Great American Novel–like the slim volume was once an 800-page behemoth that has been cut down to its elemental moments. The stories are largely set in the southern reaches of the borough, in and around Marine Park, a neighborhood that was supposed to be the next great middle class pleasure playground, but then development, of two train lines, a beach resort and more, were halted just before WWII. The bulk of the action takes place in the 19070s through present day, though one standout follows a Brooklyn College graduate to the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos National Laboratory.  (more…)

09/12/13 2:00pm

Were there a checklist of the things most likely to make me interested in reading a particular novel, Danny Bland’s In Case We Die, would have more checked boxes than any novel in recent memory. Drugs: check. Funny and unique sexual situations: check. A punk rock angle: check. Street life and hustling: check.

Plus, Bland’s novel has two wild card factors that make it alluring–Fantagraphics Books a killer publisher that rarely does novels of this sort I’ve sung their praises here before for their beautifully laid out comic and photography books.

The second wild card factor? Blurbs like no other book.  If you think that cover blurbs aren’t that important for a book’s success, you couldn’t be more wrong.  For a perfect example take, The Contortionist’s Handbook, which became a cult classic on the strength of its own merit. However, who would have picked up the book by the unknown author in the first place if not for the glowing blurb by then rare-blurber Chuck Palahniuk?  Bland’s book has blurbs by the elite of the tattoo rocker badass community including porn star John Doe, punk pioneer Wayne Kramer of MC5, Duff McKagan of Guns ‘n’ Roses, and death row-survivor-saint Damien Echols. Apparently, the audiobook version of the novel will include chapters read by the above blurbers, as well as Aimee Mann, Mark Maron, and others.
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08/15/13 11:18am

lostgAfter we published our summer reading recommendations a few weeks ago, we realized that it was lacking in the non-fiction department. So here are three true life page-turners from Brooklyn authors, all extraordinarily well researched, reported and written. They’re also all about sex, drugs, murder and the justice system, perfect for your late summer reading.

Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery by Robert Kolker

In the spring of 2010 Shannan Gilbert’s screams roused the tiny beach enclave of Oak Beach from early morning slumber. She frantically ran from house to house pounding on doors, residents called 911, then she disappeared. Several months later the Suffolk County Police Department discovered the bodies of four young women, wrapped in burlap and dumped in the scrubby weeds of Gilgo Beach, a short walk from where she was last seen. Not one of them was Shannan.

In marked departure from the serial killer genre, Robert Kolker, a contributing editor at New York Magazine, makes the victims, not the monster, the central focus of Lost Girls. With every page, every detail, every quote, he paints five incredibly nuanced portraits of five complicated, difficult, troubled and ultimately hopeful young women, all of whom worked as escorts, advertising their services online. Even though Kolker’s book inevitably lacks closure–whoever murdered his five protagonists remains at large–the way he traces each woman’s path keeps you turning the pages, hurtling with them through dead-end jobs, drug use, bad boyfriends and family drama all the way to Gilgo Beach. It’s a feat of reporting and of clear-eyed, unflinching compassion that is not to be missed. –Annaliese Griffin (more…)

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08/08/13 4:00pm

books-cov-nothingTwo Dollar Radio is one of the indie publishing houses we recently listed in our Indie Publishing Houses to Look Out For and for me, they’ve always been right up there at the top of the pack.  Two Dollar Radio makes strong choices. They publish authors from across the board, all of whom share a common thread that’s difficult to articulate while rarely sharing any obvious commonality in the style department.  From Scott McLanahan, to Joshua Mohr to Francis Levy, nothing Two Dollar Radio does treads old ground, yet it all makes sense as part of a greater whole. Nothing, by Anne Marie Wirth Cauchon is the author’s debut and the house’s latest offering.

Nothing is about a girl who leaves her boring, dead-end town for a different boring, dead-end, and ultimately, oppressive town. After hitchhiking to a party she comes into contact with another hitchhiker who’s searching for answers regarding his father’s mysterious death.

There’s imagery in this novel that is dark, uniquely modern. Therein lies one of its great strengths and the strongest reason to read it. From fake molly (and plenty of very real drugs), to a baby someone has ditched at a party, complete with an aggressively unchanged diaper, to odd, offhand remarks about what it means to be punk, Cauchon captures disaffected youth in way that feels genuine.

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07/15/13 9:45am

korean pork belly and black beans

Korean pork belly with black beans is just one of the intense flavor combinations on the menu at Oxford Kitchen in Fort Greene. Photo: Oxford Kitchen

One of the summer’s less heralded openings, Oxford Kitchen debuted quietly in Fort Greene late last month, taking over the former One Greene Sushi space (same owners). I’m not sure why it’s created such little buzz, as their menu is the most enticing one I’ve read through in awhile. General Tso-style sweet breads with crispy black rice, pickled ramps and snow peas? Day boat scallops and Maya prawns over cucumber kimchi, johnny cakes and habanero-mango salsa? Ingredient overload! What’s a diner to do? My two dinner companions and I had to run through every dish and take votes before ordering.
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