The Narrative Month in Brooklyn: Cheesemongers, Coney Island and Whale Staplers


When I’m not stuffing my face on behalf of Brooklyn Based, I lead a second life as the managing editor of Narratively, a new digital publication focused on in-depth New York City stories. In an age of blogs and tweets, we believe there are still many local stories out there that deserve big, bold, high-quality telling. It’s my job to keep an eye on what’s getting covered and what’s starting conversations around the borough, so here’s your cocktail party cheat sheet of some of the most interesting recent stories in mediums ranging from text to video, to strangely charming Kickstarter campaign.

Here are 10 stories Brooklynites were talking (and talking and talking) about in the past month:

1. The Ins and the Outs

(Photo by Mo Scarpelli for Narratively)

Photo: Mo Scarpelli for Narratively)

Gentrification–it’s always a conversation starter in Brooklyn. Over at Narratively, one of our most popular stories ever is this recent 6,000-word account of how and why Franklin Avenue in Crown Heights has changed over the past few years.

2. Chocolate-Coffee Beer
Remember last year when I said the Kings County-Mast Brothers chocolate whiskey mashup was the most Brooklyniest drink ever? Well prepare for that one to be blown out of the water, because Sixpoint Brewery has just released a special edition Baltic porter brewed with Mast Brothers chocolate AND infused with Stumptown coffee. It’s a hipster trifecta!

What’s better than a handcrafted chocolate coffee beer? I’ll tell you what: an in-depth interview about how it came to be from the fantastically literary-minded food blog Nona Brooklyn.

3. Coney Island’s Post-Sandy Struggles

The snowstorm last weekend had a lot of Brooklynites thinking back to Hurricane Sandy and the devastation it wrought last fall. Our friends over at Brooklyn Filmmaker Collective shared this video about two Coney Island residents who are still struggling to pick up the pieces.

4. My Brooklyn

Only in Brooklyn could a non-fiction film about the processes that guide gentrification garner sold-out crowds and demands for repeat showings. Kelly Anderson’s film, which focuses on how the Bloomberg administration destroyed…er–revitalized the Fulton Mall, played to packed houses at reRun Theater in DUMBO last month, sparking a series of spirited discussions. For those who missed out, My Brooklyn returns to reRun March 8 – 14.

5. A Cold Winter in Coney

(Photo by Emon Hassan for Narratively)

Photo: Emon Hassan for Narratively

Over at Narratively our 100 Days Later series has followed five very different patches of New York since October, tracking residents’ recovery efforts ever since the storm, including a look at how the freak show residents are doing post-Sandy.

6. A Brooklyn Cheesemonger

Sorry, I know this is is supposed to be about a broader section of news, but like most of you here in the borough of Kings, I find it incredibly difficult to stop talking about food. Fortunately, we don’t have to. Jeannie Choi and CUNY J-School Video Storytelling put together this drool-worthy portrait of Cara Warren, the cheesemonger at The Greene Grape in Fort Greene.

7. Come Live with Me In Brooklyn

Hey, if we can make films about cheese, we can make music videos about roommate searches. Instead of writing up your typically boring Craigslist roomate ad, Williamsburg resident Jonathan Mann opted to make this pretty fantastic video, complete with catchy jingle and a Better-than-Ezra-esque hook, about why you should live with him, and included it in his Craigslist posting. Yes, this is the new standard for finding a roommate here. It is currently creeping towards 100,000 views; no word on whether he’s found a roomie. Watch the music video above, and apply to live with Jonathan here.

8. Keep on Truckin’

(Photo by Shannon First for Narratively)

Photo: Shannon First for Narratively

Because finding a place to live in Brooklyn is indeed that freaking difficult, this month Narratively profiled Jerzy, a seventy-five-year-old architect who chooses to live out of his truck in Greenpoint.

9. Whale Stapler

We all know Brooklyn produces a lot of Kickstarter videos, but this was my favorite find of the month. Ari Glogower has spent the last year creating a hand-cast stapler that is “both whale-like and stapler-like.” Genius? Ridiculous? Unclear, but it hasn’t stopped him from raising $5,000 and counting. The Whale Stapler can be yours for a mere $26.

10. The Brooklyn Gentrification Map

OK, last gentrification item, I promise, but you guys have to know about this. A literal map of gentrification in Brooklyn now exists, culled together by the number crunchers on Property Shark and presented using Visually.

Brooklyn Gentrification Map

If you like these, join Narratively for our official launch party at Powerhouse Arena in DUMBO next Wednesday, Feb. 20, with interactive storytelling, and of course the clincher–free beer from our very generous sponsors at Brooklyn Brewery.

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