Articles by

Bridget McFadden

11/08/16 11:13am
We all need an escape to nature right now and this hidden Greenpoint trail is the answer

Photos by Bridget McFadden.

It’s been a long 18 months. If the all-consuming and nauseating electoral coverage we’ve been marinating in has you world-weary and longing for an antidote, it might be time for a nature walk, immediately. In this city, you can pretty much get whatever you want, whenever you want it; with the exception of “peace and quiet,” of course. So it helps to have a couple quick-fix nature tricks up your sleeve. If you need a dose of tranquility pronto, start where you least expect it: the Wastewater Treatment Digester Eggs illuminating the horizon between Brooklyn and Queens. These monuments of industrialization will actually lead you to the covert wilderness salvation of the Newtown Creek Waterfront Nature Walk.

At first, this nature walk seems ironic. Newtown Creek is one of the most polluted waterways in the nation, and was designated a superfund site in 2010. In fact, on my first visit recently I was sort of expecting the trek to be a bit of a stunt – “look at me, I hang out in oil spills” – but I was mistaken. It is hands-down the most tranquil spot in the neighborhood, and it is exactly what you need to chill out and refresh your perspective. (more…)

07/06/16 1:00pm
Blend in with nature in one of these grass-green tent rentals from Traverse Outdoors. Image via Twitter

Blend in with nature in one of these grass-green tent rentals from Traverse Outdoors. Image via Twitter

One time I wanted cool outside gear so badly I got a job at a Patagonia retail shop. On my first day, the floor manager told me that I got hired because I didn’t ask about the employee discount during the interview. Score. We commenced a training activity that involved learning all the special features of a $600 ski parka. Six hundred dollars? I asked about the employee discount. It wasn’t enough to come anywhere close to me being able to afford the ski parka.

Outside gear conjures tantalizing fantasies of fresh air escapes to the Catskills, living life to the fullest while on a kayak on the Hudson, taking in a breathtaking view on a high peak in the Adirondacks, but it can come with a hefty price tag. Anyone who has spent a night in a leaky tent on an even-leakier air mattress knows that good gear makes all the difference, but how do you procure it without taking a part-time job telling rich people about hidden zippers? Lucky for us, New York is a city of renters, and that applies to camping gear too! Check out these Brooklyn-based outfitters that will rent you great gear for a steal. (more…)

06/16/16 1:28pm
A relaxing spritzer happy hour in the backyard of Pete's Candy Store. Photo by Bridget McFadden/Brokelyn.

A relaxing spritz happy hour in the backyard of Pete’s Candy Store. Photo by Bridget McFadden/Brokelyn.

A few years ago, I had my first Aperol spritz because I was nauseous. I was out at a neighborhood cocktail bar, it was late, and I probably just should have gone home, but my worldly companion insisted on a surefire cure. He caught the bartender’s attention, pointed to me and yelled “this one has a tummy ache!” and proceeded to rattle off a list of ingredients: ice + prosecco + bitters + soda + orange slice + one fat olive. The bartender handed me the glowing tonic. With just a few sips, my stomach was soothed and the night was young again.

It turns out my friend was onto something. The spritz gets its bite from a bitter liqueur —a wine or spirit-based mixture infused with herbs and citrus — that was once primarily taken as medicine. Since discovering its powers, I’ve relied on the spritz to treat all sorts of ailments, from indigestion to humidity to apathy. So I was excited this past May when I hit up the Food Book Fair and learned that they had dedicated their Sunday night party to a charming new book about the best cocktail ever, Spritz.

Spritz the book, which came out last month, describes the origins of the iconic Italian cocktail, maps out its current territory in Northern Italy, and includes a slew of cocktail recipes to help you bring the spritz home to Brooklyn. If your post-work drinking routine needs a little refresh, you’re in luck; we’re giving away a copy! Enter your name in the comments for a chance to snag this beautiful book. (more…)

05/31/16 8:49am
'Your mail is here in a bucket:' Why are Brooklyn post offices so terrible?

The Crown Heights post office sure is a welcoming place. Photo by Andy Beaudoin/Brokelyn.

In the pre-internet, pre-home computer era of my pre-teens, I wrote a lot of letters. At my peak, I was courting 11 different pen pals, filing their correspondence in a shoebox. My grandparents would give me stationery sets for most birthdays and holidays, which I would use to send them thank you notes and ask for Barbies. Sending and receiving mail was a hobby, a pillar of friendship, and the only way to express your deepest desires (e.g. Jem!) to the people who could fulfill them. Flash forward our current age in which communication with your loved ones is so easy that you can do it by accident with your butt, and my sentiments persist: a letter is worth a thousand likes. The only problem is that actually getting your mail in Brooklyn can be a maddening experience, and it’s not getting better anytime soon, because in case you haven’t heard, the post office is broke.

Here’s how that translates down to the local level: In late fall 2015, a week went by where I didn’t receive any mail at all. Not a single bill from Time Warner, campaign postcard for Lincoln Restler, or baby wolf calendar from the Sierra Club. Something was amiss. I called my Greenpoint post office and they told me that the mailman was on vacation for three weeks.

“So, is there like a ‘substitute’ mailman?” I asked.

“Yea,” the mail lady said. “But he doesn’t have a key to your building.” (more…)

05/11/16 3:00pm
A spirit guide for every occasion.

A spirit guide for every occasion.

The subway can turn even the most tranquil soul into a raging beast. MTA ridership is clocking in at nearly six million daily riders, and sometimes it feels like all six mil are going out of their way to make your commute miserable. As George Costanza would admonish, “You know we’re living in a society!” For real: it’s wild out there. And in order to make it from point A to point B in this crush of savage mammals, you need a little help. You need to be feisty, fierce, instinctual, calm, and compassionate. You need to channel your animal spirit guide.

Traditional thinking on spirit animals is that you don’t choose your animal; it chooses you. But this is the rush-hour NYC subway we’re talking about, and you don’t have time to wait for your unconscious mind to discover things (unless you’re waiting for the G to arrive, in which case you’ve got all the time in the world). Take the bull by the horns (see below) with these six spirit animals that can help you navigate your subway ride peacefully. We’ve provided a guide on how to channel each one. Here’s hoping that summoning these creatures can help you tame the beast within. (more…)

04/22/16 2:10pm
Home fernishings: How to turn your apartment into an oasis of greenery, and keep it alive

Succulents sunning by the window. Bridget McFadden/Brokelyn

Know why there’s no such thing as a “lamppost hugger?” Because the urban jungle isn’t something you want to embrace and nurture the way you do a tree. And if, like me, breathing in the scent of New York City’s 12 million strangers has you craving a whiff of sweet soil at the end of a long day, then it’s time to get some houseplants. Why? For starters, they purify your air, and transform your paint and plaster quarters into a glowy green sanctuary. Not to mention the psychological benefits. With their self-contained root systems, a few good houseplants can help you feel more rooted in this sprawling metropolis. Plants are self-sustaining hustlers, just like us New Yorkers. Everything that a plant needs to survive is tucked into its terra cotta pot! Well, almost everything.

It also needs you. By tending to houseplants, you’re take an active role in an interspecies relationship. Not the kind you’re thinking of, though. This one is known at “kinship,” and it’s way wholesome. Take it from a bona fide plant whisperer and bryologist (a.k.a moss expert) Robin Wall Kimmerer, who says of plant-human kinship: “[It’s] like a family, we help each other out. […] What is good for life is good for all life, whether it’s green or two-legged or anything other kind.”

What’s good for plant life is good for your life, and here are a few aces that will thrive in your apartment. You can pick up any of these at your corner flower shop — my personal favorite is World of Flowers in Greenpoint — and they’ve all got some wild superpowers. (more…)