10/06/16 3:50pm
Union Hall is for indulging your inner Belle's library fantasies.

Union Hall provides ales and ambiance, perfect for getting lost in a novel.

We often can’t help ourselves from buying a book whenever we pass a bookstore. We’ll save money for beer, of course, because we want to devour our literary haul with some lagers in one of our favorite reading venues: a bar! Not all bars are equal in the eye of the reader, naturally. Who wants to read where jaeger bombs are the norm? To save you the time searching, we compiled a list of fifteen places we think are the best Brooklyn bars to read in, along with suggestions on what to read.

Since most normies converge on pubs when night falls, these places are best read in during the day. But a good number of them remain quiet enough on weeknights to take in some text. Just remember to take care of your bartender if you’re going to spend a lot of time there.  (more…)

08/29/16 3:59pm
2016 eagles lit prize landscape 1200px

The 2016 Brooklyn Eagles Literary Prize Shortlists were announced today.

Brooklyn is probably second only to Manhattan when it comes to literary cachet — though you’ll find plenty who say Brooklyn has taken over the top spot in recent years. The borough is crawling with literary stars and wannabe authors who are clearly writing what they know. Brooklyn is so woven into the fabric of modern letters that almost everyone knows what you mean when you call something a “Brooklyn book”. Or do they? What makes a book très Brooklyn? Is it just using the borough as a backdrop? Is it the anxious internal ruminations of Ben Lerner’s characters or mysterious foreboding of Paul Auster’s Cobble Hill? Or is it the autobiographical Williamsburg novel à la Tropic of Capricorn and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn?

Today the Brooklyn Public Library announced the short list for the 2016 Brooklyn Eagles Literary Prize, which takes on the challenge of answering that very question. Now in its second year, two prizes are awarded to the “most Brooklyn” fiction and nonfiction books recently released. The winners each get a $2,500 prize and bragging rights for being most in tune with the city’s most populous borough.

We asked the shortlist committee chairs, Krissa Corbett Cavouras (fiction) and Mark Daly (nonfiction) what they thought made the books on their list deserve this distinction. Both are Brooklyn Public Library librarians, both serious readers, both lovers of Brooklyn, and both well-qualified to know the essence of a Brooklyn book. The two committees Corbett Cavouras and Daly chaired were made up of Brooklyn librarians who volunteered for the task of choosing three books for each short list. They read all 13 books nominated by Brooklyn bookstores in their category and convened to debate which ones should move on to the final judging.

“Each of these books has something to offer, a new way of looking at the world, a new way of thinking about Brooklyn,” Daly said of the two long lists. Corbett Cavouras said “that in a couple of years [these lists] will be a mini collection of great books that speak to Brooklyn themes.”

The committees evaluated their books based on three criteria: whether the book is set in or about Brooklyn; whether the author a Brooklyn native or resident; and the most subjective: does it embody the “Brooklyn spirit?” None were absolute requirements, but Corbett Cavouras and Daly both found determining the Brooklyn spirit was the most important — and interesting — to consider. (more…)

08/09/16 3:45pm
cyclones picnic

Families gather in the picnic area to enjoy a meal before the game. Photos via the Cyclones.

Summer in the city isn’t the same without a baseball game, especially making a day of it with a big group. But it’s hard to convince a bunch of friends to drop a month’s rent on Yankees box seats. And no one wants to sit in the nosebleed section of Citi Field. Luckily us Brooklynites have a better option: The Brooklyn Cyclones’ brand new Brooklyn Backyard Picnic area. The Cyclones removed one of their bleachers for the 2016 season and turned it into an events space groups can rent out before the game.

From the moment you enter the private entrance you feel like you’re visiting someone’s yard party, but on a Jay Gatsby scale. There are grills with dozens of dogs and burgers, buffet tables, coolers full of soda and bars dotted all around. But this isn’t just some isolated suburban retreat. You’re right next to the Cyclones outfield, at eye-level with the players. (more…)

07/18/16 3:00pm
A Tentrr campground, all set up for you. Via Tentrr.

A Tentrr campground, all set up for you. Via Tentrr.

The approach to the campsite was hidden in the woods of a remote Catskills neighborhood — we passed it at least once. When we discovered it, we turned our white minivan onto the dirt road and rumbled uphill through the trees. The road turned to grass, but we knew we were on the right track as we could make out two grooves that extended further through a grove of trees.

Beyond the trees was a large field on the crest of a hill. It was foggy and misty when we arrived — we could just make out the field’s size and shape by the line of trees that ran around it. At the far end the rough shape of a valley emerged from the mist. It was mysterious and beautiful, like something from an ’80s fantasy movie. Was all this ours? Yes, it was! At the field’s edge was what we were looking for: our own Tentrr campsite.

We pulled up to the site and hopped out to survey our new home in the wild. It was unmistakable: a handsome square beige canvas tent, like something out of a Napoleonic campaign, stood about three feet off of the ground on a solid wooden platform. Next to it was a custom wooden picnic table, benches and a little wooden cabinet. Nearby was a deep fire pit and a pre-cut pile of wood. Here was our weekend escape from the city, all set up and waiting for us. (more…)

05/03/16 2:00pm
Everyday can be bike to work day if you want it, but the official Bike to Work Day is in May. Via Transportation Alternatives.

Everyday can be bike to work day if you want it, but the official Bike to Work Day is in May. Via Transportation Alternatives.

Skip the spin classes and get your buns on a real bicycle — Bike Month is finally here! And while the cold and damp may not yet feel like biking season (sorry, Five Boro Tourists), now’s the time to get back in the saddle and into cycling shape. If you need some extra motivation to start rolling, May has a load of bike-related events that’ll get you pumped to pump pedals.

There are hundreds of non-culturally appropriated events planned. To make it a little easier for you, we’re listing the must-dos for this month. Check out the lineup below. (more…)

03/04/16 4:08pm
Gaze into the future. (Photo: JJBers)

Gaze into the future. (Photo: JJBers)

Many New Yorkers are apoplectic about the new turkey carcass Oculus WTC PATH train that opened yesterday. Design compromises, incredible delays, and cost overruns of $2 billion dollars have us scratching our heads as to why we spent $4 billion of public funds something that looks like a warped TV antenna. It connects to 11 subway lines and includes shopping, but the reviews are not great, and it managed to be more expensive to build than One World Trade Center.

Far be it from us to criticize such an ambitious, er … endeavor. Hell, we have a hard time just trying to comprehend the number four billion. To put it in perspective, the Brokelyn team has assembled a totally scientific list of marginally more useful things $4 billion could have bought us New Yorkers, in lieu of a glorified stairwell for New Jersey train commuters. (more…)

09/16/15 12:01pm

Paris is the new Brooklaaaarrghelnafagn [WSJ]
De Blasio hate tree? De Blasio kill tree [DNAInfo]
New York Times: Midwood exists and people live there [NYT]
Texas: Muslim kid + interest in electronics = TERRORIST [NYDN]
Hey, maybe don’t lie about surviving 9/11 [NYP]
Suddenly Christie’s NOT too good for Federal tunnel money [StreetsBlog]
Some landlords are actually being called out for overcharging [Greenpointers]
Don’t worry, everyone. There’s no risk of enough housing in Brooklyn [RealDeal]

This is what $500,000 gets you, folks.  (via NYT)

This is what $500,000 gets you, folks. (via NYT)

I recently received a Google news alert, i.e. an ad, for a condo in Clinton Hill. I’m not in the market, but something struck me about the property. Not its precious name (Aperture 538) or the severe appointments, but its price tag: a staggering half-million dollars for a 533 square-foot studio. That is sheer lunacy — why would anyone pay that much for such a tiny space? Yeah, yeah, location, location, location. The ad says, “Clinton Hill is an ideal neighborhood to call home…”, which is true if you have no concept of the value of money. But I do; so I wondered if that cash would be better spent buying somewhere less desirable and simply visiting Brooklyn every weekend. (more…)

Alchemy Bar

Alchemy Restaurant & Tavern
56 5th Ave. (5th Ave. and Bergen St.), Park Slope

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What it is: A cozy, low-key pub in Park Slope with a rotating set of hard-to-find beers, an extensive cocktail menu, and excellent food.

Why we love it: Alchemy is the perfect place for a date, a casual meal, or enjoying a quiet drink and a book. Its die-hard set of regulars and bartenders who remember your name make it feel like a local pub. You’ll also find secluded tables and booths if you’re looking for a little privacy and a great outdoor patio if you’re looking to chill outside during the summer. Need WiFi? They’ve got that, too.

You won’t find greasy bar food here. Four different menus — breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner — have something for the vegan, the veggie, the foodie, or the guy who just wants a good burger. The chorizo eggs (brunch) is a great way to start a Sunday, while the wild mushroom barley risotto with truffle oil (dinner) is one of the many uncommon treats you can share with a date. And if you do have a hankering for some chicken wings, you can get those, too, during the way affordable weekday happy hour.

What to order: Alchemy’s beers rotate every couple of weeks, but you’ll always find a stout, an IPA, a pilsner, an ale, and special seasonal beers on tap. Pair one with the gooey shells and cheese or the Monday Mussels deal—a dozen mussels for six bucks!

Regular tip: The bar was named Alchemy because at the time the owner was reading up on the ancient art of chrysopoeia, thanks to the Da Vinci Code.

The Gate

The Gate
321 Fifth Ave. at 3rd St, Park Slope

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What is it: Park Slope’s original craft beer pioneer, now in their 19th year. Huge beer selection, specialty bottles, vintage ales.

Why we love it: When you first enter the Gate you wonder where the bartenders went – turns out you couldn’t see them behind the row of beer taps. Their selection is enormous and they have a beer for any craving you may have, whether hoppy, light, malty or stout. The bar is peopled by friendly locals. When the weather’s nice, the spacious outdoor deck is the place to be – if you can find a seat. Wide-open people watching and views of the historic Old Stone House where the Battle of Brooklyn raged 239 years ago.

What to order: The beer selection rotates often and seasonally, but if you’re looking for something special, try the vintage ales in their legendary stock cellar. 

Regular tip: The Gate is definitively a “local” inspired by the owners love of the pubs in Ireland’s Slieve Anieran mountains where the “eternal peat fire” burns.