07/13/16 10:00am
Technology has come a long way since this, though this is still a pretty baller rig. Via Flickr user macq.

Technology has come a long way since this, though this is still a pretty baller rig. Via Flickr user macq.

Ever have something that should be played at high volume, preferably in a residential area? Not that we here at Brokelyn would advocate disturbing the peace, but New York is (quite literally) a loud city, and why should automobiles have all the fun on the run when it comes to mobile sound? Radio Raheem bore the burden of the boombox, but you don’t have to!

Technology’s progressed even if society in many ways hasn’t (the racism and police brutality featured in the climax of Do the Right Thing rings truer than ever today), and your options for mobile sound compound when you bring your bicycle into the mix. The question remains: how exactly do you deck out your draisienne with dope audio? We’ll demonstrate four different ways, from shamelessly storebought to solidly soldered, depending upon whether you prefer taking it easy and taking your tunes with you indoors and out or prefer getting your hands dirty and riding around on a permanent party machine. (more…)

04/29/16 3:10pm
How I watched a Brooklyn start-up sellout: The downfall of MakerBot as seen from the inside

The author in front of one of the locations of the MakerBot store — which all closed. Photo via Isaac Anderson.

Once upon a time, MakerBot Industries was the darling of the Brooklyn start-up world. I’d know, because I worked there.

The company this week announced its productions are being outsourced to China, so it’s come a long way from a hackerspace in Boerum Hill. But let’s start at the beginning: MakerBot was the brainchild of a few 3D printing enthusiasts and unabashed nerds who wanted to contribute to an open-source hardware community founded by an eccentric British professor enamored with the prospect of self-replicating machines. It turned out a lot of folks wanted to get their hands on a thing that made things, and it also turned out that the community that made the original MakerBot possible greatly facilitated MakerBot’s rapid expansion, offering useful feedback and oftentimes original design work that was ultimately integrated into the company’s core product.

For a while, MakerBot was equally generous in giving back to this community. They embraced the spirit of openness and freely shared their ongoing improvements to the public. Demand skyrocketed for a product that was improving in real time, so it made sense to double down on Brooklyn, and MakerBot built a full-blown factory for its products in Sunset Park. It was whimsical! The impossible was possible! In the early days, nearly everyone built printers as a rite of passage. They learned the machines inside and out and became ideal candidates for promotion through the ranks to engineering, repair, customer support, and sales roles. In an emphatically post-industrial city in an outsourced 21st-century world, MakerBot fearlessly bucked the trend by building physical things locally, hiring from within, and committing to the mantra that sharing was caring. It was hard not to like them; their fan base ranged from the obvious, like geeks to geeks who like open-source stuff, to hipster geeks, to, uh, local artists previously involved in Occupy Wall Street? Whatever it was they were doing, it was working. Neither MakerBot nor their affable CEO could do any wrong… until they did.

Everyone thinks riding the start-up wave is the ticket to noble success, a mix of idealistic principles and the cutting edge profitability of the new economy. But sometimes that wave crashes, and this is one of those stories.   (more…)

02/26/16 3:52pm
The Big Easy will charm the pants of off you. Isaac Anderson /Brokelyn

Photo by Isaac Anderson/Brokelyn

New Orleans: Why, as a proud Brooklynite, would you ever want to move there? It’s not even the sixth borough! But even before Solange Knowles, there’s been a slow and steady trickle of New Yorkers who’ve found themselves relocating down to NOLA. And in an effort to determine what madness may have motivated the move, this author visited the Crescent City and sat down with a few Brooklyn expats. There are the obvious benefits, like cheaper housing and all-night drinking that rivals the city that never sleeps; but there are also a lot of provincial behaviors, lack of business savvy and plenty of crime that is causing some people to second guess their move. Here’s what they had to say. (more…)

11/09/15 10:56am
Hike Breakneck, get this view.

Get an eagle-eye’s view with your own two feet (and sometimes hands) hiking Breakneck Ridge. Photo by Isaac Anderson

Fall is most definitely here, but don’t worry, you can still get outside! ‘Tis the season to escape from New York and be one with the trees for a day. Bring water, bring snacks, bring friends, and head to one of these hikes that you can get to without a car. (more…)

06/24/15 7:00am
floyd bennett field

This is Floyd Bennett Field, right here in Brooklyn! Photo by Matt Septimus

So warm weather is here (there’s photographic evidence and everything), and you’re looking for a little life-saving peace and quiet in nature somewhere outside of (or perhaps inside of) this sprawling metropolis, but you think you need a car and a bunch of cash, or the luck to win the camping in Prospect Park lottery, to really take advantage. Think again, blog-readers of Broketown! You don’t need to be a car owner to get yourself deep into the woods, and supplies don’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. Read on and we’ll show you how to camp (and not just in coffee shops!). (more…)

01/06/15 9:35am
Denmark don't care. Denmark is kicking our ass, all while enjoying a higher average quality of life than us. DENMARK, guys. They're like 1/100th our size. Step up your game, America. via Copenhagen Cycle Chic

Denmark don’t care. Denmark is kicking our ass, all while enjoying a higher average quality of life than us. DENMARK, guys. They’re like 1/100th our size. Step up your game, America. via Copenhagen Cycle Chic

Conventional wisdom in America holds that the only time for biking is when the weather is nice. Biking may be downright delightful from April to October, but you don’t have to listen to conventional wisdom and give up your two-wheeler when the snowflakes start a-fallin’. After all, conventional wisdom once held that the Earth is the center of the solar system, and look how THAT turned out.

Point is, conventional wisdom is hardly the end of the argument, and you should keep riding bicycles everywhere forever even in the cold, because they’re wonderful, they’re cheap and they keep you in shape. We’ll even tell you how to beat Old Man Winter and keep riding until it warms up. (more…)

05/02/14 1:44pm
via Flickr user Peter Batty

Toast to Kentucky, toast to the Derby. via Flickr user Peter Batty

Kentucky: the state of Bourbon, bluegrass, coal mining, and, as of late, a pretty sweet rebranding campaign. Before you pretentious urbanites dismiss it entirely as a backwater flyover territory full of Southern hicks who couldn’t even rally behind Dixie (spoiler alert, assuming you’re reading this in 1860: after waffling for years, they ultimately joined the North in the Civil War), Kentucky believes in tradition, and we all owe tradition some goddamn respect (because tradition). In that vein, the 140th annual NASCAR of yesteryear gussied up in oversized harlequin hats, also known as the Kentucky Derby, is bursting out of the game Saturday, and we’ve got some places to watch it for ya. (more…)

04/10/14 2:19pm
mad men season 7

One last chance for you spend time with these racist, sexist, alcoholic fossils

All good things must come to an end; yes, even the booze, cigarettes, and misogyny of the mid-century establishment had their day in the sun–although we suppose those weren’t really all good things. If popular culture’s obsession with Mad Men is any indication, though, their heyday continues to fascinate and entertain well into the 21st century, so here are a few places in our beloved borough to see some of our favorite friends interact with one another like real adults this Sunday at 10pm. (more…)

04/07/14 10:26am
Want this shelf? You'll have it in no time.

Want this shelf? You’ll have it in no time. Photo by Isaac Anderson

Ever find yourself in need of a nook? A bedside platform upon which to stow your book? Brooklyn is known as the land of plenty in many regards: ample jobs, ample pizza, ample hills (also ample Ample Hills), but in the department of its apartments, space is not one of the things Brooklyn possesses in spades.

Okay, so you’re stuck with the hand you’ve been dealt, but when life hands you lemons, you build somethng nice with them. Just because your apartment is tiny doesn’t mean you can’t make it work for you and your stuff: reclaim your vertical space! Work with your walls and turn them into magical mystery floor-above-your-floor, and do it cheap by doing it yourself. Wanna know how? With the magic of the $4 shelf. And we’ll show you how to make it. P.S.: it’s loads sturdier than this shitty particle board-and-plastic IKEA shelf, these garbage Target shelves, and slightly cheaper to boot. Plus, nothing trumps the personal satisfaction resulting from proudly displaying your own handiwork. Nothing. (more…)

04/02/14 9:33am
red light bike ticket nyc

Car? Bike? Eh, just cross out the license plate part and write “CYCLIST”

It’s not every day you’re slammed with a $278 ticket, the same amount as one given to cars doing this, for allegedly running a red light on a bicycle in the snow. And yet that’s what happened to me one day this winter, when all I was trying to do was get to work. It’s a lot of money, but what elevates it from nuisance to insanity is that it turns out the fine is the same as that given to a car for running a red light. That’s completely crazy any way you think about it. On the ticket, I’m allowed to select “guilty” or “not guilty,” but I select a third option: “bollocks.” (more…)