10/17/16 10:17am
Why Juno, the would-be Uber killer, is already winning over lots of NYC drivers

Thanks to a more driver-friendly system, drivers are telling their fares to switch from Uber to Juno. Via Twitter.

When the car service app Lyft came to New York there were a number of people (myself included) who never thought they’d make a dent. Uber, that aptly named behemoth, was already a staple in most boroughs, especially in Brooklyn where, before green taxi cabs were lining the streets, private car companies like Arecibo and Evelyn were the best option to get around. Uber, “Everyone’s Personal Driver,” was just a few taps of the iPhone away, with an approximate arrival time, payment linked directly to your credit card and no worry that your pickup might be intercepted by a roving black car with a CB radio. Now, even with competitors like Lyft, Gett, Via and Way2Ride increasing in popularity, Uber has an estimated 35,000 drivers in New York alone and is making plans to put more on the road. Yet again, it would seem impossible for any new app to make a dent with riders who already have their share of options. But, what if a company was going after drivers first and riders later?

A new company called Juno, which launched its beta app model earlier this year, is trying to do just that. It avoided the traditional route of marketing to riders first; instead, reached out directly to drivers from Uber and Lyft to join the company and help build the customer rolodex from the ground up. And with a lower commission and other perks, it seems to be working.

“Uber is losing drivers. I am working with [Uber] only to pay my lease,” one driver told me, “Once I hit $400 for the week, I turn off the app” and turn on Juno.

While other ride share app companies have found success following Uber’s lead, none have been able to actually siphon off drivers for good. So, is Juno the company that could finally push Uber out? Drivers seem to think so. (more…)

09/13/16 10:39am
Listen to the pros: How to run a hit Kickstarter campaign, as told by Brooklyn success stories

Vivian the Dog Movies to Brooklyn got successfully funded in July.

So, you have a great idea. You love it, your friends love it, damn, even your Aunt Susie who doesn’t have the Internet thinks it’s a good idea. What next? How do you take a business from concept to reality if you can’t afford to pay for it all on your own? You could pitch it to venture capitalists for seed money, which takes some of the weight off your shoulders but also means you’re giving up a percentage of your business before you even have one. And how do you even get a meeting with a venture capitalist?

Anyone can try crowdfunding their idea through Kickstarter, hitting up those friends (and Aunt Susie) who said how much they liked your idea in the first place and ask them to put their money where their good wishes are. But how do you create a successful Kickstarter campaign? You need one that looks professional, without requiring you to hire someone to actually put it together, and that secures all its funding so you actually get the money.

We reached out to a few people with Kickstarter success stories to figure out how they did it: We talked with the creators of the children’s book Vivian the Dog Moves to Brooklyn, the CEO of Groupmuse and the creative director of artfully designed clock ThePresent.Today. We also made our way to July’s Kickstarterfest to check in with a few more people who used Kickstarter to get their business off the ground. No matter what the size of the campaign we learned that all success stories share a few common threads: lots of preparation time, out-of-the-box social media promotion and a commitment to fostering your community. (more…)

07/20/16 11:00am
You missed Ghostbusters on opening weekend — how much cultural value are you missing out on?

You missed Ghostbusters on opening weekend — how much cultural value are you missing out on?

We’re in the thick of summer movie season and if you’ve fallen behind, you’ve got to start spending your dollars wisely. Summer movies aren’t especially known for their nuanced character portrayals and poignant storytelling (there are notable exceptions of course: Pixar crushed it last summer with Inside Out)But those are the exceptions to the rule: roll out the “serious movies” in the fall just in time for their stars to land on the red carpet in winter. Summertime is when you release movies with mass appeal. You know the type: explosions, naked ladies and several epic fight scenes.

And honestly? Bravo. Some days you want to take in a trenchant analysis of the suffrage movement, and other days you just want to watch teens in Los Angeles steal from famous people (Bling Ring, I love you forever). But, with so many blockbusters out right now, how do you know which one is worth shelling out anywhere from $15-$30 to see? You can’t look to your regular standbys, like Rotten Tomatoes, to guide you; this isn’t the time to care about character arcs! What you want to know is if this movie is worth seeing right now — both for its escapism and its place in the cultural conversation — or if you should wait two to six weeks to rent it on iTunes and watch from the comfort of your couch with a Bud Lime Light and a square slice of Ellio’s.

I get it, and, I’m here to help. I have no credentials, but lots of opinions, so if you are trying to decide what to spend your money on, scroll through the list below for a quick synopsis and a totally scientific calculation of the cultural currency each movie is worth.  (more…)

07/18/16 10:49am
Friendship savers you can savor: BK restaurants both vegans and stubborn carnivores will enjoy

The menu at Glady’s is a peace treaty between vegans and omnivores. Via website

A vegan, a vegetarian, a pescatarian and an omnivore walk into a restaurant. Just kidding, they’d never agree to eat anywhere together. We’ve all been there: You eat anything, Cindy is a vegan and Tom is a weekend-vegetarian who occasionally eats fish. Now try finding a restaurant that all of you are excited to go to.

But guys! Cindy is the coolest, and you don’t want to spend a lifetime not going out to dinner with her! Tom’s cool too, but more malleable on the subject. Is there a way to bridge the gap between the two worlds without sacrificing taste, paying way too much for a single meal or listening to each other grumble? Of course, all vegan restaurants are also omnivore-friendly but what about that stubborn friend who feels like they will die if they don’t eat a dead animal for every single meal? Brooklyn is home to many restaurants that can appease every diet without starting a civil war across the table, if you know where to look.  (more…)

06/21/16 3:01pm
Photo by Katy Hartnett.

Writer P.J. Kryfko at Sunday’s Super Prose Bowl, reading his story about a father who time travels to get an autograph for his daughter. Photo by Katy Hartnett.

Sunday night, in a battle that ranged from surrealist to southern Gothic all the way to historical fiction, six Brooklyn writers went head to head in the Super Prose Bowl: Tournament of Champions. Each heavyweight brought to the stage an original work of flash fiction and the dream of glory, bragging rights and possibly literary representation.

There are a lot of hosted reading series in Brooklyn (a few of which, including The Prose Bowl we have covered here) where new writers can workshop their stories, meet other poets-by-night/baristas-by-day types or just listen and draw inspiration from the established or emerging literati. But for anyone just starting out, getting the chance to actually read at a reading series can be daunting.

With this mind, Prose Bowl co-creators Christopher Green and John Hague created a tongue-in-cheek American Idol-style reading series where contestants are chosen at random giving everyone the same opportunity to read their work before a panel of judges. Other than being original works of flash fiction there are no stylistic requirements for any writer who wants to enter. Green and Hague keep the tone light, creating a safe and encouraging space for both the seasoned Prose Bowlers or any newcomers who are getting up on stage for the first time. So if you’re having PTSD flashbacks from writers workshops where your prose was knocked out, don’t worry; Prose Bowl is a safe space to get back into the ring.

06/03/16 2:00pm
Brooklyn is for lovers (with no money): A guide to cheap summertime dating

It’s a barger-than-life date. via Brooklyn Barge

Brooklyn is a great place to fall in love. But dating here in the summer? Forgetaboutit. Well, don’t actually forget about it. I’m just saying that there’s a tyranny of choice, with so many options for what to do on a date that it occasionally leaves a brokester feeling overwhelmed (and eventually short on rent).

Lucky for you, spending a perfect afternoon on the cheap just happens to be in our wheelhouse! This borough really is made for people who want to do something special with a special someone without breaking the bank — you just gotta know where to look.

So with a little preparation and the help of this handy Brokelyn dating guide, you can have a memorable time with Mr. (Swipe) Right that doesn’t require you to sell your prized baseball card/Beanie Baby collection/kidney. Whether you go dutch on these, split it halfway, treat someone or get treated, nothing’s going to break the bank. And don’t worry about giving us credit for any of the ideas you try. We’ll just expect seats at the head table during the wedding reception.  (more…)

05/25/16 9:00am
All photos by K. Hartnett / Brokelyn

Just like a wrestling match, but cleaner. All photos by K. Hartnett / Brokelyn

Dishwashers: they clean among us, unseen.

Whether you’re a concerned roommate tidying up at home, a guest helping out a party host after things clear out or a professional sudser working back-of-house at a restaurant, you know that “doing the dishes” is thankless endeavor. It’s tedious, silent and occasionally gross, depending on whose dishes you’re doing. And yet, the need for proper dishwashing becomes absolutely clear once you’ve pulled a plate from your cabinet and seen the remnants of your boyfriend’s lasagna from Tuesday night.

The best dishwashers marry finite technique with maximum efficiency to get the job done. And this past Sunday, The Diamond Bar in Greenpoint set out to find the best of the best at a Brooklyn Dishwashing Duel.

Billed as “a high-octane domestic event staged in the glory of the only beer bar left in the once-thriving neighborhood of Greenpoint,” The Diamond’s dishwashing duel pitted neighborhood restaurants Le Gamin and Motorino against one another, and each restaurant put forth their champions for a three-round battle that would measure the dishwashers’ skill, efficiency and artistry.

While the competing teams got into pre-match mentality, dirty dishes from the morning’s $5 brunch were rounded up and placed in separate dish soakers. Host Jamie Hook kicked off the event by sharing a heartbreak and trumph-filled story of his time as a dishwasher in Maine, canonizing the unsung heroes of the service industry.

“Without dishes we’re not having a meal, we’re just having food,” said Hook.  (more…)

05/19/16 3:07pm
Even if you just wave, it makes a difference. Bridle Path Track Club / Flickr

Even if you just wave, it makes a difference. Bridle Path Track Club / Flickr

This Saturday, starting at an ungodly 7am, Brooklyn will be taken over by runners from around the world, runners who I can only imagine must not share my reservations about physical activity or waking up before noon. But with 27,000 participants, the Airbnb Brooklyn Half Marathon is the largest half marathon in the country.

The race starts at the Brooklyn Museum on Eastern Parkway and ends an unconscionable 13.1 miles later in Coney Island. For the participants, New York Road Runners has provided a list of race-day essentials and an overview of the route, including rest stops for bathrooms and water as well as medical aid for any runners having a panic attack after realizing they could have stayed home and slept in. Also, for shin splints.

Now, for those with friends running, there are several ways to show your support both during and after the race. I find that a nice text message is perfectly acceptable amount of congratulations before 8am. However, if you do choose to brave the morning, here’s a handy guide on how and where to support your runner friends — maybe even with a drink in your hand. (more…)