12/14/16 12:54pm
Photo by Kathryn Suellentrop, via Facebook.

Photo by Kathryn Suellentrop, via Facebook.

It’s not a bad idea to build up your holiday karma before you inevitably lose points for messing with your siblings. Look no further than the Fifth Annual Big Brooklyn Holiday Toy Drive! The drive began five years ago to collect toys for kids affected by Hurricane Sandy; since then, it’s collected and distributed more than 20,000 toys to local kids during the holiday season. The drive accepts new, unwrapped toys as well as financial donations — tax deductible, since the drive is being offered in partnership with a 501(c)-3 nonprofit, NYCTogether.

Got stuff to donate? Great! It’s easy. You can drop off while getting coffee or grabbing a bottle of wine. There are drop-off boxes at all of the following businesses: (more…)

12/07/16 3:05am
Don't mourn, organize: 8 organizations where you can volunteer if you can't afford a donation

Stand up for love at the Brooklyn Community Pride Center. via Facebook

Dan Savage, American author, activist for the LGBTQ+ community and the voice behind Savage Love, recently posted a message to Instagram reminding the public that everyone appointed to Donald Trump’s cabinet so far has opposed LGBTQ+ rights, “just so there’s no confusion.”

It’s too easy to sit around feeling helpless right now, letting the dark cloud of anxiety regarding the future of America and its people make time stop. But the people need us. We need each other. We need to work together, to spread the message of inclusivity and take simple steps to make a positive change in somebody’s day. And if you’re not able to donate your money to worthwhile causes out there, there are still ways to get involved with local organizations that need volunteers and support, especially in a time where many of their missions are under fire by the president-elect and his team.

Volunteers for these organizations have a direct and positive impact on marginalized communities, and can assist families with legal issues and children of incarcerated parents. They can work on steps to spread anti-violence education and engender social change in their community. Last Saturday, history was made when the Army Corps of Engineers put a “temporary stop” on the building of the Dakota Access pipeline; it felt like the first good news of 2016. But more than that, it was proof that this stuff works.

Activism — whether through protests, ground relief, community engagement or otherwise — does work on a practical level, so long as we keep trying. In that spirit, here’s a roundup of local spots to volunteer your time, to work towards creating social awareness and change. (more…)

11/23/16 12:00pm
We are thankful for these signs. Via @sage.f.a on Instagram.

We are thankful for these signs. Via @sage.f.a on Instagram.

Thanksgiving, America’s national bird genocide holiday, is many things to New Yorkers. It’s the No. 1 day for rolly suitcases on the subway, it’s a molten volcano spewing angry crowds at Port Authority and Penn Station, it’s a two-day visit to your family in New Jersey or Long Island that makes you remember why the hell you got out of there in the first place, or it’s a day to stay at home in the city and be thankful you don’t have to argue at the dinner table with a Nazi Grandpa who lives in a town where Starbucks is the center of liberal culture.

Today, before we close up for the holiday, Brokelyn is taking a minute to recall the things we’re thankful for in NYC. Please refer to this this weekend when you’re trapped at your parents’ house, watching movies on your phone in your childhood bedroom while your parents say things like “but wait, are Jews actually people?” in the next room: (more…)

11/22/16 1:44pm
Don't faint! via IG user @fit_alix

Don’t faint! via IG user @fit_alix

If you don’t feel like arguing politics with family this Thanksgiving and your last-minute Friendsgiving plans have fallen through, there are still ways to get into the holiday spirit, none of which involve spending $35 on a prix-fixe turkey meal for one.

At Brokelyn, we know that you’ve gotta give a little to get a little, and Thanksgiving’s less-than-proud past makes it a perfect time to put those karma pennies back into the piggy bank with some volunteer work or community service. Plus, it feels good to help other people!

Here are five fun ways to give back over the holiday in five different BK neighborhoods. If you happen to live in one, even better — you can meet your neighbors and gain a real sense of the community you’re going to be rallying with when shit gets real after the presidential inauguration in January. (more…)

11/15/16 11:09am
Vines take over the space at G&S's Stranger Things halloween party. via IG

Vines take over the space at G&S’s Stranger Things halloween party. via IG

If you’ve explored Gowanus nightlife over the last four years, chances are that you’ve stumbled into a fairy forest, all-nude burlesque event, or any other type of delirious costumed madness at the Gemini & Scorpio Loft, whose exact address remains available only to event attendees (upon RSVP).

Gemini & Scorpio’s semi-secretive location imbues it with a kind of post-industrial Narnia vibe that brushes off the pretension and cold shoulders of other Brooklyn nightlife. They hold wildly immersive events that riff on pop culture, like this past Halloween’s Stranger Things extravaganza, or last February’s David Bowie movie sleepover. The venue is split into two parts: “Gemini & Scorpio” handles the G-rated, high-production events like the former, while the NC-17 rated “House of Scorpio” handles makeout and sex parties.

Brokelyn recently got the chance to sit down with G&S founder Miss Scorpio, a Soviet-born entrepreneur whose business success seems to have from her self-termed “perpetual outsider perspective” on the NYC dating scene. She talked to us about how G&S evolved from the early days of online dating and how she keeps sex party creeps at bay, and mused on the precarious position of affordable art and culture in New York. (more…)

11/10/16 12:03pm
PED (post-election depression)? Here's where to drink, vent, dance, question or just cry in NYC

America today. via Ariel Boone / IG

As one of the many media outlets whose general sentiment about the results of the presidential election is one of utter speechlessness, we’ll spare you any platitudes about how “it’s just a presidency” and “life in NYC probably won’t change.” Shit sucks for real.

No matter where you are emotionally and spiritually right now, though, we need to get through this. New York is better than this. Plus our jobs are waiting for us at our desks, and many of us are still going to have to face the family at Thanksgiving.

So, how do you deal? Spreading love is the Brooklyn way, but there are other Brooklyn ways to process what happened on Wednesday. Like dancing, drinking, or making radical art. We’ve rounded up a bunch of events taking place from now through the end of the month where you can blow off steam in whatever way best suits you. We’ll keep adding to this list as more local events emerge. For now, just heal and process and protest. Don’t torture yourself worrying about what will come after November; Obama’s got it on lock for now. (more…)

10/13/16 3:38pm
You might be paying way more than you should be. via flickr user {jeannine}

You might be paying way more than you should be. via flickr user {jeannine}

Brooklyn may already be the most unaffordable place to own, but many renters are still holding out for a better future. They’re not wrong to do so— there is certainly a possibility that the rental boom in Brooklyn reaches its glut in the coming years, and simmers down to provide more affordable housing options.

But what if, unbeknownst to you, you’re not subject to market fluctuation? What if you’re just being flat-out gouged on rent?

Here’s the deal: Market value has little to no bearing on what you should be charged if your apartment is rent-stabilized. But it’s easy for landlords and management companies take full advantage of how little research you’ve done on their property’s history. They might be overcharging you on rent by the hundreds, or even thousands.

But this time next week, you can start fighting back. On Oct. 20 at 7:30pm at the Central Library (10 Grand Army Plz.), the Brooklyn Public Library and ProPublica are co-hosting a forum called “How to Fight Back if Your Rent is Illegally High.” Oh, it’s exactly what it sounds like.  (more…)

10/05/16 9:07am
MONEY

Should District 33 start printing its maps on dollar bills? You decide.

Do you live in North Brooklyn? Do you have a lot of big ideas for the neighborhood? If you checked yes to both of these, then you’re in luck, because North Brooklyn’s District 33 is looking for volunteer budget delegates from the community to help decide how the neighborhood should spend this year’s $1 million.

It’s super easy to get involved. All you have to do is attend a couple of training sessions — tonight, Oct. 5, and Tuesday Oct. 11 — and  commit to one meeting a month, and you’re in. At last you can champion your big Brooklyn hammock park idea (it’s a park, but instead of benches it has hammocks). (more…)

09/30/16 1:30pm

Papa Brokelyn and son aho’ how it’s done.

Shanah Tovah! The year 5777 is almost here, and Rosh Hashana — the Jewish new year, for the unfamiliar — marks the beginning of not only a new year but also an entire series of Jewish high holidays that give the “Chosen People” ample excuses to drink Manischevitz.

Since they can’t pass a plate around, most NYC synagogues pay their bills in part by charging non-members for High Holiday tickets — to the tune of $150-250 in NYC.

But paying for services is so 5776. If you don’t have the dough to davin, here’s our annual list of places where you can pray freely for free, whether your pleasure is reform, orthodox, or modern Grindr Shabbat-only. This year, Heaven’s gates open the evening of October 2 for Rosh Hashanah, and Yom Kippur begins sundown of October 11. Note, this article first ran in 2009 and has been updated for 2016. (more…)

09/21/16 11:34am
No bike lane? No problem. One bike dad in Park Slope is here to fix that

No bike lane? No problem. One bike dad in Park Slope is here to fix that.

It’s hard out there for a bike.

New York cyclist deaths are up 25% this year, according to the Mayor’s 2016 management report. Earlier this summer, the Times reported Brooklyn as the most dangerous borough for cycling in the city, and Vision Zero doesn’t seem to be helping people not die at the hands of reckless drivers.

And yesterday, one cyclist enthusiast in Park Slope was so exhausted with the dangers of the city that he painted his own damn bike lane in his neighborhood. (more…)