03/24/17 3:02pm

Photo by Ruthie Darling / Brokelyn

New month, new me is all well and good until you step outside of your apartment and onto the snow-saturated sidewalks. Then, new cup of coffee, new Netflix series seems much more appealing. 

This month I had made a decision to learn to love myself. Not my boyfriend, not my family, Me. A worthwhile pursuit certainly, but resolutions of this kind have a fatal flaw, the problem being that no one really holds you accountable to them. There is no line manager for resolutions. It’s up to you to make the salads, book the yoga classes, buy the journal. No one will do it for you and no one will notice if your decisions never really come to fruition. The get-out is just too easy and with a project as intangible as self love, I was already concerned that I was on a path to failure.

Unsure of where to start with this, I began by asking my friends if they had any suggestions. One friend replied by saying, “you know what I’m going to say and I hope you’ll join me this time, please look at their website.” Alas, I did know to what she was referring and so last Sunday night I braced myself for the face-melting chill to meet her at a Women’s Rejuvenation Circle I had been promising her, for months, that I would attend. Learn to love yourself, the website assured, by participating in their “co-created experience of women supporting women through guided meditation and an emotional check-in”. It had New Me written all over it. My desire to cancel was off the charts. (more…)

02/21/17 10:40am
A lesson from the past: doc recalls beloved Bed-Stuy beat cops who "never fired one round"

Joe and Kenny on their beat as scooter cops. Photo via Travis Benn

In 2017 Brooklyn, the idea of having a relationship with your local beat cop feels definitively foreign: indeed, many people probably don’t even realize they have a neighborhood patrol, let alone what precinct they live in. We often think of cops’ relationships with the communities they police as exploitative, unnecessarily violent, generally problematic and far from neighborly. That perception has been a nationwide issue for years, making Joe Willins’ and Kenny Kaufman’s story all the more inspiring.

Willins and Kaufman were beat cops assigned to Bed-Stuy’s 79th precinct back in the days when the area was defined not by its historic housing stock and rapid gentrification but by record-breaking crime, rampant drug use and poverty. They formed a “two-man homicide squad” who used their relationships with the community to make the 79th a safer neighborhood for all — and without once firing either of their guns in their 20 years of service.

Now, Willins’ neighbor Travis Benn is making a documentary, The Scooter Cops of Bed-Stuy about his and Kaufman’s adventures. Production will hopefully wrap by the end of summer, given they can find enough money. It’s certainly a welcome addition to an otherwise bleak national dialogue: a tale of two cops who were actually able to live up to the NYPD traits written on the side of squad cars: “Courtesy, Professionalism, Respect.”

“Here are these two cops interacting with the community and taking criminals off the street without humiliating them or kicking the crap out of them,” Benn said of the partners’ career and legacy.  (more…)

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

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…)