Spookarama today. Photo by  Sarah Ackerman.

Spookarama today. Photo by Sarah Ackerman.

It pains me to say this but the days of many of our nation’s beloved amusement rides are numbered. One way or another, beloved institutions that make up Coney Island and other boardwalks will go away, either due to time, the distractions of Pokemon Go-style games, conversion to condos or the ever-rising sea levels that will soon turn ocean-front property into deep-sea property (but keep arguing about parking spaces, everyone!). With this loss go our memories of youth and first dates and lovably cheesy rides that remind us of a simpler time before paying $20 to see The Smurfs in 3D. We got a taste of this in 2012 when Sandy whacked the boardwalk in Coney Island, damaging many of the rides; at my hometown boardwalk in Seaside Heights, that kooz of as storm sent an entire pier to amusement park heaven.

Among the most endangered of these kinds of attractions are what’s known as “dark rides” like the Spookarama at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, those single-cart rides that take you through a haunted house full of ghosts and scares. They’re prime for teenage making out, have been around for 100 years — and they’re disappearing. Only about a dozen of the old-school version are left in the United States, according to one count. Joel Zika, a 36-year-old art and design university professor in Melbourne, Australia, has been fascinated with the dark rides for years, reveling their connection to early horror effects in movies. So he decided to document them in the only way that would truly do them justice: Virtual reality. He’s crowdfunding his project now and planning a trip to Coney in October to record the Spookarama in all its old-timey glory.

“It’s not so much that these are amazing experiences, but that they’re really unique,” Zika told Brokelyn. “All this stuff that’s really immersive, 360-degree experiences, some of them up to 100 years old. That’s fascinating, that’s something that may be more valuable to me than looking at old cinema.” (more…)

09/22/16 3:00pm
Homeless Comedy makes a house call.

Homeless Comedy makes a house call.

For the single New Yorker, comedy shows are one of the best excuses to get out of the house. There are always free or $5 shows out there, and one or two drinks will suffice to round out the night. But once coupled, comedy night becomes a date night, and going to shows can rack up quite a sum. If you’re treating your s/o to a headliner show with tickets, drinks and maybe a bite to eat beforehand, you’ll quickly come to spend at least $50 for an evening out.

Enter Homeless Comedy, a “New York comedy club without a home” founded by 38-year-old comedian Will Mars. Homeless Comedy provides the same comedy club experience, but as DIY living room entertainment in your very own apartment. You can drink your own booze and cook your own food; all you’re paying for is the comedy.

“Just clear out a corner of your main room, turn the seats to face it, invite a bunch of friends around, and we’ll turn up to do the rest,” Mars said.

Mars spoke to Brokelyn about his idea for the group, and how he thinks it complements an already saturated comedy scene in NYC.

“I noticed that most of the exciting comedy clubs and things that were sprouting up had been comic-driven, one-off bar shows,” Mars told us. “Everything more exciting is in Brooklyn and Queens right now [because] it has more of a community feel. And I just wanted to take it a step further, like why don’t we see about putting shows on in an apartment? A bespoke comedy night, just the audience and the comedians.” (more…)

09/20/16 3:47pm
Doomocracy: A terrifying real-world political haunted house is coming just in time for Halloween

Make America horrified of real-world scenarios again. Via this Photoshop design challenge at DesignCrowd.

You’ve already felt like this election cycle is a nightmare situation. Now you get to experience it up close, just in time for Halloween. Mexican artist Pedro Reyes – with the help of needed Kickstarter backers – is working on (what he considers) a terrifying exhibition set to debut at Brooklyn Army Terminal this October, the subject of which he hopes will instill fear in even the most relaxed of citizens: politics.  It’s a terrifying tour of “the haunted house that already exists in our minds,” exposing us to “a new kind of monster, this is a monster that is actually chasing us in real life,” according to the campaign.

Doomocracya new immersive installation, will see the blending together of two events “haunting the American cultural imagination: Halloween and the nightmare that is the U.S. presidential election,” according to its Kickstarter page.

The installation, done in collaboration with public arts nonprofit Creative Time, is planned to run from Oct. 7 and through days before the election, and promises to “shock, amuse, provoke, even disturb.” (more…)

09/19/16 4:04pm
The Guy (Ben Sinclair) dons a stage wig during the High Maintenance premier. Via screenshot.

The Guy (Ben Sinclair) dons a stage wig during the High Maintenance premier. Via screenshot.

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” So says the bard (Geddy Lee), but Friday’s series premiere of the new HBO series High Maintenance added a new spin to it. We’re all pretty aware that New York, the home of 30 Law and Order spinoffs, is a city of infinite stories. We read and share Humans of New York, a blog that has been trafficking in true resident stories for years, and we’re always surprised at the perspectives they uncover.

But for all the stories that this city gives us, there is ever-present the lesson in humility that we’re not as quick to take in, no matter how often it burns us: everyone is playing a part, and things are rarely what they seem. And this series premiere, following the travels of a pot dealer as he delivers to his clientele, is quick to teach us that lesson right from the start. (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…)

08/25/16 12:20pm
A new mini-golf course has opened in Coney Island. Photo via @anthony_0358 on Instagram.

A new mini-golf course has opened in Coney Island. Photo via @anthony_0358 on Instagram.

Recently, we recommended Shipwrecked, Brooklyn’s first indoor mini-golf course, as a fun, air-conditioned diversion on a hot day. Since opening in Red Hook a couple months back, Shipwrecked has filled a huge hole in the summer fun market, since there isn’t much else in the way of mini-golf in Brooklyn. But now, a new course called Brooklyn Miniature Golf opened last week in Coney Island, according to Gothamist.   (more…)

08/16/16 3:50pm
Beat the heat idea: This new (air conditioned!) mini golf course is a cheesy fun tribute to Brooklyn

Brooklyn was the treasure the whole time! Photos by Tim Donnelly/Brokelyn.

You know that scene in The Sandlot where it’s just too damn hot to play baseball, and they have to skip their favorite activity to seek refuge from the heat? That’s been the past week here in Brooklyn, where even your summer-addicted Brokelyn staff needed a respite from the punishing heat that comes with our usual summer trifecta of outdoor drinking, beach bumming and outdoor drinking while beach bumming. In these situations you usually turn to a movie theater with its industrial air conditioning but the cinemas are currently offering up late-summer dreck along the lines of Suicide Squad and Hillary’s America. So yesterday, while enjoying a day off from work, me and some friends tried instead a new kid in town, the first of its kind really: mini-golf, specifically Shipwrecked, the first indoor mini golf course in Brooklyn.

Mini golf is all about nostalgia — the boardwalk nights where you dad showed you how to hold a club, the camp field trips where you had to fish the ball out of the water hazard over and over again, the birthday parties where you spent $10 trying to beat the Simpsons arcade game. In this brutal heat burn of a summer, when we’re suffering from a heatstroke of temperatures and a daily onslaught of hot wind out of Donald Trump’s mouth, it’s also a form of cheesy escapism.

Brooklyn doesn’t offer much in the way of mini golf (the one in the backyard of Bushwick Country Club baaaarely counts), so Shipwrecked opened a few months ago to fill a huge hole in the summer fun market. It’s not a particularly unique or challenging course, but what it lacks in windmills and obstacles it makes up for in production values – there are several “interactive” (read: coin-operated) features that spit steam and talk to you with dialogue awkwardly crammed with pop culture references and digs at the G train. It’s all wrapped around a narrative where you’re rescuing a pirate’s lost treasure, but it ends with a surprisingly sweet reminder that (spoiler!) Brooklyn was the treasure all along. Consider this a Brokelyn Letter of Recommendation for a place worth a few bucks for a place to escape the heat, and appreciate the endless treasure that is Brooklyn.  (more…)

08/12/16 1:07pm

Comic by Madelyn Owens.

Prospect Park on Wednesday unveiled its very own viral Marvel advertisement in the form of a 30 ft. statue of Steve Rogers, AKA Captain America. We here at Brokelyn propose a monument celebrating the real heroes of these here United States — the residents of New York City! Whether you were born here or moved in from somewhere else, you are already at least 20 percent better and more interesting than the rest of the country. We’re constantly degraded by politicians for not being “real America,” but between leaving one of the smallest carbon footprints, to paying more into the federal government than we get back, to bringing America a proper slice of pizza, to living in a diverse city of eight million people who mostly get along, New Yorkers deserve their own champion. So we present to you the statue Prospect Park needs: Captain Real America. (more…)

08/09/16 11:55am
Express train to the Upside Down: How to live out your 'Stranger Things' fantasies in Brooklyn

The upside down awaits ….

Netflix’s hit Stranger Things is the rare show that makes you want to crawl inside it and live in that world, even if that world is full of mysterious disappearances, faceless monsters and an extra EXTRA creepy Matthew Modine. The world the show depicts is long gone, rolled up and tossed in the hamper of time with the rest of the ’80s and its bad haircuts. But we rounded up how you can do the next best thing and create your own tour of Stranger Things type experiences, right here in Brooklyn. Grab your bikes and go on an ’80s flashback ride across the borough while you search for Winona and try to find out where El (or the L, at least) disappeared to. We even found a way to access the Upside Down in Brooklyn (no, it doesn’t involve taking a lot of drugs).  (more…)

08/04/16 4:49pm
Barstool sports: 6 spots to watch the Olympics in Brooklyn, while drinking

Celebrate the Olympics with your own rings…beer glass rings on the bar. Photo via @olympics2016_rio on Instagram.

Tonya Harding taking out Nancy Kerrigan’s knee with a crowbar in 1994. Kerri Strug, nailing that one foot landing dismount off the vault in ’96 in Atlanta. Jackie Joyner-Kersees’ speed, and nails! These are just a few of my most vivid memories of watching the Olympics as a youth, before I knew anything about the rampant corruption and doping scandals on an international scale.

The Olympics are not just for kids. As an adult, you can sit back and get drunk and be entertained, and impressed, while thankful you’re not the one putting your body through that kind of physical, or chemical strain. The 2016 Rio Olympics are upon us, and here are five places you can passively partake of the games while actively drinking beers in Brooklyn, from Friday night’s opening ceremonies through the final day of competition on August 21: (more…)