11/13/14 11:52am
America's Kids Got Singing

America’s Kids Got Singing

An empty warehouse filling with tiny sparks of dreams is a strange place to spend a Sunday morning. To boot, it was a warehouse on the far west side of Manhattan way up in the 50s, the nearest signs of life being the Larry Flynt Hustler Club and Terminal 5, a place I try to avoid as if it were an active Ebola volcano (though the upcoming Sleater-Kinney show broke my boycott).

This is where New York got its chance to audition for America’s Got Talent which is, ostensibly, a nation-sized version of the talent shows you saw in high school. Or it’s a new version of the Gong Show, or basically like an American Idol but with magicians and puppeteers, or whatever (surprise: I don’t have a TV). The point is, the show drags its tuna net countrywide and sucks hopeful participants into the vortex that says “you, yes you!, could be the One to make it.” The prize is a million dollars, a chance to headline a show in Vegas, and all sorts of teevee. So in preparation for the 10th season, the show held auditions on Sunday that drew thousands of people. Here are your dreamers, America. And I was there too. Even more bizarre, I was asked to come by the producers. (more…)

09/04/14 9:00am
Recreating the Warriors' famous trip, leather vest optional.

Recreating the Warriors’ famous trip, leather vest optional.

I am not a bike messenger and I have never touched a “fixie.” When one of my tires goes flat, I stare at it for a while, and then I take it into the shop and pay a professional to repair it. So why did a girl like me pay $5 on a recent Saturday night to ride in a three-borough, 30-mile, sundown-to-sun-up Warriors-themed bike ride? Because it sounded like an adventure, and an excuse to stay up really, really late.

The Warriors is the 1979 cult action film that follows New York City gangs in an overnight chase from a park in the Bronx all the way down to Coney Island. For its 25th anniversary, Track Or Die and Cycle Hawk organized a ride that more or less replicated the film’s route, only on bikes, and with checkpoints and challenges along the way. The city we live in today is not quite the dystopian crime world depicted in the movie — for example, in real New York, turns out you can’t throw a baseball bat at a cop’s knees and then just walk away like it never happened — but one thing the movie gets right is that this city has secrets you can discover only if you get out of your home turf. Here’s some of what I discovered on the ride: (more…)

08/29/14 12:32pm
The sun sets on another brilliant summer. Photo by Tim Donnelly

The sun sets on another brilliant summer. Photo by Tim Donnelly

Whether we like it or not, summer is moving on without us. Sure we could point to the fact that it’s still technically summer until the Autumnal Equinox, or that summer is as much a state of mind as a season (no it isn’t). Did you use it to its full potential? Or did you sit on your couch binge watching OITNB over and over again with the shades drawn? Well now, the days are getting shorter, outdoor concerts and outdoor movies are an endangered species, kids are going back to school, and suddenly, you have to work the whole Friday. But no summer is long enough to do it all.

So let’s reflect: what didn’t you get to on your summer bucket list? What memories will you slink off into fall knowing you never had? Team Brokelyn shares some of ours below: use this list as a guide for next  year, because, as a wise man once said: the next summer is promised to no one. (more…)

07/09/14 1:54pm
crumbs bake shop

Taylor Swift’s anti-Midas touch strikes yet another national retail chain. via Facebook

As a budding journalist/writer these posts aren’t all that pays the bills, if at all. Like so many freelancers, I had a second job in the service industry, serving coffee and sweets, in this case, at Crumbs in Brooklyn. Emphasis on the had. This past Monday, after coming home from a shift, my boss called me to let me know that Crumbs was no more and neither of us had a job.

It happened so suddenly I was shocked, exhilarated even. One retailer who doesn’t appreciate its employees down, a bajillion more to go. For the whole company to go under is one of the most dramatic and epic of ways to lose your job. Not every day does a fellow employee get quoted in The Wall Street Journal. (more…)

07/08/14 10:03am
brooklynettes audition

You thought you could dance, until you wound up here. Photos by Gabrielle Westfield

When I originally heard about the Brooklynettes open tryout I knew immediately I had to see what it was like. I also wanted to see how far my background in gymnastics and collegiate cheerleading, and the 3.5 hip-hop dance classes under my belt, would get me in the process. My preparation for this tryout was simple: nothing but salads for the 2 days prior, attend Chelsea Piers adult gymnastics class to see if I could still tumble (flip), and watch videos of the Brooklynettes’ routines on YouTube the night before the tryout. This was about the most preparation I’ve ever done for a personal endeavor… and I felt like a well-oiled machine (cue the Rocky theme song).  (more…)

05/29/14 7:00am
bar brooklyn sweden

First sign somethings amiss: velvet ropes. All photos by Madelyn Owens

STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN – Tucked away on a dark waterfront street, there is a crowd of young men in beanies and skinny jeans smoking cigarettes outside of a dark bar advertising Brooklyn Lager. Its been several blocks since you saw the last local “micro-chain” cafe, and the area is starting to look a little shady. You appreciate the view of the city across the water as you walk under the bridge to approach the bar, but you’re not in DUMBO anymore, Toto. This is Bar Brooklyn in Stockholm, Sweden. (more…)

04/16/14 9:09am

Meet your new roommates! Photo by Fikriyyah George

You know when you find roommates on Craigslist, you never know what you’re gonna get. In this case a beautiful loft in the northern reaches of Bed-Stuy with two artists and two cats eventually became a beautiful loft in the northern reaches of Bed-Stuy with two artists, two cats and two pigeons. Yes, PIGEONS. Pigeons brought inside my apartment, on purpose. (more…)

Rod Stewart shirt not included.

Jamie, this is your jacket. Rod Stewart shirt not included.

Hi Jamie – I don’t know your name or much about you but I assume you’re a girl because the keychain I found in your pocket said “Jamie” in big block letters on a plastic neon flip flop keychain and I feel like that’s probably a girl thing to carry. I also assume you were the one who took my coat last Saturday night at Death By Audio, which I’m not really that mad about because I’m pretty sure you didn’t do it on purpose. But that caused me to in turn steal your jacket, which I also don’t feel bad about, circumstances considered. This is all a product of my reliance on the practice of stashing my coat under chair, in a corner or wherever else I can find at a venue that doesn’t cost money to store a piece of clothing, due to a combined hatred of both winter jackets and carrying extra clothing. It’s part of the Brooklyn nightlife gamble, but here’s how this particular gamble played out: (more…)

02/20/14 9:16am

Life with a flip-phone is nothing to be nervous about

Last summer, when it seemed everyone was lining up around the block for a new iPhone5, I spotted the shortest line at the Verizon store: the one for the flip-phone. So, I stood in it.

“You’ll be the only person in Brooklyn with a flip-phone.” The salesman told me, menacingly. I told him not to be silly.

Turns out he was right, sort of. According to an outdated survey done almost a year ago, only 61 percent of Americans use smart-phones – but, as soon as I got to Brooklyn, I realized my phone was going to be pretty lonely. Everyone, from the eight-year old next to me on the train to the doorman at my office appears deeply absorbed in games of Candy Crush at all times. But even though I really like candy, I’m not jealous. You might be carrying around a tiny computer in your pocket, but there are plenty of reasons why I’m doing just fine with my Verizon Samsung Gusto 2 U-365 Phone:


09/23/13 8:00am
at least it's not Jersey

On the Westside Highway, looking across that other river. Photo by Garrett Paknis.

“What are you doing here?” a confused Evan asks me at Doris, the new Clinton Hill hot spot. He is my barista at the Chelsea Cafe Grumpy that I frequent on my way to Vinyasa yoga class. For more than a year, Evan has seen me in my natural West  Side habitat, making my soy cortados and engaging in pleasant/flirty conversation. His surprise at running into me in his Brooklyn stomping grounds puts what I have feared all too long into perspective: Manhattan has turned monochromatic. It is stagnant, boring, and a nightmare, which is why four to five nights a week I get on the train at some ungodly hour to the leave what is globally deemed the epicenter of the most desired city in the world to sip pale ale at an establishment made of reclaimed wood on the other side of the river.

I tell him I’m there for a friend’s party, worried that I have been recognized as an impostor. I’m some endangered creature still gripping on to my past. What’s a Manhattan girl to do in the era of Brooklyn’s turn as the star borough? (more…)