The author in front of one of the locations of the MakerBot store — which all closed. Photo via Isaac Anderson.
Once upon a time, MakerBot Industries was the darling of the Brooklyn start-up world. I’d know, because I worked there.
The company this week announced its productions are being outsourced to China, so it’s come a long way from a hackerspace in Gowanus. But let’s start at the beginning: MakerBot was the brainchild of a few 3D printing enthusiasts and unabashed nerds who wanted to contribute to an open-source hardware community founded by an eccentric British professor enamored with the prospect of self-replicating machines. It turned out a lot of folks wanted to get their hands on a thing that made things, and it also turned out that the community that made the original MakerBot possible greatly facilitated MakerBot’s rapid expansion, offering useful feedback and oftentimes original design work that was ultimately integrated into the company’s core product.
For a while, MakerBot was equally generous in giving back to this community. They embraced the spirit of openness and freely shared their ongoing improvements to the public. Demand skyrocketed for a product that was improving in real time, so it made sense to double down on Brooklyn, and MakerBot built a full-blown factory for its products in Sunset Park. It was whimsical! The impossible was possible! Engineers like me who’d started on the assembly line got promoted through the ranks, as they knew the machines quite literally inside and out. In an emphatically post-industrial city in an outsourced 21st-century world, MakerBot fearlessly bucked the trend by building physical things locally, hiring from within, and committing to the mantra that sharing was caring. It was hard not to like them; their fan base ranged from the obvious, like geeks to geeks who like open-source stuff, to hipster geeks, to, uh, local artists previously involved in Occupy Wall Street? Whatever it was they were doing, it was working. Neither MakerBot nor their affable CEO could do any wrong… until they did.
Everyone thinks riding the start-up wave is the ticket to noble success, a mix of idealistic principles and the cutting edge profitability of the new economy. But sometimes that wave crashes, and this is one of those stories. (more…)
Better than the Gowanus dome, any day. Patrick Lauke / Flickr
Yes, it’s true, I live in Queens. Like you, I naturally believe Queens is the absolute worst. It’s the gateway to Long Island, the subways are unnaturally above ground, there’s a neighborhood there actually named Flushing (like the toilet) and it seems like every TV shows about the borough tells us that one can only move up from Queens. That said, it’s a little bit silly that you don’t live here. Now hush, readers, hush. Just hear me out: recently, my Cool Friend From Brooklyn drunkenly confessed that he could no longer afford his less-than-swanky $3,300 Williamsburg one-bedroom. Having given him the death-in-the-family reaction I knew he thought appropriate, I asked what he planned to do next. His ideas ranged from a completely illogical Airbnb scheme to a SXSW-aligned Texas relocation.
After assuring my Cool Friend these options were really cool, I introduced the idea of Queens as a place in New York City where people live and where he could potentially also live. Texas sounds great, but instead of changing jobs, friends, lifestyle and life expectancy; maybe first consider Queens as a Brooklyn alternative. People do, in fact, live here. We live here for less, we spend less on the crap we buy there and we get way more painting done. Here’s why. (more…)
Then: a picture of love. Now: A picture of a drunk guy leaning on his patient girlfriend
Brooklyn (the movie, based on the novel of the same name by Colm Toibin) is a stunning portrait of Brooklyn in the early 1950s and a romance that blossoms between a young Irish immigrant and her Italian suitor. The beauty of their budding relationship against the backdrop of the city is a coming of age tale for its characters and Brooklyn alike, struggling to find their way and navigate the modern world while maintaining tradition.
Although our protagonist, Eilis, certainly has her own romantic struggles and heart-wrenching decisions to make, dating in 1950s Brooklyn looks a hell of a lot better than dating in 2015. Dating in any decade has its downsides of course, but when I look at my personal experience in the 2000s and 2010s, compared to dating in the Brooklyn of the 1950s, I’m clearly dating in Brooklyn in the wrong era. I was supposed to be here cavorting among the men of a simpler time, but someone messed up and plopped me in this atrocity known as the 21st century, amidst ghosters and Tinder. Just look at all the ways that dating in 1950’s Brooklyn was way better than dating in 2015 Brooklyn (extremely mild spoilers follow): (more…)
Yeah, real nice. Wake us up in May. via Flickr user Paul Bica
Ah yes, fall. The season when it gets cold and everything dies. Why essentially everyone loves this miserable season is beyond me. The top 18 reasons fall is the absolute worst, in no particular order, are: (more…)
And it’s not that they’re not paying taxes because they can’t find a good accountant
It’s Tax Day. Most of you have already filed, which means you’re reading this with at least a general sense of relief. Some of you haven’t filed, and if you’re reading this then stop! Go do your taxes! But there are other people who are just sitting comfortably and watching tax day whoosh right past them: people who don’t pay their taxes, and don’t seem to be bothered too much by it. Curious who these people are? So were we, so we tracked down two Brooklynites who haven’t paid their taxes in a few years.
For obvious reasons, we’re giving them pseudonyms. You might have conjured up some image of money-eyed corporate tycoons who defraud the government year after year, but these women who decline to file fall on the opposite end of the fiscal spectrum: they’re broke. Each one has lived on taxed salary, and each one has lived on freelance income. And both have failed to file in both instances.
Are these two warriors against an unjust tax system, or just lazy? Read their stories and decide for yourself. (more…)
The only piece of unexpired photo ID left in my wallet. by Sam Corbin
When we first ran that post about how to get the NYC municipal ID, it was just a roving blip on everyone’s radar. There were only a few enrollment centers around the city, and all that paperwork was enough to deter anyone who already had a driver’s license. Now, though, it’s a bigger deal: a piece of government-issued identification that doesn’t require immigration info or the ability to drive, and doubles as a library card? Everyone’s lining up for these sleek, snappy and free NYC IDs. I was in that lineup—for a surprisingly short amount of time, considering the heavy backlog—and I’m here to tell you that it’s totally worth it. (more…)
Right? There is, isn’t there? Photo by Flickr user carnagenyc.
Brooklyn may not be where I was born and raised, but eight years, six jobs, five apartments, three ER visits, and one Brooklyn Bridge tattoo later, it’s where I belong. I’ve been in love and had my heart broken here. I’ve trained for a marathon here. I’ve woken up to water bugs crawling out of the drain, dead rodents, and roommates’ random hookups. I’ve made friends, lost friends and attended funerals. I vote here. My nephew was born here. I’ve dipped my toes in the Gowanus, kissed on the Brooklyn Bridge, and volunteered after Hurricane Sandy. Here’s what I’ve learned along the way. (more…)
A typical March day in Venice. (Photos by Dan Cerruti.)
Jay-Z. Lena Dunham. Dan Cerruti. What do all these incredibly important cultural figures have in common, besides zeitgeist-capturing appeal with legions of fans? They–we–are all native New Yorkers who have decided to move to a land of gritty authenticity where only the savvy and cunning survive. I’m talking, of course, about Los Angeles.
The name of this blog being a pun on Brooklyn, I suppose I should do what I can to make you stow away your pitchforks and torches and stymy your cries of “traitor” and “heresy” and “You’re wearing shorts in March? Go fuck yourself.” The internet is lousy with “Why I’m leaving New York” essays, but I figure I should do my best to explain why this phenomenon has claimed so many New York peeps. (more…)
Goodbye to all this. via Flickr user All-Nite Images
The Trash Bar.
I realize that there are only a couple of dozen or so people to whom the name evokes something more than a mild nostalgia, or else a wrinkled-nose pang of disgust, if it evokes anything at all. Say you’re new to town, a fresh face out in Bushwick or Bed-Stuy, you’ve likely never been. And that’s fine, too. Never hip, always dirty, perpetually falling apart, it’s the place with the name tourists giggle at, sticking out like a sore thumb in 2015 Williamsburg. But if you’ve been around, say, the last decade, and been at all into music here in Brooklyn, or karaoke or free alcohol, then chances are you feel one way or the other about it.
I’m a bit different. Trash is closing at some point this year, sometime before August, and after working and hanging out there for eight years, I’m still having trouble wrapping my head around what this means to me and has meant to my life. (more…)
Speaking up meant getting some justice for that cabbie violation (NOTE: not the taxi in question). via Flickr user Matt Green
If you remember, towards the end of 2014 I wrote about a groping incident that happened to me in the back of a green cab. In that post, I said that I planned to testify in court in order to see that this cabbie have his license revoked. A lot has happened since then—but most importantly, the TLC handed the driver an actual sentence, bringing me some much-needed peace of mind. So today, I’m writing as a reminder that reporting assault of any kind is the best thing you can do for yourself and for others. (more…)