04/28/16 1:19pm
Words, words, words. via Sundays at Erv's on FB

Words, words, words. via Sundays at Erv’s on FB

As we journey ever deeper into the world of digital publication, audiobooks ringing in our ears and e-readers clutched to our breasts, it seems as though big publishing houses might not be long for this world. These days, you’d think that an emerging writer’s only hope to get discovered would be through a clever tweet.

But you’d be wrong. First of all, even if print is dying, publishing is not. And secondly, here in Brooklyn there’s still a loving home for the literature enthusiast (or just for anyone who prefers to write in complete sentences). If you’re eager to meet other bookworms and discover new voices, the best way to do it is through any of BK’s local reading series. Lucky you, we’ve compiled a list of said reading series, all of which feature free admission and — arguably the secret of all great writers — proximity to alcohol. (more…)

04/28/16 10:46am
Tour the borough with a gaggle of smart insiders.

Tour the borough with a gaggle of smart insiders (photos by Earl Maldoun)

Hey Brokesters! Your humble events editor here — the one who brings you burlesquers and dance parties and endless free comedy shows every week. Now I want to bring you something else: on a bike ride.

For years I’ve been chronicling Brooklyn’s cultural and artistic life, both online and in a book. Now I’m taking the idea IRL, bringing people to awesome spots to see what goes on behind the scenes and hear from the people making all the magic. I’m working with my pal Jonah, tour-guide progeny and native New Yorker, and we’re basically curating a day full of awesome that includes stops at a Civil War–era warehouse turned art collective and a store for superheroes. (Plus there are snacks!) (more…)

04/27/16 5:27pm
Dance the dance of gentrification. Via LVM Group.

Dance the dance of gentrification. Via LVM Group.

There is nothing inherently wrong with steampunk on its face, other than how ridiculously loud a crowd of steampunks can get outside the Way Station every single goddamn night of the week. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with magicians or whiskey tastings either, nor even anything inherently wrong with condos, to be honest (they’re just little houses stacked on top of each other, an efficient way to live, and efficient living is one of the reasons New York is great). But throw all these things together in a cauldron of real estate and they start to emit an odor that smells a lot like gentrification.

This is what happened in Crown Heights last week, at a party celebrating “condo conversion:” aka turning a pre-war apartment rental building into much less affordable condos starting at half a million dollars. The party “kicked off with a splash at a Steampunk/Vaudeville-themed launch party,” according to a press release. If a real estate agent is trying to get you to buy their property by throwing you a steampunk party, there’s a good chance you might be a gentrifier. (more…)

04/27/16 2:00pm
Free outdoor movies in so many parks, bars and backyards it'll make your head spin. Dan Nguyen / Flickr

Free outdoor movies in so many parks, bars and backyards it’ll make your head spin. Dan Nguyen / Flickr

I just watched the Game of Thrones pilot (late, I know) and Ned Stark keeps saying that “winter is coming.” I’ve inferred that since Westeros must be some kind of fortressed land off the coast of Australia, what he actually meant by this was that “summer is coming.” And boy, is it ever! Don’t let this week’s lower temperatures fool you; the countdown started long ago, and the Gowanus Yacht Club just declared outdoor drinking season officially open. It’s time to get outside and get lit, not to mention start racking up those demerit badges.

I’m not sure where I was going with the elegy to summer above, but it eventually leads us back to free outdoor movies. Because yadda yadda “nothing says summer like” yadda yadda. So here’s a massive list we made of all the free outdoor movies playing in Brooklyn this summer. We’ll keep adding to this list as more and more free outdoor movie schedules come out because trust us, there’s plenty more to come. Screening series will soon be announced at Coney Island Beach, Red Hook Park and at various other bars we love in the borough. Some series are more weather-permitting than others, and some make better dates than others. But don’t worry: as you’ll see from the list below, you’ve got more than enough chances to catch Purple Rain this summer.  (more…)

04/27/16 12:49pm
What can I do with my garbage backyard? Tips on cleaning it and getting it ready for gardening

Garbage yard, before the cleaning. Photos by Caroline Shadood/Brokelyn.

Six years back I struck Brooklyn gold, renting the ground floor of a semi-decent place. The backyard was pure luxury: a dust bowl with no grass or hope for plant life, a one-eyed garbage kitten prancing around, some used condoms and takeout containers strewn about for good measure … the list goes on. Somewhere between the trash and the aggressive optimism I saw something else: gorgeous sunlight, a morning glory vine creeping up the fence, various cool rocks, the perfect spot for a cheap charcoal grill. 

Maybe right now you look at your garbage backyard and feel hopeless. The sight is daunting, messy, and potentially dangerous. Plus landscaping is something for people with money, reserved for the ‘burbs and the balconies of high rises. Sure, like most things in New York, having a bigger budget can alleviate problems more easily. But that’s not why we are here. (more…)

04/27/16 8:46am

Auction for the “Slut” hat, featuring (from left) Heidi Glüm, Untitled Queen, Alotta McGriddles. Photos by Gabrielle Westfield/Brokelyn.

As I blissfully watched a drag queen, a petite 20-something blond and my boyfriend aggressively trying to outbid each other for a satin Michael Jordan jacket, I knew I’d found NYC’s most lit thrift store and my new only-way-to-shop. This party/auction/drag show/event has everything I want from shopping (and life?): drag queens, celebrity drag queens, gorgeous cheap shit, disco balls and booze. Alotta Stuff Live Auction is celebrating its fifth-year anniversary this August and that means I’ve wasted five years of my life shopping alone in dingy thrift stores when I could have been partying with friends and letting smart, tasteful queens act as my stylists.

Alotta McGriddles is giving thrift store realness to the people of Williamsburg’s Metropolitan bar every third Thursday, and if you’re not eating up what she’s serving, then you too are shopping wrong. The auction offers a range of hand-selected thrift and vintage clothing. The event is sponsored by Out Of The Closet Thrift Stores and Life Boutique Thrift and is hosted by the inimitable Alotta McGriddles. And if you felt a way about Thorgy Thor’s gone-too-soon exit from Rupaul’s Drag Race, FEAR NOT! Thorgy, everyone’s favorite fashion clown, co-hosts and co-curates the auction. Items (personally selected by both hosts) come in all sizes, in “men’s, women’s and questioning’s” and bidding starts at $1 for most items. It also taught me the proper way to thrift shop finally (hint: it involves shots).  (more…)

04/26/16 4:28pm
Is Bushwick's Holi festival a harmless hippie celebration or cultural appropriation?

Yes, there were flower crowns. Maria Travis / Brokelyn

Droves of Brooklynites lined up outside an abandoned lot at 485 Johnson Ave. in Bushwick for the Festival of Colors this past Saturday. Some wore GoPros, others wore Rastacaps. Everyone was dressed in white, eager to have their clothing stained with the throwing of brightly colored powder. This activity has come to represent the entirety of the Indian rite of spring, also known as “Holi,” for young people in America.

In South Asian countries with Hindu populations, particularly India and Nepal, Holi is observed religiously over a two-day period. Here in Brooklyn, it was celebrated non-denominationally over an eight-hour period — one consisting largely of playing with powder, eating from food trucks and drinking Tecate tallboys, at that. This weekend’s festival was predominantly white, with a vibe that felt more Coachella than New Delhi.

Naftai, 24, a first-time attendee, told us she saw an ad for the festival on her Facebook feed and recognized it instantly as the Indian ritual she’d once seen in a movie.

“I saw it on Eat Pray Love and I was like ‘I gotta go to this,'” she said. “I thought I had to go all the way to India to do it, but then they did it here.”

The event’s organizers claim that their festival is a positive way to bring Hindu culture to a wider audience. But can the commodification of this religious ritual be a positive thing? Or was this simply yet another example of cultural appropriation in Brooklyn?  (more…)

04/26/16 1:35pm

We don’t know exactly what, we don’t know exactly when, but some time in the near future, the L train is going to really screw up your life in some ways. And yes, this means even you, person who doesn’t ride the L train and makes fun of people who do — because all those people, the young tattooed folks, the people who’ve lived in Bushwick for generations, people in hats, ya uncle from Canarsie, are gonna dump into the rest of the MTA system and cause ripple effects all over your commute. We know so far the MTA is thinking of shutting down the L train completely for 18 months or partially for a few years to repair damage from Hurricane SAndy, but nothing is going to happen until 2019. So while you’re debating whether you can get to work via tugboats or hovercrafts, you can actually go talk to the MTA to give them your feedback on the L train plans and maybe get some more info on what the L is going on. (more…)

04/26/16 10:00am
How I learned to ride a bike for the first time, at age 27

All photos by Scott Steinhardt

I never actually learned to ride a bike as a kid. I spent many hours on a tricycle when I was a toddler; the trike just became less appropriate when I physically outgrew it. My friends, on the other hand, all received sparkling new Schwinns. They’d spend their summers cruising around New York suburbs’ sidewalks, weaving in and out of traffic as I watched from afar.

Simply put, it sucked. Hard. I tried and failed numerous times to balance on a beat-up girl’s bike at my grandparent’s house, but I always fell. For two decades, I attempted to ride on friends’ and family members’ bikes, but only ever moved a couple of feet before I’d nervously tip over onto the sidewalk and panic. After attempting and failing to balance on a friend’s bike in Prospect Park in 2009, I all but gave up on biking for good.

The idea of getting back onto a bike came to me five years later, when I lost my editing job in the summer of 2014. All my newfound free time as an unemployed adult came with a new determination to check off some major to-do’s in my life: applying to grad school, finishing The Wire, and, of course, learning how to ride a bike. (more…)

04/26/16 8:17am
The literal sign of summer. Via @Conrad.

The literal sign of summer. Via @Conrad.

There will be days soon when the summer sun is so punishing, the still air of the underground subway station so menacing, that your thoughts will conquered only by only visions of relief. It is then that walking down Smith Street, your eyes hazy with the reflective heat of the blacktop strangling the city, you’ll spot what is surely a mirage of an oasis chipped off the side of a building. It’s not much: just some picnic tables, umbrellas, pitchers of cold beer poured into plastic cups while hot dogs and burgers conga line off the grill, but it is real, and its relief is powerful. It’s no mirage and it’s no longer a fantasy of a summer to come: The Gowanus Yacht Club, summer’s advance rider, banging loud on the drums of war against cruel memories of winter, is back open for the season. (more…)