“We act as though comfort and luxury
were the chief requirements of life, when all that we need
to make us happy is something to be enthusiastic about.”
Who said that? Albert Einstein. Well that guy sure knew a thing or two about a thing or two, and never was his sentiment more relevant than now. And so we present Brokelyn.com, a web mag founded in May 2009 in celebration of a place we’re endlessly enthusiastic about, no matter how [synonym for crummy] the [synonym for economy] gets.
We’re not going to dwell on that part around here—we’ll be too busy finding new ideas for bargain obsessives, stoop-sale sartorialists and wallet-aware foodies. If you have ideas, tips, lavish praise, or fully conceived and photographed articles about budget-friendly Brooklyn, by all means, please send them our way.
The site was founded by Faye Penn. Managing editor Tim Donnelly oversees the day-to-day editing. The articles and photos are supplied by an ever-expanding team. If you’d like to get involved, please email [email protected] to find out how.
Special thanks to our “angel investor,” a New York City cab driver named Susan who passed away in 2008. She was a scrapper and a news junkie whose cantankerous wit enlivened the letters pages of every newspaper in town. As it turned out, she was also a generous person with unique ideas about friendship. Thanks, Susan. We hope they have Wifi wherever you are.
Meet Team Brokelyn
From: Framingham, MA., an utterly unrivaled mall town.
Cheap BK Activity: Riding back and forth on the Ikea ferry with contraband; walking around Ditmas Park squinting and pretending I’m in the Catskills.
When not Brokelyning, I… Write a book. Write freelance stories for InStyle, Marie Claire, Real Simple and [your magazine here]. Hang out with Papa Brokelyn and our three kids.
Cheapest secret, one splurge: Cheapest secret: $8 eyebrow threading at Raheela’s Coney Island Avenue. Also, buying coffee beans at TJ Maxx. There’s way more than one splurge, but I’m going with highlights by Borja Cau. She’s a genius.
From: Beachwood, NJ. Please don’t call it the Jersey Shore.
Cheap BK Activity: The Rev. Vince Anderson’s weekly free show at Union Pool; terrifying levels of Simpler Times consumption.
When not Brokelyning, I… Write freelance stories for Inc. Magazine, the NY Post and anyone else who will have me; lounge about coffee shops.
Cheapest secret, one splurge: I graduated college years ago. Turns out, my college ID doesn’t have an expiration date, and therefore neither does my student discount eligibility. I’m not cheap about: buying a beer for friends in need, because I’ve been there before, and will be there again.
From: Long Beach, NY. It’s an, ah, long beach.
Cheap BK activity: Eating free wings on Mondays at the Brazen Head to avoid bringing dinner to work with me. Listening to my neighbors argue. Also the Sol and tequila special at The Narrows has been known to cause feelings of invincibility. At least, it does for me.
When not Brokelyning, I: stock various flavors of hummus, deliver bread by bicycle, publish a literary magazine called Stretch, and endlessly complicate my life.
Cheapest secret, one splurge: Writing for Brokelyn means free breakfasts on Thursdays. Splurge: Metrocards. I don’t care if it is public transportation, the subway is for rich people.
From: Hibbing, MN via Seattle
Cheap BK Activity: Rolling out of bed and working from my fire escape in my jammies: no pricey commutes, $2 cups of joe, makeup or even clothes needed. Also, strolling markets and antique furniture stores and planning my “someday” purchases. Saves time, and time=money!
When not Brokelyning, I… Searching for my soul-mutt on Petfinder, tweeting and Facebooking for nonprofits, getting crafty with maps, writing nonsense and some-sense stories.
Cheapest secret, one splurge: Eyeglasses from Warby Parker! they have a buy one, give one program that makes you feel like Bill Gates, i.e. rich. Splurge: A good cup of coffee and a nice glass of beer. Money can’t buy you happiness until you have a $4 pint.
Cheap BK activity: Wandering around taking pictures of old buildings, alleyways, street art and the random bizarre, beautiful and interesting people and things on the streets of Brooklyn.
When not Brokelyning, I… can be found in the local coffice working on the great American novel of our time (right next to the guy who just typed the exact same thing). And occasionally lawyering.
Cheapest secret, one splurge: I cut and color my own hair (I’m pretty sure I missed my calling as a sassy hairdresser with badass sleeve tattoos who’s also a jammer for Gotham Girls Roller Derby). I spend way more than my monthly “expendable income” on concert tickets (when I can’t score free entry via Twitter-stalking).
From: the garden-y part of the garden state.
Cheap BK Activity: potlucks, clothing swaps, free shows, stoop sales, farmers markets, and guest lists.
When not Brokelyning, I… plan parties, call up radio stations, go to shows, ride my bike, and write/edit Broadist, my personal style & ladyproblems blog. I also freelance for places like xoJane and am for-hire just about anywhere.
Cheapest secret, one splurge: Joining a CSA has saved me a ton but has also incited an affinity for $16/lb coffee and raw local honey, soooooo, yeah.
From: Annapolis, Md.
Cheap BK Activity: Biking down to Fort Tilden Beach and enjoying the free sun and surf.
When not Brokelyning, I…work in an office, as my pale complexion belies. I also co-edit a literary quarterly and complain loudly about hipsters to anyone who will listen.
Cheapest secret, one splurge: Secret: People will just hand you money on the street if you threaten them. Splurge: Books and notebooks of any kind. And handguns.
From: New Orleans, La.
Cheap Brooklyn activity: Going swimming after-hours in the playground fountains with my dog.
When not Brokelyning, I…: Try to go to the beach every weekend in the summer, hang with my dog, seek out seafood and soccer matches.
Cheapest secret, one splurge: Making cut-offs at home, buying overalls at thrift stores; splurge: cold-brew iced coffee.
From: New York, NY (concrete jungle where dreams are made of, etc.)
Cheap BK activity: Free dancing nights at Union Hall and the Bell House.
When not Brokelyning, I… : am trying to make the world a better place through government/political work.
Cheapest Secret, one splurge: Used CDs for $1-2 at Housing Works Thrift Shop; vegetarian soul “chicken” at Vegetarian Palate on Flatbush (they’re a good deal, but still more expensive than anything I make at home!).
From: Canarsie (what happens when you fall asleep on the L), then Oceanside, NY (what happens when you fall asleep on the Belt Parkway)
Cheap BK Activity: Bocce at Union Hall. It’s only expensive if you’re a lush. So maybe this isn’t my cheap activity…
When not Brokelyning, I … write humor and sketch comedy, perform improv, host trivia nights, perform bhangra solos at gigantic Indian weddings, frequent K-Town for my karaoke/galbi fix, and recreate the last meal requests of Death Row prisoners. Currently trying to turn my backyard into a garden/outdoor theater.
Cheapest Secret, One Splurge: If you want to enhance your free Brooklyn Bridge Park movie with a pizza from Grimaldi’s, call and order for pickup and bypass the perennially long line. Give up alcohol in the month of February: No major holidays, and it’s still cold, so you have an excuse to stay in more. You’ll lose weight, get smarter, and save tons of money (true story). Splurge: Maker’s Mark. Also, anything that’s guaranteed FUN.
Cheap BK activity: Free/cheap fun: parks, promenades, picnics, concerts, open bars and most of all free samples. Best overall activity is combining all of the aforementioned and making a day of it at Governor’s Island, my favorite place in the 5 boroughs.
When Not Brokelyning, I: Work in editorial for Condé Nast’s special editions, watch captivating nature shows on Nat Geo, add to my list of books I should probably read, scour Craigslist’s “Free” section for the next great find of the century, wait impatiently for next year’s Shark Week, laugh at awkward people and occasionally at myself.
Cheapest secret, one splurge: This probably isn’t a secret but VO5 shampoo costs 78 cents. 78 cents!! Also, C-Town is unbelievably awesomely cheap when it has sales that it never ceases to amaze me. Splurge: Malbec and great steak. Noms!
From Malvern, PA, New Yorker of fourteen years!
Cheap BK Activity: Shopping at Atlantic Center Mall. Seriously; Mandee (just ignore the obnoxious techno music) Target (don’t go on a weekend afternoon) and DSW (they mail you coupons) all in one air-conditioned location! Sign-up for your favorite stores frequent shopper programs and they will mail you coupons on your birthday, which is like giving yourself a gift that keeps on repeating every year.
When not Brokelyning I…design craft and DIY kits, toys, and stationary items for kids and tweens for several brands including Crayola and Lisa Frank, geek out over all things related to product design, toys, and technology (3D printing!), participate as a member of MAKE magazine’s Beta Test Team, scheme ways to turn my grad school thesis into a book about the history of DIY and crafting, obsess over all things having to do with 1980s and 90s nostalgia, perform improv comedy with my indy team Babyface all over town, find reasons to dress-up, art direct an occasional music video or short film, and write my memoirs while riding trains.
Cheapest Secret, One Splurge A fine cocktail with bourbon or whisky or a really great dark craft beer.
From: Brielle, NJ. Close to the beach and not much else.
Cheap BK Activity: Spending way too much time on the Brooklyn Heights Promenade.
When not Brokelyning, I…: Work in marketing at a university publishing house in Madhatin’, travel inappropriate distances on public transportation for cannoli, and annoy people by incessantly talking about food.
Cheapest secret, one splurge: Secret: Taking the dollar vans on Flatbush Ave. to go to and from Target. Not really a secret, but so much quicker than the subway (and cheaper too)! Splurge: The foie gras donut at Do or Dine, over and over again.
From: Bloomsburg, PA, just 15 miles from the ghost town of Centralia.
Cheap BK Activity: Basking in Ira Glass’s glory at The Talent Show. Also, The Bushwick Book Club.
When not Brokelyning, I … work in digital at Penguin Books, volunteer for things like 826NYC, and go to every free lecture with “sexuality” in the title.
Cheapest secret, one splurge: Secret: Asking for discounts at retail stores for merch that’s defective but salvageable. Splurge: A gym with a pool and towel service.
From: Warren, PA, where haircuts are still $13 and V&J’s serves $0.25 Rum & Cokes on Saturdays.
Cheap BK Activity: Riding my bike to Coney Island
When Not Brokelyning, I… do stand-up, improv, and sketch comedy throughout the city and at the Upright Citizen’s Brigade (http://www.ucbtheatre.com/). I also teach yoga (http://suesmithyoga.com/)
Cheapest secret, one splurge: Cancel your cable! All the shows you want are available online. Also, for a home/beginning yoga practice, you can download some great free podcasts online. Splurge: Shoes! Warm winter boots and cute ballet flats. Yum.
From: San Francisco, CA.
Cheap BK Activity: Buying socks at the dollar store. I’m also a fan of the free classes at the Brooklyn Wine Exchange.
When not Brokelyning, I…produce radio pieces, write comedy, stock frozen food and eat samples at Trader Joe’s, and gaze wistfully out my bedroom window at passersby.
Cheapest secret, one splurge: Bike to work. You save boatloads of money. Literally, enough money to buy a boat and fill it with money. Splurge: Classes and drinking. I’m addicted to headaches.
From: Sydney, Australia
Cheap BK Activity: Running through an open fire hydrant in the Summer.
When not Brokelyning, I… Direct tourists to various bathrooms at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Cheapest secret, one splurge: Don’t waste your time and money marinating in other people’s sweaty juices on the subway, bike everywhere instead! I love to splurge on excellent produce at the Prospect Park Farmers Market, usually on payday.
From: Hartford, CT
Cheap BK activity: Inline Skating, going to a skatepark or hitting street skating spots is free (as long as you avoid the cops).
When not Brokelyning, I… : Work as a Audiovisual Technician, and a freelance videographer/video editor.
Cheapest Secret, one splurge: Producing professional-quality videos on an extremely low budget. Splurge… My video game habit.
From: Manhattan, by way of Central PA and London
Cheap BK Activity: I’m a sucker for second-hand and vintage clothing stores (see below).
When not Brokelyning, I… am a regular at the Park Slope Beacon’s Closet, particularly in the boot department. (Seriously. I get embarrassed walking in now). Scoping out vegan food in Brooklyn, taking photos, freelance photo editing, trolling Craigslist for dream apartments and chuckling over missed connections; and attending/shooting lots of concerts.
Cheapest secret, one splurge: My cheap secret? Being a lightweight and only requiring one or two drinks for the evening. My splurge is most definitely the flat whites at Milk Bar Brooklyn. Worth every sip!
From: Saratoga, NY. The land of horses, hippies, suburbanites, awkward dancing and Jell-o shots.
Cheap BK Activity: Biking everywhere I can, Myopenbar hopping and daydreaming of more outlets for Brian Williams to be funny.
When not Brokelyning, I… am at the dog park with my pup, Polly. Job searching. Thinking up Kickstarter ideas. Cursing at stupid Facebook updates, while threatening to close my account. Catching up on music.
Cheapest secret, one splurge: Scored cheaper rent for repainting and fixing up an apartment. Drinking wise: hitting up Rope’s $1 Beer Night. If you are not 21, please don’t go. You ruined it for everyone last time. Splurge: My daily addiction to Bedford Hill‘s amazing large americano. But you buy ten and get one free, so….
From: Duluth, GA
Cheap BK activity: subway tour
When not Brokelyning, I… belly/fire dance, write and sing with my band (Helixentric), edit videos.
Cheapest secret, one splurge: How to travel for less than staying in one place. Splurges: garbage bags, eye makeup, Metrocards.