SIGN UP FOR OUR NEWSLETTER

09/27/13 10:38am
09/27/2013 10:38 AM |

marcyj20.jpg
  • Image via Subwaynut

With the L train still down for the count on weekends (at least, if you need to get anywhere between the Lorimer stop and Myrtle-Wyckoff), now seems like a good time to bite the bullet and come up with some alternatives. Unless you had your heart set on spending the entire weekend in the orbit of the Bedford stop, in which case, uh, to each their own.

[jump]

But, as the Times helpfully reminded us this week, there’s another train line that runs through North Brooklyn, one that connects the “gritty, hyper-authentic” neighborhoods while still retaining the “humble, old-time ‘el’ feel [and] also exposing straphangers to blistering winter chill on the outdoor platforms.” The JMZ. Home to mystery garbage water that rains down from its elevated tracks, but also, home to a lot of North Brooklyn’s best bars, restaurants, and venues, which as a rule are just a little less packed and unbearable than a lot of their counterparts along the L. While the MTA continues doing whatever it’s doing, here are a few short itineraries to get you started.

09/26/13 3:37pm

When you go down the list of appropriate ways to utilize a public park, throwing a wholesome daytime party for a bunch of kids is pretty high up there. Still, in the wake of last weekend’s Worldwide Day of Play (a free, ticketed event thrown by Nickelodeon for over 35,000 children), people are pretty pissed, on account of the fact that the Nethermead portion of the park is now back to its old ragged, post-Googa Mooga self. And the fact that its inevitable destruction during major events seems to be more and more inevitable with each one.

[jump]

Brooklyn Paper spoke with several concerned locals, all of whom said things like “The Prospect Park Alliance’s idea about proper uses for the park are loathsome,” “We are witnessing a for-profit private land grab in the heart of Brooklyn,” and “It is so disheartening after events like these to see the blatant disregard for our backyard.” None of which is wrong, necessarily. If you’re lucky enough to live close to Prospect Park and go there all the time, it would be frustrating to find one of its most beloved areas shuttered for five days for a private event that left the place tattered and trampled. But then, the park could also probably really use that $150,000 Nickelodeon paid them for the privilege. Which is the crux of the problem with all of these huge events in Nethermead (Googa Mooga shelled out $75,000 for the space, for instance).

“We have a mission to bring different types of events to the park for the public and we have a responsibility to restore, maintain and preserve the park,” said a spokesman for the Prospect Park Alliance. “And these events do bring in revenue, so it is sort of two-fold.”

Which is fair enough. The park has to make ends meet somehow. And the question of how public parks should drum up funds is a complicated one (our own Henry Stewart has an excellent post about it here) until, say, our public officials go ahead and decide to fairly distribute full funding to all of our city’s crucial green spaces? Har har har. Until then, maybe no more children’s parties here? And definitely no maddening, overpriced food festivals.

Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.

09/26/13 12:41pm

Williamsburg
  • Marilynn K. Yee c/o The New York Times
  • Williamsburg

To start, I should just say that I don’t live in Williamsburg. I have never lived in Williamsburg. Way back in 2000, I almost rented a two-bedroom apartment on Roebling and N 6th with my husband-at-the-time for $1,200/month, but we thought the second bedroom was kind of small and so instead took another two-bedroom in Clinton Hill for $1,050 a month and that’s all I’m going to tell you about real estate prices and what they were like more than a decade ago because it’s too depressing to dwell on for very long, I mean, my god that apartment on Roebling probably goes for three times that price now. I don’t want to think about it!

[jump]

And yet despite the fact that I’m not a resident, I’m still inordinately protective of the neighborhood when it gets written about by people who have clearly never spent any significant time there, but still have quite a bit to say about the trends taking place in said neighborhood. And, well, I think we can all pretty much agree that there isn’t that much more to say about Williamsburg, right? At least with regard to trend pieces? Everything that could be said, has been said. Everything that could be written, has been written. Everything that could be gentrified, has been gentrified. Right? Wrong! Apparently, the New York Times is only just discovering now that Williamsburg is not only serviced by the L train, and doesn’t just stop existing east of Bedford Avenue, and that in fact, the neighborhood actually extends south of Grand Street. YOU DON’T SAY! Ugh.

In the Times Styles section today, none other than “hipsturbia” expert Alex Williams examines Brooklyn’s version of the Mason-Dixon line, which is apparently Grand Street, and proclaims that North Williamsburg is now considered “a glitzy playground of glassy condos for banker types, chain stores and hordes of tourists from Berlin; Tokyo; Paramus, N.J.; and, worst of all, Manhattan…the area, especially around the Wythe Hotel, into Brooklyn’s answer to the meatpacking district.” Williams proceeds to extoll the virtues of the “gritty, hyper-authentic ‘South Williamsburg,'” where, he reports, residents feel that the neighborhood “has maintained its bohemian D.I.Y. roots, with its indie boutiques, bearded mixologists, artists’ lofts and working-class families.” Williams goes on, claiming that “status-conscious locals name-drop ‘North’ or ‘South’ as a way of telegraphing their membership in a certain tribe” and that “the new neighborhood monikers can be overheard in conversations” and on and on, trying really hard to make this trend piece happen.

I understand that I should know better than to a) read anything about Brooklyn in the Times Styles section and b) waste energy getting annoyed by it, but it still bothers me that the Times is allowing such bullshit to be published. Has Alex Williams ever even been to Williamsburg? Ugh, I know. Who even cares? Why should it matter? Well, it matters because this arbitrary neighborhood distinction that Williams based a two-page article on is ridiculous because much of Williamsburg (north, south, east…everywhere!) has been subject to massive development since the rezoning of 2005, thus changing huge swaths of the neighborhood and contributing to the skyrocketing rent prices that now abound. Did the development first happen in the northern part of the neighborhood, along the waterfront? Yes, sure. But it’s spread now to all parts of the area and will continue with the redesign of the Domino Sugar Factory, which Williams addresses in the article as some kind of south Williamsburg death knell. But the truth is obvious to anyone who actually knows anything about Brooklyn—all of Williamsburg has changed dramatically in the last 8 years. There have been untold numbers of articles, many books, and even documentaries already made about this. Why is the Times printing disingenuous crap like this? I get that they have some sort of Williamsburg trend piece quota that they need to fulfill every month, but surely there are some real trends to tackle that don’t involve made-up neighborhood divides and Girls references? No? Ok, fine. Then I look forward to next month’s Styles article on the topic of that undiscovered pizza place, Roberta’s. But in the meantime? Just leave Williamsburg alone.

Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter @kmiversen

09/26/13 10:29am

Greenpoint Brooklyn live poultry slaughterhouse

Animal rights activists planned a protest at Lee’s Live Poultry in Greenpoint on Saturday until they realized the slaughterhouse closed months ago, DNAinfo reports. “Last time I was there it was active and recently I’ve only been there at night, so I had no idea,” one activist told the news website. “Since [Farm Animal Rights Movement] had that location in mind and I was familiar with it, we just decided to use that location since it is in a visible area—or it was.” The abattoir, which had been in operation for 85 years, closed in March of its own accord after a visit from government officials. The activists have decided instead to protest two live poultry places in Flushing; I know of one on Sixth Avenue in Sunset Park if you’re looking for another!

[jump]

But, should we really be protesting slaughterhouses? The reason so many farmed food-animals are treated so poorly is because most people have become alienated from the process and thus feel no ethical responsibility: we don’t see the conditions in which the animals are kept, and in fact state governments have recently proposed and passed legislation to ban the covert filming of livestock, criminalizing the few activist videos that emerge to expose wrongdoing and moral turpitude on the part of owners and workers. As a culture, we take great pains not to have to see the animals we eat. Few people even shop at butchers anymore; we don’t even see the meat get cut, encountering it only plated and cooked in a restaurant; plastic-sealed on a styrofoam bed in the market; or frozen in a cardboard box, products abstractly disconnected from their essence. Does anyone think of actual chickens when they see chicken nuggets? The less we see of how our meat is made, the worse conditions for the animals are allowed to become. See no evil, and evil prospers.

Greenpoint residents for years had complained about the smell of Lee’s Live Poultry, but that’s the smell of killing animals for meat: instead of no slaughterhouses, there ought to be a slaughterhouse on every block, and we should all have to smell that smell every day if we want to keep eating the way we do. Having people confront their food choices might be a more effective way of creating a more just world for animals rather than hiding away those slaughterhouses. Because when Lee’s Live Poultry closes, its chickens aren’t saved: they’re just killed somewhere else where we don’t have to worry about smelling it.

Follow Henry Stewart on Twitter @henrycstewart

09/26/13 10:09am

deblasio_pic2.jpg
  • Image via New York Post

Well, the stoner part is sort of an inference about the Post‘s inference about this old, unflattering yearbook photo of Bill de Blasio apparently mid-blink (accompanied by the lede “Far out, man—I might be your mayor soon”). But is anyone really gonna take this copy about his “far-away gaze” any other way? Am I just seeing what I want to see through my own bleary-eyed 420-vision?

[jump]

Possibly! But probably not. Anyway, also notable, per the Post, is de Blasio’s open collar, indicative of the fact that “ties were not in style among the school’s activist set.” I’m not really sure what kind of herb wears a tie in a yearbook photo, but I suppose these were different times. Still, point taken. Bill de Blasio is probably, maybe, a weed smoking degenerate who will drag our city back down to its 1970s nadir within a month in office! Or embarrassing college photos of politicians are never not worth looking that. Probably the latter.

Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.

09/25/13 1:09pm
09/25/2013 1:09 PM |

Rumor has it that novelist-couple Jonathan Safran Foer and Nicole Krauss may be putting their Park Slope brownstone up for sale, Fucked in Park Slope reports. The two bought the four-floor home on 2nd Street—the same block on which Obama once lived—in 2005 for roughly $6 million (give or take $1 million) after selling a smaller house on the same block for $3.25 million (and turning a profit of about $1.5 million). These people are writers, mind you—writers with well-to-do families!

[jump]

If they are in fact selling, the website reports the couple would want $15 million for the house, which would be a Park Slope record. (After a certain point, all millions sound the same, don’t they? I guess the difference between $8 million and $15 million is considerable, but not to us 99 percenters, am I right?) Everybody on the Internet thinks Foer is an asshole, among other reasons because he wrote a book that was pro-vegetarianism, which always sets off commenters; also, he has a weird finger-sculpture tree in his front yard. Can we start a Kickstarter to give him however much money he wants just so we can get rid of that thing?

We’d try to spin a trend piece out this, with Lethem on the west coast and Colson Whitehead now in Manhattan, except Fucked in Park Slope reports they’ve heard the couple has another house in Cobble Hill. Rich people!

Follow Henry Stewart on Twitter @henrycstewart

09/25/13 12:32pm

This looks so good! But probably not the same thing as love.
  • Only 299 more and you can FINALLY be married, maybe.

For those of you who haven’t been spending all your free time scouring the Post‘s “Living” section, some quick background: Stephanie Smith, a Page Six senior reporter, has been running “300 Sandwiches” for a while now, a blog chronicling her attempt to make, well, 300 different types of sandwiches. The blog itself (and its slew of creative recipes) is excellent. The impetus for it… not so much.

[jump]

From Smith’s explanation of the whole thing:

My boyfriend, Eric, is the gourmet cook in our relationship, but he’d always want me to make him a sandwich.

Each morning, he would ask, “Honey, how long you have been awake?”

“About 15 minutes,” I’d reply.

“You’ve been up for 15 minutes and you haven’t made me a sandwich?”

To him, sandwiches are like kisses or hugs. Or sex. “Sandwiches are love,” he says. “Especially when you make them. You can’t get a sandwich with love from the deli.”

One lazy summer afternoon just over a year ago, I finally gave in. […] As he finished that last bite, he made an unexpected declaration of how much he loved me and that sandwich: “Honey, you’re 300 sandwiches away from an engagement ring!”

I paused.

Was our happily ever after as simple as making him a few sandwiches?

Well, uh, was it? Yes! According to Eric, who helpfully explains to us women, “You women read all these magazines to get advice on how to keep a man, and it’s so easy. We’re not complex. Just do something nice for us. Like make a sandwich.”

Which Smith subsequently has, batting away criticism from concerned friends who label the whole thing as “chauvinistic” or worse. And, I suppose, fair enough. Cooking for loved ones is actually a very nice thing, she seems smart, accomplished and in control of her choices, we don’t really know the tone of any of these troubling-on-paper exchanges, they seem to enjoy working on this project together, nobody really knows what’s going on inside someone else’s relationship, etc. She’s also turned this retrograde demand into a legitimately good source of recipes and photography, albeit one peppered with anecdotes of Eric begging to throw away dresses of hers that don’t sufficiently show off her body (while himself donning tank tops in inclement weather) and dropping hints that maybe, hopefully, she’s working her way toward the end goal: being married to him for the rest of her life.

Which doesn’t sound super appealing, honestly. Nor does having to earnestly respond to a slightly upgraded version of the chortling mating call put forth by so many tubby, sexless armchair comedians, “Bitch, make me sandwich.” In fact, I can’t really think of anything I’d rather do less. But then, I’m not married, so what do I know.

Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.

09/25/13 10:28am

See that lone figure? In the distance? Thats you.
  • See that lone figure? In the distance? That’s you.

So it’s fall. And everyone loves fall. Have you been outside lately? It’s glorious. And glorious is not a word I’ve ever used lightly, and not one I’m inclined to use lightly going forward, but still, there’s no other word for the weather right now. And, of course, this time of year is made all the more beautiful because we all know that winter is coming. Soon the air will turn frosty and there will be all sorts of festive obligations and we’ll all get a little bit wistful remembering that last year we at least had the prospect of an apocalypse to look forward to, which, sure, it didn’t happen, but wasn’t it pretty to think it might? This year, though, we don’t even have that. What do we have? Each other. And so that’s why so many people pair off into couples right around now, holding hands in an attempt to hold off existential malaise. But maybe you’re different? Maybe you’re steadfastly single? Maybe you shy away from commitment and are instead looking forward to navigating the cooling days and lengthening nights without someone else holding you back? Well, then this list of fall activities is for you. All of these things will be perfectly fun to do on your own. Although, I suppose, if you did want to share them with somebody, that would be ok too. I suppose.

[jump]