Step One: Move to Brooklyn
Sure, as a newbie you’ll be scorned by people who’ve been here ten years, who in turn will be scorned by people born here, who themselves are scorned by people whose grandparents were born here, all of whom are scorned by people whose ancestors fought in the Battle of Brooklyn... Such is the inevitable nature of nativist zeal. All we can say is try not to be jerk and pay attention—oh, and learning how to ingratiate yourself to your neighbors couldn’t hurt.
How to Make an Egg Cream
1. Start with some nice, cold, Vitamin D whole milk.
2. Use as cold and as bubbly a seltzer as possible. Vintage Seltzer is ideal; it’s bottled in New York State and therefore has less time in transit.
3. People will debate this, but keep the sequence: milk and seltzer in equal parts, then chocolate syrup. I use Fox’s U-bet Chocolate Syrup.
4. Stir ingredients without breaking up the head and beating all the bubbles out. Stir underneath the head.
5. Serve immediately. There are two truths about egg creams: they don’t get any colder, and they don’t get any bubblier.
Peter Freeman, Brooklyn Farmacy
Illustration Mike Force
How to Keep Bees
1. Beekeeping requires both accumulated wisdom and a lot of gear. NYC Beekeeping offers free classes, mentors and discounts on bees and equipment. You’ll need a hive; an extractor to harvest your honey; a smoker to drive the bees down when you inspect the hive; and one of those Hazmat suits
2. Helpful, comprehensive books for novice DIYers include The Backyard Beekeeper, by Kim Flottum, and Beekeeping for Dummies.
3. Once you’ve found your garden or rooftop, face your hive’s entrance to the southeast for morning sun—they’re cold-blooded, and need to warm up sooner rather than later to get a day’s work in. But don’t face it towards areas with heavy (human) foot traffic: it’ll interfere with their flight patterns and they could sting. Better, in that case, to paint your hives dark for maximum sunlight absorption.
4. Order your bees by mid-February, to receive them by spring. The standard order is a couple thousand bees, and one queen; the mild-mannered and widely available Italian honey bee is best for beginners. Feed them sugar syrup in April to build up the honeycomb faster.
5. You may not get any honey in your first year: it takes a while to build up the honeycomb. But you’ve helped pollinate your neighborhood flora, and as long as the queen is still laying eggs—check every couple of weeks—it’ll come eventually.
John Howe kept bees in Fort Greene for many years, founded NYC Beekeeping, and sells The Brooklyn Bee honey every year.
Illustration Mike Force
How to Wax a Mustache
1. Never grow just a mustache. Stop shaving, grow a beard, and when it’s a good length shave everything else off. It’s easier to explain a bad beard than it is to look like a pedophile.
2. Know your facial hair. Picking a wax is like picking a shampoo. If you want loose curls, use a softer wax and comb it in. If you want tight curls, use something more firm and tacky, leave it in for a few minutes and then coax it into the shape you want. You think the Salvador Dali is for you? Use a softer wax to start and then a firmer wax to harden it into the right angle. Remember, the harder the wax the more you should work it into your fingers to heat it up, so it’s easier to apply.
3. Do not blow-dry your mustache. It’s wax—it doesn’t get harder with heat, it melts. If you’re using hairspray to style your mustache, only blow-dry it on the cold setting, as heat will destroy your hair. Also, don’t use hairspray.
4. If you have a thin mustache, do thinner, tighter curls like Rollie Fingers. If you have tons of follicles and look like Teddy Roosevelt, do a more natural curl. Your mstache should fit your face. Imagine Joseph Stalin’s mustache on Pauly Shore.
5. I can’t stress this enough: wear that shit like you were born with it. If someone says you look like a civil war general, you shoot them with a Blunderbuss. If they say you look like a hipster, you shoot them with an obscure Captain Beefheart lyric.
Daniel Mitchell, The Gotham City Beard Alliance
Photo courtesy photosbydash.com.
How to Get Yourself Banned from a DIY Gallery in Someone’s Bushwick Apartment
1. Visit primarily to kill time as you wait hours in line for pizza, for instance, at a famous restaurant.
2. Visit primarily to use the bathroom because that line, clearly, was also long. Or because you didn’t find one in the last gallery you visited.
3. Expound with gusto on how apartment galleries are nothing new. We know, we know, we know.
4. Regard the artwork as somehow beside the point. It is, in fact, the entire point.
5. Treat an opening or closing like a big house party. Well, ok, that’s sometimes the case.
Paul D’Agostino runs the gallery Centotto out of his Bushwick apartment, where he has sustained a cracked rib and black eye.
How to Advocate for a Bike Lane
1. Spend countless hours attending community board and city council meetings.
2. Identify bike-minded public officials and curry favor with them by participating in their pet-projects.
3. Work with engineers and city planners to conduct environmental impact and traffic-flow studies.
4. Contact DOT to request navigation help thru the city’s bureaucratic permit and planning process.
5. Buy a paint spray gun, get on your bike at 4am and paint your own damn bike lane.
Gaylen Hamilton, Time’s Up
How to Pick a Jogging Route
1. From flat-foot shuffler to light-step burner, the first principle: Score variety, both in terms of types of terrain (hard-park earth, asphalt and, yeah, concrete) and scenery. The best jogging route is the one that keeps you wanting to go back out.
2. Fill your outdoor route with outdoor sights and sounds. Wear headphones on the treadmill. But outdoors fly with the birds—the Quaker Parrots of Green-wood Cemetery, the cardinals of Prospect Park woodlands, the rooftop pigeons of Prospect Heights, the gulls, geese and seabirds of the Prospect Park Lake…
3. A jogging “route” is as much internally directed as externally directed. Be partial to finding that place where you can sink into memory, where you get off your beaten inside track. In my case, when I’m looking for that solitude, I run the trails inside Prospect Park. Discover the Vale of Cashmere, the Music Pagoda, the Boathouse.
4. Beware the “On Your Left-ers,” the kamikaze bikers. In Prospect Park, yes, but especially on the narrowed Brooklyn Bridge walkway, around the part that is under construction. You’ve read it here first: Somebody’s going to die.
5. Don’t always run the same path. Shake things up; run against jogging traffic. Don’t look like you’d rather be doing anything else but jogging. Smile. You’re not in the suburbs anymore. You’re in Brooklyn!
Larry O’Connor is the author of Tip of the Iceberg and the novel The Penalty Box. Currently training for his first Boston Marathon, Larry keeps a Brooklyn runner’s blog at run4yrlife.blogspot.com
How to Show Enthusiasm at an Indie Rock Show
1. Uncross your arms. Maybe even move your body around in a dance-like motion, as if you’re buzzed but not drunk.
2. Relax your face so that it can absorb whatever emotion you’re actually feeling during the show. Stoicism is not a good look for potential date prospects or the band onstage pouring its heart out—the band whom, remember, you paid actual money to see.
3. Shouting the words to songs can look as if you’re trying to prove your validity as a fan, but remaining tight-lipped suggests you’re no fun. Mumble along, happily?
4. Update the status of some phone-accessible social media no less than twice but no more than four times during the course of the show. This will help keep you from engaging in leisurely conversation during a band’s set—which is something we, as a generation, need to work on.
5. Occasional grand gestures may be called for. Yelling. Clapping. Raising a beer. These are all permitted. Even crowd surfing, as long as the music’s pace and energy call for hoisting your body into the air and being passed around by strangers. But if you’re at a Real Estate show, for instance, crowd surfing can appear as trying too hard to forge a moment from Can’t Hardly Wait. And no, we’re still not at the point where it’s ok wear a t-shirt of the band you’re here to see.
How to Can and Pickle
1. Obtain some mason jars. Boil them in a pot big enough to submerge, as well as their lids, to sterilize. Feel clean and fresh.
2. Obtain vegetables. Carrots, radishes, cauliflower florets, green beans, cucumbers, and other hard vegetables that can take a good soak in hot liquid and keep their crunch. (If using cucumbers, keep them in a bowl covered with ice in the fridge for one night. If using fresh tomatoes, cook them into a quick sauce and skip step 3, but add 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice to each pint-sized jar before step 4.)
3. Boil equal parts white or cider vinegar and water, and add pickling spices such as peppercorns, mustard seeds and coriander seeds, and one tablespoon Kosher salt per pint.
4. Pack vegetables (cut to equal size pieces) into just-boiled, clean and sterilized jars. Now you can also add fresh herbs or whole garlic cloves if you like. Pour the hot vinegar mixture to the top, and screw on the cap.
5. Set aside to cool long enough for the cap to suck inward, sealing the jar for eternity. If this never happens, simply dunk the jar into a pot of boiling water up to almost where the cap is, and boil for ten minutes. Remove, and let cool until the cap sucks in many hours later. It should. Store however long in a dark place, or open and refrigerate afterward.
Cathy Erway is the author of The Art of Eating In: How I Learned to Stop Spending and Love the Stove. She blogs at Not Eating Out in New York and hosts the weekly podcast Let’s Eat In on Heritage Radio Network.
Photo Cathy Erway
How to Compost Under Your Sink
1. Forage or purchase a good worm container that will fit under your sink. It should have a well-fitting lid and be translucent (ideally), wider than it is deep, and modified with very fine air holes. These air holes should be plentiful, but extremely small.
2. Shred a lot of newspaper (no shiny plastic inserts) into thin strips and dampen it to the point of feeling like a wrung-out sponge. Fill your container with this damp newspaper, making sure it is really fluffy and that the container is at least 3/4 full. You will need a surprising amount of newspaper.
3. Forage or purchase red wiggler worms (Eisenia foetida). Something that goes under your sink will probably hold about 2-3lbs of worms; start with a pound or so and let the population grow to fit the space.
4. You can safely add any veggie or fruit scraps, plus egg shells. The trick is to chop up any really large pieces and to bury everything really well in the newspaper. The worms will eat in the dark. To prevent fruit flies, always keep at least six inches of newspaper on top of the food. Flies don’t dig. You should expect to continually add dry shredded newspaper to the bin for this reason, and also to wick away excess moisture.
5. Learn more! How do you plan to harvest and use the finished compost? How do you troubleshoot this system? Where can you buy worms? Lower East Side Ecology Center sells worms and “Worm Condos,” and is NYC’s trusted source for vermicomposting wisdom. Check out the NYC Compost Project resources where you live. This is an NYC Department of Sanitation-funded program with host sites in each borough. Rot on!
Kate Zidar, North Brooklyn Compost Project
How To Make Friends With Your Neighbors
1. Bitch on the stoop: On TV, tales of neighborhood friendship always start with a delivery of baked goods to the welcome mat. But in real life, the way to get to know a person is to bitch with them. The Brooklyn stoop serves as an ideal platform for whining and comforting. Misery does love company.
2. Share your food, your alcohol, your cigarettes: This never has to be much of a grand gesture, but if you happen to pass by your neighbor, post-initial-bitching-session, why not mention you have a whole carrot cake sitting in the fridge you baked on your day off? An unopened bottle of whiskey? Oh, and no, of course you don’t mind if she bums a cigarette. Nice nice nice nice.
3. Make it Facebook official: Whether you like it or not, a friendship can remain in limbo until you find one another on Facebook. This way, you’ll never forget your neighbor’s last name, and you can even start a Facebook group for your building or your block. If your neighbor isn’t down with social media, get over fear of your own phone voice and exchange numbers.
4. Plan a building or block party together: A building or block party is an opportunity to take your neighbor relationships to the next level. You could give it a trick-or-treating kind of feel by letting each apartment put on a different theme, so people will be entertained just by wandering in and out of rooms. And, when it gets nice outside, find out who owns a barbecue. He will be your go-to person for the block party season.
5. Styrofoam cups, walkie talkies and/or Morse code: For advanced neighbor friendships only. Start communicating with these, and never, ever attempt a Clarissa Explains It All (visiting apartments whenever you feel like it by ladder) without talking about it first. Most people call that “breaking and entering.”
Illustration Mike Force
How to Write an Effective Missed Connection
1. Make it specific. If you actually think you may have found—and promptly lost—the love of your life, try to recreate as much detail as possible about the moment you clapped eyes on each other. What you look like, what he or she was wearing, the location, the time of day and something charming to reel them in. Make everyone reading this message wish it were written for them. To this end, hold back on any reservations you may have at this stage. There will be plenty of time after you’re married to tell her you hate her skirt.
2. If you are just trying to get laid, make your message as bland and generic as possible. If you’re going the vague route, feel free to copy and paste the following: “I saw you breathing the other day. You were really hot. Let’s get coffee.”
3. Whether specific or vague, you will vastly increase your chances if you run your message through spellcheck. “Hot gril on train” may not, in fact, be what you’re looking for.
4. The Missed Connections section of Craigslist is not the place for chain letters or angry, pleading messages to your ex-boyfriend, or for trying to sell your used boxer shorts.
5. Don’t write poetry. For everyone’s sake.
Sophie Blackall has been illustrating Missed Connection messages for the past three years. The best of these have been collected in a book called Missed Connections, Love, Lost and Found, published by Workman.
illustration Sophie Blackall
How to Start a Zine
1. Get thinking: A zine can be about anything, which is sometimes the biggest challenge. Do you want a travelogue or a tour narrative? An apple pie review? A comic series? Maybe it’s a one shot or a serial. Maybe you just want to get on the horn about some stuff. Think about it.
2. Get some zines: There are lots of places around that sell zines—Book Thug Nation, Desert Island, Bluestockings, St. Mark’s Bookshop, the Brooklyn Zine Fest in April—and also, Google is your friend, and there’s a zine Wiki. Just poke around.
3. Get your content: Organization is key, especially if you’re collaborating. Mark a day on the calendar by which you’d like to have the zine finished, and work backwards—printing, layout, editing, soliciting submissions, etc. If it’s a solo thing, make time to generate work. In this town, time generally doesn’t make itself.
4. Get it together: There are layout examples and tutorials all over the web, from mini zines to huge, complicated fold-out sheets. Photocopying is the standard, but there are local printing presses if you want it in color (like CatPrint) or on newsprint (Linco). Talas on Morgan Ave has fancier bookbinding stuff. Oh, and get a saddle stapler.
5. Get it out there: You can sell them at many of the places I mentioned in #2, or through zine distributors and independent bookstores. If you don’t care about money, leave them where people wait: takeout joints, laundromats, cafes, bars, etc. When people are waiting, they will read pretty much anything in front of their faces.
Tommy Pico is the driving force behind birdsong, a queer-positive collective, small press, and zine that publishes art and writing. Originally from the Viejas Indian reservation of the Kumeyaay nation, he now lives in Brooklyn and is working on his first collection of poetry and prose as an inaugural fellow of queer art mentorship.
How to Start a Food Co-Op
1. Do a lot of people besides me want to do this too? Are people wanting food justice as much as I do? Am I just crazy? Do I need 1,000 new business partners? Media, petitions can help determine.
2. Is there a dire need for affordable good food in our area? There’s the $5 perfect organic heirloom tomato in the tasteful grocery and then there’s the cheap ones covered in pesticides in the bodega. Lots of people really need good food but can’t afford it.
3. Is the range of talent we’ll need available in the community? Makers, lawyers, finance people, IT, branders?
4. Is there a model we can follow that’s already out there? To work or not to work, that is the question. Park Slope and Greene Hill both chose work. Flatbush did not. Check them all out. Ask them questions. They will want to cooperate.
5. Where can we hold a first meeting? Will they have enough chairs? Post flyers, use social media, and don’t forget to make an agenda and bring sign-up sheets. Get people to take on tasks and roles. Start committees. You’re off and running.
DK Holland is a founding member of the Greene Hill Food Co-op
photo from the Greene Hill Food Co-Op
How to Make a Healthy Meal from Your Bodega
1. Look for whole foods. Stick to things with three to five ingredients on the label, and none that you can’t identify. Gravitate towards items with natural color: brown rice, yellow bananas, red tomatoes.
2. Avoid anything that comes with its own sauce.
3. Find some herbs or spices. Just one can take your flavors a long way. You’ll have the best luck if you buy ethnic ingredients in keeping with the ethnicity of the bodega owners. Mexican? Tortillas. Indian? Pappadam.
4. Read labels. Anything called “juice drink” where the first three ingredients are water, corn syrup and color is not something you should actually drink. Check the nutrition panel to see if there’s anything useful in there, like protein or vitamins.
5. Keep a well-stocked pantry at home so that if you do have to grocery shop at a bodega, you can still drizzle some fancy olive oil on top and make it all taste better.Ella Nemcova is the Founder & Chief Faux Grapreneur of Regal Vegan Inc., makers of Faux Gras.
How to Sew Your Own Clothes
1. All garments are made by putting together shapes. Understand how a finished piece comes together by combining shapes.
2. Seam allowance can seem like a foreign topic to beginners, but be sure to add an additional 1/2” - 5/8” to the pattern piece so that it can be sewn together.
3. Pressing, with an iron, is just as important as sewing and pinning when creating a flawless garment.
4. Properly pinning and matching notches (reference dots) is extremely important in garment construction. This lines up the pieces you are sewing so that you can ensure you’ll end up with the right seam line.
5. Above all, understand the fabric you’re working with. When designing a garment or sewing project be sure to pick the appropriate fabric: consider stretchiness, volume, durability and comfort. Do not attempt to make a leotard out of tulle.
Kelly Bogan teaches Intro to Sewing at 3rd Ward.
Photo Liz Clayman
How to Kayak in a Superfund Site
1. Plan ahead: It is generally considered bad practice to venture into the Newtown Creek or Gowanus Canal at low tide or within 48 hours of rain. The CSO system is usually overwhelmed by storm water and gets pretty wretched after a storm. It is better to wait until the flushing system clears some of it out.
2. Proper safety gear: Personal flotation device, whistle, water, food, sunscreen, hat and med kit! For Superfund kayaking, you may also want to bring some hand sanitizer.
3. Awareness: The Newtown Creek is a commercial waterway; keep an eye out for boats and make sure they can see you. Wear bright colors and stay aware. Taking a kayak nap is ill-advised.
4. Be smart, stay smart: Newtown Creek is a pleasant paddle but the deeper into the creek you go, the more hazardous the sediment gets. Do not splash, eat, swim in, or drink anything from the water.
5. Don’t fall in: When faced with a wave or a wake, angle your boat so you are not parallel with the impending danger. Tipping your boat in a Superfund site might change your life.
The outdoor pros at Brooklyn Outfitters
How to Start a Rooftop Farm
1. First thing you’ll need to build a rooftop farm is a proper roof: structurally sound, with a load rating that can support 8-10” of soil; relatively flat and completely leak-free. Unless you enjoy lugging five-gallon buckets of gravel and fish emulsion up the stairs, some freight elevator access is a big plus. And the landlord should be a progressive, forward-thinking type with a commitment to greening the community, an appetite for vine-ripened heirloom tomatoes and a sense of humor about the hippies who just showed up in the lobby with six months’ worth of stinky compost (thanks, guys, we’ll take it all!).
2. Be prepared to spend some time writing grant apps and campaigning on crowdfunding websites like Kickstarter. Slow money for triple bottom line businesses is the wave of the future, but at present you will need to do some serious networking to find investors who are prescient enough to support innovative new business models.
3. Source your soil and green roof materials, and make sure you’ve got a water source or two up on the roof. Hauling tons of growing medium atop a building will most likely require a crane, so be ready to make friends with an architect and the Department of Buildings, and operate on union schedule. Hope you like hard hats and making coffee runs!
4. Rooftop farming is a team activity. You’ll need a couple of really committed partners to get the business off the ground and run day-to-day operations, plus an army of friends and neighbors to help dig out your beds and stake your tomatoes. Have no compunction about asking everyone you know to pitch in and build a community of green thumbs: if the woman who makes change at your laundromat grows Pak Choi on her fire escape, get her to lend a hand harvesting head lettuce! Your deli guy’s brother grows habaneros in the Yucatan? Ask him to send you some seeds!
5. Congratulations, you now have a shit-load of vegetables! What are you gonna do with 300 pounds of tomatoes in one day? You’ll need to establish distribution channels for your produce, via wholesale to restaurants, retail at markets or CSA shares directly to the community. Let’s face it: you can only eat so much salad.
Anastasia Cole Plakias, co-founder and managing partner, Brooklyn Grange
How to Get Involved in Local Politics
1. Get Appointed to your Community Board: New York City is broken down into 59 Community Districts, each with a Community Board comprised of fifty volunteers selected by the Borough President and local Councilperson(s). Your Community Board plays an important advisory role in the neighborhood, with jurisdiction from zoning policy to assessing bike lanes to advising on liquor licenses to just about anything else that the Community Board members may have an opinion about.
2. Join a Community Board Committee: The secret of Community Boards is that most work happens in committee and you don’t actually have to be a member of the board to be a voting member of the committees on, typically, Transportation, Land-Use, Environmental Protection, Education and Youth Services, Parks, Housing, and Public Safety.
3. Register to vote where you live as a Democrat: Registered Democrats are the only people with any voice in Brooklyn politics. You may think Democrats are just Republican-lite or you may have issues about being affiliated with a political party—get over it. For every registered Republican in Brooklyn, there are eight registered Democrats. Whoever wins the local Democratic primary election is your elected official.
4. Vote early and often: You eat local, you shop local, it’s time to vote local. You care about what happens in your neighborhood—isn’t it worth voting for an elected official who is going to advocate effectively for more green spaces and better mass transit? In local elections a few votes can decide the race.
5. Run for County Committee: You want to shake things up in your neighborhood—it’s time to run for the most important elected office you’ve never, ever heard of. You can be the Democratic Party block captain for your street simply by gathering about 30 signatures from your neighbors. And as the County Committee person not only do you have a role in dismantling the Brooklyn Democratic Machine, but you can be a part of the new organizing infrastructure across Brooklyn neighborhoods! Check out NewKingsDemocrats.com to sign up to run for county committee!
Lincoln Restler is the District Leader and State Committeeman from the 50th Assembly District: Greenpoint, Williamsburg, Fort Greene and Clinton Hill.
How to Pose for a Party Photographer
1. Be prepared: If you go to a party, chances are some asshole like me is going to try to take your picture. Having a go-to party photo face is a good move if you don’t want to end up looking like an idiot on the internet. If you aren’t photogenic, pick a funny face—that way people will assume you’re just being funny and are not horribly disfigured.
2. Fill the frame: If you are in a photo with more than one person, chances are I am going to take your photo horizontally. Girls especially have the tendency to smoosh their faces together with their friends for some weird reason. Not only does it look awkward but it makes for way too much negative space.
3. Dress to distress: If you want to get your photo taken at a party, the best way to go about doing so is to dress like an insane person. As much as I like shooting hot girls and super hip-looking people, I would much rather shoot colorful drag queens and people wearing inflatable balloon heads.
4. You are not in a gang: If you are going to throw up a peace sign or a metal sign or a gang sign in a picture, don’t throw that shit up in front of your face and keep it close to your body. If you stick it way out it’s going to either block your face, look out-of-focus or be way overexposed because it’s too near my flash. Keeping it close to your body will keep it in focus and properly exposed. But on second thought, just don’t be a douchebag and leave the gang signs to the Bloods.
5. Don’t be a dick: I am more than happy to take your photo, but asking me to take 10 photos is fucking annoying. Don’t ask to see every photo, because it makes me want to stab you. If you don’t want your photo taken just ask nicely—I photograph 200 people a day, I promise I don’t need your photo enough to paparazzi you. I know party photographers are annoying but for at least some of us it’s our job. And never, ever touch my fucking camera unless you want to get punched.
Nate “Igor” Smith runs drivenbyboredom.com and takes photos of drunk and/or naked people for a living.
Illustration Mike Force
How to Twirl a Nipple Tassel
1. Purchase (or make, if you’re crafty) the right pasties. Flat pasties and pasties with lightweight or stiff or improperly attached tassels won’t twirl. You need conical pasties and nice silky swinging tassels. At first you may feel like a cross between a Fembot and the blow-up doll in Rock ‘n’ Roll High School, but when you see what these sparkly puppies do for your profile, you’ll be one of us.
2. Use the right adhesive. Pasties have been known to fly off and away, and you can put an eye out with those things. The fastest and easiest adhesive is double-sided garment tape (or toupee tape, same thing), which you put on the pastie on the edge of the inside; then peel off the tape’s backing and press the pastie onto the desired location. Shake all over to see if it’s firmly attached, and then you’re ready for the main event.
3. Get into the right stance. Put your feet rather close together, raise your arms in the air like you just don’t care, bend your knees slightly, thrust your chest forward, and bounce on the balls of your feet. It will take a good ten to twenty bounces to find your rhythm; since it’s based on repetition, two or three bounces won’t make it happen. Keep it going and check it out—you’re doing it!
4. Put your right arm down. This will make the tassels twirl in the same direction. Put both arms down. This will make the tassels twirl opposite of the direction that they do when your arms are over your head. Physics made easy!
5. Look them right in the face. You have to keep your eyes up; when you look down you can stop the twirl by changing your shoulder positions, and you’ll look terrible in photographs if you’re double-chinning to stare at your own nipples in disbelief. Practice in front of a mirror and look ahead at yourself, and you’ll be twirling in style.
Jo “Boobs” Weldon is the Headmistress and Founder of the New York School of Burlesque, as well as the author of The Burlesque Handbook, the first-ever step-by-step guide to creating burlesque routines.
Illustration Mike Force
How to Set Up a Home Recoding Studio
1. Determine what kind of recording you'll be doing. This will allow you to decide what kind of inputs and outputs you need, and where best to allot the budget. Do you anticipate multi-track recording? Best get an audio interface with at least six analog inputs. Sampling and sequencing by yourself? Spend your money on more memory and a second display for your computer.
2. Select your hardware. Size and configuration of home studios vary as much as musicians themselves. The basics are a computer, an audio interface (inputs and outputs), human interface devices (MIDI controllers, instruments, mics, etc.), and, of course, a means of monitoring your work (studio monitors or, on a budget, headphones). Don't forget a comfortable chair.
3. Select your software. Again, what you want to make will play a big hand in this. Most people will gravitate towards the majors (Pro Tools, Logic, Ableton Live). What's important, though, is that after the initial learning curve, whatever software you're using feels comfortable and intuitive. If it doesn't, switch. A wise old producer once told me, "The best software is whatever software you use best."
4. Put it all together. You're probably going to do this ten times in ten different ways. That's ok, especially when you're just starting out. You're going to arrange everything and realize that you're always reaching over yourself to get at a certain thing, or that the way you have your rig patched together is cumbersome for your work flow. You're going to be spending a lot of time here. Make sure you're comfortable.
5. Sound reduction. It may behoove you to try to at least minimally insulate your room to avoid conflicts with neighbors. While professional studios can spend countless thousands on soundproofing, at home you can get away with $9 sheets of 2.5 inch acoustic foam staple-gunned to your walls. Pays for itself in diplomacy.
Nathan Hinkel has designed, programmed, and operated sound and lighting systems for 17 years. He's worked on several award-winning nightclubs and concert venues, including Jet and Haze in Las Vegas, as well as the now-defunct Avalon. www.nathanleesystems.com
How to Set Up a Home Art Studio
1. Install a killer sound system (or sound-proofing wall panels): From your neighbors’ perspective, there’s nothing better to drown out the sound of a screaming plunge-router or rattling air compressor like (insert genre) music blasting at top volume. My neighbors have told me that the sound of my table saw doesn’t bother them so much if I have John Mayer playing loudly while I am working. Works sort of like a decoy duck, I suppose. (This serves a dual purpose: if your neighbors are anything like mine, your stereo system and power tools will do very little to abate the sounds of hate and utter marital breakdown issuing forth from shared walls. Install sheets of homasote, which is relatively inexpensive: these will keep noise at bay, and will also allow you to easily tack up works in progress, as the homasote is similar to corkboard.)
2. Secure roof or courtyard access: To the greatest extent possible, perform hazardous and dust- or fume-producing activities outdoors. Your neighbors may not be so happy about you using a pneumatic chisel above their ceiling, or with the dust wafting in their open window after you’ve sanded down an entire series of paintings in the courtyard. Unless these are the violent neighbors from step #1, understand and respect their complaints—you cannot win this battle. Also, your most valuable tool may become the 100ft extension cord that allows you to get electricity five floors down in the courtyard, or up on the roof where there are no outlets.
3. Set clear boundaries with pets: There are very few things worse than a purebred cat walking across a table full of wet oil paint. Except cleaning the cat.
4. Go professional: Working at home has hobbyist, amateur-type associations that you may wish to avoid: Dad working on counted cross-stitch projects in the basement, or Mom crafting replica train systems in the attic. You, however, are a professional. As a reminder, keep a stack of all of your grant, residency and exhibition rejection letters somewhere in plain sight. The challenge is to make the stack as high as possible—not by intentionally getting rejected, but by making lots of work and applying to everything.
5. Be generous: By working out of your home, you will be saving lots of $$$. Use some of this extra money to invite fellow artists over for dinner or drinks at your place. This is a good way to get people to look at work in progress, and to avoid isolating yourself in your affordable neighborhood.
Josh Willis lives and works in a rent-controlled apartment in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. He teaches art at Brooklyn College and Purchase College, and his work is represented by Centotto in Bushwick. www.jwillisstudio.com
How to Freegan
1. Repeat this mantra until you have fully internalized it: "Just because something's in the trash doesn't mean that it is bad, dirty, or going to make me sick." If you can't believe it, try this—take a clean garbage bag, throw some of the unopened food from your fridge into it, and put it out on the street. Now, pick it up and take it back inside. Is it still good? Would you still eat it?
2. Assemble your tools. You'll need bags (totebags or Ikea bags are best) and gloves (I like inexpensive cotton gardening gloves: they protect your hands and can be washed along with the bags in case of spillage). Sensible shoes and machine-washable outerwear are useful; a wheeled shopping cart or a bicycle can be great for moving a bunch of stuff.
3. Choose your target(s). Where do you shop? Where do you wish you could shop? Are you prepared to deal with dumpsters (tall, unwieldy) or are garbage bags easier for you? Remember, anywhere that sells food also throws it out. Think drugstores, prepared-food shops, bakeries.
4. Take a friend for moral support, and to share the spoils. You will find a lot of the same thing: 40 yogurts, or 25 pounds of potatoes. Unless you're into eating the same thing for weeks, it's nice to share. If nobody will go with you, take some food to someone who needs it.
5. Pass on the energy and money you've saved by getting food for free. Donate money, or the time it would have taken you to make that money, to a worthy organization. Use it to pursue your own life-enhancing projects. Or just dive for others, either under the auspices of Food Not Bombs, or on your own.
How to Live Without Plastic Bags
1. Carry a bag that can act as a tote. Instead of trying to remember to pack a reusable bag inside the bag you normally carry, make the bag you carry work for you. Pare down how much you schlep, and move to a larger bag. Use the extra room when you're shopping. You'll always have your bag with you.
2. Don't take a bag at all.Six-pack of beer? Gallon of apple cider? Carton of soy milk? Just carry the damn thing. No need to enshroud large items in plastic. And there's a special place in hell for people who take a bag for a pack of gum. Pockets, people!
3. Learn to love the (right kind of) tote. I can't stand nylon bags that have to be stuck inside their own little pouches. Aargh! But that's just me. I prefer thin cotton bags with shoulder straps—they can be used as napkins/paper towels in a pinch, and don't take up too much room in my bag. String bags, tyvek sacks; find what works for you—you'll be more likely to use it (duh).
4. Reuse. Some stores now have bag-recycling collection by the front door: it's required by law for many businesses. If you've forgotten your reusable bag, grab someone else's recycled one as you head in to shop—at least you won't have to take another brand new plastic sack.
5. Rethink the stuff you buy. Drink more tap water and you won't have to cart around bottled water. Start getting your beer in (reusable) growlers and you won't need a bag, or a recycling bin. Quit using paper towels, paper napkins, paper plates and you'll never have to bag (or carry) them again. Buy bigger packages that won't need bagging (see No. 2, above). Try shopping like a European: instead of four-hour expeditions to stock up once a week, why not buy just what you need for the day, every day? Food will be fresher, and it's actually a lot easier to remember what you need: no giant lists, and it'll all fit into your everyday bag. And just think how jaunty you'll look carrying that baguette home on your shoulder...
Amanda Park Taylor, The Conscientious Objector
How to Fix a Flat
1. Remove wheel from bike: Depending on how it is fastened into the frame you will either open the quick release lever or loosen axle nuts with a wrench. Pull wheel from frame.
2. Remove tire and tube: Insert tire levers between rim and one edge of tire and pry the tire over the rim. Slide levers around entire rim releasing one edge of tire fully. Remove inner tube by hand.
3. Inspect tube and tire: Pump air into inner tube, listen and feel for where air is escaping. Patch the punctured tube, or replace with it with a new one. Check tire well by gently running fingers on inside of tire while visually inspecting the outside for what caused the puncture. Remove any glass or other debris.
4. Reinstall tube and tire: Have one full edge of tire installed on rim. With a small amount of air into tube, insert valve into rim and fit tube evenly inside tire. Reseat tire fully by prying it over rim by hand. Use care to not pinch the inner tube. Inflate tire, checking part way to make sure tire is fully and evenly seated on rim.
5. Reinstall wheel: Fit wheel into dropouts making sure it is centered in the bicycle frame. Close quick release or axle nuts tightly. Spin wheel to make sure it is moving freely.
Susan Lindell, Recycle-a-Bicycle, Dumbo
How to Open a Fire Hydrant
1. Find a friendly firefighter at your local firehouse.
2. Ask, with a smile, for help opening the fire hydrant.
3. Wait patiently for them to bring out, what is essentially a very large wrench.
4. Take the wrench and proceed to twist open the hydrant.
5. Enjoy summertime early.
Zach Staggers, drummer for the So So Glos and resident of Shea Stadium