Photo Samantha Sutcliffe
3 Best Bars for a First Date
1. Alice’s Arbor
A funky-general-store vibe, novel cocktails, dollar oysters, and a dining room to mosey over to if the dollar oysters work.
Gypsy jazz to get dealbreaking dance moves out in the open early.
3. No Name Bar
Eclectic backyard décor, and if conversation founders, just ask if your date knows the story about the owner finding out he was the illegitimate son of Ted Nugent.
3 Best Restaurants for a First Anniversary
Very bright and airy, with servers who’ll make you feel totally gorgeous and special, and maybe slip you a glass of prosecco on the house.
Classy but still relatively casual, with dim lighting, amazing, inventive Italian food and lots of decent affordable wines.
The ginormous outside space has a lot of intimate little cabanas, and the service is so on point, you feel like you’re at a five-star restaurant.
Your pints runneth over, but fear not: craft beer spillage blends with Constructivist-inspired abstract color patterns, two new ones every couple months, at a bar whose thoughtfulness of execution extends down even to the most disposable discs of white cardboard.
Best Surprise Gay Bar
We don’t know if it’s just because the outside looks a bit fratty, or because it’s low-key gay, but we’ve had arguments with people insisting that Branded isn’t a gay bar, just a bar filled with exclusively dudes. If you don’t trust us, trust Yelp, the tiny rainbow flag sticker, and drag queen trivia night.
Best Actual Overheard Fancy-Person Restaurant Brag
“Oh yeah, I used to go to Brooklyn Fare before they hired the sommelier. She’s great, but it was better when I could bring things from my own cellar. No, that was before they got their first Michelin star.”
Best Iced Coffee
Grady’s Cold Brew
Switching the focus from the beans or their origin, Grady’s proves that process is key. Their concentrated bottles of coffee are cold-brewed overnight with chicory, creating a dense and silky-smooth elixir to adjust with water, ice or milk.
Best Raw Meat
Isa’s Steak Tartare
Plated like a work of modern art, Isa’s perfect circle of velvety beef finds a perfect balance of texture and flavor with a smaller ring of crunchy flaxseeds and a round dollop of crème fraiche.
Best Vegan Food
Maimonide of Brooklyn
This Boerum Hill vegan pizza-ish joint joined the ranks of our favorite restaurants the first time we ate there: the eponymous whole-grain flatbreads (MOBs), shaped like the arches of the Brooklyn Bridge, are topped with veggies and more, and are impossibly delicious.
Cloak & Dagger
Best New Men’s Store
This stylishly utilitarian outpost is packed with letterman’s jackets and Civil War screen prints all designed, manufactured and sold in Bushwick and Williamsburg. Plus: free alterations!
Best New Women’s Store
Cloak & Dagger
This hybrid vintage store, upscale retailer, and apothecary has even more to offer at its newest Boerum Hill incarnation. Helmed by the fittingly named former Pratt student Brookelynn Starnes, the store has fittingly created Brooklyn accessories like leopard print bicycle helmets.
Best New Made-in-Brooklyn Item
Digby + Iona’s engagement rings
The new “Inigo & Atreyu” wedding collection by designer Aaron Ruff features earthy styles and unique details like gray diamonds and scalloped engravings. Also kudos for bearing the name of characters from both Princess Bride and The Neverending Story.
Best Handmade Jeans
Designer Loren Cronk lovingly constructs each pair of jeans, shorts, and even guitar straps by hand at this Greenpoint denim vendor. And these artisan threads are even affordable: men’s jeans can cost as little as $60.
Best Bedroom-Based Jewelry Designer With A Name That Sounds Sort of Like A Strange Sex Act
It’s hard to throw a trendily chained rock in this borough without hitting a DIY jewelry designer, but while many purvey wares that look like our little sisters’ charm-and-chain creations after a trip to the bead store, WAXTHEDUCK bucks the Etsy cliches by producing stunningly complex necklaces that, like only the very best fashion commodities, blur the line between art and craft.
Best 50s Vintage On Budget
While you may ogle the gorgeous 50s modern pieces at Baxter & Liebchen in Dumbo, RePop, recently moved from Fort Greene to Williamsburg, will deliver more of a scavenger’s thrill, at a much less hefty price tag. This jewel of a store is small, so come back often and get to know the friendly staff.
Best Steel Furniture
If you’ve always dreamed of just the perfect vintage medicine cabinet doubling up as a bookcase or a nightstand, look no further. Two Jakes also has a good selection of metal tables and vintage lamps, though the latter can be pricey.
Best Imaginary Trend We Just Made Up a Minute Ago As An Exercise in Scaring Ourselves
The Male Legging
Surely it’s only a matter of time before our culture countenances dudes walking around with Oliver-as-Hamlet crotch bulge peeking out from below the hemline of a silkscreened t-shirt, no? Quick, everybody move away from this ridiculous country, remembering first to request an absentee ballot.
"The Birth of Baby X"
ART + PERFORMANCE
3 Best Exhibits of 2012 So Far
1. The Brodmann Areas
Produced by Norte Maar masterminds Jason Andrew and Julia Gleich and staged at the Center for Performance Research, this broadly collaborative multimedia ballet was a brain-probing delight of imagery, music and motion.
2. English Kills Annex during Bushwick Open Studios
Across the street from the main gallery’s strong solo show of works by David Pappaceno, this one-weekend appendix exhibition was installed in a vast, raw space and featured choice works by nearly everyone on the EK roster past and present, including some excellent new paintings by Jim Herbert and Andy Piedilato, whose massive canvases thrived with ample breathing room.
3. Momenta Art’s Spring Benefit
Certainly the most intriguing of the year, the show featured a particular painting that asked, with some facetiousness, to be stolen. Then it was, right before the raffle that would’ve placed it with a new owner. News of the theft quickly generated popular memes, so in a certain sense, everyone still “benefited.” A bit of art history if not the most beguiling mystery.
5 Best Galleries to Watch
1. A.I.R. Gallery
It’s already been quite a year: in January, the gallery launched Illegitimate And Herstorical, an exhibition curated by artist Emily Roysdon in which queer artists deftly questioned master narratives. In May, Aimee Burg’s sci-fi inspired exhibition Vault showcased science diagrams, test patterns, and a diamond shaped bag in purple velour, all of which were emptied of any original content.
2. Interstate Projects
Founded by art handler and artist Tom Weinrich in March 2011, Interstate Projects gets a mention both for consistently bringing in strong contemporary artists and expanding their exhibition space within the space of a year.
Its shows to date lack the consistency of a space like Regina Rex, but we consider it a gallery to watch regardless, thanks to the sheer amount of artistic energy surrounding the project.
4. Regina Rex
Less a gallery to watch than a gallery to visit regularly, actually. This collective and gallery space has more consistency than almost any Manhattan gallery we know. Miss a show by this collective and you won’t have much to talk about at your next Brooklyn art party.
Duh. A continuation of Storefront, StorefrontBushwick represents the singular vision of artist and community organizer Deborah Brown. And she has her finger on the Bushwick pulse, showcasing the work of talented emerging artists.
Best Bushwick Open Studio
This June 1-3, Bushwick artists opened up their studios for flocks of art enthusiasts and beer drinkers. Casey wins our pick for the best open studio we saw, with her colorful abstracted figures and animals shaped through loose brushwork and thinly applied paint. Her paintings are, in her words, “odd and a little improbable,” and we like that.
“The Birth of Baby X”
Last October, Marni Kotak gave birth in front of a live audience at Microscope Gallery in Bushwick and dubbed it performance art. We’re not sure what a viewer is supposed to gain from this, but I guess we’ll find out as baby Ajax gets older. Apparently, Kotak’s next performance piece will be called “Raising Baby Ajax.” Here’s hoping the piece isn’t a repeat of The Truman Show.
Best Lingering Wheat Pastings Likely to Disappear Soon Due to Development
Grattan Street between Bogart and Morgan
This might boast some new, rather overlookable commissioned murals, but it also has remnant shreds of wheat pastings and other street art relics that have been around for quite a while now, weathered and layered and aged and discolored like proper outdoor bodies of work. The facades of several buildings mid-block are particularly noteworthy, yet with all the neighborhood’s rising tides of development, many of them are likely to be scrubbed up or whitewashed pretty soon. Especially the little champ of the block, the junk shack across from Pine Box, which will probably be simply demolished. That said, anyone looking to buy the stree-art ornamented facade of a shed might get it for a steal. Perhaps one could even just steal it, given proper mid-demolition timing. We didn’t tell you to do anything.
Most Exciting New Theater
BAM’s Richard B. Fisher Building
We haven’t been inside this Ashland Place black box yet, but we’re totally psyched about a new 250-seat theater under BAM’s aegis, if only because it means an even more extensive Next Wave festival!
Best Possible Opera Company Move
New York City Opera
We get why Upper West Siders are miffed that the opera company split from its old Lincoln Center home. But we think the company, which takes a bigger chance on contemporary opera and American artists than the Met, is a perfect fit for Manhattan’s hipper neighbor. City Opera did two shows at BAM this winter—a significant chunk of its shortened season. But really, we’d like to see it stop being nomadic and settle down in Brooklyn for good.
The Brooklyn Philharmonic
Our hometown orchestra wanted to make a big comeback after a moribund few years, so they planned an ambitious season: they’d visit neighborhoods around the city, mixing classical repertoire with community-specific programming. It was a brilliant success, with great concerts from Brighton Beach to Boerum Hill to Bed-Stuy, and has us totally psyched for whatever they do next.
Best Mad Theater Science
Target Margin’s Theater Lab
It’s rare to see a group of artists enjoying themselves while doing their work in public, but that’s what happens when this Fort Greene company decamps to the Bushwick Starr, to stage limited runs of material that may inform future productions. This spring brought a puppet reenactment of the Bolshevik Revolution, among other Futurist oddities, in preparation for an Uncle Vanya next year.
5 Best Albums Released by Brooklyn Bands So Far This year
1. The Men—Open Your Heart
It may not be the most timely album of the year, but it’s certainly the hardest-hitting and most viscerally affecting.
If ever a Brooklyn band deserved to have their full-length debut released by the mighty Merge Records, it was these guys, with their impeccably tasteful, hyper-melodic indie-pop.
3. Sharon Van Etten—Tramp
Proving once and for all that there is nothing quite as powerful as a scorned, guitar-toting woman with a voice that can move mountains.
4. Dirty Projectors—Swing Lo Megellan
The most user-friendly DPs record to date is of course still every bit as unpredictable and peculiar as you’ve come to expect, but with even more big-time hooks mixed in.
5. The Walkmen—Heaven
For better of worse, this record should probably be freely distributed to all Brooklynites on their 30th birthday or immediately following the birth of their first child. Stately, mature and beautiful.
Best Comment on BrooklynVegan’s “8 Bands You Need to Hear” Post this year
“I am thankful for L Magazine. When I leave the house [to] walk the dog, and I forget to bring along a plastic bag, there is always an L Magazine dispenser close by to assist. If you unfold it at the staple, it has just enough surface area to grab all the doodoo without getting any on my hand. Thanks, L Magazine!”
Best Music-Related Facebook Initiative: Adam Yauch Park
When we lost Beastie Boy Adam Yauch to cancer earlier this year, locals began a petition to rename Brooklyn Heights’s Squibb Park in his honor. It would make perfect sense in any case, really, but with renovations under way to turn it into a skate park, well, there’s just no way it can’t happen.
Best Distraction from the Thurston Moore/Kim Gordon Divorce
Lee Ranaldo’s Between the Times and the Tides
Devoted Sonic Youth fans have always known that Lee Ranaldo was the band’s secret weapon, but even we didn’t see this coming. His first large-scale solo release is a beautiful, hooky distillation of everything he’s been bringing to Sonic Youth for the past 30-plus years.
Best Go-To Producer for Brooklyn Bands
Whether you’re in one of the borough’s most musically precise bands (Vampire Weekend, Hospitality) or one of its most bludgeoning (Sleigh Bells), you’ve found yourself turning to Stoneback at some point in recent memory for his expertise in producing, engineering, mixing and making things sound real good.
Best Song About Brooklyn By a Non-Brooklyn Band
“Bushwick Kids” by Fidlar
When a group of sneery L.A. punks release a song called “Bushwick Kids” on their Tumblr, you’d assume it’s going to be a dis on the ‘hood. First you hear the refrain as “Fuck you, Bushwick kids!” but then it hits you that frontman Zac Carper is actually yelling “yeah” instead of “you,” and the whole thing is a loving tribute. Fuck yeah, indeed.
Best Licensed Spot of a Brooklyn Band in a Brooklyn-Based TV Show
Silver Jews, Episode 3 of I Just Want My Pants Back
It was a surprising clip from “Trains Across the Sea” on MTV’s I Just Want My Pants Back that turned a dopey show set in Greenpoint into a momentarily poignant (for at least 20 seconds!) look into post-collegiate life. That’s the power of the acoustic guitar and David Berman, who lived in Greenpoint for a time before releasing the track, so, therefore, Brooklyn band, right? Right!
Best Split-7” Tribute Series
Famous Class’s Less Artists More Condos Series
In keeping with the late DIY concert promoter Ariel Panero’s band-discovery manifesto, the B-side to each edition in the series is handpicked by the band on the A-side. So far we’ve got previously unreleased tracks with corresponding picks from A Place to Bury Strangers and Future Islands with Thee Oh Sees on deck. Added bonus: proceeds benefit the Ariel Panero Memorial Fund at VH1 Save the Music.
Best Thing Happening to williamsburg This Fall
Rough Trade Record Shop Opens
The leaves are a golden yellow, the air outside is crisp, and there you are, buying some new vinyl from what we assume will be a stellar and tasteful selection before checking out an in-store performance booked in tandem with Bowery Presents. We’re excited.
3 Best Local Indie Films of the Year (So Far)
1. The Comedy
Director Rick Alverson and star Tim Heidecker’s character study of North Brooklyn gentrifier garbage paints a memorable, merciless picture of soul-corroding cash money and helpless self-knowledge.
2. The Unspeakable Act
Critic Dan Sallit’s Rohmer-influenced domestic drama, set largely within a single-family Victorian Flatbush house, concerns the limits of self-containment, as limned by a drolly precocious teenager in love with her own brother.
Mumble-auteur Joe Swanberg shows up at the Greenpoint apartment shared by engaged filmmakers Lawrence Michael Levine and Sophia Takal, and their actress roommate Kate Lyn Sheil, to remake Pasolini’s Teorema, and ends up with a reflexive, sexually frank meditation on art and trust.
Best Filmmaker to Watch
Dustin Guy Defa
Defa creates personal, heartbreaking worlds out of almost nothing. Utilizing VHS home movies, smart editing and brilliant sound design, he made a short found-footage masterpiece, Family Nightmare. Minuscule-budget Bad Fever features the most poignantly unfunny comic since Rupert Pupkin (“Sir, I have expenses to pay, I have a mother to raise, sir”), and uses specific characters and set design to create an unforgettable downbeat dreamscape.
Best Boy of Girls
Among the familiar microindie faces Lena Dunham brought with her into the big time, no one has impressed himself on the HBO landscape quite like Karpo—appropriately, given his onscreen persona, with that quippy abrasiveness backed by a deep but still mysterious font of self-confidence.
Best Interview Subject
Alex Ross Perry
The writer-director of The Color Wheel and BAMcinématek’s #1 patron, ARP comes across as a somehow more peevish and self-deprecating version of Jean-Pierre Léaud during that scene in Masculin Féminin where he breaks into the projection booth. He guides his willing interlocutors through his films’ literary and cinephiliac checkpoints, and drops bombs like: “There are people who watch [The Color Wheel] and say they find the characters uninteresting or overly irritating. Those people are assholes.”
Cobble Hill Cinemas
This commodious little building, still independently owned and operated, boasts the oldest and thus best pre-trailer monorail POV reel, complete with admonitions to not smoke, and to silence pagers. And good news: the same exhibitors will run the first-run theater coming in on Grand Avenue.
Best Venue for Nonfiction Film
This space mixes regular filmmaking workshops with opportunities to see nonfiction filmmaking in practice—and discussed—by filmmakers whose inquiries are rarely screened through usual channels of distribution.
Best Venue for… Anything
This windowless studio looks like an empty storefront gallery, but once you’re settled in on a metal chair inside, programmers Thomas Beard and Ed Halter, and guest curators and lecturers, lead you down film history’s wilder rabbit holes, finding underground film scenes everywhere from between-the-wars France to 70s academia.
Best Venue We Can’t Believe Is Still in Manhattan
Anthology Film Archives
You could fit all of UnionDocs and Light Industry’s programming to date in one of AFA’s quarterly calendars, and still have room left over for theatrical runs for the New York Film Festival’s most difficult titles, and weathered prints of New American Cinema also-rans. All that and your choice of East Village bars serving $13 cosmos under LED displays, just steps away!
Best Online Comment on (Sometime L Mag Contributor) Nick Pinkerton’s Village Voice Review of The Dark Knight Rises
“whats the matter… not enough naked butts of men for you to like the movie?”
5 Best 2012 Debuts By Brooklyn Novelists (So Far)
1. The Age of Miracles, by Karen Thompson Walker
Sold at auction for even more than The Art of Fielding, with even greater crossover-highbrow appeal: tween girl comes of age in dystopia!
2. The Festival of Earthly Delights, by Matt Dojny
An epistolary novel describing the rituals of an imaginary Southeast Asian nation, and the adventures of a young American living through them.
3. Flatscreen, by Adam Wilson
A smart, wittily digressive account of a young man’s hometown blues, hiding unforeseen depths.
4. Forgotten Country, by Catherine Chung An intimate melodrama, about a family adrift from one another in a new country.
5. The Sleepy Hollow Family Almanac, by Kris D’Agostino In Washington Irving country, a family snapshot freighted with very contemporary concerns, like new media, postcollegiate drift, and recession-era blues.
Best Brooklyn-Set YA Novel
Liar & Spy
Rebecca Stead’s follow-up to the Newbery-winning When You Reach Me might not be as stellar as its predecessor, but it’s set in Brooklyn! And full of what we assume are little in-jokes, like how the pizza place is called DeMarco’s, which IRL is the name of the guy who makes the pizzas at DiFara’s.
Best Local History
The Last Bohemia
Mixing reportage and personal history, Robert Anasi charts the recent history of Williamsburg’s Northside from the point of view of a writer who moved there in the 90s. Not too politically fraught (gentrification is a serious and sensitive issue!), the book is instead full of vivid stories about Kokie’s, The L Cafe, Polish heroin addicts, circus performers, and much more.
Best Indie Publisher
Akashic Books has been consistently putting forth high-quality, well-reviewed books for over a decade, with work ranging from the political to the noir-ish to the irreverent. They are directly responsible for last year’s wild hit Go the Fuck to Sleep, which means they are indirectly responsible for that recording of Werner Herzog reading it, which was awesome. When a small company like Akashic can maintain integrity in an industry that panders to teenage girls obsessed with vampires and middle-aged women who want to be spanked, it should be appreciated and celebrated.
Best Pulitzer Winner
Tracy K. Smith
The Brooklyn Community Foundation recently reported that half of the 2011 Pulitzer winners live in Brooklyn. (We find that impossible to believe.) Our favorite was Boerum Hill’s Smith, who won the poetry prize for her book Life on Mars.
If there were a national team for literacy, Emma Straub would be the captain. With spot-on recommendations and all-out book-joy, she brings buoyancy to BookCourt. Her own first novel, Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures, launches in September.
Best New Lit Mag
One Teen Story
We love One Story, a magazine that mails out a single short story every three weeks. But we’re especially excited about its soon-to-launch sister One Teen Story, which is roughly the same thing but for YA fiction. And it only publishes during the school year! How cute!
Best Local Blog
Here’s Park Slope
Editor Dan Myers tracks local businesses doggedly—and we mean doggedly: every opening, closing, renovation, relocation, or change of signage gets reported, from O’Connor’s to Bar 718. But it’s not just a list of which restaurants are up and which are down; it’s complemented by historical context, interviews with bartenders, and other forms of reportage that together create a fully formed portrait of a neighborhood through its storefronts.
Best Feminist Collective
The n+1 Research Collective
Imaginatively recovering discarded elements of past feminist movements, the n+1 Research Group publishes pamphlets, organizes film screenings, and mediates consciousness-raising discussions. As politicians across the country are trying to legislate women into a kind of reproductive gulag, the Research Collective reminds us of the aggression and joy necessary for revolt.
Most Necessary Internet Service
Platform for Pedagogy
The anti-Flavorpill, Platform for Pedagogy is a weekly e-mail newsletter compiling “public lectures, symposia and related cultural events” in NYC. It’s often the only place to hear about wildly underpublicized talks by major intellectuals, and most of PFP’s listings cost an enticing $0.
Occupy Sunset Park
Worst GOP Victory
Turner beat a Democrat in September to take Anthony Weiner’s vacated congressional seat, the district’s first Republican representative since Andrew Petersen lost in 1923. National news media tried to frame it as a rejection of Obama, when in truth it reflected local demographic changes: many Jewish voters strayed from the Democratic party and voted with the already-conservative Irish and Italians.
Second-Worst GOP Victory
Nine months after Bob Turner, Republican David Storobin (finally!) won the race for Carl Kruger’s state senate seat, proving that Turner was no fluke—the Republican party is now a serious player in southern Brooklyn politics.
Best GOP Challenger
While the Republicans gain traction in the borough’s south, they may possibly be slipping, too: State Senator Marty Golden, who represents a swath of Brooklyn from Bay Ridge to Marine Park, is thought to be uniquely vulnerable this cycle. His challenger, the fresh-faced progressive Andrew Gounardes, is at a fundraising disadvantage, but if Golden continues to blunder (as he did when he planned an event to teach local women skills for landing a job like how to “walk like a model”) he may just lose the job he’s had since 2003.
The noted Mugabe apologist, homophobe, Jew-baiter and City Councilmember’s unsuccessful congressional campaign, in a district encompassing Prospect Heights and Clinton Hill, and also Bed-Stuy, East New York and Brownsville, invited the wrong kind of media attention, overshadowing his message of economic populism and unapologetic minority empowerment, and left plenty of room for “Obama Democract” Hakeem Jeffries, a fine candidate whose qualifications include depressingly inevitable ties to Wall Street and charter schools.
Best Local Occupy Group
Occupy Sunset Park
With no disrespect to Occupy Brooklyn, Occupy Kensington, Occupy Bushwick, or the movement’s other local outposts, the Occupy that’s most captivated our attention lately is #OSP, which as of press time was still hosting nightly vigils in support of a rent strike on 46th Street, through which 51 families in three contiguous buildings are protesting hazardous and unsanitary conditions in their homes.
Best Grassroots Neighbor-Hood Movement
Green Beans Not Walgreens
Following the closure of the Key Food in Windsor Terrace came the announcement that it would be turned into a Walgreens. This was met with dismay in the neighborhood: the store had been the only full-service grocery store within a mile radius. Seemingly overnight, the community was transformed into a food desert. Not content to take this lying down, residents have banded together in impressive numbers to protest and potentially boycott the large chain drugstore. Their group was formed to make sure that the cause will continue even as the initial furor fades. The objective is simple: make sure that fresh produce and quality food is readily available and affordable for neighborhood residents. Is that really too much to ask?
Hope & Anchor
Though Red Hook is a popular day-trip destination and largely inaccessible by public transportation, bike parking around its hottest spots—the Lobster Pound, Fort Defiance, the mighty Fairway—is in short supply. The single inverted metal U in the sidewalk out in front of Hope & Anchor is an oasis to the weary cyclist.
Best Advocate for Prospect Park
Titze, a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, devotes much of her free to time to rescuing troubled wildlife in Prospect Park. In the past two years, she has saved dozens of animals—including 52 water fowl, three squirrels, five dogs, and three turtles—from injury and even death due to irresponsibly discarded fishing equipment, including illegally barbed hooks. But that’s not her only concern. She is currently on a mission to educate people about a dangerous and invasive plant species, azolla caroliniana, that has taken residence in the Lake with potentially catastrophic consequences. Hopefully, Titze can increase awareness. Also, stop fishing in the Lake, people! You don’t actually eat those fish, do you? Do you?! Because, really, you shouldn’t.
Best Way to Relive Middle School on Your Way to the Beach
We thought that the days of riding the big yellow loser cruiser were over once our friends started getting their driver’s licenses. And we never thought we’d miss it. That’s all changed with the entrance of the Rockabus, a classic yellow school bus which shuttles beach-goers from Williamsburg out to Rockaway Beach and Fort Tilden. Sure, it’s a little more expensive than the subway, but there are no transfers and it’s a much more fun crowd than you find on the A train. Or, like, the Jitney.
Best WhipLash-fast Gentrification
Franklin Avenue in Crown Heights
Gentrification is an unavoidable part of life in Brooklyn, but sometimes an area changes so fast, even jaded olds are shocked. Have you been to Franklin Avenue lately? There are stores called “The Owl and Thistle General Store” and “Lily and Fig.” Franklin Park, Candy Rush, Guero’s (a taco place so gringofied the guy on the phone pronounced it gare-ohs), the big fancy new Chavellas, shiny condos popping up everywhere—it is literally unrecognizable from three years ago. And aspirational rents are following suit. One friend’s landlord just asked for a $400 rent increase, despite the fact that they have mushrooms growing out of their bathroom floor. I guess by “best” gentrification we actually mean “worst”?
Best Voyeuristic Point of View for the Student of Gentrification
Moore Street between Bogart and White
From atop these Bushwick loft buildings, one has pretty wide-open views of Manhattan and great swaths of Brooklyn. But one also has a view of everything that goes on before, behind, on top of and around Roberta’s, the universe’s favorite bastion of pizza, rooftop gardening, exclusive dining and indomitable, undeniable, unwavering coolness (and so on). As such, some things one might observe include: lush wedding parties; regular arrivals of bridge-and-tunnel visitors in pseudo-VIP black field-trip buses that say something like Party Van; limos of all sorts; Hummers of all colors; lines of people waiting to be allowed to be part of things; possibly mid-life-crisis-like rich guys leaving Benzes unattended with rag tops down; lost people looking at phones with bewilderment wondering if they’re on the right block; etc. These activities quite obviously indicate that the coolest thing on the planet is in the vicinity. Also, sometimes portable pissers line the block. How lovely.
Best Surprise Empire State Vistas
From the intersection with DeKalb all the way downhill to Flushing is, really, one of the strangest views in—or is it of—the city: from the higher areas, you’re at the same altitude, it seems, as the ESB spire, or quite nearly, and looking directly at it.
Best Place to Donate Your Time
The Doe Fund
Under the credo “Ready, Willing & Able,” The Doe Fund has locations all over the city, and of course you can always help out with cash. But at their Bushwick facility alone, you can also pitch in on mock interview and résumé-building events to aid in job training for formerly homeless or incarcerated individuals. There is literally no downside to this. Go do it now!
Best Traveling Party Photo Booth
Everyone already loves photo booths: they’re fun and the pictures are inevitably flattering, duh. But what if the booth was portable, the pictures filtered to be even more flattering, AND all your photos got turned into gifs? That’s what’s going on here, and it’s just as delightful as it sounds.
Best Happy Ending
The Prospect Park Ghost Dog and Sean Casey Animal Rescue
Prospect Park’s “Ghost Dog” became a local legend and celebrity after spending years wandering the park alone. His feral days came to an end in May, when he was taken in by Sean Casey Animal rescue, Windsor Terrace’s beloved safe haven and adoption center. After a little medical care and socialization he’ll be ready for adoption, and people are already lining up. Aww!