07/15/15 10:30am


In 2005, I was driving a delivery truck for a living when The L Magazine took me on as an unpaid intern.

Two weeks later, I quit both the delivery job and the internship for a paying gig at some baloney website. And then when that fell apart three months later, I returned, hat in hand, to The L, which graciously took me back as an intern. At that point, I made a commitment to learn everything I could about every aspect of the company. I’ve had the great fortune over the last ten years to help develop Brooklyn Magazine (which, by the way, is increasing circulation and going monthly), the Northside Festival, SummerScreen, Taste Talks, BAMbill, and dozens of other projects. I’ve struggled and triumphed alongside hundreds of contributors, but most especially with a cadre of loyal veterans. And all of this was born of The L; all of these things—the events, the other publications, the cadre—all carry with them the spirit of The L Magazine, a free, bi-weekly, pocket-sized publication that always punched above its weight.

As Wallace Stevens wrote: When the blackbird flew out of sight / It marked the edge / Of one of many circles. The L Magazine has marked the edge of all we continue to do here, of all who have made Northside Media what it is, of all it will continue to be.

Thanks to every one of you who’ve picked up a copy of this magazine over the years.

Nick Burry
CEO & Publisher

01/24/12 3:02pm

Hey, its our app!

  • Hey, it’s our app!

Dear Friends of The L Magazine,

We’re pretty proud of our new gadget, and we hope you take it out for a spin. You should, because it’s free.

If that’s not enough, here are seven reasons to download The L Magazine‘s new iPhone app:
1. It’s FREE. Yes, free.
2. Download issues to read anywhere (in an underground bunker, or a submarine!).
3. Listen to tracks from local bands handpicked by our editors.
4. Search for events near you.
5. Luxuriate in our glamorous photo galleries.
6. Find shopping, restaurants, and services near you.
7. Stay in the loop with local cultural news via our mobile blog.

So hurry up and download our FREE app, and if you have any glowing praise or “constructive” criticism, please drop me a line!

Best wishes,
Nick Burry
Publisher – The L Magazine

10/25/06 12:00am

Photo by Arkady Sandoval

Sakura 388 Fifth Ave, Park Slope, 718-832-2970
Price Range: $14-20  Rating: 
I know that listening to people talk about their favorite sushi places can be tiresome. They get so personal, almost defensive, about their sushi: “Ooh, my place has the best ever fish-in-the-sea roll,” or “Why would you get the regular tuna when you could get spicy tuna?” A few weeks ago, I was with a friend who told me he loved sushi, so we dropped into a clean-looking place near his house. The first thing he tried to order was wonton soup, and then he said he didn’t like the “raw fish” aspect of sushi.

Bearing that in mind, probably not everybody would like Sakura, but it continues to impress me each time I visit. The service is so good that it reminds one how rare good service is. I have a problem with dropping my napkin on the floor. But every time it happened, a clean one silently appeared folded in front of me. The wait staff (it’s the same two women every time) are exact and graceful in the placement of all the tiny ceramic plates and blossom-covered dipping dishes. I get the sense that I am meant to feel comfortable, and special. 
For those who do like the raw fish part of sushi, Sakura features exquisite examples of the traditional ideal: simple, elegant, with great attention to small detail. A piece of Bonito ($3.50) topped with a dablet of grated ginger practically melts atop its bed of warm rice; lobster-like Botan Ebi (sweet shrimp, $4) is completely different from that pink hunk of rubber you’re used to. Disks of rich Monkfish Paté ($5.50) drizzled with pungent ponzu make foie gras seem clumsy.

The cooked foods represent Japanese home-style cooking, and are a far cry from chicken teriyaki. An appetizer of Broiled Eel ($7.50) atop flakes of cucumber pickles still keeps me up at night (in the good way). The Black Cod ($9.50) with miso sauce and a side of grated radish was perfectly delicate.
Even though the dining space is small, Sakura often feels empty. Recently, I was the last patron at 10pm on a Saturday night. As I passed through the noren curtains and stepped out onto a busyFifth Avenue, I saw other restaurants still packed, restaurants where I’ve felt regretful when the bill arrived. I recognize the paradox in writing this review. Sakura should be humming, even if it means I have to wait for a table at my new favorite restaurant in the city.

09/27/06 12:00am

The Spotted Pig • 314 W 11th St.
The gastropub originated in England as the answer for boozers with a taste for something more refined than a pork pie or a ploughman’s lunch. In New York, the Spotted Pig is the preeminent destination for the diner whose serious palette matches his serious drinking habit. Celebrities, chefs, and celebrity-chefs all make their way to this cozy tavern in the West Village for a taste of head chef April Bloomfield’s upscale pub grub.

The L: You walked into the spotted pig just over a year ago with absolutely zero restaurant experience. Did you know what you were getting into?
Peter Cho: Not a clue. I was inspired to be a cook after reading Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential, so that’s all I knew about what it was like to work in a kitchen in New York. I had no idea that I was walking into one of the busiest, most popular restaurants in the city.

The L: How did you get the job?
PC: I walked in, talked to the owner about getting a job in the kitchen and then talked to the chef (April) who told me to come in the next day with a few things and make her a dish. I freaked out, since I was just a recreational home cook. She must’ve thought it was ok, because she asked me to stay for the rest of the night. After dicing a huge pile of onions, which I had never really done before, she told me I could start full-time the next day.

The L: The chef asked you to make her a dish? What did you cook for her?
PC: A whole branzini (it’s a type of sea bass) with sautéed baby squash and arugula salad.

The L: Do you still get yelled at in the kitchen?
PC: Not really. I get stern warnings like, “That’s the last fish you’re going to overcook tonight.” Still as effective.

The L: How did things change when the Spotted Pig was awarded a Michelin Star?
PC: More chefs and people in the industry come in to eat. Especially since the kitchen’s open until 2am.

The L: You’re used to cooking for movie stars and musicians, but last week the Pig hosted Gourmet Magazine’s restaurant issue party. What was it like preparing food for culinary royalty like Ruth Reichl, Mario Batali, and Gray Kunz?
PC: The party was really to honor our chef, April, so we were all excited for her.  As far as celebrities go, the kitchen and front of the house have gotten used to it. But we (the kitchen) still get pretty edgy when big-time chefs come in.

The L: Where do you eat when you’re not working?
PC: Being Korean I get my fix at Kun Jip in K-town. When I’m with my girlfriend, I love getting sushi at Sakura in Park Slope. And about 3-4 times a week I get tacos after my shift at a truck on the corner of 14th Street and Eighth Avenue called Taco El Idolo. They have the best tacos in Manhattan and they’re open ‘til six in the morning.

11/09/05 12:00am


On a block devoted to fluorescence and fast food, a small sign above blank black doors marks the entrance to Speak. But don’t expect a Chumley’s-style speakeasy. Speak throws its lot in with the “one-word-named” club/lounge scene. Glitz and glamour may have been the designer’s goal, but the starburst chandeliers and mirrored checkerboard tables smack more of your high school’s version of “Clubbin’ Nite.”

Beer drinkers will balk at paying the $6 ransom for a bottle of Bud. To be fair, though, Speak doesn’t pretend to be a beer hall. There are no taps, and the most exotic bottle is Stella (Hint: it’s the same price as the Coors). Your best bet is to skip the suds and try one of the signature Blood Martinis; finally someone made a drink using beet juice.

Despite the gaudiness, there’s potential. The rear half of Speak consists of ample dance space ringed by a dozen or so clamshell booths. Candles and chandeliers bathe the area in diffused, flattering light. There’s a stage for live music, and a DJ booth suggests that the beats get better than Club Grooves Vol. IV. One can imagine a throng of dancers grinding while hopefuls sip Hennessy in the sideline banquettes.

It’s not going to be your new neighborhood bar, but Speak may be the place to mob in with a group of friends and take over the dance floor. Then again, you could enjoy a round of chocolate Frosties next door for the price of one Georgi and tonic.

07/20/05 12:00am

“Whoa! Whoa! Big sea bass! Whoa! Johnny, you better get the net!” That’s Marcus calling out from the front of the boat again. Thirty-five anglers, two hooks on each line — that’s 70 different options for the fish to choose from. But Marcus’ rod seems to bend to the water every other minute, while most of us stand there with our mouths half open, wondering if we felt a nibble or not.

A few hours earlier, we had boarded the “Jet,” a party boat based out of Sheepshead Bay. My girlfriend, Adele, and I didn’t exactly choose the Jet. A redheaded deckhand sipping an iced coffee quickly and politely ushered us to the boat as soon as we stepped out of the car on Emmons Avenue, the street that faces Brooklyn’s sportfishing fleet. For 39 bucks apiece (“Make that 35, I know the captain,” the redhead said), fishermen get to spend the day on the water trying to catch their supper. Not a bad bargain, considering you can drop that much on a few beers in a bar.

What better way to spend a hot Sunday at the height of summer? Even though it was just after dawn, there were already plenty of brown-shouldered anglers making their way to the docks. A light breeze cut through the heat, clearing away the diesel fumes and Marlboro smoke. We motored down to the south Jersey coast, where the deckhands promised the action would be hot. Just in case, Adele and I both kicked in three bucks towards the big fish jackpot.


“Oh yeah we got a nice sea bass heah!” Marcus lets loose another “aw shucks it wasn’t nuthin” laugh from the front of the boat as he hauls in, what else, a large sea bass. Catching fish is only half the fun for the hotshot fisherman, he’s got to do it with style. He’s got to be able to call the fish before he sees it. “Flounder, that’s a flounder! Ling, oh my god I got a huge ling!” In 60 feet of water, with half a dozen species of curious sport fish cruising below, these predictions can’t be much more than showboating and bravado. I decided to give it a whirl if I got the chance. All of a sudden my line came alive and the rod started pumping. I yelled out, “Flounder!” Eyes turned as I cranked the reel. After a brief battle, I pulled up a ray, its wings flapping and tail curling. My girlfriend looked on while I took about five minutes to remove the hook. I was nervous that it might be a stingray. So much for bravado. 

Of course, Marcus was accurate about 85 percent of the time. I asked him what his trick was. “No secret,” he laughed, “just throw your line in the water and hope like hell the fish bite.” No, what’s the secret for calling the fish. He just smiled like a slugger on a hitting streak — what could be easier?

There was one guy on the “Jet” who might have known more than Marcus, though. John, one of the deckhands, has been fishing in Sheepshead Bay on and off since 1959. Clad in ragged jeans cinched with a cowboy belt, a red flannel shirt, and a pre-hipster mesh baseball cap, John went from rod to rod tying on hooks without looking. While he was setting up my rig, he told me he was an international freight forwarder for cargo ships during the week. I squinted past his thick glasses and missing teeth, picturing Terry Malloy a few years down the road. John cracked out a Marlboro Red from his shirt pocket (I’ve never met a fisherman who didn’t smoke Marlboros). “This is my fun job,” he said. I asked John about fishing in Sheepshead Bay now versus back then. “It’s about the same,” he said. “We had our bad times back then, too.” I took that to mean times weren’t so good now. “But the tourist season is starting now, so we’ll have tons of kids and amateurs on board. It’s a lot more work for me.” I wondered if by “amateur” he meant people like me. Kids always have the best luck fishing, I noted. “Yeah, kids and women,” John agreed. “Hang on to her” (nodding to my girlfriend).


Some days, John doesn’t make a dime from fishing, but he points out that even then, he still gets to go fishing for free. When I ask him if he lives in the area, he says, “No, I live in Manhattan.” Wow, that must be nice, thinking he must have one of those rent-controlled jewels. “My house burnt down and the city put us up in a shelter. No candles, no smoking, ten o’clock curfew. It’s horrible. That’s what you should be writing about.” His family had barely escaped their burning Queens apartment with puppies under each arm and the clothes on their back. “No tenant’s insurance. But at least the city’s got us all together as a family. Whattaya gonna do?” Whattaya gonna do, I agreed.

Fishing is a lot like baseball, there’s a cliché for every situation. “The fish are down there… It’s just a matter of time… The worst day fishing is better than the best day at work… Some days, you gotta pay your dues.” I was standing next to another luckless angler. Tyree, a bus driver from Brooklyn, was out with his eight-year-old nephew. He spent most of the day untangling the kid’s line. “Hey, I’m just happy to be out here.” It’s better than the best day at work, I offered. “Sure is,” Tyree agreed, “Man, that guy up at the front of the boat is killing ‘em today.”

Marcus and a few other guys had great days. My girlfriend and I landed one keeper apiece, which we ended up giving to Tyree and his nephew. Most importantly, we were out there swaying with the swell, far from our hot apartment and the sticky street. John came over to check on us, “How’d you guys do today?” Not so good, but some days you gotta pay your dues, I said. John replied, “Problem is, you didn’t let your woman decide which side of the boat to fish from.” What do you mean, Adele asked. “Well, here’s what you do,” John explained to us, “If your sex toy is on the left side of the bed, then you fish on the left side of the boat. If it’s on the right side of the bed, you fish on the right side of the boat. And if it’s standing up straight, then you don’t go fishing that day.” I wonder if that was Marcus’ secret.

07/06/05 2:00am

Since gladiator days, gyms have been popular “cruising” grounds. But it seems the saunas have become a little too steamy for some fitness aficionados. According to the New York Times, in May, 2005, Carlos Sosa filed a $25,000 lawsuit against the David Barton gym in Chelsea, claiming that the gym is allowing sexual activity to flourish in the locker room. Carlos Sosa’s lawyer, Brian Kennedy, said, “They represented themselves as a serious place where you actually work out, but it became a saucy steam room that reminds me of the ancient Roman baths.” A lawyer for the David Barton gym responded with, “What he’s alleging happens everywhere. It’s how you deal with it, and we try and deal with it.” It was dealt with harshly back in the 1980s, when the fear of AIDS sparked New York to shut down many of its bathhouses. The New York state sanitary code requires gyms to prohibit sex on their premises. While most gyms don’t post an employee to guard against the hanky-panky, many send a worker into the locker room to periodically check for illicit behavior. And you thought they were checking to see if you peed in the shower. The case is currently pending.