12/04/13 4:00am
12/04/2013 4:00 AM |

The L Magazine was a free bi-weekly magazine in New York City from 2003-2015, co-founded by brothers Scott Stedman and Daniel Stedman.

1. Amy Rose Spiegel, 22

As a story editor for Rookie, Spiegel maneuvers between dishing on pop culture, confessing her insecurities in long-form think-pieces about What It All Means, and providing regular makeup tutorials, always managing to strike the balance between trusted BFF and coolly concerned guidance counselor. Tapping into an innate ability to speak to those both younger and older than her 22 years, she recently opted to kick the routine of her day job as associate editor at BuzzFeed Music (a position she landed within 24 hours of graduating college) to pursue more freelance projects like becoming an NYC correspondent for NME or an on-air authority for MTV’s end-of-year music recap later this month. She’s the ultimate Millennial, but in all the best ways.

2. Margot (Caitlin) Moe, 26

How many classically trained violinists with wild-child, evil-twin pseudonyms do you know? Well, meet Margot (née Caitlin Moe) who is one half (along with Mia Moretti) of duo The Dolls. Margot (who is apparently Caitlin’s alter-ego) plays electronic violin over tracks by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Jay-Z when the two perform, blowing up any and all preconceived notions you might have had about classical violinists. And girls named Caitlin.

3. Jake Hurwitz, 28

In case you ever need to figure out whether your career in comedy is working for you, consider measuring yourself against Jake Hurwitz. Do you have a wildly entertaining podcast? An incredibly popular web series? A successful tenure at College Humor? If you answered yes to all those questions, then congratulations! But it’s very possible that one of the only ways you were able to answer yes to all those questions would be if you were, in fact, Jake Hurwitz. But you’re probably not, are you? Keep trying!

11/20/13 4:00am
11/20/2013 4:00 AM |

Handsome Dan’s Snocone and Candy Stand

Whether it’s for last-minute stocking stuffers; a gift for your friend who prefers all their snack foods to be either hyper-local or from a different continent; or for a grab bag of bulk-bin Haribo for sustenance during a long day of holiday shopping, you should stop by Handsome Dan’s. It’s also right in the middle of that mini-mall cluster of stores on Bedford and N. 5th, meaning you’ll probably end up finding way more than you initially came in for (though if you really do just leave with a ton of candy, that’d be all right, too).218 Bedford Avenue, Williamsburg

Store 64

The whole point of the holidays is to prove your love for someone by spending a lot of money on them. Store 64, the brick-and-mortar annex of Australian expat Scosha Woolridge’s studio, offers selections of her eponymous, travel-inspired jewelry line, but also well-curated textiles, home goods and other treasures. If someone wants to prove their love for us, we’ll take a few of her signature, elegant friendship bracelets—and we bet we’re not alone! 64 Grand Street, Williamsburg

Annie’s Blue Ribbon General Store

Forget about rock candy “coal.” We demand to have our stockings stuffed with Golden Nugget gum, Wax Lips, Mega Smarties and tins of Uncle Joe’s Mint Balls, guaranteed to “keep you all aglow.” This Slope shop also carries more substantial gifts, helpfully sorted specifically to suit your dog (a fetch toy shaped like a giant cartoon mustache), your man (a stainless steel growler), your mom (a “Year in Stitches” sampler) or your BFF (a Ryan Gosling coloring book). 232 Fifth Avenue, Park Slope

05/23/12 4:00am
05/23/2012 4:00 AM |

How Obama Can 
Re-Energize His 
Brooklyn Base

With campaigning in full swing, President Obama faces the challenge of reminding a 
disillusioned liberal base why it fell in love with him in the first place. O how long ago, those halcyon days of 2008, when he really was your new bicycle! Recently, just after announcing his support for gay marriage, he swung through New York to speak at Barnard’s commencement, appear on The View, and attend a fundraiser with Ricky Martin. But Brooklyn’s progressives may require more targeted persuasion, such as:

A bike tour of oudoor summer indie-rock concerts (joint fundraiser with Chuck Schumer).

• Since, as a new biography recently detailed, Obama used to live in Park Slope, it’s time for him to stop dodging the issue ,and announce that his thoughts on the matter have finished evolving: he now believes the Food Co-Op should ban hummus.

Girls cameo! (“In the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things, Hannah.”)

• Forget the $40,000-a-plate fundraising dinners, and invite everyone to take a pay-what-you-will pickling class alongside him.

• Get stopped and frisked, and join the class-action suit against the NYPD.

Shit Vito lopez Says

Two years ago, Lincoln Restler, now 28 (and a dead ringer for the young Al Franken), beat the candidate chosen by Assemblyman and Brooklyn Democratic boss Vito Lopez in a race for the little-known but vital position of local Democratic District Leader. As this year’s Democratic Primary approaches, Restler—who has taken many a public swipe at Lopez’s chummy, grafty machine politics—faces a stiff challenge from Community Board 1’s Chris Olechowski, who was recruited by Councilman Steve Levin, a Lopez protege. All of which is fairly interesting, if you’re into that sort of thing, but a recent New York Observer profile of the race by Colin Campbell was most interesting for revealing Lopez’s hilariously gruff, combative, and aggrieved side. (The piece can be read on A selection of quotes:

• “Lincoln challenged somebody else, and now somebody challenged him, and he’s crying all over the place, and I guess you have a right.”

• “Say [Restler’s family’s wealth is] disgusting… The headline should be: ‘Can Lincoln Restler Buy Another Election?’”

• “The Polish community—you’re not going to write about it—are working to elect the first Polish community leader.”

• “Tell me what he’s done… [Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez] doesn’t represent much of that area, and he’s up her butt—and that’s fine. He’s right next to me as a leader, and we’ve never met, and he doesn’t want to meet.”

• “Does that help build the Democratic organization, does that give energy to Democratic candidates throughout the borough? Infighting does no one any good.”

05/23/12 4:00am

By now, if you have access to the internet, you’ve probably seen the YouTube video of the man who can light his tap water on fire. The danger that unregulated fracking poses to drinking water is well-covered territory: in worst-case scenarios, fracking fluid, laced with all sorts of toxic chemicals, gets pumped into the earth (so we can get more fossil fuels!) and contaminates the drinking water supply. But now that New York State is drafting its own fracking regulations, another kind of stakeholder in clean water has begun to voice its opposition—New York brewers.

Last month, the Brooklyn Brewery, in conjunction with the Environmental Advocates of New York, hosted its first “Save Our Beer” event in Williamsburg. In front of more than 100 people, Brooklyn Brewery founder Steve Hindy made his position on fracking clear. “The idea that we would allow a practice like hydro-fracking, which could possibly destroy [the New York City water] system, is criminal,” Hindy said. “Of course we need good water to make beer.”

Brooklyn Brewery isn’t the only beer producer unsatisfied with New York State’s drafted fracking regulations. The folks at Brewery Ommegang, which pumps its water from three wells in the Catskills, started a petition when they found out that a company called Cooperstown Holstein Corp. had leased local land to drillers. Not only that—Cooperstown Holstein was fighting to overturn a law that forbids fracking in the area. If Ommegang’s water were to be contaminated by fracking fluid, the brewer would have to import water from elsewhere, move, or close.

While New York State has vowed to ban fracking in areas that provide New York City water, critics and environmental organizations say there are still some glaring loopholes. “We are not at all satisfied with the proposals that the state has put out,” Katherine Nadeau, water and natural resources program director for Environmental Advocates of New York, said. “It would still be perfectly allowable for drillers to send their water to sewage treatment plants in the water supply area, even though these treatment plants were never designed to handle toxic waste.”

The wastewater Nadeau speaks of is the type of stuff that, for example, caused a dozen earthquakes in northeastern Ohio last year when largely unregulated gas companies pumped it back into the ground. In Pennsylvania, increased amounts of bromides have been found in rivers used for wastewater disposal. (In some studies, bromides, when combined with chlorine in the wastewater treatment process, have been found to be carcinogenic.) And, so far, New York has not addressed the monitoring or disposal of the millions of gallons of wastewater that could be produced, Nadeau says. Moreover, the disposal and reporting of waste would be left up to the gas companies.

All of this is why the Environmental Advocates and breweries are teaming up to host awareness events, like the one at Brooklyn Brewery, across upstate New York. Tommy Keegan, 41, of Keegan Ales in Kingston, will be hosting a “Save Our Beer!” event at his own brewery next month. A contaminated water supply, he said, would devastate his business. “I have two main reasons I’m concerned,” Keegan said. “My business, and then myself and my family. I have two young boys who drink water everyday.”

05/09/12 4:00am
05/09/2012 4:00 AM |

Photos Sydney Brownstone

On September 17, 2011, Mike Andrews, along with two other proto-Occupy Wall Street organizers, chose Zuccotti Park as the place to host a general assembly. Little did Andrews anticipate that the team’s decision would snowball into a full-fledged occupation. The L sat down with Andrews, who was organizing direct action for May Day at the time, over a beer in Fort Greene to reflect on how far Occupy Wall Street has come—and where it’s going. The following is an edited transcript of that conversation.

The L: How did you get involved with Occupy?
MA: There was the whole financial crisis in 2008, and there was a kind of sense that “Okay, this is really bad. Now, finally, people are going to have to get angry and do something, right?” But nothing seemed to be on the horizon. So in the summer, last summer, and this is a story that’s been told countless times…

The L: To journalists?

MA: Well, yes. But not always by me. Essentially, Adbusters put out the call for an occupation of Wall Street. They, however, didn’t plan on doing any actual organizing. So folks in New York, sort of local radicals or anarchists or organizers kind of got together and said, “Okay, should we do something? Okay, what should we do?” And then on August 2, a group of these people started having weekly meetings. I wasn’t there at the first meeting, but at the second.

That was what effectively became the first meeting of Occupy Wall Street.

We met for six weeks in general assemblies and formulated a plan to have a general assembly on Wall Street. It was not necessarily to have an occupation. We were going to have a general assembly and encourage people to stay and sleep on the sidewalk if they wanted to. So, September 17 came around, and we had our general assembly, which was big and inspiring and great. I helped facilitate the general assembly. And people just stayed. And they stayed another night and another night. It’s a well-known story at this point.

The L: Had you anticipated that at all? Had you made any efforts for people to stay in the park?
MA: No. We were frustrated that Adbusters had made a call for people to sleep, bring tents specifically. And Adbusters were in Vancouver, Canada. They had no idea that in New York there’s a law that says erecting structures is illegal. But there’s also another law that folks have been using, were using, at the occupation at Federal Hall. So we were going to try to use that law and simply say, “Okay folks, if you want to stay over there’s this law. You can sleep on the sidewalks in political protest as long as you don’t block more than half the sidewalk and erect a tent.” We were sort of positioning ourselves to inform people of this law, and inform them of what they could do, but we weren’t positioning ourselves to actually organize an occupation.

05/09/12 4:00am

Photo Sydney Brownstone

Eight months ago, three people were put in charge of finding a spot to host a protest assembly. At the time, they did not expect that their decision would launch the kind of occupation of Wall Street that Vancouver-based Adbusters had called for on September 17. As the most consistent members of a group of agitators that had been meeting to discuss related possibilities once a week in Tompkins Square Park that summer, the three-person “tactical team” had to choose where to meet if their first pick, One Chase Manhattan Plaza, was cordoned off.

“We weren’t positioning ourselves to actually organize an occupation,” Mike Andrews, both a member of the original tactical team and an organizer for May Day, tells me over a beer in late April. “None of us were deluded enough to think that what happened would actually happen.”

The team quietly decided that close-by Zuccotti Park would be the next best bet. They kept the news to themselves for several hours until the meeting. Then, Andrews got up and made the announcement: A general assembly would be held at Location Two on a map that he and the team had passed out earlier. He didn’t say “Zuccotti,” so police within earshot wouldn’t know right away where the group was headed.

“And then people just stayed. And they stayed another night, and another night,” Andrews says. “It’s a well-known story.” He shakes his head and grins.

Andrews calls what resulted an accident of history—albeit an accident that has fundamentally altered the national discourse on inequality. Since, the occupation of Zuccotti Park has galvanized and frustrated national and international audiences. And even after an eviction, a winter of fragmentation and continuous speculation over the likelihood of its ongoing relevance, Occupy and its allies in the labor and immigrant rights movements revived May Day, a traditionally under-recognized workers’ holiday in the United States, with the force of tens of thousands marching in the streets of New York City alone, and many more across 
the country.

But the same questions and comments that have been leveled at every Occupy action from the beginning—“What’s the point?” “Is it over yet?” “Get a job!”—persist. What began as an “accident of history” has grown into a large, albeit decentralized, social movement. And after months of diligent preparation for one single day of action on May 1, critics are right to wonder whether Occupy’s sustainability is at stake.

Seasoned commentators have pointed out that occupiers will have to be smarter about strategy going forward. Andrews acknowledges the possibility that many of his peers have become “action junkies” addicted to one-hit days of wonder. But historical accidents don’t happen in a vacuum. Their momentum tips other accidents into being. When we ask ourselves, “What will become of Occupy Wall Street?” maybe what we ought to be asking is, “What other accidents have happened as 
a result?”

The Little Occupations That Could
On the morning of May 1, while union and Occupy picketers were demonstrating outside of corporate targets in Manhattan, a small group of people huddled in the rain at Bushwick’s Maria Hernandez Park. Police officers stood at every entrance—an NYPD blotter had been made public the night before with news of an unpermitted march to take place through North Brooklyn neighborhoods. The smell of burnt sage surrounded the protesters, who were noshing on donated bagels out of 
garbage bags.

Brian Douglas, an Occupy Bushwick organizer, was handing out complimentary umbrellas for the action ahead. Three months prior, he and four others had resurrected Occupy Bushwick from a largely abandoned online forum and started weekly meetings. They learned about each other, and they learned about community boards. Occupy Bushwick discussed breaking into gardening. Soon, a weekly meeting of four people blossomed into a meeting of 30. And Occupy Bushwick expects its numbers to grow.

04/25/12 2:00pm
by |
04/25/2012 2:00 PM |

Illustrations Joseph Kaplan

Advisers to the Superfund cleanup of the Gowanus Canal have suggested the project have a mascot, the Post recently reported. May we humbly suggest:

Carmen the Carcinogenic Crab

The EPA warned fishers and crabbers not to eat their catch from the Gowanus, as those creatures could be contaminated with carcinogens. “Don’t eat me, I’m crabby!” Kids’ll love her—and learn.

Petey the Reticulated Python

In 2008, a giant snake was spotted at the end of Degraw Street, probably having escaped from a nearby home.

Leechy the Parasite

When, in 2003, a loveable lost seal was rescued from the canal, she was malnourished, dehydrated, and infested with parasites like the equally loveable Leechy!

DeDe the Decomposing Human Remains

In Joseph O’Neill’s Netherland, one character’s body is retrieved from the Gowanus. In real life, the canal is said to have been a Mafia
dumping ground.

04/25/12 4:00am

New York City is the most walkable city in the country, according to Walk Score, a company that rates municipalities based on factors like safety and the amount and accessibility of amenities. Does your community have lots of schools, restaurants, and movie theaters, all clustered together? It probably has a high walk score. “New York has the lowest car ownership, the best public transit, and the most density and diversity of choice in the country,” Walk Score’s Matt Lerner tell us, “so it’s not surprising to many people that it’s the most walkable city in 
the US.”

Many Brooklyn neighborhoods were among the highest-rated in the city. Cobble Hill and Brooklyn Heights tied with scores of 98 out of 100. Boerum Hill and Downtown Brooklyn were close behind with 97. DUMBO, Carroll Gardens, Gowanus, and Park Slope had scores of 96. “All of Brooklyn is a walker’s paradise,” Lerner tells us. “It is really splitting hairs to say that one neighborhood is more walkable than another in Brooklyn. Most urban planners I know say that Brooklyn is the best example of a walkable place in the United States.” New York City has an average Walk Score of 85.3—a number that would most certainly be higher if not for Staten Island and its sprawl. (Breezy Point in Queens has the lowest score of any neighborhood in the city after Riker’s Island, surely for its remoteness and its shortage of amenities, though most of its “streets” are actually auto-free pedestrian paths. “The definition of ‘walkable’ apparently needs some revision,” says one of our readers.) Brooklyn has its share of neighborhoods with lower walkability scores, too, mostly in southern neighborhoods like Bergen Beach, Mill Basin, and Gerritsen Beach, where the atmosphere is more suburban, the housing doesn’t tend to be so dense, and, with limited public-transit options, residents rely more on their cars to get around. Even Manhattan Beach scored below average, with 77—though surely, with the recent weather, being able to walk to the beach must be the equivalent of having 1,000 supermarkets around the corner? “A truly walkable neighborhood has a mix of essential amenities and recreational amenities,” Lerner tells us. “For example, older people might say that bars don’t matter to them, but in fact having a bar in your neighborhood can provide eyes on the street at night, which can improve safety.”

But is it possible to have too many amenities—to become too walkable? “Walkable neighborhoods are in such high demand in the US that if you have very high walkability you also have very high prices,” Lerner tells us. “I’m just dumbfounded by the prices in New York—and the only way to bring those prices down is to create more walkable places in the US.”

Other neighborhoods that scored 90 or above:
Clinton Hill, Prospect Heights, Fort Greene, Williamsburg, Columbia Street Waterfront District, Greenpoint, Sunset Park, Homecrest, Brighton Beach, Kensington, Bay Ridge, and Borough Park.

04/11/12 4:00am
04/11/2012 4:00 AM |

Last week at Brooklyn City Hall, audience members dressed in bright yellow t-shirts that read “O.U.T.R.A.G.E” picked up small plastic bottles of water and snacked on complimentary bags of pretzels while they waited for city officials to show. A panel of veteran community organizers and activists, many of whom had been fighting for their neighborhoods for more than 20 years, were gathered for another battle in New York City’s long-waged war for garbage equity—much of which had to do with the simple fact that, despite laws mandating otherwise, the crowd’s empty snack bags, in addition to 40 percent of the city’s waste, would still be hauled by diesel-combusting truck to waste transfer facilities in Greenpoint and Williamsburg, where communities have been dealing with adverse public health effects for decades.

Marty Markowitz took the podium to rally the troops: “No more exemptions, no more deferrals, no more delays, no more excuses,” he said, addressing the Upper East Side’s opposition to a marine transfer waste station that would significantly alleviate some of the public health burden on Brooklyn. “I have a very positive message: Get over it. It’s going to be done.”

New York City used to dump all of its waste into the Atlantic Ocean before it started using landfills, then burned its garbage in incinerators as those landfills became full. Today, New York City no longer keeps landfills inside its borders—instead, it pays $300 million a year to export garbage to permanent dumps outside the city, by way of transfer stations. Most of these stations, clogged with truck traffic and clouds of garbage dust, are concentrated in just a few working-class neighborhoods in Brooklyn, the South Bronx and Queens. Meanwhile, Manhattan doesn’t have a single waste transfer station. The inequality is egregious and obvious—in 2009, the Department of Health found that the asthma hospitalization rate for children under four years old in Greenpoint and Williamsburg is nearly twice that of the Upper East Side.

In 2006, after years of deliberation, the city finally decided on the Solid Waste Management Plan (SWMP) that would ease the burden on these communities by making each borough partly responsible for its own garbage. The city planned to retrofit four marine transfer stations, including one on the Upper East Side. But, surprise: Upper East Siders don’t want a transfer station, and as part of the community district with the second highest median household income in Manhattan, they have the resources to stall it in litigation. Six years have passed since the SWMP, but Manhattan is still foisting its crap onto the outer boroughs.

“What you see in New York City is what you see in a lot of other areas—this persistent, systemic treatment of different communities in different ways,” said Gavin Kearney, director of the environmental justice program for New York Lawyers for the Public Interest. “In part, I think it’s through this endemic undervaluing of communities that are low income and of color. Oftentimes I think it’s the path of least political resistance.”

Some commenters have noted Manhattanites and Williamsburgers have taken to Facebook, duking it out to garner more “likes” for their dueling positions on the UES transfer station. But don’t mistake these garbage wars for a brief NIMBY flare-up or social media popularity contest—New York has a painful legacy of race and class issues when it comes to waste management. Neighborhoods have been mobilizing for decades under the banner of environmental justice, and they aren’t about to back down. Luis Garden Acosta, who successfully led a diverse coalition of Williamsburg’s minority communities to quash the construction of a carcinogen-belching incinerator in the early 90s, also sat on last week’s panel. On the current waste issue, Acosta related to the audience his own lung problems, and the fact that his doctors tell him they’re directly related to where he lives.

“We can complain about this, but we’ve got to act,” Acosta said. “These are not just statistics. My daughter was hospitalized three times for asthma. She was never expected to live.”

According to the NYLPI, the stalled situation at hand calls for new legislation to reinforce and finish the goals set out in the 2006 SWMP. The NYLPI is currently working with City Council members to draft legislation that would make sure that as the retrofitted marine transfer stations become functional, there is a proportionate reduction in waste in overburdened communities.

As garbage gets harder for any single neighborhood to ignore, what becomes clearer is the desperate need to reduce the amount of waste we have to distribute in the first place. Mayor Bloomberg has pledged to divert 30 percent of our waste from landfill by 2017, but New York City happens to be miserable at recycling. Its steadily decreasing waste diversion rate from landfill sits at 15 percent, which is less than half of the national average. The Mayor has also called for proposals for a “state of the art” waste-to-energy conversion facility, but New York City’s environmental justice communities are deeply skeptical. They suspect that the conversion facility will only be another trip down the path of least political resistance, and that they will be the ones left choking on the dust.