Last week, our Seattle-bred writer told New Yorkers to stop being babies about the five-cent fee that the City Council had voted to impose for the use of plastic takeout bags. That plea fell on deaf ears, because on Tuesday, Governor Cuomo blocked implementation of the Bring Your Own Bag Law for at least a year. The Lower East Side’s own Margaret Chin was among those who dropped a W-T-F bomb, insisting that “carryout bag fees are the right policy” and that Cuomo’s move had quashed a measure that she and her colleagues in City Council had “democratically adopted” after slogging through “two years of hearings, reviewing evidence, reusable bag giveaways, and public debate.”
Last night, dozens gathered in Greenpoint event space Magick City to discuss the current state of DIY spaces in New York and to brainstorm ideas they could offer the Department of Cultural Affairs that would help keep DIY arts and culture spaces operating safely without being prohibitive financially to those running them.
The meeting was organized by the NYC Artist Coalition, “an emerging coalition of artists, creative organizations, community leaders, activists, policy makers, and specialists providing mutual support and advocating for informal and affordable community spaces in NYC.” The Magick City discussion was a follow-up to a packed meeting about DIY spaces two weeks ago with the commissioner of Cultural Affairs. This willingness to formally cooperate with a city that is so often seen as actively working against DIY spaces comes hot on the heels of the Ghost Ship fire tragedy in Oakland, an event that shook up the DIY community nationwide and led to increased crackdowns on other homegrown venues.
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New York City is saturated with coffee places, so how does one separate themselves from the pack? Well, one way is to invent your own brewing element. Extraction Lab has done just that with an original craft brewer called Steampunk. The device, which looks like a cross between a French press and a draft beer tap, is so ultra modern it’s operated by an iPad app and designed to combine all the elements of drip, French press, and espresso brewing. The whole process is like watching a coffee dance– I recommend checking the whole mesmerizing thing out here.
At first glance Luksus– an extension of the bar’s overly-lit, Nordic minimalist setting– inspired a lot of gaggy, knee-jerk, and not so glowing reactions. But like frowny Nordic people themselves and, say, Ikea furniture, the restaurant grew on critics and customers, who seemed to get used to the stiff, hardened outer layer. That is, until chef Daniel Burns peaced out and Luksus abruptly closed, Michelin star and all. But, as of this week, Tørst is back in the restaurant biz, and a new chef seems to have taken notice of the initial criticism.
With the opening of Gotham Market in Fort Greene this weekend, Brooklyn gained yet another fancy food market, adding to our city’s ever-growing assortment of what are essentially upscale mall food courts catering toward fresh-obsessed gastrodorks, stoner-bro cooks, hipster foodies with mad money to blow on artisanal popsicles, and vulnerable hangover zombies. Gotham Market, for example, swaps out Sbarro for Apizza Regionale, serving brick oven pizza, “locally-sourced Italian fare,” and charcuterie. For once, this isn’t just another outpost for the Smorgasburg empire– actually, as the ground-floor tenant at The Ashland, one of the new luxury high-rise buildings sprouting all over the “Brooklyn Cultural District,” it is something else entirely.
Shortly after the jarring election of Donald J. Trump, you might’ve seen a hilarious sketch from Saturday Night Live called The Bubble where “it’s like the election never happened.” The Bubble is a magical, if not eerily insulated, “place where the unthinkable didn’t happen and life could continue for progressive Americans just as before” because it’s “a planned community of like-minded free thinkers – and no one else.” The punchline is genius: “The Bubble: It’s Brooklyn with a bubble on it.” It’s funny because it’s true – or maybe not.
The next month or so will bring many an opportunity to honor the late, great Leonard Cohen. You’re already aware that Film Forum is screening the tour documentary Leonard Cohen: Bird on a Wire. And you may have heard about “Sincerely, L. Cohen,” the tribute concert scheduled for January 24 at Music Hall of Williamsburg (tickets went on sale today). That show will feature Joan as Policewoman, Richard Thompson, Lenny Kaye of Patti Smith Group, Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth, Ian O’Neil of Deer Tick, and Hannah Cohen (no relation), among others. To top it all off, Anthology Film Archives has announced a film program that will pay tribute to the Canadian crooner, who died in November.
Where there once was a butcher, there now are books. Williamsburg cooking store Brooklyn Kitchen has decided to scrap (get it, scrap?) its butcher counter and has replaced it with an inviting area where customers can peruse cookbooks and food magazines, including a collection of Gourmet that dates back to 1943.
It used to be that throwback drinking meant quaffing Prohibition-era cocktails and Hemingway sippers. But these days, we’re seeing an emphasis on even older traditions, and a resurgence of traditional techniques that have long fallen out of use. Mead, the fermented honey drink that was made as early as 7000 BC in China and was drunk in North Europe during the Bronze Age, is making a comeback that started in the homebrew community and grew outward. And in just a few short months, Williamsburg will be home to one of the largest mead brewing operations in the country.
Having just returned from two weeks in India, I definitely don’t miss the honking: it’s enough to make Rudy Giuliani rip out the rest of his hair and run crying into the bosom of Daddy Trump. But I do miss the cute little tuk tuks, bobbing and weaving through traffic Mario-Go-Kart-style. So, you can imagine my delight when I passed by the newly soft-opened Williamsburg Hotel and saw this gleaming new ride outside.
NYPD Captain Peter Rose caused a stir last week when, addressing a rise in Greenpoint sex attacks, he seemed to tell DNAinfo that the NYPD was less worried about so-called acquaintance rape and more concerned with so-called stranger rapes: “Those are the troubling ones. That person has, like, no moral standards,” he said. Acquaintance rapes, on the other hand, are “not total-abomination rapes where strangers are being dragged off the streets,” Rose was quoting as saying.