Earlier this month we mentioned that Smorgasburg was set to return outdoors this very weekend, April 1 and 2, with Brooklyn Flea’s Saturday market leaving its longtime home in Fort Greene and taking up residence next to Saturday Smorg in Williamsburg’s East River Park. Team Smorg now tells us there’s another change afoot this season: Their vendors won’t be returning to the South Street Seaport this year, since they’ve been unceremoniously replaced by a permanent resident. Bummer for those who like to pick up a lobster roll on the way to the Rockaway ferry.
Like many Brooklynites, Prospect Park is my go-to, but the awesomely named Vale of Cashmere– a relatively isolated area on the east side of the park and the subject of photographer Thomas Roma’s new book– didn’t sound familiar at all. To outsider eyes like mine, the Vale (depending on your taste) is either a beautifully wild or pitifully neglected patch of land, overgrown with disobedient trees and untamed plants, at the center of which there’s a once-elegant fountain clogged with weeds and fetid puddles from years of neglect. Park staff have planted shrubs and flowers there too, lending the area a rotting romanticism.
But the Vale has another history: it’s long been a cruising spot for gay men, but especially gay men of color. Until recently it was considered an open secret, and one that many park powerfuls have decided not to engage, despite demands from elsewhere that they do so (in various ways). While Roma’s series is ultimately a personal exploration of friendship and loss, it’s nearly impossible to unravel his images from questions about what kind of impact a looming project will have on the community that has made this space its own.
Learn how to make a fire, forage for your lunch in Central Park and scale Shit Rock and Worthless Boulder during OutdoorFest, a week of more than 50 events across the city between May 27 and June 7. We’ve gathered a short list of some of the activities below. Join in, and you can pretend you’re Reese Witherspoon in Wild, except showered, and with an apartment to go home to when all the outdoorsiness gets old.
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Lola Star is a legendary Coney Island character whose lavish, glittering roller-skate parties are about to descend on Prospect Park. Every Friday night from July 11 through August 29, there’s a different theme to the extravagant parties: Flashdance, Ziggy Stardust, and Saturday Night Fever, to name a few. “Oh, and I just booked some LED unicorns to do a dance routine,” Star tells B+B.
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