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A New Breed of Climbing Dirtbag Has Parked in NYC

Nathan Staiger in his Mercedes Sprinter. (Photo: Kai Burkhardt)

Parked under a bridge in Queens is a white Mercedes Sprinter van. On the outside it looks like any other car; maybe you notice the solar panels on top, or the windows blocked with insulation. But on the inside is Nathan Staiger’s entire life. Staiger, 30, goes to school, rock climbs and sleeps in his van. Some may think he’s homeless, climbers may think he’s awesome, but Staiger and a small community of other vandwellers in the city are carrying a torch that has a deep history in climbing and other outdoor sports.  More →

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What to Eat at the Market Line, Now Open at Essex Crossing

(Photo credit: QuallsBenson)

The long-awaited Market Line has officially opened, adding 31 new vendors to Essex Market for a total of 71. With new booths from LES legends like Nom Wah, The Pickle Guys and Essex Pearl, this is now the largest market in New York, on par with enormous ones around the world. What’s more, about 50 percent of the vendors come from the Lower East Side, and only two are from outside New York. There aren’t any chains, and just under 80 percent of the stores are immigrant-, woman- or minority-owned businesses.  More →

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Chelsea Market Bags a New Zero-Waste Shop: Package Free

If you’re starting to panic about how many plastic straws you’re using on a daily basis to fuel that iced-coffee addiction, you’ll no longer have to trek all the way to Brooklyn for eco-friendly reusables. Starting this week, Williamsburg’s Package Free shop is taking Manhattan from trashy to tasteful with a Chelsea Market outpost.

Package Free Shop Chelsea Market is 300 square feet of goods that are good for the earth. The design of the store is in line with Package Free’s zero-waste model, too—all of the shelving and modular, reusable furniture was handmade by Josh Colon using sustainable wood.

“We designed everything for what happens in the future,” said Package Free CEO Lauren Singer. “So if we wanted to move locations everything is totally reusable or it could go in someone’s house.”

Other touches in the store include a locally-made arrangement of wheat and decorative items from Singer’s own home. “I wanted to make this store really cozy and really homey, and mix old and new to make it warm and have a bit of a more vintage feel,” said Singer.

The new location’s opening comes shortly after Package Free announced that a $4.5 million investment would allow it to scale its operations. The store wasn’t funded by the venture capital, though, speaking to Singer’s sustainability-focused financial model and the rise in demand for sustainable products.

“Even if we hadn’t taken on venture capital, we would have been able to support it with cash flow,” she said. “I’m very much still flexing my muscles of bootstrapping and only spending money I absolutely have to spend.”

Package Free came to be through Lauren Singer’s personal blog, Trash is for Tossers, where she shares tips for the eco-conscious consumer. Singer opened a pop-up shop on Grand Street in Williamsburg in 2017, which is now the site of Package Free’s flagship store. With the help of online marketing, Package Free has grown from a little-known startup to a major player in the zero-waste movement.

The eco brand prides itself on waste diversion across both the store locations and the e-commerce site. Package Free says it has diverted over 75 million units of trash (including plastic bags, water bottles, straws, coffee cups and disposable razors) since its 2017 launch by making its plastic-free products more accessible.

The sustainability movement is flourishing in the city. Brooklyn-based Precycle and The Wally Shop have continued to scale up their offerings of local, package and plastic-free grocery items, while clothing retailers Zero Waste Daniel and Everlane are bringing radical transparency and waste reduction to the fashion industry.

The Chelsea Market location is another way for Package Free to expand its mission of making sustainable products more accessible in New York. Singer said that she hopes more people will visit the store since the new location is off the L, A, C and E trains as well as the highway. She also wants to educate tourists visiting Chelsea Market about the zero-waste movement.

“Around six million people walk through Chelsea Market every year,” said Singer. “So being able to let that many people know that you can reduce your waste and have a more positive environmental impact is a huge opportunity to align with our mission and help make the world less trashy.”

Package Free Shop Chelsea Market is located at 75 9th Avenue and is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sundays 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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Weird New Yorkers, Deathly Drawings, and More Art This Week

(image via shelter_gallery / Instagram)

Impractical Frontiers
Opening Tuesday, November 19 at Shelter Gallery, 6 pm to 8 pm. On view through January 5.

Despite the magazine’s general air of sophistication, cover art for The New Yorker can run the gamut—recall that one time they put DIY space Palisades (RIP) on the cover. However, they probably wouldn’t sell an issue plastered with the image of someone defecating on the street, or a naked George Washington, looking back at you cheekily. Those images (and more) you can find at artist Timothy Wehrle’s solo show at Shelter Gallery (which occupies the same space on East Broadway as the galleries Shrine and Sargent’s Daughters). The artist’s unique drawings, made from colored pencil and graphite, depict serenely strange scenes from the midwest to the city rendered in soft, surreal detail. 

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You Can Now Buy Artisan Axes in Williamsburg, But What Can You Do With One in NYC?

On any given day in gentrified Williamsburg you can grab a trendy breakfast, stop by Supreme for your streetwear needs and even get your waste-free shopping done. And now, for the outdoorsy types who’ve been champing at the bit, Williamsburg finally has an axe shop. 

Best Made Co, a luxury adventure brand currently celebrating its tenth year in business, recently opened its latest outpost in Williamsburg. The Grand Street shop is stocked with artisanal outdoor products like a $1,795 shearling coat approved by legendary Argentine chef Francis Mallmann (who will be having a cookout in McCarren Park on Sunday, Nov. 17, in honor of their collaboration).  And then there’s the Best Made Axe, an object of such simplicity, beauty and utility that it has struck a nerve with celebrities and the art world alike. David Lynch owns one and they’ve even been displayed in the Saatchi Gallery in London. The design-focused tool goes for around $350 and testing them in person is a big draw to Best Made’s shops. But if you decide to buy one, what exactly can you do with it in New York City? 

In case you’re on the fence about purchasing one of the famed fellers, we’ve compiled some of the big no-nos when it comes to being an urban lumberjack. 

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In an Immersive Play, Scrolling Through Grief at the Coffee Shop

(Photo via Dante or Die Theatre on Facebook)

To actor Terry O’Donovan, a coffee shop isn’t just a less-expensive WeWork or a Tinder date option. A coffee shop is one of the many places we humans “go to be alone together.” And in his site-specific play User Not Found, a coffee shop becomes a place where you might suddenly learn that your ex-partner has died, that before he died he made you his digital executor, and now you have to decide whether to delete or preserve all his social media accounts. More →

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Expats in the City: Why a Web Series About Migrant Comedians Really Hits Home

(Left to right) Franca Paschen, Giuditta Lattanzi, co-creators of “Critically Ashamed.

“How are you going to stay here?”

“Maybe I’ll marry you…” 

That line from Critically Ashamed’s season 2 premiere episode got a laugh from the audience, but it hit me a little closer to home. It’s the exact half-serious joke I’ve been making for two years. 

Critically Ashamed follows an immigrant comedian, Delia, as she tries to navigate the New York City comedy scene, making jokes and taking side jobs to try to make ends meet. The German expat’s stand-up routine relies, to some extent, on the differences between her culture and the American life into which she tries to assimilate. More →

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The New Get Up Kids Video Starring Lou Barlow Is Sebadoh Bad It’s Good

In what might just be the most delightful intra-indie homage since Sleater-Kinney sang “I wanna be your Thurston Moore,” the new single from The Get Up Kids, titled “Lou Barlow,” starts out: “I saw Lou Barlow on the street / I don’t think he noticed me.” Now, in a real stroke of genius, the Dinosaur Jr. and Sebadoh singer-guitarist stars in the song’s music video, out today. More →

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Can Pretty Ricky’s Work With the City’s New Plan to Make Nightlife Less Ugly?

(Photo: Casey Kelbaugh)

The Lower East Side is notorious for its bars, noise and rising crime rates, and the 24-block section known as Hell Square has one of the highest densities of liquor licenses in New York City. Neighborhood activists have been pushing back against the rise of nightlife for years, and adding another watering hole hasn’t been at the top of their to-do list. But a new beer-centric bar, Pretty Ricky’s, has entered the fray right as the City enacts a new plan to improve the quality of life in the area, and it promises to be an interesting indicator of whether nightlife and neighbors can coexist.  More →