The Other Side of the Bridge: Brooklyn

I quit my job. Those words are both liberating and terrifying to me right now. They’re also true. I’ve mentioned recently that I took a new role in New York City that didn’t quite turn out the way I’d expected or hoped. After much soul searching (and a bit of brow beating), I decided I just needed to walk away, and chalk it up as an “experience”. I refuse to call it a “failure” because if I allow myself to do that, then I won’t take anything good away from it. And anyway, everything you choose to do in life ends up being a valuable lesson no matter how it turns out. I’ll take a lot away from my time in NYC and I’ll use it to make more thoughtful decisions in the future. I will choose wisely. Stay tuned for that. In the meantime, let’s talk about Brooklyn. During this totally chaotic time, I found a second home in Brooklyn–a place that truly felt like a shelter from the storm– and I will hold a special place in my heart for it always. I have to apologize in advance for not being able to include ALL the fantastic BK neighborhoods and gems, but if I did you’d be reading this post all day and ain’t nobody got time for that (not even me, in my current unemployed state). So, here are a few tidbits and highlights from the borough across the bridge…

No matter how many times I cross the Brooklyn Bridge it still manages to stop me short. I’m not sure if it’s the history, the symbolism, the beauty, the fact that its up hill both ways or what… but it leaves me breathless.
It truly feels like a gateway to Manhattan and an escape route all at the same time. Except from like 9:00 am to 6:00 pm when there are so many people on the bridge that imminent collapse seems possible and walking more than a snails pace without someones elbow in your face is a total impossibility.
But you have to do it anyway…
If you turn left off the bridge when you get to Brooklyn you’ll find yourself in DUMBO. Not like the elephant, which is confusing since a lot of the street art here revolves around elephants. But no–it’s Down Under the Manhattan Bridge, because we’re right near that other bridge, the one no one cares about.
The Manhattan Bridge is almost as great at the Brooklyn Bridge but gets zero hype. You can even walk over it and everything. It’s touted as the “more practical” way to walk or bike to Brooklyn. Maybe that’s the problem. Who the heck wants to be practical?
There are lots of things you can do in DUMBO, but not at 5:30 am which is when I’m usually there. You can walk your dog, or run and that’s it. I don’t have a dog so I run. But if you go during normal waking hours there are coffee shops, restaurants and a West Elm, which actually originated in Brooklyn –didya know that?
On Sundays there’s a Flea Market in DUMBO and it’s awesome. But here’s a tip- do NOT go on a blustery, cold day. It takes ALL the fun out if it, I’m telling you. You’ll be so distracted by your watering eyes, your chattering teeth and the numbness in your toes that you won’t want to stop for a second to check out any of the cool shit being offered. Plus your fingers will be so cold they won’t be able to pull the money out of your wallet that you need to buy any of it, so it’s totally pointless.
Look at all the cool shit! You totally want to go on a day where you can leisurely browse…
But, if you don’t want to listen to me and you do go on a cold and blustery day, you can warm up after with ramen at Menya Jiro, which has decent ramen, a cozy dining room and best of all is within walking distance (ish).
Brooklyn is a great place to live, work and create. Or maybe just live and create. Who wants to work? Not me (clearly).
And the living is good if you can afford one of these brownstones. This guy can afford one of these brownstones. I’m going to go out on a limb and wager that I probably cannot afford one of these on my new $0/year salary.
And anyway, everyone loves everyone in Brooklyn whether they live in a stately Brownstone or a hip loft of one of those other types of regular apartments that no one talks about when referring to Brooklyn.
And probably everyone loves ice-cream in Brooklyn. This install at the Brooklyn Museum currently greets you when you enter and then you don’t need to see anything else really. You just need to go to the cafe and buy ice cream (except they don’t have ice cream).
But really you should do more while you’re there. This is such a great museum and see I told you that everyone loves everyone in Brooklyn.
If you go right now you can see the Pierre Cardin: Future Fashion exhibit. It’s out of this world.
Cardin is a fascinating person… so much more than a designer. I should have taken more pictures, but you’ll just have to go see for yourself. See how I snuck one in that included typography though? You know how much I love typography. Also Star Trek. I mean I don’t love Star Trek, but I snuck in a picture of it.
I’m going to wear this next time I go out to dinner at the one restaurant in my tiny seaside town because I like to blend in.
Also, I’m going to bring my photographers with me.
Art in Brooklyn is not contained to museums. The houses and streets are alive with art. Like Susan Gardner‘s house on Wyckoff Street which I’m totally in love with. I would tell you all about it but this post is already long and I gave you the link to her website so check it!
I will tell you it’s a statement about our current situation here on Earth.
You know, how everyone should be treated equally but aren’t and that there’s this thing happening that some people try to deny and don’t want to take any responsibility for. But it’s real folks…
Global Warming is REAL. Get a grip, non believers. And then go glue a ton of glass, tile and ceramic on your house. Make a statement.
With all the stuff happening on they streets and in the world, it’s nice to have a place to unwind. And unwinding for me pretty consistently includes wine. Here’s a picture of Tussock Jumper wines that aren’t made BK, but you can definitely drink them in BK like I did with my friend Tracey, from the New York City Kitchen.
Drink them on a rooftop in BK. Because, why not? But don’t drink TOO much because you could end up texting your ex to say “I can’t stop thinking about you” and you know that probably won’t turn out so great.
Instead, just share some with family or friends or friends that are like family. The people pictured here are not actually friends or family of mine,  but they look really nice so next time I see them maybe I will offer them some Tussock Jumper wine and change all that.
Can we talk about Gowanus for a sec? I love Gowanus. I’m not sure why.
It’s certainly not the most beautiful part of Brooklyn, or the cleanest, or the coolest, or the anythingest. But still there’s, something about it…
I’m not kidding!
It does have the coolest cafe/bar/vegan restaurant/magazine store/record shop/listening room/dance club around and that’s Public Records. And if you’re thinking that’s a whole lot of concepts rolled into one, you are right!
But it works. First of all, the space is so damn cool. If you’re into industrial architecture, or any kind of design it will be love at first sight for you. But it’s more than that because it’s got substance–such as a great magazine selection for example. I’m a big fan of the printed word, especially when it’s beautifully packaged. It makes me sad that most magazine reading is now done in dentist offices.
You can buy records here too–records carefully curated by serious music selectors in the know... not like records you see at garage sales, at Urban Outfitters or even regular record stores. These are records you need to have even though you didn’t know you needed them, or maybe you did know and you finally found them here!
I read a recent New York Magazine article about the type of people who frequent Public Records, and it didn’t sound like me (I don’t own a bucket hat). But that’s ok, because everyone can feel comfortable here! From the knowledgeable audiophile to the novice listener and everyone in between–even the recently unemployed whose short term life plan is to spend her days lounging around reading magazines, listening to music and  drinking an unreasonable amount of coffee/tea/matcha.
The matcha here is really good, which would make it extra easy to drink an unreasonable amount of it.  Also, now that vegan food isn’t gross anymore (gross vegan food is so 2017) it’s nice to pair a good matcha with a tasty vegan apple cinnamon muffin. Or, you could come back later and eat an unreasonable amount of lots of other types of vegan food because PR has a new chef, and he definitely knows what he’s doing.
At night in the sound room amazing things happen. This photo is not representative of the amazing things that happen because I wouldn’t want to spoil it for you. Also in all honesty most of that stuff happens way past my bedtime. But you should totally hit the dance floor and bring your friends. You’re young- live it up.
Ok, that’s enough about Gowanus and all its charms for now. Another great neighborhood that I’ve only newly discovered is Williamsburg. I like it. I like it a lot and you can meet me here anytime.
And we’ll go find Joe, because I think I like Joe.
We can drive around with Joe in this, drinking wine and waving at people. Though maybe that’s not such a great idea. We’ll just drink the wine and skip the waving so as to avoid making trouble.
Respect the Records! You probably won’t find Dean Martin at Public Record but you’ll find him at Brooklyn Junk!
You’ll also find lots of stuff you totally don’t need but for some reason really, really want. I’m not in the market for an air conditioner but that doesn’t matter. I’m sure this one works perfectly and it’s turquoise, which is awesome. We’ll find a place for it somewhere and it would be fun bringing it back to MA on the train (I said to myself when I saw this).
Does this make you hungry? I hope not…
But if you ARE hungry, head back to Smith Street in Carroll Gardens where there is no shortage of eating and drinking spots. This is Cubana and they have good guacamole, good plantains and great ceviche.
Also sangria. Yum.
If dark and moody is more your thing though, you can hop across the street to Barely Disfigured which used to be a real live brothel but is now a bar that reminds you in no certain terms that it used to be a brothel but now it’s definitely not a brothel. Never mind the dim lighting, the fringe on the lampshades, the vintage bottles, the sexy wallpaper and the bed. Yes, the bed. But never mind. I really like this place. The drinks are amazing.
Just so you don’t think the only thing I do when I’m in Brooklyn is drink, here’s a snap of a barbershop. I didn’t go here, I’m just using it to distract you. Also, I would go here if I needed a cut and a shave, but luckily I don’t. I mean not because I don’t want to go here, but because if I had to shave I feel like that would be unfortunate. For me.
You have to remember that for the past 7 months I was working my butt off in Manhattan and only retreating to Brooklyn at night- after a day of holding back tears because of lots of stuff that no one wants to hear about and because my kids were busy growing up and I was missing it and because mean people suck. So that’s why there’s lots of booze in this post. It was a boozy time. Don’t judge. Just admire this basic street scene, ok?
Oh shoot! Just when I thought we could get off the topic of bars and booze I remembered I need to tell you about one more place and that’s because it’s my favorite of all of them. June BK –it’s a natural wine bar with a great little menu and charm to spare. Don’t skip this one!!
There is something else I do every single day and that’s read. It’s this problem I’ve had since I was maybe 6? Did I know how to read when I was six? I don’t know- I’ll have to ask my sister because she remembers everything and I remember nothing about my childhood. But I do know that I’ve always loved to read and I cannot go to sleep without reading at least a few pages of something.
When things are kind of tough it’s great to escape into other (fake) people’s problems because then you think wow- it could really be worse for me, like if I was the protagonist in this post apocalyptic saga and I was the only person left on Earth that wasn’t eating other humans to stay alive. Just kidding I don’t read books like that- I mostly read “realistic fiction” so they don’t involve canibalism (mostly) but they are always about o.p.p. and that’s good when you’re trying to escape your own p’s. Anyway, Books Are Magic and so are independent book stores that have not yet been put out of business by Amazon.
I didn’t make it to a movie, but I could have. I guess that could have been an alternative to downing cocktails in bars-that-aren’t brothels, but nah.
I did go for a lot of early morning runs, and most of them took me up Bergen Street and past The Invisible Dog Art Center and every dang time I tried not to read that, but then I did. Because it was #true.
This is one place I didn’t make it to, but I liked the Vespa, the man and the fact that this entire scene is red themed without even being planned. That pleases me (unexpected pleasures).
It also pleases me to look at Manhattan from a distance and watch as the sun sets on another day that I didn’t 100% lose my shit (I was happy with 50-70% most days). And anyway, sunsets in Brooklyn are amazing….
But the absolute best thing about Brooklyn is the people and the fact that (most of them) really do try to keep it real.
Where else would it be cool to wear dad jeans? Nowhere. Nowhere else.
There’s a lot much more I can say, but I’ll leave it here for now. I’m so glad I got to spend so much time exploring Brooklyn in a mostly sober state and I’ll be forever grateful for the many hours I spent just wandering around and soaking up the positive vibes that really do somehow permeate this borough. I know it’s not all rainbows and butterflies, but there’s a lot to love here. Brooklyn, thanks for everything, you’re all right. See you sooooon!


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