NYC Podfest 2017 coming to Brooklyn

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For its 5th year, NYC Podfest is bringing your faves to Brooklyn’s Bell House. And we really mean it when we say faves—the all-star lineup includes actors, comedians, reporters, and podcast extraordinaires Michael Ian Black, Eugene Mirman, Mike Myers, Kevin Allison, Krysta Rodriguez, Kevin McDonald, Janeane Garofalo, David Cross, Michelle Buteau, Cipha Sounds, Andy Borowitz, Travon Free, and H. Jon Benjamin. [Read more…]

Forget Gowanus, Whole Foods Is Coming To Bedford Ave.

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I’ve posted a fair amount about Brooklyn’s controversial Whole Foods store coming to Gowanus in 2013. But now it turns out the chain is opening a location much closer to home. According to the New York Post, a Whole Foods is coming to 242 Bedford Ave (at N. 4th St.).

The site had been vacant for years and sold on Monday for $23 million. It will also house a New York Sports Club and luxury apartments.

So can we expect a reaction similar to the one in Gowanus? Probably not. The main arguments there are that the store disregards zoning laws and will change the character of the neighborhood. But that’s not true in Williamsburg, where Bloomberg’s 2005 rezoning paved the way for places like this, and where the character of the neighborhood is constantly changing (for better or worse). Some, like Portlandia‘s bike guy, will take this as yet another sign that the neighborhood is over. Others will just be glad they don’t have to take the G to Gowanus to get their organic food.

Whole Foods has yet to make an official announcement.

Update 4:30 p.m.: Whole Foods confirmed the project to The New York Times. Construction will begin in the next two to three months and the location will open in mid-2014, a year after the one in Gowanus.

What’s This “Occupy” Bus Doing At The Future Brooklyn Whole Foods?

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It’s probably not a coincidence that a green and white school bus with “OCCUPY” painted on it is currently parked outside the future site of Brooklyn’s first Whole Foods.

As I posted yesterday, the city granted Whole Foods a zoning variance that would allow it to build at 3rd Avenue and 3rd Street in Gowanus, ending an eight year effort to get the project going. No word yet on what the Occupy activists are planning to do there.

Update: It turns out that the bus has been parked in that location for at least two years. The vehicle is known as the “Vroom Bus” and predates the Occupy movement, with which it has since aligned itself. According to a blog post from February 2011, the bus runs on vegetable oil and belongs to “the Vroom Collective – a group dedicated to transporting activists and artists throughout the country.” So it looks like it is a coincidence after all, but at least they won’t have to travel far for this cause.

Residents Lose Battle Against Brooklyn’s First Whole Foods

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The ongoing fight to keep a Whole Foods out of Gowanus, Brooklyn came to an end last night when a city panel approved construction for a facility five times larger than zoning rules allow. While this technically isn’t north Brooklyn news, the issues at hand are certainly relevant. Many local residents and businesses opposed the plan, fearing that it would change the character of the neighborhood and hurt local establishments. This will be the first Whole Foods location in Brooklyn.

According to NY Daily News, construction will begin in the spring and the store will open in the middle of next year. Since purchasing the site at 3rd Avenue and 3rd Street in 2004, Whole Foods has had to clean it up (inspectors found the soil to be contaminated) and cut the proposed size of the facility by 25%.


While some local residents support the decision – one tweeted, “awesome, Whole Foods Brooklyn approved… I love this ‘hood, and now I may never move” – the opposition has been vocal. The Gowanus Institute, located in the Old American Can Factory across the street from the Whole Foods site, has voiced concerns about the supermarket taking away potential manufacturing spaces and jobs and in the area. “Gowanus Institute is disappointed by NYC Board of Standards and Appeals’ decision to grant Whole Foods Market the variance to build a large, suburban-style retail food market in an area that has been a haven for well-paying manufacturing jobs protected by New York City’s zoning law and economic policies,” the Institute wrote in a statement about the decision. “The retail development will indeed forever alter the essential manufacturing character of the Gowanus neighborhood.”

A change.org petition also opposes the project on the grounds that Whole Foods will demolish the Coignet Stone Building, a registered landmark. The petition has 357 signatures.

Gowanus, located between Park Slope and Carroll Gardens, is known for its industrial past. In 2009, the city declared the Gowanus Canal, which runs up against the Whole Foods plot, an environmental Superfund site.

Brooklyn Spaces: Chronicaling Weird Shit Before it Gets Condemed/Gentrified

Death by Audio. Photo by Maximus Comissar

You know how there was that one time? That your friend dragged you to that random warehouse party you’re pretty sure was somewhere in Bushwick but can’t be positive because your recollection of how you got there or how you left is kind of hazy? But all you know is that when you were there there was a zip line, and maybe some fire eaters, and quite possibly a trailer? As we all know, Brooklyn is full of “underground” spaces like that — everything from night clubs to DIY classes to make-you-own-liquor factories. And as anyone who’s lived here long enough knows, these places are so transient once you’ve been to a place once you maybe have a 50-50 chance of ever finding it again.

Well one woman, long time Williamsburg resident Oriana Leckert, has taken it upon herself to chronicle them, one crazy space at a time. You should really check out her blog, Brooklyn Spaces, which chronicles the many many many creative ways Brooklynites are, well using their space. Full of gorgeous photos and in-depth profiles on the history of each space, her site will let you see what you’ve been missing, or maybe evern finally figure out the name of that place you stumbled into in a drunken late-night stupor.

We sat down with her to see what she’s seen, what she loves, and what her website is all about.

Breuckelen Distilling Co. Photo By Maximus Comissar

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Amateur Ping Pong Brings Pros

Yoshi and Nevin arrive together, unnoticed. As the rest of the Bellhouse fraternity gather for Amateur Ping Pong, steadying our nerves with $2 Bud lights, infantile one-upmanship, and delusions of grandeur, Yoshi and Nevin take to the tables with their own balls and paddles, readying themselves with shadow play, carefully sand-bagging their way through the first few rounds.

It used to be that you had to either be Chinese, North Korean or an eighties throwback in matching sweatbands, tight shorts with a strong command of power-ballads to  command any respect from across the net. But times done changed and the Bellhouse has thrown it’s Amateur Ping Pong night open to any rank amateur, any dreamer that has awoke paddle in hand from another all-night training session, any heartbroken would-be-Olympian, any Brooklynite that’s grown weary of Skeeball, Shuffleboard, Barcade or lonely drunken nights with surly bartenders and country music, this means YOU.

Tonight is more about selling beer than discovering future champions, it is at once a clash of metal and pine, of Metallica and pong, it is an all swilling, all twiddling homage to the armchair athlete, a Wiifit gone 3D.

It was so supposed to be so easy. I, the reluctant hero, throw the requisite $5 in the kitty, biding my time in the early rounds, reserving my patented counter-clockwise spin serve for the Semis, my non-chalant smile and easy-going nature hiding the truth of my Machiavellian gambit.

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