Watching the NYC marathon in Brooklyn – 2016 edition

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“What’s good?” – this post tries to answer that

(NOTE: originally published in 2016, this guide has been reviewed and updated for 2017, with closings and changes in hours noted. Stay tuned for the all-new 2017 edition. 2017 IS NOW UP!)

Less than three weeks until race day on November 6!

If you’re running, this is high-anxiety time, when every training sin (workouts missed, long runs bailed on) comes back to haunt you; when thoughts of everything that could possibly go wrong run through your mind in a continuous loop (you fall off a stool while reaching for a high shelf and twist your ankle, you miss a connecting flight and are stranded in Atlanta, you contract food poisoning the night before the race); when your interpersonal relationships are strained by this obsession of yours that no one who’s not running quite understands.

But if you’re spectating along the course, as I will be this year, this is a fun time. Instead of visualizing the long climb up the Queensboro Bridge, you can visualize brunch spots; instead of obsessing over those twinges in your left calf, you can obsess over finding the best tacos in Sunset Park; instead of planning your best race, you can plan your best race day.

Last year’s guide was pretty popular, and I’ve gone through and made some quick updates and corrections to keep it useful for 2016. But because it was so much fun to do the research, I’ve been back out there running the marathon’s route through Brooklyn (in nice, manageable segments). In the process, I’ve found a whole bunch of additional places worth checking out.

So, here it is – the all-new 2016 edition of one Brooklyn runner’s totally idiosyncratic guide to where to eat, and what to do, along the NYC marathon course.  Continue reading

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Katie and Linda’s Central European Adventure

vitkov viewThis blog is back from its travels and unstuck from its post-trip doldrums. It will return to its usual Brooklyn-focused posts soon enough (with a race report or two thrown in for good measure and, no doubt, some whining about marathon training). For now, I offer these highlights and observations from our mother-daughter trip to the Czech Republic and Slovakia. (Hat tip to Evan Rail at the New York Times and “Taste of Prague” bloggers Zuzi and Jan for never steering us wrong throughout our trip.)

Czech beer is good – and cheap. Guidebooks breathlessly proclaim that in the Czech Republic, beer is cheaper than water. That’s not entirely accurate. Despite warnings that nothing in the Czech Republic is free (including – gasp! – ketchup packets at fast food restaurants), we found that we could in fact ask for and receive complementary tap water in restaurants and cafes. (For our first few days, in thrall to the guidebook warnings, we demurred offers of water and left bread baskets untouched. We were idiots.)  Continue reading

Blogging resolutions

This blog returns from its holiday hiatus with a handful of resolutions for the new year:

1. Get out there and explore.  In the coming year, I plan to take this blog to more Brooklyn neighborhoods in search of cheap, tasty eats (always a motivator!) and interesting stuff generally. Look for posts on Latino and Asian Sunset Park, Arab Bay Ridge, and the borough’s various West Indian communities. And that’s just for starters. I may even venture farther afield, to the wilds of Queens, Staten Island and the Bronx.

2. Bring other people into the blog. Blogging is great for introverted people like yours truly: you can write about whatever pops into your head from the comfort and privacy of your home. That’s also its great weakness. I mean, jeezus, no one is that interesting. So I’m going to work at introducing other people into posts, telling their stories and sharing their views. That means getting outside my comfort zone, which is good. (It also means showering and getting dressed before late afternoon, also good.)

3. Alternate long-form posts with shorter items. Some of my recent entries, like the account of my South Carolina trip, have been quite long. And while I draw a lot of personal satisfaction from those posts, and am proud of the thought and care that went into them, they are time-consuming to write and, I suspect, daunting to read. So I’m going to rein in my wanna-be magazine writer tendencies and mix the long stuff up with more photos and short observations.

4. Engage more with other bloggers. I’m very grateful to the other bloggers who’ve checked out Not another Brooklyn blog, “liked” posts, and left the occasional comment. I’m going to work hard to be a better citizen of the blogosphere in the coming year.

And finally, reluctantly . . .

5. Consider focusing this blog. When I started blogging a little over six months ago, I defiantly proclaimed my intention to ignore the well-meaning (and near-universal) advice to identify an audience and focus on it. I was going to write about whatever interested me, goddammit. And so I’ve written about running, about birdwatching, about surviving (and not surviving) breast cancer, about Brooklyn ephemera, about the haunted history of South Carolina, about food. It’s been fun, but it’s also been a mess. I don’t blame readers who were drawn in by running posts and then didn’t know what to make of cancer posts, and vice versa, for throwing up their hands and walking away. I understand now, in a way I didn’t six months ago, the costs of unfocused blogging . . . for sure, it makes realizing resolution #4 a hell of a lot more difficult. I’m going to maintain my idiosyncratic non-focus for the time being, but over the next six months, I’ll be thinking hard about what this blog wants to be when it grows up. Input from readers in that process is very welcome.

If you’re a blogger reading this, what are your blogging resolutions for 2015?

Heroes, ghosts and history

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We didn’t actually wear these buttons.

“Remind me again why we’re going there?”

That was Eric’s question when I suggested we wear these buttons on our flight to Charleston, South Carolina.

It was a reasonable question. South Carolina is the state whose governor declared (in her State of the State address, no less) that unions “are not needed, not wanted and not welcome.” It’s the state whose U.S. Senators have described the National Labor Relations Board as, variously, an “out-of-control bureaucracy,” “third world tyranny” and “rogue agency” for its outrageous! ridiculous! shocking! interference with the God-given right of corporations to tear federal labor law into teeny tiny pieces, suitable for CEOs to scatter like confetti at bonus time.

If your reaction to all this is “huh?”, a bit of background. South Carolina’s business and political leaders reacted with predictable rage when the NLRB issued a complaint against the Boeing Corporation for shifting production of its 787 “Dreamliner” plane from Washington state to a new plant in North Charleston. The 2011 complaint alleged that Boeing’s move was illegal retaliation for (legal, federally-protected) strikes by the company’s unionized workforce in the Seattle area. In support of this absurd allegation (unprecedented! an attack on jobs and freedom and all we hold dear!), the rogue agency cited numerous public statements by Boeing executives that they were moving production to Charleston . . .  in retaliation for strikes by their unionized workforce in the Seattle area.

Oops.*

Thanks to Google maps, I already knew the drive from the airport to downtown Charleston would take us past “Dreamliner Drive.” And there it was. There, also, was the sprawling Boeing facility, still in operation despite the hysteria (job killers! business destroyers!) generated by the NLRB’s enforcement action. (As often happens, the company and the union reached a settlement, and the unfair labor practice charge was withdrawn.)

All in all, I had to agree with Eric that South Carolina was not the most likely destination for a trade unionist and an NLRB attorney.

So, why were we there? Well, why not? Continue reading