Café Martin

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Cold, snow, whatever: there’s almost always a bike outside Martin’s

50 Favorite Places #2

This is no longer Martin’s café – he handed it over to his one-time employee, Jenn, a few years ago – but it’s still mine. It’s the best place I know to sit and watch snowflakes drift down on a blizzardy afternoon like this one. Or to grab an iced coffee on a sweltering August day. Or to read, when the apartment is too small and the distractions too many.

What I like about Martin’s, aside from the excellent coffee, is that it’s an honest-to-god café . . . by which I mean, it’s a place to drink coffee, talk and read. It’s not a co-working space at which coffee happens to be served. There is no wi-fi, the tables will not hold both your coffee and your laptop (not even your tablet), and if there are outlets, they’re few and well-hidden (I’ve never bothered to look).

Jenn has made a few changes. Continue reading

Back at it

IMG_7685I’ve posted several times about the unknown artist(s) whose sardonic observations are pasted on walls around the borough – most recently here. Over the past year, I’ve watched their sayings fade, rip and generally deteriorate, with no new contributions..

Until this week, when the piece at the top of this post appeared on Union St in Park Slope. I’m including it here for the record . . . and in hopes that Brooklyn-based readers may respond with their own sightings.

(“Back at it” also refers to me and this blog. I’m planning a new focus for 2020, so stay tuned.)

. . . 

Addenda:

While photographing the Smith-9th station in mid-January, I found this:

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And, while running through Gowanus (6th St between Second and Third avenues) in early February, this:

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From the sidelines of the 2019 NYC marathon

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My sentiments exactly

Here it is, delayed by my traditional post-marathon trip (look for a report on Brooklyn in Texas, coming soon) and general laziness: the view from the sidelines of this year’s NYC marathon. Seeing as how I presume to publish a spectator’s guide every year, it only seems right to share how my own spectating went down.

Pre-race – an odd encounter

I began the day, as is my custom, with a run along the Fourth Avenue segment of the course, from roughly Mile 7 in Park Slope to Mile 2.something in Bay Ridge. Thanks to the end of daylight savings time (daylight savings time is a fraud and a scourge, as far as I’m concerned, and I look forward to its end almost as much as I look forward to the marathon), I was able to set out in full light a little after 7 am. As I ran, I kept a rough count of the people I saw along the course. In descending order of frequency, they included:

  • Race volunteers (thank you, all of you)
  • Cyclists
  • Cops
  • NYC Department of Transportation trucks and personnel (so that runners would have fresh, sticky asphalt to step in, which I suppose is marginally better than potholes)
  • Jehovah’s Witnesses
  • Musicians
  • Other runners
  • Skateboarders
  • People telling me I was going the wrong way (only two this year, well under the norm)
  • A guy wearing a marathon race bib, seemingly doing strides on 92nd St

The last comes with a story. Continue reading

Stoop recycling

imageIt’s easy to make fun of Park Slope and its earnest, politically-correct, kombucha-guzzling denizens. There are the bars that offer special happy hours for new mothers (“have a pint with your half pint”); the stroller traffic jams; the antics of the Park Slope Food Coop, dutifully reported in the Linewaiters’ Gazette; and kale, kale, kale, everywhere you turn, in places kale has no business being.

It’s easy to mock, and mock it I do (just ask Eric) – but I also love this neighborhood. Continue reading

Bodega strike

imageYesterday, Yemeni bodega owners across New York City went on a half-day strike against the Fake President’s Muslim ban, shuttering their stores at noon. (If you’re not from here, a word of explanation: bodegas are small neighborhood stores that sell groceries, sundries and quick eats, like the bacon-egg-and-cheese sandwiches that fuel city mornings.) You can read about the action – which drew thousands to a demonstration and prayer service outside Brooklyn Borough Hall – here.

This morning, the window of the bodega at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Fifth Street in Park Slope was plastered with messages of support from school kids, other Fifth Avenue businesses and neighborhood residents.

I went in and bought a 4-pack of toilet paper, just because.

There goes the neighborhood

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Really rich people make really bad neighbors.

The process of gentrification is pretty far along in Park Slope, but the above-pictured sign on 1st street between 4th and 5th avenues still stopped me in my tracks. The block is divided between commercial spaces and condos at the 4th avenue end, and nice (but modest) brownstones closer to 5th avenue. It’s not, in other words, the kind of block you’d normally associate with house-hunting oligarchs.

And therein lies a tale. Continue reading

One Brooklyn runner’s totally idiosyncratic spectator’s guide to the TCS New York City Marathon

Welcome to Brooklyn, baby.

Welcome to Brooklyn, baby.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Originally published in October 2015, this post has been updated to reflect business closings (a sad fact of life for restaurants everywhere, perhaps especially in gentrifying sections of Brooklyn) as of September 2018. 


This is for you, marathon spectators! Thanks for listening to our whining, humoring our obsession, pretending to understand our talk of intervals and tempo runs and split times and generally putting up with us throughout our months of training. As if all that isn’t enough, you’ve further agreed to stand outside for hours in whatever weather November 1 brings. Some of you have traveled long distances and invested significant sums of money to be here on marathon day.

You deserve the race of your life.

I’ve been a spectator along the marathon course about as many times as I’ve actually run the race, so I know a little bit about spectating. The main thing you need to know is that it’s great; prepare yourself for a wild, raucous, exciting time. It can also be a little tiring. It may be cold. Cheering for random strangers will leave you thirsty and hoarse. At some point, you will get hungry.

Since I’m a runner who gets cold and thirsty and hungry a lot, and who uses many of her runs to explore Brooklyn neighborhoods (including, of late, obsessively running portions of the marathon course), I can help. And I want to help, because your cheers are what make the New York City Marathon, in my biased opinion, the greatest race in the world. Continue reading