A bookseller amongst her wares (possibly NSFW)


Cici James -- founder of Brooklyn's amazing science fiction bookstore Singularity and Co -- posed for a body-painted portrait amongst her wares.

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Singularity & Co: sf bookstore as Twilight Zone

Singularity and Co is the wonderful, Brooklyn-based used science fiction bookstore launched with a 2012 Kickstarter campaign that raised funds to buy the rights to beloved, out-of-print sf novels and release them as CC-licensed ebooks. Gabe, a fan of the store, has produced this great, Twilight Zone-themed commercial for the shop.

New Disruptors 49: Actually, Quite Likely! Recorded Live in Brooklyn

We recorded a special live episode of The New Disruptors in Brooklyn's fantastic DUMBO district in the Galapagos Art Space as part of the Nearly Impossible conference in which we talked about the joys, challenges, and surprises in prototyping, funding, producing, and distributing products. On stage, we had Che-Wei Wang and Taylor Levy of CW&T, Tom Gerhardt and Dan Provost of Studio Neat, and Jessica Heltzel of Kern and Burn.

The New Disruptors: RSS | iTunes | Download this episode | Listen on Stitcher

This episode is sponsored by Shopify: use Shopify to create your online store. Everything you need to start selling online – today!

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Kokie's: history of Brooklyn's infamous cocaine bar

Kokieeeee

In the late 1990s, Kokie's Place was a legendary Williamsburg, Brooklyn bar where a guy would sell you cocaine from a closet in the back. A few years ago, Vice magazine presented an oral history of this vibrant, strange Puerto Rican dive bar where salsa dancers, hipsters, bikers, and addicts played in the snow. It's a fascinating, funny article that also touches on the insanely-fast gentrification of Williamsburg. By the way, the name of the bar isn't a reference to cocaine but rather to the coquí, a frog endemic to Puerto Rico. From Vice:

JERRY P: The coke was stepped on like crazy. I think it was cut with meth, because it lasted so fucking long. I personally didn’t mind it.

BRIAN F: It was convenient living nearby because the coke was so awful. As soon as I did a bump I would run home, shit my brains out, and then come back refreshed and ready for more.

MEG SNEED: The coke there was pretty bad, true, but it was such a pleasant place to be. A real positive atmosphere and community feeling. I even thought about hanging out there without drugs once or twice. Of course I never did.

LUCY P: I don’t know if I ever talked to anybody there who I didn’t know, but I felt as though I could’ve. And it wasn’t just the drugs. There was a sense that everybody was there to enjoy some sort of desperate eked-out freedom. As though a line had been crossed into comity. You know, the purity of purpose people shared.

STEVE L: The first time I walked in there, I could see that all the action was in the disco room, where a crowd of mostly middle-aged Puerto Rican mamis were dancing around to what sounded like electro-Merengue. One of them, in a hot-peach tube top, bleached cut-offs, and espadrilles dragged me out on the floor to get down with her. I must have pranced with every orange-haired lady in the place.

"Please Snort Me"

Video from the Stross and Doctorow show at MakerBot in Brooklyn

Joly MacFie captured video of Charlie Stross's and my tour-stop at Brooklyn's MakerBot this week. We were there in support of our new novel Rapture of the Nerds, and did a talk, reading and Q&A that touched on the Singularity, its precedents, its discontents, and its inherent comedy -- all while 3D printers chattered in the background. And afterwards everyone got 3D printed miniatures of our heads!

We're making our final stops of tour tomorrow -- Sunday! Sunday! Sunday! -- in Rochester, NY, at RIT. Tell your friends!

Cory Doctorow & Charles Stross - The Rapture of the Nerds (Thanks, Joly!)

"Zilla March": flexing in the New York subways

Flexing, or bone breaking, is a mix of street dancing and contortionist movements mostly specific to Brooklyn. This video in particular is mesmerizing, almost ritualistic with this group of shirtless guys in gas masks all dancing together in the subway. Other riders seem to either not notice them or look on in a trance.

[Video Link] Thanks Dannel!

Cory coming to Toronto, Ann Arbor, Brooklyn and NYC

Hey, Torontonians, Ann Arborites, and New Yorkers!

I'll be giving a free talk at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto called "Can creativity and freedom peacefully co-exist in the Internet age?" on Sept 14 at 7PM, where I'll be reprising my SIGGRAPH talk from August.

On Sept 15, I'll be in Ann Arbor, MI for the Penny Stamps Lecture Series, doing a panel called "On Futurology: Optimism And Failure" with Mark Stevenson and James King.

I head to New York next. First I'll be at the Brooklyn Book Festival on September 18, appearing on a 1200h panel called "Genres Crashers" with Jewell Parker Rhodes, Kelly Link and Stephanie Anderson.

Finally, I'm keynoting the O'Reilly Strata conference on September 20 at 1330h, with a talk called "Designing For Human Sensors, Not Human Barcodes."

Hope to see you there!

Ticketed for being childless and eating doughnuts in a playground

Two women in Brooklyn sat down on a playground bench to eat their doughnuts. They were issued summonses by local cops for violating the playground's "no adults without children" rule (because the way you keep children safe is to make sure that adults and children don't come into proximity with one another, unless the adults are parents or childminders, because those people never, ever harm children, and the only reason to want to be around children is to molest them). According to the women, the cops told them they were getting off light with a court summons because the official procedure called for them to be brought in for questioning.
This cop attempted to be sympathetic. He proceeded to tell us that he was trying to be a gentleman by just giving us summonses instead of taking us in for questioning, because that was what "they" wanted him to do. If he just gave us warnings and told us to leave, he would get in trouble for "doing nothing all day." He went on to say that all he did when he was growing up was "do Tae Kwon Do and go to school." "Are you trying to say that we are bad people for sitting on a bench in a park and eating doughnuts?" I asked him, just trying to figure out where he was going with this. "No, no, I'm just saying that I never got in trouble. Sometimes I play basketball," he said, pointing at the courts behind him. Not in that park, he doesn't. Not unless he has a kid strapped to his back at the time.

Finally, we were given our summonses and were free to go. Because we hadn't been drinking alcohol or urinating in public, we do not have the option of pleading guilty by mail. Not that I am planning on pleading guilty. But either way, we have to show up in court or a warrant will be issued for our arrest. My friend does not live in New York and I am out of the country all summer, so this is going to be an ordeal in itself, given that the summons has no information on how to contact the court. Nor do we know how much we owe. Because the cops had no idea about that, either. They were just "doing their jobs," in the most mindless sense of that phrase.

Two Women Ticketed For Eating Doughnuts In A Brooklyn Playground (Thanks, Jack!)

(Image: Retro Playground, Thetford, Norfolk. Rocket ship or delta wing bomber. Sept 2008, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from sludgeulper's photostream)

Fixers' Collective: people learning to make broken stuff work again


Here's an inspiring story about the Fixers' Collective in Brooklyn, a co-op that holds free open surgeries where people can bring their broken stuff for repair. The Fixers make no guarantees (they learned to fix stuff by taking it apart and trying to get it back together again), but they also don't charge anything; what's more, they'll teach you what they know so you can fix your stuff yourself.
"It makes people feel proud of themselves - a little less helpless," Ms. Pittman says. "Everything breaks. Everything. These days, and especially with all this electronic equipment, we have no clue - no idea at all - how to fix stuff. We are pretty much at the mercy of our computers, our cellphones. The Fixers' Collective helped us become a little more self-sufficient. It is an attitude as much as anything."

Pittman draws a direct line from the financial crash of 2008 - "which made a lot of people, and certainly us, less inclined to trust the experts" - to the creation of the collective. But it is also true, as Pittman hints, that many Americans worry that they have become more reliant on their belongings and more disconnected about how they work.

The art of the fix-it

Castle Grayskull igloo in Brooklyn

Brooklyn artist Kilroy III celebrated the snowmageddon by building a huge, magnificent Castle Grayskull (of He-Man fame) igloo. It's the artist's second attempt at a Grayskullgloo, the first being one he attempted in the 1990s in Ohio. The primary sculpting tools were a Korean soup bowl and a spoon.

SPOTLIGHT: Snowmageddon Spawns Castle Grayskull by Kilroy III & Friends | Brooklyn Igloo

Castle Grayskull | Snowmageddon | Kilroy III (Flickr) (via Geekologie)

Train crossing Brooklyn Bridge: Thomas Edison film, 1899

Here's a video transfer from an 1899 film shot by Thomas Edison of a rail-crossing of the Brooklyn Bridge. As with all Edison films of the day, it ends spectacularly, with the electrocution of an elephant, the cursing of Tesla, and broad claims of credit for all the research performed by every researcher at Edison Labs. It originally retailed for $22.50 in the Edison films catalog.

Brooklyn to New York via Brooklyn Bridge 1899 (via Kottke)

Brooklyn-based artist Gertrude Berg plays with trash

Carrie McLaren is a guest blogger at Boing Boing and coauthor of Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. She lives in Brooklyn, the former home of her now defunct Stay Free! magazine.

I do a "useless lectures" series in Brooklyn, Adult Education, and one of my favorite talks last year was by the delightfully peculiar artist Gertrude Berg. Here are a couple of short films of her doing her thing: In "Waste Carrier," she stores the trash that she uses during the day in a specially designed dress that she wears all over town. In "Pick Up Artist," well, you just have to watch...

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