+ Pool

By Tom Ran

Published: July 9, 2013 under Life / Leisure

+ Pool on the East River

Photo: Family and PlayLab

+ Pool can potentially be the biggest public initiative the city has ever witnessed. Though the pool was conceived and developed by design studios Family and PlayLab the two are looking to the public to help fund the next phase of the project. This time you’ll be able to see the experiment in person. They’ll be constructing a 35-foot mock-up of the pool in the East River this summer to test out the pollutants and the effectiveness of their filtration system. But this can only happen if they meet their goal. They’re down to their last three days on Kickstarter and need to raise $60,000 by 10:30am EST this Friday. The incentives for donating to this project range from a personal tile on the pool itself to first dip privileges when the pool opens to the public. If realized, + Pool will be the first of its kind in many ways, not just as a pool in the East River but also as a project that is funded by the public of this scale.

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Brooklyn Night Bazaar

By Tom Ran

Published: November 2, 2012 under Life / Leisure

Brooklyn Night Bazaar

Photo: Brooklyn Night Bazaar

Carrying over the success from last years event, Brooklyn Night Bazaar returns this holiday season with extended dates that spans through every weekend for a month starting November 23rd. The bazaar is a collision of art, music, food and retail bringing together local vendors and artists into a 40,000 sq ft warehouse. Ken Farmer of Nuit Blanche New York has been tapped to art direct the event, bringing his immersive light installation to the venue. Music acts include James Murphy, Caged Animals, Dom, Fucked Up, The Hold Steady, and others. Food vendors include Asia Dog, Baohaus, Eagle Street Rooftop Farms, Growing Chefs, LittleNeck, Van Leeuwan mixed with Brooklyn and Manhatan shops and dealers like Sit and Read, Remedy Quarterly, BondToo, Kill Devil Hill, The sketchbook project and many many others. Have a look at their vendors list to see the complete list. Brooklyn Night Bazaar starts Friday November 23rd from 6pm-midnight at 45 N. 5th Street in Williamsburg.

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Brimfield Rookie

By Tom Ran

Published: July 13, 2012 under Life / Leisure

A barn set up at Brimfield

Photo: Staff

After years and years of missing out on the excitement and sometimes hysteria that is Brimfield, I finally made my way up to the triannual event two days ago. I was invited by Steve Marks, owner of Persons of Interest, to be his copilot. We left late on Wednesday night and arrived in a small town outside of Brimfield after only 3 hours on the road – crashed at a hotel and woke up early the next morning for what would be a full days work of digging for American treasures.

Different fields open on different days and for the regulars the excitement builds to a crescendo minutes before the gates open. Images of Black Friday lines come to mind but without any of the rewards. Dealers are still setting up their tents when you get in. Even though there are top of the line vendors at Brimfield, there’s also a lot of junk. It takes endurance and a good eye to see past this and to uncover that diamond. With a bit of ingenuity and care, that rough can become just the gem you were looking for.

For some vendors, fold out tables and tarps didn’t cut it, instead they were equipped with circus size tents, supple arm chairs, and industrialized fans. Some took extra strides to merchandise their goods. Howard’s was one of them. With his canvas tents and perfectly stylized props it felt like you were on set of Moonrise Kingdom with the help of a RRL stylist.

Being a rookie, I was directionless and wandering without any plan. However, it was a different story for Steve. He had a mental grocery list of things to outfit his two barbershops with. Textiles were on the top of my list and there was no shortage of them. Rugs and quilts were in abundance. But without the knowledge, I hesitated and couldn’t pull the trigger and left the day empty handed. Steve scored some choice finds including a lit sign that will adorn the outside of his shop in a few weeks.

It’s possible to do Brimfield in a day, though some may argue with that. It just depends on what your goal is. A clear head and a plan will be in order for the next visit if there is any loot to be had.

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Camp Wandawega

By Tom Ran

Published: May 23, 2012 under Life / Leisure

Tom's Treehouse at Camp Wandawega.

Photo: Camp Wandawega

We visited the private camp grounds of Beaver Brook yesterday. A destination that we all wish we had access to. Today we travel to Camp Wandawega, a getaway that’s available to the public. Camp Wandawega is located in Elkhorn, Wisconsin where David Hernandez and his wife Tereasa Surratt have transformed a former camp devoted to the Latvian priesthood into a stylish and rustic but still very real retreat for city folks. Where the accommodations range from tents and cabins to a decked out treehouse. The property is stylishly outfitted with antiques and vintage furnishings dating back to the origins of the campsite. The amenities are minimal, don’t expect wifi or even an air conditioner, you’re in the wilderness and the hosts would like to keep it that way. They recently opened up a shop, one on the grounds as a brick and mortar and the other online. It’s stuffed with camp mementos for the visitor or any outdoor enthusiast.

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Beaver Brook

By Tom Ran

Published: May 22, 2012 under Life / Leisure

Summer cabin at dusk in Beaver Brook.

Photo: Beaver Brook

For all the tech start up that Zach Klein has been involved in from Vimeo to Svpply to the newly minted DIY, he has a love affair with the outdoors. In the summer of 2010, he purchased a plot of land upstate and called it Beaver Brook, “for the Delaware tributary that runs through it.” Beaver Brook is a playground of sorts for him and his friends. An outdoor retreat that is slowly being built with cottages, a suspension bridge, and now a barn. Though it’s the wilderness, there are some comforts to be had. The outdoor cedar tub warmed by firewood being one of them. Klein and his cohorts also edit a blog called Cabin Porn – a site that simply catalogs the romanticism of these wooden shelters.

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Maine Huts & Trails

By Tom Ran

Published: April 25, 2012 under Life / Leisure

Flagstaff Lake Hut

Photo: Maine Huts & Trails

The idea of back country hiking and camping sounds adventurous until you get down to the realities of it. For us urban dwellers we lack the fundamental tools and knowledge to stay alive. All those episodes of Man Vs. Wild won’t help you out there. So it’s a good thing that Maine Huts and Trails have built a system for the novice and expert outdoor enthusiasts. Since 2008, the organization has offered visitors a place of refuge with their huts spread across 45 miles of hiking trails. The three huts, which are more like lodges, are situated on Maine’s Western Mountain region providing visitors a chance to hike from hut to hut throughout the year. The huts are all self sustaining and off-the-grid. All of its energy comes from solar panels, hydro-generators, and wood boilers with amenities that rival road side hotels. Hot showers, beds, and even meals are provided for guests. Visit Maine Huts & Trails’s website to learn more about their initiative and the trails and activities.

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Alya Kazakevich

By Raven Keller
Alya Kazakevich in her shop in the Lower East Side

Photo: Rose Callahan

On a damp and muggy summer morning on the Lower East Side, Alya Kazakevich slowly stitched up the edges of a leather coin purse and recalled her childhood in Eastern…

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By Tom Ran
Partners Robert Highsmith and Stefanie Brechbuehler

Photo: Samuel Bristow

Stefanie Brechbuehler and Robert Highsmith, are the partners behind Workstead. The two met at Rhode Island School of Design while studying architecture and opened their studio in 2009,…

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M.Nii John Moore

By Tom Ran
M.Nii Tailor, Waianae, Hawaii 1959

Photo: Tom McBride

The photo is one of the few relics that remain of M.Nii’s history. An image that recalls the golden age of American surf culture. Three friends in front…

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