Thanks to the Five Boro Bike Tour, I can count on biking in Brooklyn at least once a year. This past Sunday I visited it bikeless, which enabled me to move slowly enough to really see Brooklyn. In all of its Brooklyn.
The people of Brooklyn are usually friendly and have their own style; think Holly Golightly from Breakfast at Tiffany's crossed with Lisbeth Salander from The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. There are many cyclists, but there is nary a spandex-shorts wearing one to be found. From what I could tell by keen observation, there is a bizzare bandit on the loose in Brooklyn – one who only appears to steal front and rear derailleurs – so if you ride there with anything that has shifters, keep a sharp eye.
It was my wife's idea to head to Dekalb Market in Brooklyn, a collection of refurbished shipping containers showcasing the act of retailing and the practice of selling food as an art form. It's on 138 Willoughby Street, a convenient subway ride on the 4 train from Grand Central Terminal. The whole place initially reminded me of Bartertown, except without Thunderdome, Tina Turner, or Master Blaster.
Though the retail shop part of the market isn't open on Mondays, Dekalb is open seven days a week and there is a large open space in the middle for events, such as bike-in movies (don't take the tall bike from Joy Machines). The day I went there I was reminded about just how good Brooklyn can be. Picture a great food truck in your head. Now picture a dozen or so other great food trucks. Take away the trucks and put them all in a row under tents and in shipping containers and you've got Dekalb. Tacos for $3 each was what I went for and they did not disappoint. Neither did the lemonade topped with a scoop of strawberry rhubarb sorbet. Trust me: it is a summer drink for heads of state.
Strolling around the market, one can visit Far Far Away Toys, a fun vintage toy shop containing all of the toys, action figures, lunch boxes, and other childhood goodies that you went-all-'Sid'-from-Toy-Story on more than a quarter of a century ago. There's little to no chance I'll whisper 'Greedo!' as I utter my last breath and drop a Hoth snow globe on the floor, but if you or any of your friends mourns the toys of yesterday and want them back today, that's the place in Brooklyn to go.
Not far from Far Far Away is Love of Pretty (I only went in there to see what was taking my wife so long) which mostly has handmade jewelry, but I still saw something I liked.
The place has a very well edited selection, and it's actually quite nice to visit a bike shop that knows what it is instead of piling random goods everywhere. If you want a basket, a wine rack that attaches to your top tube, or you want to buy a handmade bicycle skirt garter clip so your wife or girlfriend can ride in a skirt with confidence, this is the place to go.
I did not get to visit Velo City (the cool-sounding organization that provides cycling-based urban planning programs for youth) as they are probably attending the Velo City Global 2012 conference in Vancouver this week and didn't bring their container.
So Dekalb Market is a nice way to visit Brooklyn, and if you want to go I suggest you get a move on: the landlord is planning to develop the land and the market, containers and all, will move to a yet-unknown location in a few months. Now, if the mayor of Stamford, Michael Pavia, wants to sew up his reelection right now, he would engineer a way to move Dekalb to Stamford and put it in the huge vacant lot across from the mall, but a small part of me hopes this place will stay a destination in Brooklyn. Thanks for reading.