Residences on the PaRk Limited selection of new rental residences overlooking Fort Greene Park from $2,125 Studios From $2,125 > 1 Bedrooms From $2,675 > 2 Bedrooms From $4,050
amenities include > 24-Hour Doorman > 9 to 11 Foot Ceilings > Walls of Windows > On-Site Parking
> Spectacular City and River Views > Washers/Dryers in Each Residence > LEED Certified â&#x20AC;&#x153;Greenâ&#x20AC;? Living > Bike Storage Room
> Screening Room > Entertaining Kitchen > Fitness Center > Landscaped Terrace
> On-Site Valet Services > Yoga Studio
80 DeKalb Avenue Fort Greene
on-site Leasing office 718.222.dkLB(3552] > dklb.com Exclusive Marketing & Leasing Agent: Citi Habitats Marketing Group
OVERFLOW Published quarterly by OVERFLOW Publishing, LLC 397 President Street, 3rd Floor Brooklyn, NY 11231 www.overflowmagazine.com
*** Publishers Samuel Carter Jonathan Melamed Managing Editor Shane Dixon Kavanaugh *** Advertising Inquiries firstname.lastname@example.org Editorial Inquiries email@example.com Comments firstname.lastname@example.org
OVERFLOW ISSUE 10 :: SUMMER 2011
Film Biz Recycling
Ted Mann, South Brooklyn's Booze Tycoon, by Lisa M. Collins
everything must go, by Kerri MacDonald
The trials and travails of a waterlogged artist, by Jenn Bain Chew the Root a comic, by Hunter Nelson
46 50 51
Black Gold drinks your milkshake, by Jesse Cataldo
a casual encounter, by Dean Haspiel
on the hunt in Park Slope, by Erica Reitman
I Don't Have Time for This Shit a comic, by Erik Winkowski
whose bush is burning now?
20 24 28 42
Scrappin' with the pros, by Colin Weatherby
Sad Stories (by Funny People) Kurt Braunohler's tragic comedy
Rev. Billy's continuing saga, by Megan Izen
Call of the Wild
Snowy Wilderness's Outpost on Atlantic, by Ryan Dodge
Day by Day Brooklyn Based's Tip Sheet for our corner of the borough
cover photo by Eric Vogel and contents photo by Sarah Wilmer
4 5 7 6
1. Adam Krause: www.adamkrausephoto.com 2. Dean Haspiel is an Emmy award winning artist and a native New Yorker who created the Eisner award nominated BILLY DOGMA. A Progenitor of Cool, Dean has drawn many great superhero and semiautobiographical comic books for major publishers, including graphic novel collaborations with Harvey Pekar, Jonathan Ames, and Inverna Lockpez, and illustrates for HBO’s Bored To Death. 3. Colin Weatherby loves his new Jack LaLanne Power Juicer. He likes to mix beets, carrots, ginger, and one apple. It’s potent. Feel free to contact him at email@example.com 4. Jonathan Ritzman is a writer and ideasmith living in Crown Heights. He is a comedy enthusiast who also happens to enjoy the occasional good cry. Email artistic nudes to: firstname.lastname@example.org 5. Liam McWilliams is a tattoo artist, illustrator, and amateur surgeon living in Brooklyn. For more information, check out liammcwilliams.com 6. Jesse Cataldo is a Brooklyn resident who writes frequently about film and music. 7. Marlene Rounds: www.marlenerounds.com 8. Robert Dupree lives in a bubble. robertdupreephoto.com xoxo 9. Sarah Wilmer: “Earthalujah!” 10. Hunter Nelson grew up in Texas. He writes, performs, and illustrates in New York City. You can see him at the UCB Theater and elsewhere. Go see Tom DiMenna in ‘Who Loves You, Baby?’ this August. Hunter wrote it and it is entirely about Telly Savalas. 11. Walker Esner: donate to save the panda at www.walkeresner.com 12. Ryan Dodge’s work has appeared on Glamour.com, 8
15 16 19
the New York Post, Slice Magazine, Yahoo!, MSN and the Minetta Review. He hails from Tacoma, Washington and resides in Boerum Hill. 13. Eric Winkowski is a Brooklyn-based graphic artist who does, in fact, have time for this shit. 14. Megan Izen is a multimedia journalist based in Brooklyn. Want to see? meganizen.com 15. Jesse Brown shoots the hell outta some pictures. 16. Eric Vogel: Well, actually, I’m originally from Jersey. Shhh, don’t tell NO ONE. www.ericvogelphoto.com 17. Jenn Bain misses the anticipation that came with home answering machines. Was there anything as sweet as a days wait for that blinking red light? 18. Kerri MacDonald is a journalist in Fort Greene. She’d like to challenge you to a game of Scrabble. (@kerrimac) 19. Erica Reitman is the brains (if you can call it that) behind the irreverent neighborhood blog Fucked in Park Slope. In her spare time she can be found obsessing over her Basset Hound Oliver, avoiding all of your children, and snapping undercover photos of freaks on the subway. 20. Jeff Brown: something about this wild, wild country/ it takes a strong, strong/ it breaks a strong, strong mind. 21. Lisa M. Collins had the brilliant idea to be a newspaper reporter when she graduated from college in 1995, down South, because clearly she doesn’t care about making money. No regrets: She’s been scaring middle-aged men for years, chasing around politicians and slumlords with a notebook and having lots of fun. Check out her occasional investigative reporting at her new news magazine: SouthBrooklynPost.com. 9
Film Biz Recycling
by Kerri MacDonald. photo by Marlene Rounds.
tall 20-something guy can’t help himself. He’s ogling a gold-framed Wham! Make It Big poster on the floor of the showroom at Film Biz Recycling on President Street between Third and Fourth Avenues in Gowanus. “Oh my God!” he yelps over his shoulder, taking a step back and clutching the sides of his face as the 1980s British duo stares back. “Unbelievable! Wham!! There’s this huge photo of Wham!!”
and Coca Cola. She didn’t like it. The amount of trash she had a part in making was making her uncomfortable. “It’s about making a mess, having a bunch of waste and not really getting any direction from anyone what to do with it,” Radke says of film production. “Some PAs drive around with a truck full of stuff and dump it illegally in their secret hiding places in Queens.” She never did that herself, right?
A reply comes from a fiery blonde woman standing a few feet away, in the employees-only section of the large warehouse space. “Wham, bam – I am a man, job or no job, you ain’t telling me what I am not,” she raps, channeling the 1983 George Michael classic. The lyrics are a little off, but she’s not skipping a beat. “It’s all yours,” she continues, auctioneer-style, “can be yours – the price is right.” The customer doesn’t seem to know how to respond to her. He blinks. “Oh my God,” he says again. A few seconds later, after the yelping eased, the woman, Eva Radke, turns to me. “We have that a lot,” she says, wide-eyed. Film Biz Recycling is populated with a younger crowd: couples out to decorate their apartments, curious thrift-scavengers looking for the perfect wrought-iron-whatever. It’s an ideal post-weekend brunch destination, says Radke, the 40-year-old owner. The merchandise ranges from large and eccentric pieces of furniture to packaged goodies, like “Fake Food in a Box” and “Mardis Gras in a Box.” (“I was that woman,” Radke says of a recent trip to New Orleans. “I was picking beads off the street and being like: ‘This is coming back to New York.’”) Many of the goods come from the film industry, where Radke worked for years before she made the transition to the eco-friendly, not-quiteantique shop. Almost everything is shockingly well priced and open to bartering. (Four mustard yellow diner glasses now sitting in my cupboard: $4.) And much of it is absolutely gorgeous. Radke leans back on one of two round, red velvet Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams chair-beds, two of the more impressive pieces in the room today. “Wouldn’t it be nice to nap in one of these?” she asks. If you’re looking to decorate à la Studio 54, they’re $1,000 a pop – but it’s negotiable, as is everything in the store. Radke grew up in Texas, and she retains a subtle twang. She moved to New York 17 years ago, two weeks after earning a degree in film theory. With dreams of working as a film critic, she got a job as a receptionist, and ultimately became an “art department coordinator extraordinaire,” doing commercials for Under Armour, Snickers,
“I did do that myself, yeah. I was 22-years-old, and we had a truck full of the garbage from the shoot. And basically it was like: ‘Get rid of it.’” Years later, Radke needed to escape this mentality in film production. She wanted to stop wasting so much stuff. In January 2007 she launched an online group called “Art Cube” for people “saying: ‘Oh my God, you guys, where do I get a 1970s Kenmore refrigerator?’” Radke said. “‘I need that by tomorrow morning.’” In 2009, Radke got a large warehouse space in Long Island City. Last December, she relocated to the current location, a few steps from the Union Street R stop. This is Film Biz 2.0. The next iteration (hypothetical, for now) includes 50,000 square feet that will be used to recycle, up-cycle, or otherwise cycle every bit of material used in film and stage production. All of it hinges on Radke’s premise about New York: “There’s nothing someone doesn’t want.” Late in the afternoon, a couple in their late twenties is browsing through a rack of linens. The guy, Justin Drury, works as a production assistant and runs a comedy channel on YouTube, DrCoolSex. The week before his visit, he worked on 24 Hour Restaurant Battle, a Food Network series that required contestants to convert an empty space into a restaurant in one day. “This would have been perfect,” says Drury, who frequents Build It Green!NYC in Queens and prop houses in Manhattan. Today, he had been looking for a hand jigsaw. His girlfriend, Angela Inferrera, a graphic designer, read about Film Biz in “some blog” on her RSS feed. He found his saw. These are the types of customers Radke covets. “I cannot stand star-fuckers,” she says, bluntly. She doesn’t want those looking for glitz or glam. She wants an average couple looking to decorate their apartment, or an eco-minded production company in need of affordable supplies. “We’re not Hollywood at all,” she says. “This is about re-use. This is about affordable beauty. This is not about, ‘This came off the set of Men In Black III.’”
Although it’s essentially a vintage shop, Film Biz doesn’t totally dispose of the stardust. A whiteboard on an easel at the front of the store advertises “<3 Recent Donors <3 – Gossip Girl! Book of Mormon! TV Land!” And the location – in a basement down a slope behind a locked gate with a buzzer – fosters an air of insiderness. “It’s part of our charm,” Radke explains. “You had to hear about it. Media has had to reach you somehow. Your finger has to be on the pulse.” Film Biz Recycling keeps about 40 percent of the stuff they acquire. Meanwhile, the other 60 percent goes right back out. Eighty unused IKEA pillows went to a nearby women’s shelter. Muslin, crayons and fake flowers went to Materials For The Arts. If something useful can be donated, it is. On my first visit, I heard about a recent donation – 10,000 plastic pit balls, worth about $3,000. This week, I meet Fritz Jean, the owner of Powerplay, an indoor playground. “The universe provides,” Jean says. Most bargain hunters with bizarre requests come from film industry hacks in need of something – anything. An adult male chicken suit. A giant, motorized disco ball. An electric chair. A refrigerator with its back removed. (That’s how you capture that beaming kid reaching for the Sunny D.) “It’s a skill to be able to let go of stuff,” says Marea Judilla, 29, a newly-hired Film Biz visual designer. “You fall in love with things and you have to let them go all the time.” The most recent object of her affection? “I like short, fat animal things,” she says, holding up a fake-porcelain rhinoceros and admiring his short, fatness. Nearby, another gem: a light-up holographic Jesus. Judilla is one of the employees charged with making Holographic Jesus fit nicely alongside a questionable rendition of The Last Supper. Or a box of Honey Nugget-Ohs. Whatever makes sense, aesthetically or thematically. Although there are similar efforts popping up in other cities – in New Orleans, Strike It Green, which rents out within the industry, and in Los Angeles, EcoSet Consulting, which works on-set to come up with green solutions – Film Biz might be the only business of its kind. And with shipments of vintage or simply leftover goodies coming in almost every day, things are going well. “The proof is in the Wham! poster that someone just flipped out over,” Radke says.
Film Biz Recycling takes donations and houses their retail shop at 540 President Street. www.filmbizrecycling.org 11
by Lisa M. Collins. photo by Robert Dupree.
met Brooklyn’s bar and restaurant baron, Theodore Mann, at the second bar he ever owned. At the corner of 7th Avenue and 15th Street, Bar 4 is an unpretentious hangout featuring overstuffed couches, a small performance stage, and the feel of a place where locals have slung suds for quite a long time. It’s hardly an indicator of what Mann would go on to do. Mann sat at the bar in jeans and a T-shirt. He jumped up with a big smile and shook my hand. Offered me a drink. He’s slim, in shape, with glasses and short hair—cleancut. He’s comfortable. Made eye contact. “Did you eat lunch? Where did you go?” he asked, turning off his phone.
a mechanic shop. Getting all the environmental and business permits was not easy, he said. Meetings were nearly constant. In addition to the beer garden, Mann is opening a 4,000-square-foot, Katz-style deli in Bay Ridge, called Gold Coast. It’ll feature traditional Jewish deli sandwiches, “an awesome pastrami, awesome corned beef, great pickles,” as well as nods to the local Italian community, with seafood entrees on Friday nights, Mann said.
place. Mann offered to spend the $33,000 needed to fix up the joint. He became a partner and turned the place around, maxing out his credit card in the process.
The sandwiches won’t be huge, and “they won’t be a $22.95 sandwich at Carnegie Deli.” Instead, Mann said, he’s hoping to attract a diverse and regular crowd. “I hope we get everyone,” he said.
Mann came up through the ranks, and he keeps his organization communal. Bartenders become owners, just like Mann did. The manager of Bar 4 is an owner in the beer garden. “There’s a lot of opportunity in the group,” Mann said. “What better thing than to have a bartender as an owner? The success is theirs, the cash register is theirs.” Mann said he doesn’t have a grand plan, or a desire to be a Brooklyn mogul. “I just get excited about projects, and people’s ideas,” he said. But after his new beer garden and Gold Coast, he said he’s finished. “Maybe you’ll call me in a month and I’ll be hiding out in Texas.”
Mann’s pretty laid back for a guy who’s built bars, music venues, and restaurants spanning across Brooklyn, from Bushwick to Smith Street, Bay Ridge to Greenpoint. His holdings include the popular and packed French-bistro, Cebu, in Bay Ridge; Cubana Social in Williamsburg; Matchless and No Name Bar in Greenpoint; Lone Wolf in Bushwick; and Camp and Apartment 138 on Smith Street in Cobble Hill.
Mann is sentimental about Bay Ridge. He grew up there, and lives there now. He says his pride and joy is Cebu, his first restaurant, a French-bistro serving food and drinks till late at night, modeled after Lucky Strike in SoHo. “The tables were full the first night,” Mann said. Before Cebu, there wasn’t much going on in Bay Ridge. “I want to open up Bay Ridge as a place for people to come and get a bite to eat.”
When we met, Mann was working on his most ambitious project to date: A colossal, 10,000-square-foot beer garden and private park, with a 3,000-square-foot interior bar and restaurant, just down the street from Bar 4. The South Slope project, not yet named, will sit at 555 7th Avenue, between 19th and 20th Streets. A former mechanic shop, it covers a city block. The beer garden will feature landscaping, trees, grass, tables, and a fire pit.
Mann’s energy for creating places to eat and drink is felt across King’s County. He’s part owner in 11 properties, owning 10 to 50 percent of each. He stops in at four or five places, five nights a week, to check on more than 100 employees. “Was a hand dryer fixed, was the fix-it guy sober, what went wrong last week and how do we make it better?” he said, rattling off his weekly chores. “It’s an intense workload. It’s a lot for the brain. I feel beaten up when I get home at night, no matter how wonderful the day has been.”
Mann was vague on details but told me enough to whet my whistle. His idea is for folks to sit on the grass and take in the sun while drinking from a large selection of craft beers. The theme is “green.” As opposed to a Germanstyle beer hall, this will be an urban park designed with an “enormous amount” of recycled materials. Look for wood, stone, gravel, and metals. The mechanic shop’s car lift will remain inside. Its use is to be determined. Mann commissioned a fireplace constructed of recycled metals for the interior dining room. “It looks amazing,” he said. Bands and live entertainment will be featured some nights of the week. “We want it to feel like a private park,” Mann said. “It’s an enormous place, and we want a comfortable flow inside to outside.” The food will be traditional American: hamburgers, hot dogs, watermelon, coleslaw. “Everything you’d take to a park, but on a higher scale,” Mann said. He said the beer garden “has been the toughest road,” of all his projects, due to the fact that it was
Recently, “vacation has never felt so sweet,” he said. “My girlfriend and I love to go into Manhattan. We’ll rent a room in a hotel. People will think we’re out of town, but we’re here, just relaxing.” Mann’s favorite hotels right now are The Greenwich Hotel in TriBeCa and The Bowery, partially because he loves the downstairs restaurants. In each of Mann’s holdings, he works with an ownership team that meets regularly. His main role, he said, is design and management. “From selecting where outlets will go to designing the kitchen,” Mann said. In 1997, Mann was a bartender. Now, he likes to say he wakes up early so he can make money late at night. Mann told me he tried on many hats during his 20s before settling on bar baron. He worked on Wall Street, making sure big client’s stocks were in order and properly insured. He tried acting in California. He was working as a bartender at Muses, in Bay Ridge, when his boss decided to close down the
His second place fell in his lap—a friend who visited him regularly at Muses owned Bar 4, at that time a lesbian dive bar. She handed Mann the keys, and told him he could have half of the bar if he’d fix it up. An empire was born.
Why Texas, you might ask? Well, on top of everything, Mann has become a media celeb. Turns out he discovered, last October, that’s he’s the long-lost son of Ted Nugent. Yes, Ted Nugent, whose ranch is in Texas. It’s kind of an amazing story. Mann grew up as the adopted son of a single mom from Bay Ridge, who had four biological children. Last year, Mann got a call from a woman who said she was his biological sister. Then, his dad, Ted Nugent, called. Dad and sister used a genealogy company to find Mann. The revelation, of course, turned Mann’s life upside down. “I grew up the youngest. Since my dad called me, I’m the oldest of nine.” Brooklyn Based, the local arts and culture blog, was the first to write about the Mann-Nugent story. It quickly went “viral,” Mann said. Time Out, Forbes, Field & Stream, and legions of others picked it up. Shortly before I interviewed Mann, he’d sat down with a writer from The New Yorker. “I’m still embracing the whole thing,” Mann said. “I just met my blood line.” With Nugent, the colossal beer garden and Jewish deli projects, Mann is emotionally spent. “This has been the most insane six months,” Mann said. “This is where I’m thinking I take time out, take a breath.” “No more projects,” he said. Then he pauses a minute. “My mom doesn’t believe me.”
by Jenn Bain. photo by Jesse Brown.
uke Riley checks the freezer in his Union Street apartment and sees that his frozen fish supply will last him a little while longer. “I wanted to have enough to get me through the winter,” he says, pulling out a porgy that he caught in the East River. His apartment is large and airy and looks like someone is either moving out of it or has just moved in. But in fact Riley has lived here for over ten years. He admits that he has mercury poisoning. But he says it could be from the chemicals he uses in his work. Not from the bluefish, striped bass or other fish he catches from the piers in along the Brooklyn Waterfront. He will cook up the porgy for dinner in a little while. Riley does not like to call himself a performance artist, although his work is often staged, and he uses the world outside of a gallery to display his work. He is more as a modern day historian. He draws and creates mosaics. He tattoos people. He even practices the old art of scrimshaw, the engraving of whale teeth and bone started as a pastime by whalers biding their time on the high seas. Around Red Hook, Riley’s known as the water guy. And for good reason. Clipper ships, mermaids, lighthouses, nautical flags, and crashing waves are often part of the intricately drawn pieces he creates on canary paper or on skin. His drawings tell a story. If he were born a long time ago his skill could be used as a cartographer. But it was a homemade submarine, launched from the shore in Red Hook, that made him a known figure among the cops and the old timers. Yet, Riley doesn’t consider water to be the primary theme of his work. “A lot of the projects that I do have to do with the waterfront because that’s usually the oldest part of the city and typically the most chaotic,” he says. “If you’re trying to uncover something sort of bizarre, chances are that anything really fucked up and bizarre that happened in a place happened down by the waterfront.” Take An Invitation to Lubberland, for example, Riley’s project based on a small piece of “paradise” in Cleveland where hobos created a shantytown alongside a river. Riley traveled by freight train to where the bank of the river once ran. Through mosaic and video, he told the story of a serial killer who took to chopping up hobos and disposing their parts downstream, and the town’s subsequent solution of bringing in Eliot Ness, burning the village, displacing the men, and redirecting the river underground.
Riley has lived in Red Hook now for the last 14 years and his current digs are down the block from the Buttermilk Channel, which runs into the East River. Riley has two sailboats, a couple of kayaks, and a few dinghies. “You only have to register a boat if it has an engine,” he says. He keeps the kayaks on the roof of his car for lack of a better place, but is hesitant to say where he keeps his other boats. He says he doesn’t like to draw too much attention to them. Riley does count himself among the growing number of city dwellers who use the water for recreation – swimming in the East River, boating to Swinburne Island, dropping anchor between Roosevelt and Belmont Islands and casting a line. In a Bloomberg-era New York heavy on rules and regulations, the laws of the water are, for now, fluid. And he likes them that way. “I think there’s a lot of different interpretations to the law,” Riley says. “Technically, it’s probably illegal to swim in the waters [from shore]. But if you jump off a boat, it’s totally legal. If you launch a boat, then you can jump off and swim anywhere you want and no one can say anything about it.” Riley has broken the law a few times creating his work. He once boated to Belmont Island – a tiny, man-made island sanctioned as a bird habitat across from the United Nations – and raised a 21-foot long flag to reclaim the island for the people, right under the nose of those responsible for the security of the 2004 Republican National Convention. He built a makeshift bar underneath a Belt Parkway overpass with driftwood and bottles taken from what Riley says was a shantytown between Rockaway Inlet and Dead Horse Bay. The bar, a one-night-only affair with booze served for a nickel, was broken up by the police. Then there was the time he took over Petty Island, a small island in the Delaware River owned by the Venezuela oil company CITGO. In a body of work titled Reclaiming the Lost Kingdom of Laird, Riley acted as a sort of pirate crossed with a social worker, finding and documenting the rightful heirs to the island—descendants of Ralston Laird, a 19th century Irish immigrant farmer. Riley rowed a boat and bypassed the island’s watchman, making it to the backside of the island where he scaled a gas drum and quietly painted a 58-foot portrait of Laird in the style of a Kate Middleton commemorative plate. He then wrote an open letter to Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez asking that the island be
returned to the successors of a pig farmer, instead of Chavez’s plan to give it to New Jersey. “I never heard back from him,” Riley says with shrug. “I actually thought I would. He likes attention, and I thought he would have some appreciation of wacky art projects.” Even with work in art museums in Brooklyn, Queens, and Toledo, it may be scoring the cover of two New York tabloids that put Riley on most people’s radars. In 2007, he built a plywood submarine and launched it in Red Hook, testing the homeland security of the Queen Mary 2, which docks nearby. The security was good and Riley found himself surrounded by harbor police and the next morning under two similar headlines declaring him “sub-moronic.” Finding himself adorning the cover of the Post and the Daily News was, “definitely not a personal goal of mine,” he says, adding, “some stuff I do is illegal, some isn’t. People think I’m provocative and always causing trouble. That’s not always the case.” And now the man who, at times, plays New York City officials like a fiddle is working for them with an illustrated poster in our subway cars and an outdoor station on Beach 98th Street in Rockaway, soon to be remodeled with his design. The poster is so detailed and delicate that if you find yourself looking at it during a rush hour commute it’ll take you a few stops to find its an homage to the illfated Sludgy, Gowanus’s own Minke whale, and also the Coney Island rabbits. The station, titled Be Good or Be Gone will use Riley’s design in faceted glass. Images representing the waterfront community include those damn Piping Plovers, bungalows, and nautical flags with patterns meaning “you are running into danger” and “man overboard.” As far as doing something else illegal while representing the MTA or the city, Riley doesn’t seem to care. “That’s not my problem,” he says. “I’m not running for president. I didn’t misrepresent myself in any way.” But, he adds, “I don’t think I’m going to do anything in the next year that is going to be so upsetting that the MTA feels like they have to take down all of the posters and distance themselves from me.”
For more information about Duke Riley's previous and upcoming projects, visit his website at www.dukeriley.info 15
Come and Enjoy Our Outdoor Garden
- aquila ursus galactinus aug massage therapy collective
& prenatal massage, massage for management of stress & pain, and acupressure & energy work
deep tissue, medical
By appointment at plaza wellness 36 Plaza Street, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn www.augmassagecollective.com
by Colin Weatherby. photos by Eric Vogel.
regorio Rodriguez (whose portrait appears on the facing page) collects scrap metal for a living. He and I planned to meet at the McDonald’s on Vanderbilt and Atlantic. It was pouring rain and I could see his smiling face glued up against the glass, waiting for my arrival. Soaked to the bone, I stepped inside while he excitedly cleared a table and wiped away a mess of spilled ketchup. I bought Big Macs and coffees. Gregorio wore a crisp button-down, a clean shave, and hard-soled shoes. I had been warned on the phone that he intended to dress up for the interview. A leather satchel sat in his lap overflowing with dog-eared forms and applications. He is currently applying to go to college. Beside him was a small backpack filled with wrenches, screwdrivers, work gloves, and band-aids. Forty-six years old, thin, and muscular with a rapid-fire Nuyorican patois, Gregorio could have passed for a man half his age. He slipped effortlessly between English, Spanish, and energetic shouts when the words escaped him. I silently tallied in my notebook as he tore open fourteen packets of sugar for his coffee, stirring them violently into a creamy whirlpool. Niceties were exchanged, and he told a few brief war stories about growing up in the Bronx. A hearty laugh erupted after discovering that we live three blocks apart in Bed-Stuy. With the ice broken, we got down to business. How’d you get started with scrapping?
When I came here five years ago, I was living in the shelter, and one Jamaican guy, this old man, worked for a building installing concrete. I told him about my experience, and I say ‘yo, if you have a job, you know me’ and he say ‘ok, where you live at?’ and I say I live in the shelter, the big shelter there on Atlantic. You hear people from the shelter? You hear the bad things? Oye, the shelter. Oh my God! So he say, ‘you can handle it?’ I was like, ‘Yeah!’ and he showed me. I do pretty well and I keep it. Day by day, I see when we do demolition of kitchens and that. I see him cut some pipes, put them on the side. Put them in the van. He go and sell it and don’t give me nothing! I say ok and start to do something. I say, ‘wow, this shit is good!’ I still have connection with that guy. Where do you find your stuff ? I take it in some areas around here. Some supers have buildings where they give me a chance to have the big stuff, and I take it. If I can’t handle it that day because it's heavy or something, I call some guys that have a little spot. They say, ‘come come come!’ and I drop it in there. I cut it, take the most valuable part, and put it on my cart. Other parts I throw away. What kinds of things are you looking for? The most valuable parts are brass, copper, and aluminium. Brass is the most one. Oh my God, almost two dollars, $2.35, maybe $2.90 a pound! You bring them like 50, 70, or 150 pounds? Yo,
believe me: you have a cart with 150 pounds of brass, you’ve made maybe half a week! What kind of stuff has brass in it? Faucets, pipes, a lot of decoration like for bathrooms. Some signs for things, for the founders of businesses like the people who own a building, like if they put a plaque or something. That’s a real heavy one. Yo, I got two plates like that from that church. You see that church right there? I take it and go ‘ding ding ding’ on it. Yes. They don’t know what they throw away! Oh my God, like 25 or 30 pounds: both plates. Almost 40 pounds! That’s when you treat yourself to a nice dinner. Yeah! You ever hurt yourself ? Yeah. Just a couple times. You remind me something. It happened the other day. [shows cut on finger] I tried to bend back something. Ha. All right, thank you for remind me! How about the other scrappers, do you get along with all of them? Haha. [shakes head]. They’re the competition. Uh huh. Exactly. 21
Did you ever get in a fight with a guy over stuff ? I do bottles and plastics and cans. Sometimes you need to watch out when you go to the machine. Some people that do it don’t be aware. And when we go to the place to sell the scrap, we need to watch: because the guy with the pencil, if you no take your attention, he wrote on the fucking paper a cable to the company. You know what I’m saying? Fucking, I say, ‘yo wait a minute, I see eighty-nine pounds, why you put fifty-three?’ He say, ‘oh, sorry, sorry’. Bullshit. What advice do you give to someone that wants to start scrapping? My advice, ok: You need to learn the machines. Ok, if you go by machine at Met Supermarket everyday, you need to know what kind of bottles that machine accepts every day. It not always take the bottles, I never know. I can go, and I find seven bags of beer, I no take all of those. I know which one goes inside the machine. Because you can go and you put it inside it say, ‘no acepte, no acepte, no
acepte’. You stay all day to hang around with a lot of bags. Ok. The big news is about what happening in bottles: they put now in the system the water bottle. This not happen before! They used to give you nothing. You know how many people in Park Slope drink water like that? You go in the trash, is about 20 or 30 bottles of water. How much is that? A nickel a bottle? A nickel a bottle! This magazine is read mostly by young white kids in Park Slope. If you were going to say something to them, as a scrapper, what would you say? Ok. I say, I am the man to clean the... how you say? The geo? You know the geo? I don’t know how to say in English. Ecologia? Ecology? Ecology! I do something for the Ecology. That’s what I tell them. Yeah. I am the Ecology Man. That’s the word.
Sad Stories (by funny people)
omedians would try and make you weep, if they thought it’d make you like them more. In reality, comics are probably sadder than you. Many were picked on in the lunchroom and picked last on the ball field. Some are more tormented than others. In the end, they need you. Even though you probably suck, you complete them and their twisted performance art. What’s sadder than that? OVERFLOW invited local joke-smith Kurt Braunohler (co-host of Hot Tub with Kurt and Kristen at Littlefield in Gowanus) to lay on our couch and tell us a sad, true story. Really, we just hope Kurt feels better now. --Jonathan Ritzman Poppin’ bottles in the ice, like a blizzard When we drink we do it right g’tting’ slizzard Sippin’ sizzurp in my ride, like Three 6 Now I’m feelin’ so fly like a G6 Like a G6, Like a G6 Now I’m feelin’ so fly like a G6. - “ Like a G6” by The Far East Movement
his may be a sad story. And what better way to start a potentially sad story than with one of the worst songs recorded in the 21st century. “Like a G6” is an aggressively stupid song that celebrates bottle service, getting drunk, and the inability to rhyme the word “six” with any word other than itself. And I love it. In fact, I’m listening to it on repeat right now. But I didn’t always feel that way. Early last summer, I was blissfully unaware of the existence of “Like a G6.” That was a time in my life I like to call “July.” I had just broken up with my Australian Carney Girlfriend (ACG) and started dating a 21-year-old (let’s call her Renee). I was 34 at the time. In a span of a few weeks I quickly went from feeling like Australia’s celebrated actor/artist Yahoo Serious in Young Einstein to Woody Allen in Manhattan. When people hear that you’re dating a 21-year-old at my age, the response is roughly divided down gender lines. Ladies think you’re a horrible person and dudes are too busy giving you constant high fives to say much of anything. But in reality, they’re both wrong. The guys who think it’s awesome that I could “bag” a 21-year-old “chick” think that it’s cool that I somehow beat out other 21-year-old 24
story by Kurt Braunohler photos by Walker Esner.
boys for this privilege. Well, that’s exactly correct: I beat out other 21-year-old boys. Talk about a hollow victory. If you know how to use deodorant and don’t bring 40s to parties, you’re doing better than the average 21-year-old boy. And if you have a job, well, you’re basically an astronaut in comparison. I remember when I was 21-years-old. I had a fully shaved head with just two horns sculpted out of a cockscomb like tuft of hair on my forehead. My political views consisted of yelling the word fuck a lot, and my diet consisted of bags of UTZ potato chips filled with the free chili and cheese at 7-11 and then squeezed into my mouth like a disgusting charcuterie toothpaste. Being more attractive than a 21-year-old boy is like being more attractive than an orangutan wearing suspenders. (Actually, that sounds adorable… make him covered in shit, too.) And for the ladies that think that I’m a horrible person merely for contemplating this act, let me defend myself (however poorly.) First off, Renee was NOT in college. She had graduated early. When I asked her out I thought she was 24. And, finally, she was very mature for her age. There. I said it. I said the thing that you end up saying when you date someone significantly younger than you. “She’s really mature.” I caught myself saying that. Also, the amazing, “Guys, she’s 21-andthree-quarters.” Yes, I actually said that, too. I had become officially creepy, and, OK, I was a bit uncomfortable with it. Renee and I talked about the age difference a lot, but she didn’t care. And I have to admit, I really did like her. She was smart and savvy and well traveled and funny. We had a good time together. I was just out of a long-term relationship and was severely confused and hurt. I was having fun and so was she. About three weeks after our first date, I took a road trip to visit one of my oldest friends, Stu, who lived in Baltimore. I had lived in Charm City in the mid 1990s. I loved and still love that city. But, if I’m honest, I also kind of hate it. Baltimore has a weird way of creating a complex relationship between itself and the people who live there. I always like to say that I think of Baltimore the way I think of my autistic, alcoholic cousin: most of the time I’m like, “What are you doing?” Then every once in a while I’m like, “That IS how many nickels are in that jar! You’re a little bit of magic, aren’t you Baltimore?” Fifteen minutes after beginning my drive to Baltimore I realized I had forgotten my music. So I started scanning the radio stations. Somewhere
around the Molly Pitcher rest stop on the Jersey Turnpike I heard it for the first time: Poppin’ bottles in the ice, like a blizzard, When we drink we do it right getting’ slizzard. I shuddered. “Did they just invent a word to rhyme with blizzard?” I thought. I said a prayer for modern music and kept driving, kept scanning. I then proceeded to hear that song six times in a four-hour span. I began going through what I can only imagine are the emotional stages of grief after being taken hostage. At first I was in denial: “No! No! There is no way that this is actually a popular song!” Next, came Anger: “Rhyming the word six with itself over and over?! Are you kidding me?!” I would spend countless minutes yelling words that rhymed with six: fix, mix, kicks, sticks, licks, spicks (Accidentally racist!). Next, came Acceptance: “Our culture is in a nose dive toward ultimate destruction, and this is the song they will play on the deck of our Titanic, as we sink into the icy depths of environmental, spiritual, and mental self destruction.” And then, finally, in a perfect Stockholm Syndrome moment, I started to identify with my captor and began singing along. Soon I was unconsciously turning it up when it came on the radio. It had done what all pop songs from the beginning of time have done – beaten down my conscious defenses and infected my brain with its vapid, hooky refrain. By the time I got to Baltimore, I was ready to tell Stu, “Let’s get slizzard!” Stu was one of those friends that had defined me as a teenager. In high school he was the kid we all looked up to, not in a leadership way, but in an artistic way. He was intense and funny and achingly truthful and the first person to show us that you could live your life by being creative. If it weren’t for him, I would not be a making my living as a performer today. He was also one of those friends who, no matter how long it had been since I had last saw him, we just picked up where we left off. And since we are both terrible at keeping in touch with each other, we were almost arrogant about how our relationship was so special we could just snap back into it no matter how much time had passed. I anticipated an easy reunion. But from the minute I met up with Stu, I could tell something was off. He seemed uncomfortable. I chalked it up to the fact that I had been hanging out with too many comedians – loud, brash people who have an almost sociopathic need to make jokes at all times. Maybe I was coming off as too “on.” In reality, I was just excited to see him and I was joking and being loud, as is my wont.
I figured if we had a beer and took a walk that would lubricate the situation. It didn’t. There was a wall up, where there had not been one before. And I didn’t understand it. I kept ignoring it all day, continually trying to just wait it out. We talked about his daughter, and his running, and his new girlfriend. We talked about the Scandinavian speed metal he was obsessed with, but nothing seemed to connect. I tried to just tell him about my life at the moment. How I felt a bit lost. Getting out of the relationship I felt like I just lost two years of my life, and I constantly questioned whether or not I had what it takes to become a seriously successful comedian. I told him about this 21-year-old girl I was dating, and I wondered aloud what that meant. I told him that for the first time, things seemed like I was at a point of no return, that I couldn’t start over. I needed to continue working with the decisions I had made up until now. And this was a new feeling for me.
And then, I heard it: Sippin’ sizzurp in my ride, like Three 6, Now I’m feelin’ so fly like a G6.
still, I was so thankful for her, and I really wanted to see her.
“Oh, sizzurp, whatever you are, you’ll get me home, right?” I told myself, “It’s not so bad. This is just a new stage of my life. It’s just scary because it’s new.” And about the third time that “Like a G6” played during my ride, somewhere around the John Fenwick rest stop off the Jersey Turnpike, I had a panic attack. I had never had one before. I thought I was maybe having a heart attack and had taken acid at the same time.
In the morning the panic attack had faded and I actually felt sunny. Things were going to be OK! I’m going to go to the beach and go surfing with my girl, I thought. It will be great. It was a Sunday morning and the traffic into the city was light. I made plans with Renee to meet me at Rockaway Beach. She was excited. So was I.
Things were going to be OK. After I had been waiting about an hour, my cell phone rang. The caller ID read Renee, but when I picked it up it was Renee’s brother. He was at the hospital. He explained that Renee had just been admitted into the psychiatric floor at New York Presbyterian. He said she had a “break with reality.” I asked if she was OK. He said she was, but that she was going to be staying there for a few days. I thanked him and asked him to let me know if he found out anything else. I hung up.
Stu listened. He talked as well. But we were just not connecting like we used to. It seemed like, for the first time, we were in such different places that maybe we couldn’t relate. He had gone through a divorce and had a daughter. He was living in a share house and writing a zine on running (yes, a zine; he’s a child of the Pacific Northwest in the 1990’s). It was no one’s fault, but there was a gap between us that seemed too wide to jump. But I was still determined to hurdle it. I thought I knew what we needed. We needed to get some beers and get drunk and listen to music and yell and walk and drink more beer. The old classic. But Stu said he had to wake up early to go running. I asked if I could sleep over at his place, but he recommended staying at a friend’s down the road. I didn’t understand. At 9 p.m. I stood there, outside the front of his house, keys in hand, asking if he really thought I should leave. And he said, “If I were you I’d drive back tonight. You know, it’s easier.” And so I gave him a hug. I got in the car. And I started to drive home. As I drove away, I felt like I everything I knew about my life was in flux. I’ve always defined myself through my close friends and I had just lost a girlfriend who had been my world for the past two years, and now I felt like I had lost a connection to who I had been. I felt like I no longer knew who I was. I was adrift, cut off from my present and my past. 26
I got all the stuff we’d need for a day at the beach: umbrella, surfboard, cooler, blankets, beer, sunscreen. I got a perfect spot on the edge of the surfing beach so we could go swimming or surfing. I was at my beach. A place I felt at home and comfortable in.
I felt like my chest was being crushed and the road stretched out far too long in front of me. Too long and stretchy for me to drive on it. I had to pull over. I got out of the car and took deep breaths. I called friends. I waited. I drank water. Then I got back in and started to drive. The same thing happened again and again. Finally around 1 a.m., an hour outside of the city, I had to pull into a hotel and stay for the night, even though I couldn’t afford it. In the hotel room, with my whole world seemingly coming apart at the seams, I texted Renee. I asked if she would like to go to the beach in the morning. She said she’d love to. Thank God. I still have Renee. I still have a 3-week-old, questionable relationship with a 21-year-old girl. Oh boy. But
I was too stunned to move. I felt like my legs wouldn’t work. I hoped Renee was OK. (Later, I learned she was.) I realized that I knew almost nothing about this young woman who had, that day, become my imagined savior. I was scared for her. I was ashamed at myself. I didn’t know her and I didn’t know myself. I had become completely unanchored, sitting alone, paralyzed, at Beach 89th St in Rockaway, Queens. And then, from a family’s boom box directly behind me, came that welcome refrain: Now I’m feelin’ so fly like a G6. And I snapped to. I got up. I started walking toward the water. Like a G6, like a G6. And I just kept walking. Kurt lives in Ditmas Park and co-hosts the Brooklyn comedy institution Hot Tub with Kurt and Kristen atLittlefield (622 Degraw St.) every Monday at 8pm. And the monthly late-night talk show Night of the Living with Kurt Braunohler at P.I.T. in the city.
ThereĘźs a place for everyone
Not just a space that they fit into â&#x20AC;&#x201C; but a real place, one that caters to their specific needs, tastes and budget. At Realty Collective we believe Brooklyn is the greatest place to live, to create, and grow. 223 Columbia Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231 phone 718.834.1440
* commercial & social * * custom letterpress *
by Megan Izen. photos by Sarah Wilmer.
avitri Durkee waved and blew a kiss to her husband, the handcuffed Bill Talen, aka Reverend Billy. Lights flashed and the squad car pulled away from 51st Street and toward the Metro North police station. Savi, as she’s known to her inner-circle, is used to this. She hopped on the F Train to their Windsor Terrace apartment and their then eight-month-old daughter Lena Nightstar to wait for his release. Reverend Billy is not afraid to go to jail. Most “Buy Nothing Days,” a protest to the Black Friday shopping bonanza that punctuates the holiday season, end this way. It’s old hat in the ten years he has been taking on the big bad guys of consumerism performing as a revivalist preacher along with an ever-growing choir. The church’s name has changed through the years, but their message of anti-consumerism has held strong. And while most men entering their 60s might be thinking about retirement, Rev, as he’s fondly referred to by friends and followers alike, seems like he’s just getting into a groove. At 61, he’s the father of a toddler, he’s going up against bigger bad guys (and winning), writing more books and still sees the tombs just as much, if not more, than he did a decade ago. All in the name of his unwavering commitment to justice. On a crisp November day last year, Reverend Billy swung open the door to Crossroads Cafe on Prospect Avenue, slightly out of breath, bike helmet in hand. He tousled his hair as he made his way to a table and sat down. He quickly bounced up to order a bagel and healthy dose of caffeine. Rev almost looked like any other 60-year-old guy in a café (other than the fact that he could pass for a 40-something average Joe): just a t-shirt and jeans, rather than the clerical collar and two-piece suit he dons for performances. The absence of 28
an entourage of choir members or show clothes doesn’t make Rev any less recognizable.
something,” he told Scanga. “That’s our kind of neighborhood heroism.”
As he started to talk branding and consumerism, a young man carrying his daughter ordered coffee from the counter and kept glancing over in Rev’s direction. As the man went to leave, he tried to get Olive, his young daughter, to wave goodbye to everyone in the coffee shop. This caught Rev’s attention. Olive's around the same age as his own daughter, Lena. A conversation about Olive’s hat quickly turned to the Rev’s work.
There is no event too small when it comes to honoring people and organizations with a local focus. Localujah! as Rev puts it. It seems like he can’t go anywhere without adding more to the Reverend Billy performance plate. Starting in late January, Rev and the choir had weekly services at Theatre 80 in the East Village. For twenty Sundays through one of the city’s coldest winters and into spring, they took the stage to canonize justice leaders like the Yes Men and former ACORN director Bertha Lewis, at the Church of Earthalujah.
“You’re Reverend Billy, right?” the man asks. “Yessir.” They bantered back and forth a bit about the upcoming Buy Nothing Day. Rev had been getting some pushback from choir members about being at Macy’s for their 4 a.m. opening. He thought that he might have to be out on 34th Street protesting alone this year—choir members weren’t thrilled about the bone-chilling cold so early before a long day of protests. Even if choir members (much younger than he), didn’t want to brave the cold and early morning hours, he would be there. “Sounds like some of the organizations I’m involved with,” the man told Rev. So, naturally, Rev asked his name. It turned out this man was Bill Scanga, president of the City Reliquary Museum and Civic Organization in Williamsburg. Scanga described it to Rev as a nonprofit, D-I-Y museum that collects remnants of New York City. “Sounds like we should be there for an event with the choir to celebrate your anniversary or
“He will stop you. He will shock you. He will test you. He will bless you,” belted out choir director James Solomon Benn while shiny, green robe-clad choir members clapped in unison behind him. “Children, give up all your sin, cause he’s our Rever-end. Reverend Billy!” For that early April sermon, Rev, with his perfectly coiffed pompadour and white suit, made his way through the audience and down the stairs to the Theater 80 stage. He danced across the stage with choir members as they finished up We Will Never Shop Again, their opening number. After songs about corporate cronies, fracking and mountaintop removal, a shopping seizure (the choir was able to bring Rev back from the brink of buying more hair products), and the canonization of performer Justin Vivian Bond, Rev called environmentalist Tim DeChristopher to the stage. DeChristopher was immediately engulfed by a sea of green as the choir members surround him while singing When the Saints Go Marching In.
“When the saints come marching in, I wanna march with Tim DeChristopher!” Rev crooned at him. Rev admires the courage of other activists who are willing to go to extremes to protect the environment, fight for worker’s rights, immigrant rights, and the list goes on. Just a week before, DeChristopher was convicted on two felony counts for interfering with and misrepresenting himself at a government auction to save 22,000 acres of Utah land from being sold to gas companies by the Bush Administration. “We’re in a time where progressive figures are lonely, and few and far between,” Rev once said. “Code Pink. Yes Men. There are just not that many of us.” Back at Crossroads, Rev leaned in and started singing a hymn he, Durkee, and the choir were writing for Church of Earthalujah services. Pow-er! I think there’s something burnin’. Pow-er! How deep have we been drillin’. Pow-er, the mountains are explodin’. Tar-zan’s frack-ing mountain-tops. Earth is saying consuming’s got to stop. Earth is speaking, do you speak earth? Got to listen hard, put our ear to the dirt. Got to listen hard, put our ear to the dirt. It was listening to the earth that brought Rev to the lobby of one of the oldest banks in the country last September. Two blocks from the White House, Rev, 15 choir members, and a handful of Appalachians and Quakers staged a “friendly seizure” of PNC Bank during an Appalachia Rising parade. They brought a mound of dirt from one of the mountains threatened by mountaintop removal, a practice used to mine coal that destroys local communities and water supplies, and dumped it smack in the middle of the bank. They sang and danced in the lobby until the parade caught up and thousands of Appalachians stood outside singing with them. “That image may have gotten up to the decision makers in the executive suites,” Rev said about PNC. “They changed completely.” Less than a month after the parade and bank seizure, PNC announced an overhaul of their mountaintop removal funding practices. Not all the behemoths Rev goes after listen. One foe in particular almost brought him to his knees. In 2009, he entered the political machine to fight the most powerful man in New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who was running for a third term. Rev became the Green Party candidate for mayor of New York. All
of his and his wife’s energy and resources were dumped into the quixotic campaign and getting the 17,000 signatures needed to get him on the ballot and on stage to debate Mayor Bloomberg. Rev took his message of neighborhood-focused city government to subway cars, street corners, and even the blasphemous Starbucks that he had spent years attacking. Hundreds of volunteers fanned out across the city collecting those precious signatures. When the deadline crept nearer and nearer, it looked like they were going to make the mark. And after careful counting, they did. They gathered 17,311 signatures. But at a price. Some choir members were unhappy because traditional politics wasn’t what drew them to Rev Billy. Non-campaign choir performances got pushed to the backburner while they were in full swing mayoral mode. Durkee got terribly ill with swine flu. The stress of the campaign—struggling to raise money and manpower to maintain headquarters—landed Rev in an emergency room with a heart arrhythmia. “The atmosphere is toxic,” Rev reflected on his foray into traditional politics. And all that for what? In the end, Bloomberg refused to take the stage if Rev was on it. But Rev and Durkee emerged from the depths of despair with a renewed sense of purpose and clarity. Fast-forward two years. Banks and
Wall Street are now Rev and the Church’s prime targets. He’s traded in the exorcisms of Starbucks cash registers to demand fair trade coffee and preaching inside the Disney Store to protest child sweatshops, for the lobbies of banks like Chase, PNC and UBS to bring a halt to their funding of mountaintop removal.
as he was surrounded by angels. They all hit the ground, caroling the whole way down. When the dust settled, Rev and the choir exited the lobby peacefully and headed to 50th Street. Around the corner from UBS, Rev, Durkee, and the remaining choir members feasted on cake to celebrate a successful Buy Nothing Day.
On Buy Nothing Day, Rev and the choir dressed in all white. Choir members wore painted-white cardboard angel wings. They sang their way through the lobbies of what Rev calls the “canyon of banks,” the blocks on Broadway south of Columbus Circle where it’s hard to take a step in any direction and not fall into a bank. Most tellers and bank managers stood and watched as the choir performed among the ATMs and teller windows. Some even pulled out their cell phones to snap photos of the unusual crew. They weren’t welcomed warmly, but they were able to get at least one anti-consumerism carol in before being kicked out.
That’s when the police showed up with UBS henchmen. A few minutes later, Rev was handcuffed and being marched back toward UBS. Police officers mumbled quietly into their radios while Durkee and supporters demanded a reason for his detainment. But they didn't get one. The police said that Rev was being taken to the Metro North police station, but they didn’t know the charge.
Until they hit UBS. Men in black suits complete with ear buds, more reminiscent of CIA agents than bank security swarmed the group the second they entered the glass doors of UBS. The harmonies of the choir and Rev on his bullhorn reverberated throughout the space. The men in black chased Rev and the choir from one side of the lobby to the other until they cornered them by one of the exits. They knew to go for the leader and went for Rev. Security guards grabbed at him
That’s when Savitri blew her kiss. This wasn’t the first time nor would it be the last. He had many more run-ins with law enforcement coming at this rate. Six months later, Rev once again spent a long night in the tombs. He got cuffed and hauled away for preaching at a Lincoln Center guerilla drive-in protesting the billionaire Koch Brother’s. This time, Durkee and Lena were together on the Upper West Side to wave goodbye and go home to wait for Rev’s release. “I’m at a point in my life where you realize it’s a long race,” said Rev Billy. “It could end at any moment, there are snipers in the hills. So just lengthen your stride, relax into it.” 33
375 9th Street at 6th Avenue in Park Slope Open Monday - Friday: 10:30-7pm, Saturday 10-6pm, Sunday 11-5pm 718-768-2453 www.bklynbikes.com
637 Vanderbilt Between Prospect Pl. and St. Marks
Sun - Thurs: 11:30am - 11pm Fri and Sat: 11:30am - 12am
by Jesse Cataldo. photos by Adam Krause.
estled on an unassuming stretch of Court Street, Black Gold occupies one of the most desirable locations in Brooklyn. Smack dab between Frankie’s Sputino and Prime Meats, two imposing citadels of impenetrable, no-reservations dining, the place sits like a honey trap, waiting to draw foot traffic and discouraged diners into its confines. Inside they’ll find one of the strangest, coziest shops in the neighborhood, one which claims a refreshingly strict curatorship over all that is cool and weird. Beyond co-owner Sommer Santoro’s promise “to provide a warm and welcoming place to get great coffee, flip through a great vinyl selection, and find unique antiques and folk art,” Black Gold works because it delivers on all of its concepts. One year after the store’s May 2010 opening, it feels like a pillar of high-minded, low-culture quality in a city that’s increasingly careful about what it consumes. The shop’s three-pronged approach, offering slow-drip coffee, bizarre antiques and well-chosen records, prizes atmosphere first and foremost, a decision that makes the tiny space feel inviting despite its size. Even with all four walls bedecked with odd objects, a small smattering of chairs and an oppressively large velvet curtain slung across the back of the store, it still feels like the perfect place for spending time. This didn’t happen by accident. Thirtyone-year-old Santoro, who worked previously as a bartender and sign painter, describes the store as a “curio cabinet.” She adds, “It’s pretty much my living room, albeit much larger and cleaner.” With help from co-owner Jeff Ogiba, 30, Santoro represents the sunny front for a place that’s strongly reliant on personality and charm. To stand inside 36
Black Gold on a warm Sunday afternoon is to watch a neighborhood in motion, people flowing in and out, stopping in briefly to chat, browse, and sip. In keeping with the store’s carefullyshaped image, its name came from a bit of finessing. “We originally threw the idea of calling ourselves Black Diamond around,” says Ogiba. “But once we realized that we were better off not associating with the title of a Kiss song or an extreme ski slope grade, the idea of Black Gold’ came about.” It’s a concept that clicked. “To us,” Ogiba continues, “it flawlessly encompasses the concept of the perfect cup of coffee, the timeless vinyl album, and the overall feel of our gold rush-goneoccult decor.” This was the first step in an approach that seems unique and also staggeringly obvious. By combining some of today’s most openly fetishized objects, two of them fodder for fervent collectors, the other fuel for shoppers of all kinds, Black Gold serves three different but entirely interlaced needs. Most coffee shops offer space to sprawl out, giving their customers room to concoct their own forms of relaxation. Black Gold provides the initial lure of something concrete to do, by browsing a cross between a museum and a record store. The three sides of the Black Gold triangle each have a thoughtful provenance, steeped in a mixture of local and personal connections. The coffee, from Rook Roasters in Oakhurst, New Jersey, is delicately prepared, dripped into in saucered cups that sit waiting in a neat line. Each cup is ground and brewed to order. The food, a mixture of pastries and baked goods, comes from fellow city vendors. Breakfast and snacks, such as plantain bread cakes, savory muffins and a custom ‘black gold’ bar are sourced
from SCRATCHbread in Bed-Stuy, with organic cookies coming from Sarivole Organic Bakery on the Lower East Side. The antiques are collected by Santoro’s husband Daniel, a full-time tattoo artist with an interest in old-fashioned bric-a-brac, one that, as the shop shows, often skews toward taxidermy. He sets out every so often on collecting expeditions, heading off to personally wrangle the types of things you won’t usually find on e-Bay. This labor gives the shop its character, a lightly creepy mix of Americana, Victorian excess and aged knickknacks. The for-sale nature of the shop’s decorative element assures it will be constantly changing. Items like an ornamental bird cage or a deer, mounted to make hangers of all four of its hooves, are pricey but not excessively so, with much of the taxidermy lingering in the $100 range. They’re affordable enough to allow a consistent flow of
items, which grants the store’s walls a tidal sense of transformation. The last side of the triangle is the music, which fills the shop, both in the packed crates that border the coffee counter and the turntable lazily spinning in the corner. “The bulk of the store’s inventory is a fairly honest reflection of our collective taste,” Ogiba says. “Our roots are in punk, garage, and hardcore. But we dig deep to fill the shop with other genres we love as well such as funk, soul, jazz, experimental, indie, and tons more. As the shop evolves, so does our interest in undiscovered music both new and used.” The collection, much of which is sourced from personal in-store sales, is extensive but selective, with the small space necessitating a certain brand of curatorship not found in most stores fully dedicated to records. Choices range from obscure Spanish metal to standbys like Black Flag, A Tribe Called Quest, and Gram Parsons. You can’t find everything at Black Gold, but the percentage of quality is high.
These three elements come together to form something special, a kind of central clearinghouse for anachronistic cool. The best part of Black Gold is that it feels like a rebuke to the fast pace of the modern world, prizing things that require care, time and attention. It’s a proudly archaic place, one full of fundamentally useless objects that gain vitality by being packaged together, coming to represent all the little things that have in many ways been left behind. Ogiba and Santoro prize their store’s hominess, but hope to expand as widely as possibly. There are plans for live events, and the shop recently hosted its first record store day celebration. As Ogiba sees it, they plan to “keep doing what we are doing until we run out of room and then do it again until we run out of room again.” If the original incarnation of Black Gold is any indication, it will be a slow, careful process.
EDITORINCHIEF@ OVERFLOWMAGAZINE.COM 39
n 1997, I was 30-years-old and made single when my girlfriend broke up with me over the phone while she was visiting her mother in the Midwest. We had lived together, but it was her apartment. So I switched boroughs, from Alphabet City to Carroll Gardens. I put my dick in a drawer. I was working part time as a file clerk at an investment bank company in Midtown, and I was a wreck. I’d spend half of my office hours scribbling comic book stories on scrap paper to fully realize at home and, when I wasn’t feeling creative, I was feeling morbid and lonely. Cyber-dating was embryonic but was steadily becoming popular and piqued obvious interests. So I took my dick back out of the drawer, sparked a profile on a dating website, and added my avatar to the deluge of digital cattle looking for love. Within weeks, I was juggling prospects, and I was up to my elbows in strange. After a few months of sexual conquests and primordial decadence, I declared there was no real love to be found online, and I decided to take a break. I was about to hide my profile when a mysterious girl started to court me. Her profile picture brandished a pair of rose-colored eyeshades and nothing else, but I got sucked into her seduction anyway. After a compelling week of back-and-forth, I gave her my phone number and waited for her to call me. It was late on a Friday night. I should have been at my local bar sniffing out candidates face-to-face rather than making bedroom eyes with the promises of a text-based woo. The phone rang, and we got candid quick. Something about her made me spill beans. Within minutes I was pouring out my heart. I broke every “first date” rule and became a river of Too Much Information as I went into a sonnet of how much I missed my ex-girlfriend. I must have delivered one long miserable sentence that took ten minutes to expound before I took a gasp of fresh air. And, that’s when I noticed the phone line was dead. The ominous hum of a dial tone. She’d hung up on me. Or, so I thought. Turns out my neighborhood suffered a short black out and cut me off. A half-hour later the phone rang. It was her. She’d been listening intently to my story of love and hate when the phone died and had been trying to call me back. Before I could apologize for my self-involved monologue she threw the gauntlet down and said, “Face-to-face?” I looked at the clock. It was almost two in the morning. I said, “Sure.” A short while later my doorbell buzzed, and I was greeted by a squat Asian woman wearing black leather, sporting four-color animation character tattoos on her neck, with a fake Mohawk slicked together by hair gel but not fully committed to shaving the sides of her head. She looked like someone who answered the phones at her father’s law firm in Connecticut during the week and pretended to be a punk rocker sleeping on Avenue A in the East Village, pouring 40 ounce bottles of malt liquor on to the street to “the brothers who can’t be with us,” with all the other trust-fund kids on weekends. Not to judge too harshly, but she was one steel-toed Doc Martens boot kick away from an ass whooping, and I wondered what I’d let into my home. She walked into my bedroom, sat on the bed, and dove into an oral checklist of what she liked and didn’t like. It was a parade of exhibitionism and fetishism that culminated in one particular tale of voyeurism that sent shock waves up my spine. She had recently encountered an underground sex cult that was hosted in a small theater. Ticket buyers watched as a naked man was brought onto the stage. He was stretched out on a table. Directly above the table was a thin metal frame hanging from the ceiling. Another man came out in a dark red robe with a wooden box. He was the Master. His box was filled with pins and needles. The master would dominate the naked man by sticking needles through his skin and stringing the needles up onto the metal frame. Once the man’s body was fully attached to the metal frame by needles and strings, the master would play him like a human harp. The man’s audible pain created a symphony of moans and groans as audience members masturbated to his song. I felt fatigue. It may have been a psychological defense mechanism, but I suddenly grew very tired. I became exponentially exhausted as my eyelids flickered with drowsiness. Had she slipped me a drug? Would she soon be digging needles into my comatose body and play me like a musical instrument? No. Not possible. We hadn’t drunk anything, nor had we touched, and I didn’t allow smoking in my home. Maybe I’d reached the apex of human fear and confusion and was shutting down into some sort of protective sleep cocoon? I don’t know. I just knew that I had to surrender to my unconsciousness, and I politely asked the woman to leave. She was disappointed, yet filled with neurotic energy. Perhaps reliving the moment in the sex cult theater put her in a heightened state, but I was not to become the diddle for her fiddle.
Call o Wild
nowy Wilderness is a pop-up shop that has sold clothes, fine art, and fashion in the annex of Boerum Hill’s de Castellane Gallery (539 Atlantic Avenue) since February 2011. “Snowy Wilderness” is also one of numerous alter egos adopted by Johnny Sagan, who, along with his business partner Charley Hendee, created and curate the shop. We recently asked Johnny a few fashion questions, and he was kind enough to take a few minutes out of his stylized life to respond.
of the by Ryan Dodge. photos by Jeff Brown.
What is the philosophy behind the store? Maybe if there was a store that found a way to say “yes” to an order of magnitude of artists and designers that are currently on display in Brooklyn, then we would get to see what our city and our generation are really capable of. Who’s your style icon? David Hockney. He layered comfortable, wellmade, gentlemanly designs—classics—in English eccentric colors! We have a print of him in a bright blue sweater, pinstriped shirt, and bright red corduroy pants presiding over the pop-up shop. Fill in the blank: A gentleman should never wear ____. A regular crewneck undershirt with a more-orless formal buttondown shirt. Although if dudes
do insist on getting down like that…it’s so dude-ical it IS actually iconic. Fill in the blank: A lady should never wear ____. I would say high-heeled pumps…spike heels. Only if YOU are super into it, gurl… I just feel so sorry for someone when not only is the foot pain tantamount to shoe-icide (shoutout to Fabolous!), but their urban mobility is impeded. If you had to wear one outfit for the rest of your life, what would it be? I think it would be, for maximum versatility, my blue Clarks Wallabees hightops, red-white-and-blue Argyle socks, colorfully matching Calvin Klein boxer briefs, Brooks Brothers madras pants, a weathered blue Oxford shirt, a blue cardigan sweater or jacket, and a little cloth cap.
How do you define “sexy”? A pair of trim but roomy Ralph Lauren seersucker pants with one’s personal bulge gently but cumulatively worn and molded into the profile view and a pima cotton buttondown in blue from Land’s End, worn without the undershirt that was its obligatory accompaniment in its original context and a little threadbare where it borders the visible skin of one’s wrists and neck, the irregularities enhancing the solid promise of the flesh like spindly ivy climbing a wall. “Snowy Wilderness” is the name of one of your alter egos. Are there others? One is Johnny Fulani, a cattle-trading herder from West Africa who represents for me the African complement to the character of Snowy Wilderness’s more American version of male beauty. 44
What’s next for you? I have just finished designing one possible version of the first Snowy Wilderness collection, and Charley and I have a number of interesting opportunities for further experimentation with in-person retailing before us. I am first and foremost a writer, so look out for my book! For more information and details about Snowy Wilderness's ongoing projects, visit www.snowywild.com
Muammar Gaddafi or Hamid Karzai, fashion-wise? I would say Karzai…his style looks altogether more comfortable. Not to put too fine a point on it, but Qaddafi has often looked as if he painfully processes his hair with the infamous Jheri Curl process, while Karzai seems to have the comfy-cropped Caesar cut. Karzai seems to favor harmonious tones and breathable fabrics, neither of which can always be said of Uncle Muammar. Ed Hardy or Christian Audigier, leadership-wise? I would say Ed Hardy. I mean, he sat there designing crazy car culture imagery! Christian Audigier…can you imagine how insane it would be to plot out and execute the gaudy reign of that brand, to have THOSE clothes be your claim to fame in the world? 45
by Erica Reitman. illustration by Liam McWilliams.
e live in a world where the term “bump watch” is routinely splashed across the cover of gossip magazines, and a show about an up-and-coming Pregnancy Concierge is the centerpiece of Bravo TV’s spring schedule. If you haven’t already received the memo: THIS JUST IN. Babies are hot! In a neighborhood like Park Slope, there is no better accessory than a bouncy, fat-cheeked little baby that you can push around in your ridiculously expensive European stroller. And moms work this angle like nobody’s business. They preen and prance around with their babies as if they were carrying the hottest new Hermes Birken bag. Only no one gives a shit about Birken bags in Park Slope because they’re too busy talking nursing bras and sleep training. In this overly festishized mommy-centric world, it often doesn’t seem like there’s much room left over in the cultural zeitgeist for poor ol’ dad. Who are these Park Slope dads? And more importantly, are they hot? I’ve been overhearing neighborhood lore for years about an influx of ruggedly handsome new DILFs (Dads I’d Like To Fuck) in Park Slope, who allegedly infiltrate the neighborhood playgrounds and brunch spots over the weekends, rubbing their sexy, daddy adorable-ness all over the place as if they were a skunk marking his territory. So I set out on a recent weekend afternoon to uncover whether or not these DILFs were the real deal, or nothing more than a hyped up, desperate housewife-style urban legend. After mentioning my quest to a few local mommy friends, their responses ranged from “WHAT DILFs?? There aren’t any around here,” to “Make sure to get numbers if you find any really good ones.” I recruited former sex columnist, novelist, and long-time Park Slope resident Amy Sohn to join me on my DILF hunting expedition, in the hopes that she would lead me to this undiscovered realm of hot daddy breeders. On a cool, sunny Saturday morning, we decided to begin our quest at the Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket. Based on the results of previous Park Slope stereotype investigative missions (see Operation Slob), I was immediately reminded that we would need some sort of point system to establish whether or not any of the dads we came across were truly DILF-worthy. 46
And so we came up with the following 4-point system: one point for cool sunglasses; one point for creative footwear---sneakers were ok as long as they were casual, stylish sneakers, rather than true athletic footwear; one point for any pants that were NOT jogging pants (dudes: you have no idea how unattractive these things look, and also how many of the dads were wearing them), and; one mystery point for that special je ne sais quoi that you just sometimes can’t put your finger on. While Amy and I had different opinions and taste, essentially we were looking for any of the following: vintage leather jackets, interesting scarves, an entire pulled together “look,” a cool bag, or any other accessories that would indicate that at least SOME level of effort was put into the potential DILF’s outfit before they walked out the door. And, of course, all potential candidates needed to be at the Greenmarket with their kids in order to properly identify them as dads. We positioned ourselves in the middle of the market in order to maintain the best bird’s eye view of the entire scene. And with full disclosure, I was actually anticipating that we would be positively DILF-mobbed. I thought we would find so many DILFs, I would have difficulty keeping track of them and properly categorizing them.
Parisian, but he sure as hell looked it. Also, he was buying baguettes, so you do the math. The hipster DILF was wearing a brown corduroy sport coat (natch) with a hoodie underneath, a dark wool hat, Ray Ban aviator sunglasses and Carhart Gray pants. He had facial hair, of course, and he looked to be in his mid-thirties. An interesting point to note about both DILFs: both had kids who were also dressed stylishly, and both looked more put together than their companion wives/girlfriends/whatevers. And so apparently DILFs don’t necessarily pair up with MILFs. In fact, if you are an up-and-coming DILF, I think it would be ill-advised to pair yourself up with a MILF as, clearly, that would make you seem less accessible and therefore, less desirable. And so we left the Greenmarket mostly defeated. Sensing my frustration on our walk home, Amy promised to send me her curated list of the most dashing Park Slope DILFs for my later perusal. She did not disappoint. Herewith are the Amy Sohn approved DILF dudes I’ve been busily googling ever since: •
Former Sloper and Academy Award winner James Marsh
Instead we waited. And waited. And waited some more. When I started bugging Amy for details about her follow-up book to Prospect Park West, and any dirt she might have on the Coop, I realized that we had been sitting there for over 20 minutes and we had yet to see a single DILF.
Award-winning author Darin Strauss
Internationally famous singer/songwriter/ kiddie wrangler Jonathan Coulton
Indie Film dude Dan Cogan
In fact, rather than awarding points, we were developing a counter-points system, in which we would actually take points away for violations: dads who were wearing baby carriers on their backs; dads who were wearing baseball caps, and; dads with mis-buttoned shirts.
Hootenany Art House co-founder Pete Heitmann
Holywood celeb Terry Kinney
MTV bigwig, Ross Martin
Park Slope Food Coop member, Kirk Douglas of the Roots
Rebel Rabbi Andy Bachman
Megastar magazine publisher Chris Mitchell
Things were not going well. However, we didn’t come up totally empty handed. After a solid hour, we identified two bonafide DILFs: a Parisian DILF and a BK hipster DILF. The Parisian DILF was likely in his early forties, with salt and pepper hair, a v-neck gray cashmere sweater, funky eyeglasses, and black leather jacket. I don’t really know for sure if the dude was actually
And so it seems that DILFs do, in fact, exist in Park Slope. I guess you just need to know where to look for them.
print ain't dead, it just went local. . .
published quarterly 10,000 copies per issue + online distributed free for all readers throughout South Brooklyn
Celebrating Two Years of FREEdumb
ISSUE 2 :: SUMMER 2009
gowanus . red hook . carroll gardens . cobble hill . boerum hill . park slope
gowanus . red hook . carroll gardens . cobble hill . boerum hill . park slope
OVERFLOW ISSUE 4 :: WINTER 2010
gowanus . red hook . carroll gardens cobble hill . boerum hill . park slope
ISSUE 6 :: SUMMER 2010
gowanus . red hook . carroll gardens cobble hill . boerum hill . park slope prospect heights . windsor terrace
OVERFLOW OVERFLOW ISSUE 7 :: FALL 2010
gowanus . red hook . carroll gardens cobble hill . boerum hill . park slope prospect heights . windsor terrace
ISSUE 8 :: WINTER 2011
gowanus . red hook . carroll gardens cobble hill . boerum hill . park slope prospect heights . windsor terrace
by Erik Winkowski
illustrations by Liam McWilliams. During the summer, Brooklyn is the land of the free event. From outdoor movies, to free concerts, to all the weird you can stomach at Coney Island, there’s never a better time of year to be entertained on the cheap. Here are a few of the free and low-cost events that we’re most excited about. And, if you’re not signed up for our weekly Tip Sheet, do so immediately: brooklynbased.net. We’ll deliver the best summer events to your inbox every Wednesday.
Seriously though, ghosts as a metaphor for urban decay? A haunted high-rise on Central Park West? Bill Murray? Cats and dogs living together? Get your blanket and yourself to Brooklyn Bridge Park -- if you haven’t watched this movie since the ‘80s we’re confident in saying that it’s still worthwhile. July 16: Fourth Avenue Immersion We’re taking our Immersions on the road this summer. In addition to Atlantic and Vanderbilt Avenues, we’ll be setting up shop along Fourth Avenue for a Saturday afternoon. Come on down to enjoy free brews and tasty specials from neighborhood bars and restaurants. We’re especially looking forward to this one, since Fourth Avenue has so rapidly changed from postindustrial wasteland into a street with multiple points of interest. Also, we will totally be having pie and coffee for breakfast at Four and Twenty Blackbirds that morning.
June 18: Mermaid Parade Ah the Coney Island Mermaid Parade, where if always feels like 1995. This full-on freak festival is one of the most unabashedly joyful in the city. Definitely expect to see the following: sunburns, roller skates, creative use of fishnets, wigs, and, oh yeah, lots and lots of mermaid tits.
The Cyclones MCU Park might be the most picturesque ballpark in the minor leagues. From the stands you get a view of the Atlantic Ocean as well as the spectacle that is Coney Island, which is particularly striking once the lights come on at night. Oh, and they play baseball there, too.
Rooftop Films screens movies all over the place now -- Fort Greene Park, Williamsburg, the Lower East Side, Toronto. But they still show their brilliant blend of indie shorts, docs and features on the roof of The Old American Can Factory in Gowanus, which is also their home base. August 10: Bon Iver OK, this show isn’t free, but the $35 ticket price goes to support the arts in Brooklyn, and Prospect Park is really a spectacularly pleasant place to see a show. Let the dulcet tones of Bon Iver haunt you beneath the trees there. August 17 or 24 Jones beach is not in Brooklyn. But we think it would be a shame to go the whole summer without rocking out to power ballads by the ocean. For this we offer you two options: Journey and Foreigner on August 17, or White Snake and Tesla on August 24. Stock up on hairspray now. Looking Ahead: Atlantic Antic
woefully underrepresented (what, no haunted brownstones?), there is a scene where they seem to be crossing the Manhattan Bridge in Ecto-1.
July 14: Ghostbusters at Brooklyn Bridge Park We cannot think of a New York movie we would rather watch outdoors in New York than Ghostbusters. Though Brooklyn is
September. Applications to perform or hock your wares at the Antic will be available starting in June.
Beer and food truck series at Sycamore It’s not quite weekly, but down in Ditmas Park (historic Flatbush?) Sycamore is hosting a series of local food trucks paired with local beers every few weeks throughout the summer. Of particular interest. The Rockaways (and other city beaches) City beaches officially opened for summer on Memorial Day Weekend. So head down to the Rockaways. Right, right. It’s Queens, not Brooklyn. But we promise, it will totally be worth the trip. Three Parks Department-owned food stands along the boardwalk at 86th, 99th and 106th Streets will be open serving food and booze from foodie favorites like Rice, Rockaway Taco, Vinegar Hill House, The Meat Hook, and Roberta’s. What could be better than a local beer and dog combo on the beach?
That Atlantic Avenue-based frenzy of food, music, and tomfoolery will be held again in late 51