Mr. J’s Tribute to Nabeguy

Karl takes his cam to the residence of Phillip Wilentz, known to all of us as “nabeguy” (and to Homer as our uber-poster) who, with his wife and daughter, will soon be moving to the further reaches of Long Island. Along with nabeguy’s reflections on his 54 years of life in Brooklyn Heights, and some conversation with fellow long-time Heights residents Martin and Rona Schneider, we also see some historic Heights photos. Video after the jump.

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  • Demonter

    Lovely piece Karl…the helicopter noise against the charming house and garden tells a story of the evolution of the City. In a few shots Nabeguy looked like Eric Clapton. Blessings of health and happiness to the Wilentz family in their new home.

  • val

    Great vid, Karl! Nabeguy: You will be missed! Please continue to comment on the BHB. Good luck to you and your beautiful family.

  • Linda

    I lived for 14 years right down the block from the Great South Bay.
    I could smell the water when I stepped off the LIRR. That I miss!
    Wishing you and your family all the best in your new
    home and your new nabe!

  • AEB

    From a nabe guy of nabeguy, many wishes for the happiest of landings to you and your family!

    Will be hard to pass your house knowing you’re not there–though I look forward to seeing you in these “pages.”


  • nabeguy

    Thank you Karl, that almost makes me want to change my mind. Clever the way you snuck in the Dock Street proposal, upon which I first cut my blogging teeth in opposition to it.
    Thank you BHB, Homer, Claude and all my fellow posters for making me realize that the Heights is much larger than I ever could have imagined.
    There are myriad things in the Heights that I will sorely miss, some more than others. I won’t try to list them, as many are personal to me, but I’m sure quite a few of them are part of our shared experience of the unique neighborhood we call home. After 55 years, my experience has changed enough to prompt this move, but, if you’re lucky, you’ll have as long a run here and embrace and enrich all that the Heights offers. Adios muchachos.

  • John Wentling

    Wow, watching Madigan sled down that hill gives me goosebumps, and you’re one of the few to understand why. BH has changed dramatically, always thought I’d like to live out my remaining days there, but it’s not the nabe we grew up in – and I expect it to change dramatically yet again when the JW properties go on the block.

    I get it.

    God speed “nabeguy”, the end of an era is upon us.

  • Andrew Porter

    I still have books I bought on my early 1960s weekly trips to the bookstores of Greenwich Village, which started on the east at Steve Takacs’ Science Fiction bookstore on Third Avenue and usually included a stop at the 8th Street Bookstore. Who knew the miniscule profits from my transactions there were putting Post Toasties into the mouth of Nabeguy and his family? And now he’s Moving On. Bon Voyage, sir!

  • AEB

    John, care to be more specific about how, actually, BH has changed? I’m wanting to know. Impacted gentrification by a certain less than exciting demographic?

  • hoppy

    No relation to the New Jersey Wilentzes? (of legal fame)

  • Gerry

    My 18 years in Brooklyn Heights showed me that everyone gets a number that a day comes when we see that our needs change and that it is time to move on and now Nabeguy is leaving I am reminded of that number.

    In 2006 a booming real estate market and a growing family lead me and my family from Remsen Street to Sands Point, NY,

    Out here I sit on my deck looking at Manhasset Bay and I recall my evenings as I sat on The Promenade in the heat amoung a lot of dirt and litter.

    Out here i do not take subways two nice clean air conditioned SUV’s in our 2 car garage get us around costing $100 for a tank of gas.

    Out here I am not knocking all of the snow off of my car very early each morning before work.

    Out here I swim early every morning at the Hofstra University Swim Center I gave up teh crummy EAC/St. George Pool for a real aquatics center.

    Out here my children are in private school the middle school issue in the Heights did not factor in our decision to move private school was/is our plan.

    Out here our quality of life is not perfect BUT it is so much easier to raise a family, have a safe clean home, etc. than it was in Brooklyn Heights.

    Maybe I will see you at Home Depot Nabeguy best wishes to you and your family.


  • EHinBH

    Very nice tribute. But I have to say that building a middle school here in the heights will not solve the problem of people moving. The school will not be full of just local kids. Everyone from the hood here will abandon the school after a couple of trial years and then we will be stuck with a miserable middle school in our small community with tons of kids hanging around after classes. I love how nobody wants nice condos overlooking he river, or — oh, God forbid — a brand-new brownstone that is too modern or too federal , or too whatever, but they want a giant school build here so all kinds of nasty kids can rin all over the place and create trafic and noise and whatever other problems a city school brings…

  • my2cents

    I know we had our disagreements from time to time, but your heart was always in the right place, favoring nostalgia and continuity with the past that clearly holds many golden memories for you here. I hope you come back from time to time whenever you get the yen to dumpster dive for architectural relics ;-)

    Considering you lived less than a block from me, it’s really a pity I never got to meet you in person. Wish you and your family all the best in your new home.

    Great job on the video as always, Karl.

  • davoyager

    Hey Phil, I also went to PS 7 & 8 during the pairing. I think I was one year ahead of you. Also I too was out during that blizzard shoveling snow. but I must say your house is much better kept up than mine. And while we disagreed on some issues the neighborhood loses something every time long term friends and neighbors move in search of a better education for their children than is made available to us here in downtown Brooklyn. I do kinda wish you had stayed to help us slug it out with the DOE to finally end this decades long disenfranchisement of our children but I wish you and your family all the best in your new home and community and thank you for your many years as an active and productive member of Brooklyn Heights. Good Luck and be well.

  • Alanna

    Best of Luck to you – I grew up on The Great South Bay and then out east in Miller Place my entire life. It’s a wonderful area. I have truly appreciate your contributions to this blog, especially in the last year and a half I have lived in Brooklyn Heights. Please “pop” in now and then! We’ll miss you!

  • Gerry

    EHinBH makes a very good point — this middle school will hold a small number of Brooklyn Heights kids the others will be from a different socio-econimic class and outnumber the few living in Brownstones with weekend homes in Connecticut.

    The students from Brooklyn Heights will fall into a click as group process evolves.

    Who said “Be careful what you ask for you just might get it?”

    How come all of these years have gone by with NO middle school in Brooklyn Heights?

  • AEB

    But, you know, “this” place isn’t in itself better than “that” place. Has to do, rather, with what one wants and/or needs. And/or just the pressures of circumstance.

    So though I have certain reservations about BH, I can’t imagine myself living in–pace, Gerry– Sands Point, NY. Not right for me.

  • John Laskin

    Very glad you will be going.

  • T.K. Small

    The reason for Nabeguy leaving Brooklyn Heights makes perfect sense, but I am sorry to see him go. His comments were always some of my favorites. My mother works as a moving estimator and this is almost always the reason people give for moving out of the city.

    Good luck in Long Island and I will miss you.

  • Claude Scales

    T.K.: “Good luck in Long Island”? He’s been a Long Island resident all his life. He’s just moving to a different part of it.

  • nabeguy

    Thanks John, glad to be leaving the likes of you in my rear view mirror. It’s exactly that kind of attitude that was one of the stronger motivating factors in making this move for my family.

    Dave, I’d like nothing more than to continue fighting the good fight, but being a late-bloomer to parenthood, I find my capacity for patience to be at a premium. I never thought, as a home-grown New Yorker of 55 years, that a time would arrive where I felt that my family and I had been abandoned by the city I loved. However, that is exactly the case when it comes to the public school system in general and the middle school situation in particular. Keep your dukes up and know that I’ll be supporting you from the sticks.

  • Karl Junkersfeld

    “I’ll be supporting you from the sticks”

    The ultimate irony is that the term ‘hicks”, representing those that live in the sticks, was derived from the individuals who first lived in Brooklyn Heights. The Hicks Brothers along with the Middagh’s owned much of what we call Brooklyn Heights today and it was basically all farmland before the subdivision to lots.

    The city slickers in NYC called those over the river, living on these farms, hicks. Many of you probably know this already but some may not.

    I’m a Hick.

  • John Wentling


    “Impacted gentrification by a certain less than exciting demographic?”

    Wow, you’re good.

    BH lacks the color and character that made it a destination, rather than just a place to live.

  • Sad Neighbor

    Loved the video…great tribute to NABE GUY and the neighborhood. I have recently started blogging on the brooklyn heights blog… but I have been reading Nabe Guy’s comments.. you will be missed.

    Good luck on Long Island and please continue to visit the brooklyn heights blog.

    I have admired your home on MIddagh for years…thanks for sharing the interior as well as your lovely garden.

    Great video..Mr. J