Open Thread Wednesday

home_img1_starbucks.jpgA few things bubbling up in the BHB community this week that are up for discussion:

"Nettie Moore" posted under Who is that Guy with the Dog?:

"A friend sent me this link because I complain so much about this man yelling at me. dog is a king charles spaniel, I believe. Its owner has been harassing me for over 2 years; I run every day on the Promenade. The man has become increasingly disheveled and disturbed in the last year. He has begun to yell at the dog, which is worse than yelling at us. Brooklyn Heights, by the way, is not a suburb. Well, it used to be a neighborhood but I suppose now you are welcome to call it what you want. As a third generation native of Brooklyn and a 40 year resident of the Heights, I and my family knew all was lost as far back as when Starbucks opened on Montague Street. All the revolution that’s in the air now is heated discussions about strollers, private nursery schools, and summer timeshares. We have actually begun to feel that the brainwashed Jehovah’s Witnesses are a last bastion of, er, *authenticity* in poor Bklyn Hgts. Yuppies, it’s all yours. All we ask is to please keep it clean."

Ms. Moore, while missing the historical reference of our tagline "dispatches from America's first suburb," brings up some interesting points for discussion. 

Is Starbucks bad? At BHB, the Finks loves their Starbucks while Qfwfq will never allow that corporate elixr to pass his lips. But wouldn't we all be better off if one opened in the nabe instead of a "party place"? 

Is it such a bad thing that "yuppies" are populating the Heights and arguing over strollers? We'll agree with Ms. Moore on the insanity that is private nursery school and summer timeshares. We'll also maintain that yuppies have long since gone the way of beatniks, hippies and flappers.

Ms. Moore, while we may not know if Dylan still misses you, we do know that you might find Jonathan Lethem's Fortress of Solitude to be a relevant read as well as this piece in this week's New York Observer.

Are the Jehovah's Witnesses that last bastion of "authenticity" in the nabe?

Some other topics up for discussion this week: Filming movies and TV in the nabe – good or bad?

Housing Works – have you been there? Great store or a place to experience massive allergy attacks?

The mac and cheese at Jack the Horse – as close to G-d as you can get on a plate?

Marty Markowitz – your next Mayor?

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  • L

    a random comment – I passed Tapestry (spa-like place next to heights books on montague) this a.m. and noticed the windows papered up and the sign down. Another closing??

  • Tim N.

    Nettie seems a little dissheveled herself, but I know what she’s talking about regarding the guy with the dog. He is a very unpleasant person and obviously disturbed in some way. I passed him on the street once while walking his dog, said “excuse me” as I passed, and was prompty cursed out for the remainder of the block… for walking by him, for speaking to him, for taking up too much space, for whatever other complaint he could pin on me. When I’m with my daughter I cross the street when I see him around. Poor fellow… wonder if we’ll all end up like that…

  • beth

    I just hear a lot of prejudice in the comment above. Feh.

    Anyway, my boyfriend was getting his hair cut at the babrbershop in Clark St. Station and the barber insisted a Starbucks was going to open up either in Sea Asian or the shuttered store next door. I make no claims as to the authenticity of this… just reporting!

  • beth

    And by “comment above” I mean Nettie, FYI.

  • Qfwfq

    What? Sea Asian didn’t close down, did it? They have/had such great, cheap pad thai!

  • beth

    I’m sure they’re still open — so either the barber was mistaken, or knows something we don’t.

    I miss the Thai place on Henry by Clark.

  • ultrvioltx

    While we’re on the topic of weirdos in the neighborhood, what’s up with the homeless guy who lives in the Clark St. Station? He’s always wearing a blue denim fisherman’s hat and smokes in the station (a HUGE pet peeve of mine) all the time!!!!

  • beth

    I like the guy with the guitar who sings. I love his crackly crazy voice.

  • Cranky

    ultrvioltx I’ve seen that guy too. I think he’s waiting for the liquor store to open.

    I’ve seen the dog guy as well. Not the most pleasant of fellows. Tapestry’s been closed for a while. I wonder what’s going in there now.

    A friend of mine says that a dentist office is going where Mr. Souvlaki used to be.

    Ooh, Costas (our favorite waiter from the old Mr. Souvlaki) now works at Armandos. Yay!

  • CMC

    The guy with the blue denim fishermans hat looks like someones grandpa that got lost and so decided to settle down at Clark St. Station. Although he does smoke in the station, he does not yell, curse, ask for money, etc. I sometimes hear him mumbling to himself, but more than anything I wonder if he is okay…

    There is also a couple that has been camping out in front of the borded up stationary shop on Henry between Orange and Cranberry. Generally I am not one to care about where people sleep as long as they are respectful of the area and other people, but its cold out there! Does anyone know of a good service to call to get these people some help…or some blankets and maybe smoking cessation skills?

    As for the Neighborhood itself:
    Starbucks – rather not, and please not another one! Cranberries should expand and have some indoor seating.

    HousingWorks – I checked it out on Sat, its cute, doesn’t have a whole bunch but I think it is a great addition to the neighborhood – I will probably go in once a week to take a peak around at their “new” stuff.

    As for BK Heights being taken over by Yuppies – hasn’t it always been an affluent neighborhood? When was it any different?

  • hkjh

    complaining about BROOKLYN HEIGHTS falling into yuppie hands is too too. what? you miss the 100% WASP population of yesteryear?

  • keever

    Yeah, Tapestry has been closed for about three months now, and papered up for at least a couple of weeks. I’d finally discovered a place where I liked getting my hair cut, and when I called for a second appointment, they were gone.

    And hey, since I’m posting about the subject, does anyone have a salon/stylist in or around the neighborhood they would recommend? I’ve been to almost all the other places on Montague and have been underwhelmed. Irene Dinov is out; I’ve been in there to buy Aveda products and was totally put off by the attitude.

  • Cranky

    Hi keever I’ve been going to Lifestyles Beautifying Spa on Atlantic. It’s 185 Atlantic Avenue, between Clinton and Court. The # is 718-797-3062. If you go though, make sure you ask for Anna. I know someone who got a different stylist and got a hideous cut. I’ve gone to Anna twice and she’s done a nice job.

  • rms

    I suppose it’s fashionable to gripe about “yuppies” or other newcomers in your neighborhood when you’ve been living there for 40 years (or 10), but anyone who’s lived in NY that long can’t be oblivious to the fact that New York City and its neighborhoods are (and always have been) constantly in transition. After all, those ornate and opulent brownstones on Pierrepont weren’t built for starving beatnik poets any more than the Cadman Plaza Diner was opened for the so-called “yuppies” or Starbucks patrons in the neighborhood. If all was lost because of Starbucks, then I would say there wasn’t much there to begin with. But I can’t seriously buy that Starbucks wiped the neighborhood of its charm or spirit. Nor can I believe someone so sentimental about a place can’t still appreciate the timeless merits of our neighborhood/suburb/whatever you wish to call it. The comment seems to come from a place of nostalgia, but rings a little hollow in my opinion.

  • Claude Scales

    Are the Jehovah’s Witnesses that last bastion of “authenticity” in the nabe?

    I guess it depends on what we mean by that fraught word “authentic”. A friend once told me how a friend of hers had beome a Witness. She was a single young woman living in a large house in the suburbs of Washington, DC. Her parents had died and left her with a sizeable fortune and no responsibilities beyond paying the household servants. One afternoon, the doorbell rang, and she jumped up to answer it before a servant could. It was the first time she had ever done this. Of course, it was a Witness missionary; she let him in and, in a short space of time, had committed herself and her money to the Witness cause.

    So, in what state was this woman “authentic”? As a bored young person used to being waited on hand and foot, or as someone who willingly committed her life and fortune to a cause, whatever you or I might think of the theology of Charles Taze Russell?

    I suppose you could say “neither”. However, if you take “authentic” to mean “sincerely committed to an idea”, you would have to say she is more authentic as a Witness. If you take “authentic” in the broader sense of being, as David Riesman put it in The Lonely Crowd, “inner-directed”, then you can argue that President Bush is a paragon of authenticity. I recall, during the last Presidential election campaign, someone surveying the male residents of a small Virginia town who were, to a man, voting for Bush, and, when asked why, almost to a man gave the answer, “He doesn’t give a sh*t.” (The unstated conclusion to that sentence was, of course, “what anyone thinks.”)

    This is all a roundabout way of saying that I find the concept of authenticity a bit overrated. To paraphrase Mary Poppins, “A spoonful of phoniness makes the medicine go down.”

    I’m perplexed by Keever’s comment about Irene Dinov. I’ve been having my hair (such as remains of it) cut there by Brian for at least the past five years. I’m as close to the antithesis of “cool” or “hip” as you could find, but have never encountered any “attitude” there.

  • Brooklyn Enthusiast

    Speaking of Montague …
    one of my favorite stores is Fishs Eddy. I was just on Montague and noticed it was gone. Now there is some “vintage store.” I don’t know what qualifies as vintage these days, but the jeans there look like they got picked up from the salvation army. I saw some from Express and then some of the dishes look like leftovers from the boring collections at Fishs Eddy. Lame……

  • Qfwfq

    Brooklyn Enthusiast, that’s the new Housing Works. Hopefully they’ll ease up on the clothing and bring in more furniture stuff.

    Shops and restaurants come and go daily on Montague, make sure you visit for the latest!

  • BP

    I wasn’t really sure what to make of Nettie’s comments, but I’m glad that it was called out and that others are commenting on it. I think my take has to be, change happens, go with it.

    Starbucks? Why should BH be denied a Starbucks when even the Forbidden City has one?

    Filming/Movies? I don’t know, but I would guess that the city makes some money from permits. Some of that should be earmarked specifically for improvements in the affected areas.

  • keever

    Claude, I’m glad your experience at Irene Dinov has been better than mine. I don’t know how the rest of the staff is (though I did once witness two employees having a screaming fight on the sidewalk outside the salon, which didn’t exactly endear me to the idea of becoming a customer) but the receptionist has definitely been surly every time I’ve gone in.

    Thanks for the Lifestyles recommendation, Cranky! I’ve walked by and thought about trying it, but it’s always reassuring to hear about positive experiences first.

  • M. Hermann

    We’ve always had some interesting downtrodden folks. Anyone remember Nelson with the white hair and beard who had lost his hand in a childhood accident with a laundry mangle?

    In more recent years, what happened to the guy who evidently had some form of Tourette’s who would sit on the stoop next to Fortune House, randomly yelling “shut up!” at passerby?

    Then there’s the guy who walks around, sometimes seen sweeping up leaves at various buildings, who does the “heyyy, buddy! Got any good luck for me today?” I’ve run into him in the projects near the Navy Yard where he says he lives. For a while, he was pulling the “help me out? It’s my birthday” line on people.

  • ClatieK

    To Brooklyn Enthusiast: Housing Works is more than just another “vintage” store. They do wonderful work to support those living with HIV/AIDS in NYC. Everybody should donate!