Tag Archives: hipsters

Baby’s First Brooklyn Moment

On Sunday morning, me and the family took a brief trip into Greenpoint to pick up some gardening supplies and to stroll. I lived in Greenpoint for six pre-kid years and I still love it there, though I don’t find many chances to make it back to ye olde neighborhood.

When I called it home, Greenpoint struck me as having the exact amount of artsy-ness that Williamsburg aspired to while being a tad more real, for lack of a better word. For one thing, Greenpoint never needed to “recover” in the way that Williamsburg did, since it had a well-entrenched middle class that never left in bad old days of the 1970s and 1980s. On top of that, it seemed like the artists in Greenpoint actually had jobs and weren’t being held aloft by trust funds. This was provincial prejudice I’m sure, because it still wasn’t hard to find a wealthy dilettante among the populace, someone who seemed to be dabbling in bohemia until Dad’s Law Firm came calling. These folks tended to be the ones most into juvenalia like kickball tournaments and organized games of manhunt, since they had the idle time and total lack of worries necessary to waste in such pointless pursuits.

As I said, we were strolling through Greenpoint, on Nassau Street near Lorimer, where McCarren Park ends. Ahead of us, I saw a twenty-something swinging from scaffolding like it was a jungle gym. At a certain age and in a certain mood, I could have found this kind of thing is cute. In fact, I’m sure I’ve done the same at some point in my life, though I’m also sure I haven’t done so since college. To mid-30s Dad Me, it just struck me as juvenile, embodying the worst aspect of all the dumb infantile things people think of when they now think of Brooklyn. My mind voiced a judgmental Really?, but I said nothing out loud.

My daughter was less guarded. Our corner of Queens holds very few hipsters, and this was not a specimen she’d encountered before. “Why is that GROWN UP swinging like that?” she asked, very loudly. I saw this guy as a kid, because that’s how he was behaving, but to my child, everyone over the age of 10 is a Grown Up, and this was conduct unbecoming a Grown Up. The Swinger abruptly stopped, somewhat embarrassed, and continued on his way, as did we.

“Grown ups shouldn’t be acting like that,” my daughter said, again very loudly and slightly annoyed, as we passed by The Swinger.

“I agree,” I said, and I felt confident that I’d already given her enough information to tell the Real Grown Ups from the fake ones.

The Space Between the Cushions Collective Tour: Philadelphia

As announced last week, The Space Between the Cushions Collective met their Kickstarter goal and have embarked on their mission to build couch forts across America (as long as they never mention “Kickstarter” ever again). Here is a dispatch from their first stop.

I’d like to say our trip to Philadelphia was a success. So I will! The Space Between the Cushions Collective refuses to be bound to conventional notions of what constitutes “success” and what constitutes “miserable failure.”

We could literally feel paradigms shifting as we drove over the Ben Franklin Bridge. That may have also been our transmission slipping, which is why we stopped at the first gas station we could find to get it checked out. Unfortunately, the guys in the garage did said they couldn’t open the hood of the van unless we removed our custom stitched jean-jacket cover. Yolando Mattress, the artist who made it for us, told us we could not remove or adjust it in any way without destroying his vision, so we had to cross our fingers and hope for the best. But can you believe the gas station had all these old cutout cassettes? We bought 17 copies of The Jets’ greatest hits for like a buck!

We continued on to Pat’s Steaks, figuring we could drum up some interest and followers to come with us to our next stop, but the crowd there wasn’t ready to liberate their vision of urban landscapes just yet. Plus, when Tyler asked the guys at Pat’s if they had any vegan platters, this huge fry cook threw a huge unpeeled onion in his face. Tyler said it stung worse than a thimbleful of Dr. Bronner’s soap.

Our groundbreaking Abandoned Couch Location app did not work with the efficacy that we hoped, as we did not get a single blip on our radar anywhere within the city limits, thus forcing us to rely on our sharply honed couch-locating skills. We thought we spotted an abandoned sofa in the parking lot of Citizen’s Bank Park. Unfortunately, the second we started to tip it, some angry dude in a Shane Victorino jersey said it was his “tailgatin’ couch” and threw a portable grill propane tank at us. I guess our first clue that the couch wasn’t abandoned should have been all the guys sitting on it drinking beer.

When we got back to the van, it had five flat tires (all the ones on the rims plus the spare). It took quite a while to get new wheels, even though there was a stadium parking lot full of people who could’ve helped, but chose instead to whizz bottlecaps in our direction. Eventually, a team official came out and told us he called up AAA to replace our tires “just to get get that hideous thing off our property” because “sooner or later, someone will set it on fire.”

Though we didn’t actually create any couch forts within Philadelphia, I feel that we really changed some notions of what is possible in a blighted urban landscape (even though every time we referred to Philadelphia as a blighted urban landscape, someone inevitably responded “go fuck yourself”). Also, we got to stop at the Mutter Museum and see that really huge colon. It was so gross, it was awesome.

I look forward to even more perspective shifting once we get to Pittsburgh, a town whose downtrodden working class residents could use couch forts more than anyone. Look, I know all about it, I’ve seen Deer Hunter.

Kickstarter Page for The Space Between Cushions Collective

The Space Between Cushions Collective, based in East Williamsburg, shifts the public art paradigm by creating sustainable, locally-grown couch forts. They take furniture relinquished by their owners and turn them into interactive pieces that literally change lives forever. Their upholstered installations have been seen everywhere from Flushing Avenue to several blocks south of Flushing Avenue, and have brought a sense of wonder and exploration to the previously bleak industrial landscape of the neighborhood, when not stolen or defaced by stray dogs.

Now, we want to bring our couch stylings to towns across America, and we need your help.

The Collective will travel from coast to coast, showing people how their drab, boring lives can be transformed just by rearranging their furniture. We find that when a couch is tilted against a wall and the cushions used as “doors” to enter it, the couch becomes a maze, a labyrinth, a treasure trove of discovery. It transforms from a mere piece of furniture into a world unto itself. Especially if it has a part that folds out into a bed, because those are awesome.

But the Collective doesn’t just build a fort and leave it there. For a small fee, we show passers-by how to discover these newly transformed spaces. How to look at the light trailing in through that tiny space between the couch’s arms and the floor. How to inhale the musty air escaping from the exposed padding and recognize it as the smell of freedom. And for a modest exit fee, we allow patrons to leave the fort and see the rest of their lives through new eyes.

Your funds will go toward the following details essential for our mission:

  • Repairs to the Collective’s fixed-gear van, currently in need of a new alternator, muffler, and one of those iPhone chargers you can plug into the cigarette lighter.
  • A custom mural painted on the side of the van by Britton Manship, one of Bushwick’s hottest airbrush artists. We’re thinking about a painting of a dolphin in Elvis Cotello glasses dunking a basketball, but we are open to suggestions.
  • Development and beta testing of our new couch detecting app. When completed, this app will be able to pick up the presence of an abandoned sofa from a distance of 200 yards, provided the sofa has an embedded GPS chip.
  • 13 dozen sleeves of vegan burritos.
  • New safety equipment such as shin guards, helmets, shoulder pads, etc., to deal with the inherent dangers of manipulating couch placement, such as unexpected fall-overs, rug burn, and so on.

Those who contribute to our quest to liberate the nation from the normal, boring way of looking at couches will receive our gratitude, which should be thanks enough. However, we will also throw in a premium based on your donation.

$5: A thank-you postcard mailed from a genuine truck stop.

$10: A swatch of upholstery cut from an actual couch used during our tour.

$25: A couch fort named in your honor

$50: A couch fort given a filthy name in your honor

$100: Couch fort-naming privileges and a Polaroid of your couch fort, suitable for framing

$200: An exclusive MP3 of members of the Collective singing along to a Best Coast song of your choice, recorded inside the van

$500: A genuine bit of loose change found in one of the couches

$1,000: All previously mentioned premiums, plus you can pick us up from the airport if the van breaks down

The Collective is not exaggerating when it says that this will be the most important art project in American history–even more important than that guy who tried to make a seven-story-high tall-bike. Contribute now and be a part of the magic.


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$0.73 Pledged of $95,000 Goal

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