“Meet the Regulars: People of Brooklyn and the Places They Love,” a new compilation of interviews conducted by Joshua D. Fischer and available now from Skyhorse Publishing, grew out of a series many of you may have read on the Williamsburg-centric blog Bedford and Bowery.
As a result, the book focuses heavily on spots in North Brooklyn. But what could feel like an oversight is a boon to residents of Bushwick because so many of the haunts and people featured in these pages are only a few subway stops away.
Nearby highlights include a hilarious romp with the Lucas Brothers at their favorite spot Tutu’s and photographer Ellen Stagg’s ode to East Williamsburg’s most conspicuous strip club Pumps.
The talk turns serious often, both in the interviews and in the short personal essays peppering the manuscript. Fischer, a longtime Brooklyn resident, cynically defines his role as gentrifier and openly wonders how a book like this one can show readers how a wide swath of Brooklyn is affected by unyielding development and the rampant commercialization of a certain brand of “cool.”
Maybe there’s a way to think about these regulars as normal people, but by and large they are examples of people who got lucky in their chosen field and were able to move out of the neighborhoods they sometimes helped to gentrify. Other times, they are successful people who moved into a neighborhood that was already gentrified. Always, they are a bit removed already from a certain kind of struggle.
The book is a primer on geographic mobility. It raises questions about what makes a place special and whether or not the specialness of a place changes over time, which we can extrapolate to the larger problem of Brooklyn as a whole.
Instead of making me consider my place in this city’s spiral into a black hole of unsustainable development, the interviews made me want to go grab a beer at my regular haunt, meet a new person, or just wave hello to the other regulars.
And if there’s a big piece of advice this book can impart it’s to find your place and hold it tight because what makes it special to you could be gone before you know it.
Featured image: the Lucas Brothers outside of Tutu’s. Photo by Nina Westervelt courtesy of Skyhorse Publishing.