A month ago a new neighbor contacted me to let me know an older neighbor fell down the stairs and hit their head. The old man was bleeding/etc. Luckily, I was home and ran downstairs and helped the old man get back into his apartment. Had paramedics (and firemen) show up. And, after an hour of encouragement, convinced him to go to the hospital for the contusion that was turning from blue to black on his head. I have to admit, I was confused why the new neighbor called me rather than call 911. In fact, NO ONE in the building opened their doors despite the commotion. What if I wasn't home?
When I first moved into my now 24-year residence it was filled with many old Italians who loved to offer pints of "gravy" (another term for tomato sauce) and other traditional food items. It was a way to get to know each other. Check in sometimes. I've since cooked pasta for neighbors during a blackout and other, less dramatic instances. I've helped neighbors in countless ways (as is my nature -- ask anyone who knows me).
Alas, when the older folks died off and more recent, younger residents moved in, my neighborly overtures were met with indifference. From my personal experience, it seems the days of neighborly parlays in Brooklyn are dwindling (since before the pandemic) and I fear for a society navigating humanity in a digital culture. I'd rather know a good dozen people than *think* I know 5000 Facebook friends.
I'm a GREAT neighbor -- if you'll let me.
My friend/writer Amy Stein-Milford hung out with me for an afternoon in Red Hook to catch up on our lives during the pandemic, discuss creativity, our past, and the clothing we wear for her cool blog, ALL DRESSED, NOWHERE TO GO.
"While Dean’s superhero characters are not literal stand-ins, they certainly capture aspects of his character. The brave, the ridiculous, the openhearted, the romantic all rolled in one.
Dean had warned me that he wasn’t much for dressing up. He showed up in his uniform of black T-shirt, pants, and Blundstone boots. But this is not to say he did not make an effort! For one, he didn't arrive topless, always a possibility with Dean. And the worn T-shirt he wore was a very special one, he assured me, from a Wizard World Comic Con conference, and one of the few T-shirts he has with writing on it. “When I wear it, it’s like having a dog, a conversation starter. All the people who love comics talk to you.” Also, instead of jeans or Dickies he wore black semi-stylish pants! Most special is the ring he showed me, an M with a devil tail, something he carries in his pocket at all times, a memento from his brother Mike who died sixteen years ago. He told me that he hadn’t really thought about how these kinds of objects you wear or keep with you on your body hold stories until our All Dressed date."
BLACKOUT, The Red Hook season 4 is completed and I'm currently producing the finale for the Webtoon residency of my superhero saga. PTSD: Post-Traumatic Superhero Disorder is slated to launch in the Fall.
Writer/critic and NuBK co-conspirator, Adam McGovern wrote a beautiful review of BLACKOUT called "The Superhood."
And, I talked with Alex Deuben about the ending to BLACKOUT, how it fits into the broader New Brooklyn saga, my theater work and more for SMASH PAGES.
"I would go to Sunny’s and every Saturday night they had bluegrass music in the back room. I don’t like bluegrass, and I’m not religious, but I got back there and it felt like God, and it put me at peace and at ease. I would go to the back room with a rocks glass of whiskey and just listen.
The weirdest people would show up there. You’d be talking to Marissa Tomei while watching bluegrass. Norah Jones would show up to try out some songs. Michael Shannon lives around the corner and I’m sitting at the bar with him talking about Zod. I just named some famous people but all kinds of people go there. It’s just where people congregate. I wrote about a version of Sunny’s in my play The Last Bar at the End of the World. That’s how I feel about Sunny’s."
"If I’m lucky I’ll wrap up the New Brooklyn saga and then try to publish it as an omnibus. My working title is “Once Upon a Time in Brooklyn.”
JACKED KIRBY podcast episode #102: Creator-owned Kirby with Dean Haspiel. Tommy, Mike D and I get INTO it for almost 3-hours and talk about Wo Hop, The Red Hook, Captain Victory and Jack Kirby. Bring a lunch box.
WORD BALLOON TRIVIA with me, Fred Van Lente, Mike Norton, Erica Schultz, Crystal Skillman, and Whitney Matheson hosted by John Siuntres. We answered questions about TV, old movies, horror movies and music.