After attending film school in Chicago, Matt moved to New York City in 1998 to start the art rock outfit God The Band, achieving cult notoriety on the local underground music scene. In the years since, he has worked as a video editor, videographer and, occasionally, film director. In 2011, he made his feature debut with the film “Love Stalker.” Matt has been a proud Greenpoint resident for over a decade and has no plans to move anytime soon. He loves cats.
On this rainy day, rather than trudging around on the subway, don’t you wish you could work from home? Or at least at the local cafe? If you do or plan to in the near future, here is a guide to Greenpoint’s Best “Work From Home” Cafés.
Greenpoint is a veritable hotbed of freelancers and work-from-home individuals who often look for places to get work done outside of the home. While there are now many different offerings and alternatives to our neighborhood Starbucks, we thought it was high time to acknowledge the best places to work from home away from home in Greenpoint.
Cafe Grumpy (193 Meserole Ave.)
Grumpy has been around for nearly ten years and is the go-to coffeehouse for writers and freelancers. Subscribing to the “no-frills” philosophy, Grumpy does not offer much in the way of food or exotic pastries but it covers the basics with coffee and tea drinks and your essential scones and muffins. A hub of bustling creative activity, Grumpy is always near capacity when I’ve dropped in.
Interestingly, Grumpy also roasts their own coffee beans in the back of the shop which adds an aromatic perk to the experience. As expected, there is free Wi-Fi at Cafe Grumpy and the signal is strong throughout. Certainly, there’s something to be said about the “experience” of getting work done at Cafe Grumpy – it may not always be conducive to distraction-free working, but the energy therein is certainly palpable. And as Grumpy’s burgeoning trendiness (thanks GIRLS) may now soon extend to the likes of Times Square, it’s recommended you try the original, Greenpoint-flavored original.
Cafe Royal (195 Nassau Ave.)
Opening in 2010, Cafe Royal has emerged as one of the prime work-from-home spots in Greenpoint. Buying out two storefronts with additional seating in their back yard, there is a friendly vibe to the place that is quite conducive to productivity. Boasting two separate Wi-Fi networks so you always get good signal, there are plenty of power outlets to plug into if your laptop is running out of juice. In addition, Cafe Royal offers some decent food options in case your body fuel begins to run low. Prices are pretty reasonable overall – coffee refills run only a buck a-piece. Continue reading →
And in yet another proverbial “nail in the coffin” on video rental stores, the local mainstay “Video Random” located on Norman Ave (off of Newel St.) is finally closing its doors. The owners, who have always catered to both domestic US tastes as well as those of the neighborhood’s Polish citizens, cite the usual factors in their decision to close up shop such as Netflix and online video streaming services to the failing video rental business model.
Currently, there’s no word as to what business will take the place of Video Random, but you can currently pick up any of their second hand DVD’s for $2 each and their previously rented blu-rays for only $5.
In case you were wondering, their copies of “The Godfather” and Brian DePalma’s “Scarface” were the first movies to go. But on the plus side, you can still pick up that copy of “Beverly Hill’s Chihuaha” on blu-ray that you’ve been meaning to acquire.
The owners were unsure of how long their doors would remain open, but they estimated they would still be there for at least two weeks.
We see them everywhere: on our streets, in our parks and sometimes in our bars and restaurants. Film shoots are a guaranteed daily encounter on the streets of Greenpoint. And while the scale and size of these productions vary from multi-million to zero, one thing is for sure: Greenpoint gets a lot of moviemaking love!
Picture Planet, a collective of local filmmakers and artists, is currently in the final stages on their debut feature: a street-balling ’80s style-comedy called Chicken which was shot almost entirely in Greenpoint. I sat down with the boys behind Chicken to talk shop over some cheap beers and free pizza at Lulu’s. The main players are Dan Bowhers, the director of Chicken, Vandall Truong, lead actor, and Mike Kolawski, the film’s producer. Continue reading →
Rachael Becker is surrounded by leather. Her business Heavy Leather specializes in stylish guitar and camera straps. I recently had a chance to sit down and chat with Rachael during her busy work day to talk leather, fashion and her love of Greenpoint.
Greenpointers: Tell me about “Heavy Leather.” What makes your guitar straps so special?
Rachael: Well, they’ve got a little bit of attitude. There are other guitar strap makers out there that feel cheesy or are going for that hairy ’80s metal thing. Mine has a good balance of style and attitude that isn’t cheesy or your typical western look. Plus it’s good quality and handmade.
Greenpointers: How did you get started doing leather and how long have you had your business for?
Rachael:I’ve had Heavy Leather for four years now. Originally, I went to school for fashion and I worked briefly in the fashion industry, but I was not into it. I really love men’s wear and working with leather, so after I was laid off from my old job, I found a posting on Craigslist for a leather smith’s assistant so I immediately contacted him and that got me on my way.
Greenpointers: How did you come to start building guitar straps? Walk me through the evolution…
Rachael:When I started out, I was doing custom work for leather accessories. At the time, I had a friend who asked me to make him a guitar strap so I ended up building a small custom collection of guitar straps, I posted them on eBay and they sold right away. After that, it was one-plus-one-equals-two. Another friend of mine, who was a photographer, he was requesting a camera strap so with the leftover leather from the guitar straps I started making camera straps. Now B&H and Adorama carries them. The only thing I don’t do is anything too sexy (laughs). Continue reading →
Every year, St. Stan’s Athletic League organizes a local 5K run which takes place throughout many of the major streets of Greenpoint to help fund their school program. Now in its 20th year, the “Get To The Point” 5K has gotten bigger and better with each round. All racers receive chips which will track their race time down to the millisecond, but not everyone participating will be tracking their time so fastidiously.
Having participated in two of the 5K runs myself, I can tell you what a joy it is to run along the empty streets of Driggs, Franklin and Manhattan Ave.. All traffic gets closed off of the race route (just as it does during the marathon in November) – that alone makes the $20 entry fee worth the price of admission. Even if you’re not a regular runner and are up for the walk, it’s a great way to experience Greenpoint that is not often possible.
In addition to the race, participants all get their very own “Get to The Point” 5K t-shirt and are welcome to attend the afterparty held at St. Stan’s gym auditorium. Food and drink are served at the afterparty (typically burgers, hot dogs and pizza – y’know – fitness food!) Last year, the Brooklyn Brewery donated a dozen cases of beer, much to the relief of the 21-plus racing crowd.
The afterparty is a trip in and of itself as the auditorium fills up with a wide array of local flavor and trophies get handed out for the winners of the race. In addition, they hold other contests for prizes donated by various local sponsors. The race manages to attract both young and old and the diehards from the North Brooklyn Runners. Registration can be done online in advance or on race day, though the cost is $5 more and you aren’t guaranteed a t-shirt!
In what was an inspired choice of venue, day three of the Greenpoint Film Festival took place at the Newtown Creek Visitors Center with a selection of environmentally and community themed documentaries. Opening the program was the must-see “The Domino Effect” – a very timely chronicle of the ongoing saga of the former sugar plant along the Williamsburg waterfront which was part of the city’s planned rezoning efforts to turn the facility into luxury and “affordable” housing.
Last Saturday, I joined the Instagram’s meet-up /walking tour of Greenpoint as a means to enjoy the last of the weekends of summer weather and to re-familiarize myself with developments along the waterfront. I’m fairly new to Instagram but not to photographing Greenpoint so I thought it would be a fun challenge to strictly take the best shots I could using the app on the old ‘hood. Continue reading →
On Friday, the Millennium Film Workshop, an artists’ film collaborative based out of the East Village, guest-curated the Greenpoint Film Festival’s program with a host of bold and striking experimental short films under the banner of the “Millennium Nomadic Program.” I’m of the opinion that any attempts to describe experimental shorts kind of defeats the purpose of their existence: they exist outside the conventions that we come to expect from short-form content in order that they challenge the aesthetic experience of the viewer and yesterday’s works were no exception.
There was a panel discussion with members from the collaborative including Tom Jarmusch (yes, brother of that other, more famous Jarmusch) that touched on the group’s mission, their struggle to keep their current space, and the importance of providing the resources for anyone to explore the film and video medium as a primary function to its society. It was an illuminating and refreshingly frank discussion, and one that has inspired myself to sign up as a member. In addition to offering wonderful resources to its members (it’s not every day you can book time on an optical printer or have the opportunity physically edit 16mm film), the Millenium Film Workshop provides several different courses to equip its members with the skills needed for them to explore their own voices within the medium.
Last night was the opening night celebration of The Greenpoint Film Festival which took place at the Greenpoint Garage on Huron Street off of Manhattan Ave. The festival kicked off with a standing-room only screening of the documentary “Deaf Jam” about a deaf girl (Aneta Brodski) who gets involved with performing ASL poetry in her high school. It was a highly effective film in exploring and giving a voice to those who are stripped of their basic sense of hearing and their struggles to find their own voice through performing signed poetry.
A Q&A followed the screening, which was simultaneously being signed to the audience, many of whom were deaf themselves. The film’s subject, the beautiful and passionate Aneta Brodski, was also in attendance and she was signing her answers and stories to an interpereter who would speak for her. It was a fascinating experience and one that I will not likely forget anytime soon.