Thursday Spotlight: Tony Wolf’s “Greenpoint of View” Reexamines and Celebrates Neighborhood
History books should be written as comics. In his 20+ years in Greenpoint, illustrator Tony Wolf witnessed a multitude of changes in the neighborhood, whimsically capturing the effects of gentrification and hipsterdom in his cartoon serials. But even as Tony traced the evolution in the neighborhood, one thing remains constant: his unflappable wonder for Greenpoint, and the unbreakable sense of community that connects its residents. Through his Greenpoint of View comics, he elevates a lazy stroll through McCarren Park into something majestic, and documents the dawn of a new era via the arrival of Enid’s.
Outside of his Greenpoint of View passion project, Tony is also a voice-over actor, performer, and freelance cartoonist with bylines in The New York Times. Now, even as Tony has relocated (he’s moved all the way to Hoboken, but he’s a truer Greenpointer than most at heart), he still aims to continue his Greenpoint of View series — be on the lookout for more soon! Below, we discuss what bars should be revived, his favorite restaurants, and how he made friends on — you guessed it — the G Train.
Greenpointers: How did Enids’ arrival signal a greater shift in the tone of neighborhoods like Greenpoint?
Tony Wolf: From my perspective, Enid’s was the very first “young cool artsy people” bar that I saw open in Greenpoint, shortly after I moved there in fall 1996. (I think The Pencil Factory bar over by Greenpoint Ave may have been open a bit before Enid’s, but in my experience, once Enid’s opened, it signaled a sea change in the culture of the neighborhood. The young bohemian types were staking their claim, and much fun was to be had. Prior to that, it was a neighborhood comprised mostly of (from what I could tell) older eastern Europeans.
GP: Do you have a favorite spot in Greenpoint?
TW: I love McCarren Park a lot — so much so that I devoted a good deal of my second comic story to it. The park is really beautiful, even when it was less populated. I also like the warehouse over by Milton Street. McGolrick Park is also pretty cool. The G train entrance at Nassau Avenue always feels very iconic to me, and I love Manhattan Avenue (which to me is like the “Broadway” of the neighborhood, in that it’s the main street). Scalino GP and Sauvage are my favorite restaurants there — Cherry Point is also a brilliant newer entry into the Greenpoint food scene.
TW: The Manhattan Inn was an exceptionally fun place and well-run bar, with great food and equally great music — the dance parties that erupted there were legendary, and for a time, the food was exceptional. The terrific atmosphere was soon spoiled by what seemed like a neglectful management, and the quality of everything started to rapidly deteriorate. So I’d like to bring back The Manhattan Inn at its classic levels of quality! Also, let’s bring back Matchless, shall we?
I have far more positive/fun G train stories than negative ones, thankfully. I always said that, like many things in life, the G train may have its limitations, but you just have to get to know it and learn to work with them/work around them. I made a great friend on the G train, when he was reading a comic book one day — it was a pretty obscure comic (Grant Morrison’s “The Invisibles” series), so I figured anyone reading that might be fun to start a conversation with. He and I discovered, after being “train buddies” for a few months, that we lived literally right next to each other! We are still good friends, and that was about eight years ago that we met on the train. Eventually I had quite a number of “train buddies” on my morning commute!