We went into Hudson Bikes thinking we’d want to buy used bikes (an old English work horse or even a beat up red Schwinn), but we came out with two shiny new ones; a jet black Biria and a handsome British city touring bike. Nick’s the man at Hudson Urban Bicycles. He was extremely patient as we tried every bike in the joint and even threw in a metal front-loading basket.
The original plan was to ride to the Dekalb Market and to Brooklyn Flea’s 4th Annual Superstar DJ Record Fair + Independent Label Market on Kent Ave. But after a quick stop on the lower east side to take a look at the construction progress on Wayland (new live music bar soon to open on Avenue C and 9th Street), we packed our new rides into the back of the truck and headed over to Dumbo. Not our first choice, but we had tickets to Floating Kabarrette at the Galapagos Art Center. After the first tame act, I realized that I shouldn’t have taken him to The Box first.
Pricey rents and a small main drag, DUMBO is an acronym standing for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, and the acronym sums up Dumbo’s location. Dumbo sits on the edge of the East River, looking across to Manhattan. It is an area characterized by cobblestone streets and converted warehouses.
We don’t have an iPod hook up in the old truck, so we couldn’t listen to the playlist created for the day. Some of the music we missed but must share –
Utopia by Yacht
Ivory Teeth Golden Tusk by Monogold
Glow Go the Bones by Bosco Delrey
We parked right under the Manhattan Bridge (circle long enough and you will find a spot) and jumped on our bikes.
I wasted a lot of the week worrying about where we were going to eat in Dumbo if we had too, but by the time we rode to the park, admired the twilight view of downtown Manhattan while gliding along, we ended up just sitting outside at Pedros for some home-made empanadas and margaritas.
My other half hates Dumbo. He just thinks the vibe is really off and that there’s some kind of vortex that happens between the two bridges that puts everyone in a zombie like state. It seems to have become a place for weddings and bachelorette parties. It reminds us of one of those gated “lifestyle communities” in Florida. Really.
But we always seem to attract the colorful and curious no matter where we go. While we were eating on the side-walk of Pedros a white pimped out BMW convertible pulled up playing pounding latin beats. It seems Mr. Pedro came by to check out how biz was doing for the night. Little did he know that he wiped out any sense of authenticity this place had in one slam of the car door.
No sooner did we lip the salt off the rim of the glass did a middle-aged man in vintage plaid skinny pants, a Croatian named Dex, try to sell us a Fiddly Fig plant for $60.00 with the ceramic pot, $40.00 without. He’s trying to make it in NY with a nursery business run out of Carrol Gardens and sometimes out of his truck. He said he felt drawn to our table and plopped down to have a smoke. He said business was booming until just last week, so he brought his plants to the street to try to sell them on the weekends for some extra cash.
After dinner, we had an hour to kill, so of course we stopped by 68 Jay to listen to the live music, we’re suckers for a good fiddle jam.
Chad, chain-smoking on the bench outside Jay’s, reminisced about when Dumbo had its day in the sun. All the artists squatting, live music out of the back of beat up vans and the vibrant energy that made Dumbo come alive. We remember it as when you had to take your battery out of your car if you were visiting a friend in the neighborhood and bring it with you up to the loft. Chad tells us everyone moved to Berlin and Detroit and it’s just not the way it was.
Now, we’re not hating on Dumbo and Vinegar Hill and we will be back for The Creator’s Project next weekend, but one hour is all you need in this neck of the woods. Stroll across the bridge, take in the view, have a sip of something at 68 Jay and then move on.