Out of chaos emerges order in the strangest of places. Industry City in Brooklyn to be quite specific. On more than one occasion during the COVID-19 pandemic, I have ventured out from the compound on the Jersey Shore and made the trip into Brooklyn. I’m married to a Brooklyn girl; although she ended up in Staten Island where they certainly have a different way with things. Matt from HiFi Provisions laughed when I explained that I was from the Shore but that my kids were 1/2 Flatbush. He understood.
Brooklyn has suffered enormously during the pandemic; not that other parts of NYC and New Jersey have had it any easier. I’ve watched my pew in synagogue change dramatically as older congregants died at a rather frightening pace back in the first 4 months of 2020.
I suppose I was lucky to have become sick back in March 2020 because it was over in 3 weeks and nobody else in my immediate family became ill. The lockdowns in the Garden State became an issue for me. Isolation and bipolar disorder are a bad combination.
I am a creature of habit and I don’t like having my routine disrupted. Not even Hamas or Hezbollah missiles have been able to deter me from patronizing my favorite cafe in Tel Aviv or Hummus stand in Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda Market during wartime. If it’s my time to get torn to shreds by shrapnel from a missile or debris from the Iron Dome — at least I’m being allowed to have my final meal on my terms.
Driving into Brooklyn to have lunch or breakfast with industry friends became almost impossible over the past 13 months; it’s almost impossible to eat in a restaurant when they are all closed.
Adam Sohmer (one of the finest public relations professionals in CE) and I have a ritual. We meet up in Industry City for soup dumplings. Before COVID, we could eat like two normal Jewish guys at Yaso Tangbao at a proper table. Not like a couple of chazerim in a deserted courtyard in-between the buildings with our masks under our noses and almost no other people.
More dumplings for us I guess.
Fast forward to May 2021 and the two of us decided, having finished our second vaccinations back in March and April, to meet up for the first time in almost 6 months at Yaso to pretend that life has returned to normal.
Don’t let anyone tell you that things are the same in New York City or Brooklyn. They are not and while NYC will find its way back — it’s never going to be the same.
There has been an exodus out of Brooklyn. How do I know this?
I live in the Syrian Jewish community on the Shore. Our school went from 1,000 to 1,500 students in 3 months. Every home that has been put up for sale in my neighborhood in Long Branch, or Eatontown, Ocean Township, West Long Branch, Deal, Asbury Park — has sold in less than a week. Probably close to 200 homes in a very small geographic area.
We’ve had 9 unsolicited offers on our home. Some were dramatically more than we paid. Folks with New York license plates have knocked on our front door and made serious offers for our house.
They have left Brooklyn for good and taken their assets with them. Many are already in Florida. I met them on the beach in Delray only a few weeks ago. Passover seders in Florida were packed this year. As they should be every year.
With that in mind, I was very happy to have lunch with my friend and bask in the sunshine in a busy courtyard slurping our dumplings and noodles.
It is the little things that make life meaningful. The ability to kvetch, laugh, gossip, and talk about our kids. And soup dumplings.
Human beings don’t do well in isolation. We’re not wired that way.
As we were cleaning up our garbage and making our way back inside the building that sits on 36th Street, Adam pointed to a new store that had opened up inside.
“Vinyl and Stereo” read the sign.
Having just opened 5 weeks ago, HiFi Provisions is both a record and vintage audio dealer.
New cartridges from Grado Labs will be available for sale there soon which is the only thing that makes sense.
Brooklyn supporting Brooklyn.
Matt who opened HiFi Provisions explained through his mask that he’s been collecting vintage audio for awhile and that the store still needed some work.
Walking around the store, I found myself ignoring the vinyl and focusing on the McIntosh, Fisher, Thorens, Acoustic Research, Bang & Olufsen, and ProAc equipment that he had on display.
When I pointed to the pair of ProAc loudspeakers on his work bench, he remarked “I found those at a thrift store and had to remove the straws that were used in the original design.”
An inverted Fisher receiver was being repaired on the bench and it was clear that Matt was quite serious about turning his little store into a popular destination in Industry City.
As we were leaving, a group of 20-somethings who worked upstairs were buying some records and admiring all of the vintage components in every corner of the store.
The two audio industry veterans walked out on to 36th Street and felt something we have not felt for a very long time.
For more information. HiFi Provisions Vinyl & Vintage Audio Store