The People in Your Neighborhood: Justin Taylor and Eva Talmadge, Literary Tattoo Connoisseurs

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10/14/2010 8:57 AM |


Previously, we posted the trailer for The Word Made Flesh: Literary Tattoos, a self-explanatory book of photos and essays, edited by Justin Taylor and Eva Talmadge (right). The book’s release party—with a slideshow and drinks—is next Wednesday at the powerHouse arena in Dumbo, but in the meantime, who are these young curators of literary body art? We sent them our neighborhood questionnaire to find out.

Eva: Williamsburg.
Justin: Bushwick.

Best place to people watch?
Eva: The window at Variety on Graham Ave, in Williamsburg.
Justin: Still Bedford Avenue—used to be because you could see all the newest hipster non-fashions, but now it’s because of drunken Europeans and people from New Jersey. Who are hilarious in their own ways.

Best place to drink?
Eva: To really get your drink on, I like the Richardson on Graham and Richardson.
Justin: Matt Torey’s on Bushwick and Ainslie. This place hasn’t been open that long but I love it. Lots of space, big windows that open when the weather’s nice, and a small but excellent selection of beers on tap.


Best restaurant?
Eva: I’m a big fan of Mother’s, on Graham and Metropolitan, even though it’s technically more of a bar. Best veggie burger in town, and the sweet potato fries are good, too.
Justin: Mother’s. It’s actually more of a bar that serves burgers than a “restaurant,” but it’s very convenient and you can’t beat the quality at the price. A good percentage of The Word Made Flesh meetings were either held there, or adjourned to there.

Best bookstore or record store?
Eva: I’m partial to Spoonbill & Sugartown.
Justin: My favorite bookstores in the city are Housing Works and St. Mark’s Bookshop. Also Book Culture, though it’s so far uptown (112th & Broadway) that I don’t get there as often as I’d like. In Brooklyn, I like Book Thug Nation on North 3rd past Berry—it’s tiny, but the curation is impeccable. The best record store in New York is still Other Music—it’s the one place I’m willing to walk into and take the staff picks with no grain of salt.

Best grocery store/farmer’s market?
Eva: Rosemary on Graham & Metro is where it’s at.
Justin: No idea. I mostly eat burritos.

Best laundromat?
Eva: No idea.
Justin: I wouldn’t say the Korean place across the street from me is the best, but it is the most across the street from me.


Best outdoor spot?
Eva: The rooftop at Berry Park has a spectacular skyline view, but it’s best to go when the bar isn’t at its most crowded.
Justin: I like the parts of Williamsburg where you can get to the actual shoreline. There are a couple. I’m also partial to my own roof.

Best place to attend a show/view a piece of art/see a movie?
Eva: The new Knitting Factory on Metropolitan is a great space for shows—the sound is good, and they have that window!
Justin: My favorite venue in the city is Bowery Ballroom. It’s like Webster Hall, but more intimate and everything is cheaper. I like seeing movies at IFC.

Best coffee shop?
Eva: The Beaner Bar on Graham Ave. Their spicy hot cocoa is the best.
Justin: In my neighborhood it’s Boulevard Cafe, which is on Bushwick between Montrose and Johnson. I’ve loved that place since the day it opened, and the owners are the nicest couple of people you’ll ever meet. Sometimes I like to take a long walk before sitting down to work at a coffee shop, and on these days I go up to this Italian place in Greenpoint that I don’t know the name of in the 1100 block of Manhattan Avenue. It’s got a musical instrument nailed to the doorframe, and is next to another coffee shop (Champion) which is also good, but the Italian place is cavernous, with books lining the walls and a leather couch and a yard.

Best subway line?
Eva: The L train, when it’s running!
Justin: The L train, when it’s running.

Best date spot?
Eva: The Manhattan Inn, in Greenpoint.
Justin: Did Eva say the Manhattan Inn? I can’t believe she said the Manhattan Inn! That’s that place where you get the beer in 44 oz. styrofoam cups, right? No, wait, that’s the Greenpoint Tavern. Okay. Manhattan Inn has the piano then—a classy place. Sounds great. Someone should take me on a date there.

Best person whose name you don’t know?
Eva: The guy who sits in front of the headstone shop (the one that also sells fresh baked bread!) on Graham Ave.
Justin: The mariachi band that plays on the L train. They only seem to know that one song, and they’ve been playing it for at least five years, but they seem just as excited about it now as the first time I saw them.

According to neighborhood folklore, are there any celebrities living in the area?
Eva: I think Sufjan Stevens is nearby, but can’t say for sure.
Justin: Tao Lin used to live at my house. Does that count?

Which are there more of: dogs, bodega cats, strollers, American Apparel ads, or old men on stoops?
Eva: In my part of Williamsburg (off the Graham stop) I’d have to say old men on stoops.
Justin: Well a lot of the newer transplants to Bushwick are walking American Apparel ads, but I’m gonna go with dogs.

What’s missing from your neighborhood?
Eva: Chain stores—but that’s a good thing.
Justin: Nothing. Our neighborhood is perfect—and full now. Go away.

What’s been the biggest change since you’ve moved in?
Eva: A lot of new places have opened in the three years I’ve lived off the Graham stop—three new coffee shops, a few new bars, and a bunch of restaurants, too. In 2007 there was just Daddy’s and Harefield Road and not much else.
Justin: I used to have to lie to get cab drivers to come out here. Now I can walk out onto my corner at any hour of day or night and hail a cab. No joke. But seriously—see answer to previous question.

It’s a Saturday night in October. You don’t feel like traveling very far but are antsy for a night out. Where do you go?
Eva: Pete’s Candy Store for an alt-country band and some paninis!Justin: The aforementioned Matt Torey’s. Or, if I’m lazier than that, down to the Duck Bar on the corner Montrose and Graham. It’s gotten really great since they expanded it. But there’s also a great Spanish restaurant called Los Arcos next to Boulevard Cafe, and next to Los Arcos is a liquor store. Some weekends, I don’t get off the block at all.