The "Ace" song "How Long...Has This Been Going On?" was stuck in my head as I rolled through the Fort Greene night. (to really enjoy this post, jump to the bottom and hit play, then read on...)
As for the song in my head, there was nothing romantic or broken to inspired it, it simply was there, bouncing off the rubber walls in my mind. And then I came down Clinton Av, spotted a giant arrow illuminated by marquee light bulbs and the song became real apropos.
Apparently "HOT BIRD" is back.
Where it never was.
Right there on the corner of Atlantic and Clinton, it's open for business and respectable filled with patrons. The corner was enclosed last year and I heard about the desire to open the spot up, but when exactly did all that happen?
And is this as weird to anyone else as it is to me?
When I was a kid growing up nearby there were several attempts to jumpstart businesses on Vanderbilt Av. Few lasted long, (with the exception of Bob Law's Seafood Cafe) One of my favorites from that time mid 80's was Ice Cream Park, but that's another story. One of the last I remember toward the end of the 80's was "Hot Bird".
There was some local chatter about it being tasty fried chicken, and that's all I know. What long out lasted the chicken spot were the painted signs. Unavoidable, like magnets to the eye, with their giant screaming yet somehow modest black letters on baby chick yellow walls. The largest on the side of a building at Clinton and Atlantic Aves.
Having been here and always associated the signs garishness with the failed chicken spot, I clearly lack the vision that a newcomer gets of that sign. I've heard people talk about it like it was a stone tablet from deities, taunting overhead, never leaving the mountain top. I've seen hundreds of photos of the sign. (which is why I never take a photo of it) I felt it reached the zenith when pictures of the old yellow and black evocative description made it into a show at the Brooklyn Museum. All I could do was shake my head. For me, a life long resident of the area, it was no different than walking out one day and seeing all the teenagers wearing something ridiculous, in unison, in the name of their own sense of fashion.
I just don't get it.
As mentioned, last year I heard tell of a group opening up a business to be called "Hot Bird" and I think I heard some newcomers mention the people who started it "had come back" which I highly doubt. I just don't imagine the folks I jonesing to bring the bird back.
I image this is a newcomer operation, I could be wrong, it's happened. But as I've often written about, I'm not the biggest fan of sprawling recontextualizations, especially when a Newcomer stripes all that was, save the sign above the door which with its loss of context becomes interesting simply because of irony and disconnect.
But there are other Newcomers too, the ones I cherish for helping rebuild aspects of my Brooklyn. Ah... my valued Newcomers, one day I will sing the praises of your intrepid and die-hard devotion to anything new (and at least mildly interesting)
Which is I guess what interests me about HOTBIRD's rebirth. Understand, that for me HOT BIRD means as much as a manhole cover. Even though I've gone on at length about all manner of things destroyed and discarded, even the DKNY sign with the NY Skyline that used to be on Houston in the Soho, ironically.
But I never pined for HOT BIRD even when it was open. I mean despite visible claim on its sign of having been "The Best Bar-B-Q in New York" I don't remember anyone else thinking that back in the day. I mean yeah the chicken was tasty, but shit it was the 80's! At that time the second best "Bar-B-Q" probably came out of a Heinz bottle.
The twist here, what gives this situation interest to me is that it's an elevation this time.
So HOT BIRD is back, though it almost never was. Something from near nothing. That I like. That valuable quality of taking what is no longer in use, and finding it significant, even if it wasn't really all that significant to many in the first place, and then investing, projecting value into it. On the macro and micro scale, that's the incubator NYC reliably generally provides to new and old.
Once there was a HOT BIRD, now there is a HOT BIRD, as always the city is a fertile wardrobe waiting to be tried on and turned out.
BTW fans of "Ace", this one's for you. Link and video below: