Brooklyn Brewery President Steve Hindy and Brooklyn Brewery logo-creator Milton Glaser were both honored earlier this week at the annual Library Dinner of The Brooklyn Historical Society. Although Milton was under the weather and unable to attend, Steve read the following endearing words on his behalf:
Please excuse me for not showing up tonight. If there was any chance of me being able to stand up, I would certainly be here, particularly because I wanted to apologize to Brooklyn on this lovely occasion. Let me explain…
When I was growing up in the Bronx, there were only two countries that mattered: the Bronx and Brooklyn. They were long-time rivals, not over material goods, but rather which borough best represented the soul of New York. This all must have started with the Dodgers and the Yankees. As we know, competition can be stronger within the family than outside.
I once made the mistake of becoming romantically involved with a girl in Brooklyn. On Saturday nights, I would pick her up at her home (2 hours), subway into Manhattan for a movie (1 hour), take her back home (1 hour), and then return to the Bronx (2 hours). A total of 6 hours traveling. When I became aware that I could be arriving in Paris in the same amount of time, the relationship began to falter.
Some years later, I was given a 3-year art scholarship to Pratt Institute. I took the entrance exam and was notified that I had failed. I spoke with the dean about what to do, since I hadn’t applied anywhere else, “I can’t give you a scholarship if you can’t pass the entrance exam, but I have an idea. Take the night school examination, go to Pratt at night for a year, then transfer into day school and I’ll give you the balance of the scholarship.” I then took the night school examination and failed it. As far as I know, I am the only one who ever failed the night school exam. For a brief time, I went to Brooklyn College. But even without a girlfriend, I was spending 4 hours a day underground. Then I applied to Cooper Union, got in and continued my life. But I never got over the feeling that Brooklyn had betrayed me.
Many years later, about a quarter of a century ago, two guys came to see me at my studio – Tom Potter and Steve Hindy. They seemed nice enough, but had a completely wacky idea. They wanted to build a brewery in Brooklyn. They had a name for their beer, Brooklyn Eagle, perhaps for the venerable and respected newspaper that reflected Steve’s background working in journalism. I said, “Call it Brooklyn! Why do you want to be represented by a bird, when you can own the whole borough?” The rest is history.
Tom left Brooklyn to pursue other passions. The Ottaway Brothers, the brilliant Brewmaster Garrett Oliver, and Steve have continued and their success has been astonishing. The business has grown 20% each year. But more importantly, it has played a role in the transformation of the borough into one of the most desirable and lively parts of the entire city. From my point of view, the elevation of food and drink does more to improve life than your average museum. Finally, the best benefit of working with Steve on making Brooklyn Brewery useful was the development of a friendship, quite apart from our professional relationship. I can’t think of anyone that I would rather sit down and have a conversation (with or without a glass of beer) with than Steve.
Our friendship and work together has changed my perception of Brooklyn and I apologize for all my previous resentment. I now see Brooklyn as another dynamic fragment of the glorious urban tapestry called New York City. And feel that we are all fortunate to be living here and now.Back to all blog posts