Join us this Sunday, Oct 17th at 3:00PM in the Union Square Borders in SF for a special glimpse into Brooke's new memoir No Place Like Home, A Memoir in 39 Apartments. Here is a taste of what you'll hear on Sunday...
From 600 BERGEN ST, BROOKLYN, NY
By April 1, 1991, I have moved to Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, to live in a house with Anya, my friend from Dance Theater Workshop. A real house! A
duplex! I hire a “Man with Van” whose number has been
posted on the bulletin board at the Screen Actors Guild.
The Man with Van is in his fifties, and he looks like
someone’s dad except that he’s wearing a beret. We have
only five boxes to carry, plus the purple board and two milk crates that make up my “desk” and the extra milk crate, aka my“dresser.” During the
drive, when I mention that I’m an aspiring actress and that
I’ve begun writing, he gives me advice on dialogue. At this point, I have no idea that I
will wind up a playwright, and I think his advice is a strange
gift, but I take it nonetheless. He tells me to listen in to
conversations and write them down— every day. He says,
go to public places, take a notebook, and write down what
people say verbatim. It is quite a gift for an hour and a half’s move to Brooklyn.
By the time we hit Flatbush Avenue, I have ammunition
for a career that I don’t yet know is in my future.
The house on Bergen is spacious— a relief after East
Village walk- ups. My room is upstairs, next to the kitchen
and bathroom, while the other bedrooms (and thus roommates)
are on the main floor. The room is furnished with
a twin bed and a dresser. It has an enormous closet. I am
subletting from a Village Voice writer who will, years later,
disappear on Mount Rainier in a surreal accident— he goes
bird- watching and never comes back! But in 1991 the writer is
on a fellowship in Mississippi. He has left Anya, who lives
in the big room downstairs, in charge of finding the right
subletter, and Anya insists that person is me.
Anya can do anything with a glue gun and some glitter. And most of her
friends live in the neighborhood, so weekends in Brooklyn
are always full of activity. Plus, Anya has been initiating me into the subculture
of Lower East Side dance and performance art since I was
in college. She takes me to Veselka, a Ukrainian diner on
Ninth Street where the artists hang out eating the most
amazing poppy- seed cake ever, and to symposiums and
workshops at Movement Resarch and parties full of the most interesting new people— and now, she initiates me into Brooklyn.
My mother is horrified. “Brooklyn” makes her think of gangsters and old Russian
Jews on the boardwalk— A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Coney
Island, Radio Days. She insists that this is retrograde motion,
not understanding how gentrified parts of Brooklyn have
become, or how many young people are claiming these
neighborhoods. If she only knew. If I only kept the lease. If
only there were a lease.
You can also hear a reading of Brooke's new play My New Best Friend, Or, Six Degrees of Sevrin Stein on Monday, Oct 18th at 7:30PM (Stanford University) and on Tuesday, Oct. 19th at 7:00PM (Thick House, SF) in our Rough Readings Series. For more information about these readings please go to