‘Political speakeasy’ debuts in Brooklyn

Live talk show, “The Hook,” kicks off Jan. 10 at Pete’s Candy Store

In a time when people are arguably more divided politically, spiritually and creatively than ever before, one Brooklyn resident aims to bridge those gaps on the local level.

Jamie Hook will debut “The Hook,” which he describes as a “political speakeasy” on Tuesday, Jan. 10 at Pete’s Candy Store in Brooklyn. It was partly inspired by “Open City Dialogues,” his lecture series that ran at Pete’s from 2008 to 2012.

“It gave me a chance to do some ‘community engineering’ — taking your community, finding parts of it that are insurgent or dysfunctional, inspiring or disinspiring and working with them to better tune their community,” Hook told Metro.

“The Hook,” which is a live talk show and podcast, will kick off with City Councilmember Stephen Levin, pictured above, who represents New York’s 33rd District and recently helped secure the final parcel of land for Bushwick Inlet Park.

“I think Councilman Levin is one of the great unsung heroes of this city,” Hook said. “I’ve found him incredibly personable and a refreshing combination of idealistic and pragmatic. [At a recent event] he said a lot of people feel really disconnected from politics right now, and [to me], politics is the grandest form of community engineering of all.”

Metro reached out to Levin for comment on his appearance on “The Hook,” which promises to ask him burning questions about hope in politics, his college band and more, but had not heard back by press time.

With the divisive events of the past year, Hook wants people to think locally and step away from their computers or phones.

“Maybe our way to fight back isn’t to pen endless comments on the internet about how much we disagree with things, but to collect in a room and to notice what’s happening in our community, be inspired by it and go out and build it brick-by-brick,” he said.

“The Hook” will start off as a monthly event, with the goal of eventually going weekly “if we find a way to enable it financially,” Hook said.


In addition to “The Hook,” Jamie Hook is also resurrecting his act of public ironing — as in that oft-dreaded laundry task — on Tuesdays in January as part of “Iron Man’s Greenpoint Gratitude Tour.”

“It’s a lighthearted version of community engineering,” Hook said of the iron events. “I believe there are people out there like me who enjoy ironing and would do it as a public event.”

What’s the secret to a good iron?

The iron has to be heavy, a lot of people like a Teflon plate, but I like a steel plate. It’s gotta have a really good steam function.

What’s your least favorite household chore?

Emptying my cat’s litter box.

You said in the tour’s press release that you reserve the right to refuse service. Have you refused anything up to this point?

No, but there was one person who brought a very difficult rayon shirt, and I had one of my apprentices on the board, and I kicked her off to iron it myself. Nobody’s brought me a deal-breaker yet.

Sounds like Hook just made a challenge, New York …

This article originally published on Metro.us on Jan. 9, 2017.

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