The BQA: Daniel Goldstein


Given the news that Forest City Ratner has betrayed the public’s trust yet again, and scrapped Gehry in favor of a cookie cutter architect for Atlantic Yards to cut costs, we decided to continue our new interview series, The BQA, with Daniel Goldstein, who has worked tirelessly to reveal how much of a boondoggle the Atlantic Yards project really is. For over five years Goldstein has led the fight against AY through the non-profit he co-founded, Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, and by spearheading a lawsuit that has kept the project in the courts, and Ratner’s wrecking ball at bay. The fight’s not over yet: During the next six months, there will be a number of ways you can prevent the project from going forward as it’s been haphazardly planned.

What’s so great about Brooklyn?
The people, the neighborhoods, the pride, the activism and the diversity.

Any gripes?
The BEEP, and the — shall we say — interesting political “culture.” Rampant and crooked overdevelopment such as the Atlantic Yards proposal, the evisceration of Coney Island and the empty skyscraper post-rezoning speculation in Williamsburg/Greenpoint and Downtown Brooklyn.

Name in order: your favorite breakfast, dinner and late-night drinks spot.
Breakfast at home or a quick trip to Bergen Bagel on Bergen Street. [For dinner] I’m a very lucky guy — there is nothing better than my wife’s home-cooked Indian meals. But if we do go out I like some of the places on Vanderbilt like Bob Law’s Seafood Cafe, Amorina, or Soda Bar. In a pinch, Yummy Taco on Flatbush serves multiple purposes and Antonio’s Pizza on Flatbush is a favorite. We don’t get out much any more for late-night drinks, what with the baby and working on stopping this whole Ratner debacle. But I live around the corner from one of the best bars in the city, Freddy’s Bar & Backroom. It’s low-key with no fake attitude, reasonably-priced, has a great bunch of regulars while welcoming newcomers, and a fantastic calendar of mostly free music. And they are also plaintiffs on the Atlantic Yards eminent domain lawsuit, which is pretty courageous. I do manage to get over there once in a while these days, but not enough.

A Brooklynite you’d love to meet:
Born and/or lived in, I presume. Dead? Jean-Michel Basquiat and Walt Whitman. Living? Jay-Z, Paul Auster and Larry David.

One thing few people know about you:
I like pro sports a lot.

What else do you want to be or do?
I also want to be a painter, author and political operative with a direct line to Governor Paterson’s ear to explain that the populist position on Atlantic Yards would be to scrap the project. I want to live in India some day so my daughter can get a taste for that part of her heritage.

What are you reading, watching, or listening to right now?
RIGHT now I’m reading this question, watching my monitor and listening to The Brian Lehrer Show. If you mean these days, which I think you do, I’m reading Suketu Mehta‘s Maximum City and just finished Junot Diaz‘s Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which is an amazing book. But each of my days starts with reading and, and then I turn to Atrios’ Eschaton blog. I don’t watch much, but do enjoy NY1’s “Road to City Hall” (though they’ve never spent time on the Atlantic Yards issue and should) and when I can, I watch the liberal one-two punch of Olbermann and Maddow. And if I can manage it, the Daily Show and Colbert Report. Yes, I am a news junkie. I pretty much exclusively listen to Will Oldham (aka Bonnie Prince Billy) and Bollywood and Bhangra music. I like to listen to Jon Pinamonti’s “The Burrow” to get fired up. Having witnessed David Byrne‘s incredible, and packed, concert in Prospect Park the other night I’m gonna pull out some old Talking Heads discs.

Guiltiest pleasure in your fridge:
Not much to be guilty about, but if I’ve got to answer I’d say cheese.

What’s the one product, accessory, or piece of clothing you rely on to look good?
My Freddy’s old school softball t-shirt designed by Scott Turner/Superba Graphics and anything by MissWit.

Your dream place to live in Brooklyn:

Well, I was living in my dream place until Forest City Ratner asked Governor Pataki to take it from me, forcing me to fight for years to stay in it. Brooklyn has so many great neighborhoods it is really impossible to choose. So I’ll stick with where I live, Prospect Heights, and keep working to keep it from becoming that mega-schlock known as Atlantic Yards.

Sent by Nicole. Photo courtesy Daniel Goldstein.

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