Best Buds With Mister Magic – Local Dealer Tells All

Members of the Shang Heights staff managed to wrangle a post-Thanksgiving interview with Mister Magic this week — on condition of strict anonymity, of course.

Mister Magic, for those not in the know, is the prolific (if secretive) local entrepreneur whose bike delivery service epitomizes “green business” in more ways than one.

(Transcribed from audio recording.

ShangHeights in all caps, Mister Magic in italics.)

Alright, let’s get started.  How’s it going?

Good man, good…  

Can you give us a sense of how you got started in this business?

Yeah, so I moved to the city in like 2008 after graduating  and did some work as a messenger…

Sorry to interrupt but can we ask which school? 

No that’s cool, it was Wesleyan. 

Is it ok to print that? 

Yeah that’s cool.  So the messenger thing was alright but the hours were crazy and the pay was shitty so I was looking to move on to something like more relevant my major…

Which was? 

Well that I’d rather not say because it was a small program but anyway I guess it wasn’t all that practical because I couldn’t really find anything and I didn’t want to, like, work in advertising, but a friend of mine had this delivery guy who came through all the time and would sometimes chill with us or whatever and he convinced me to deliver on my bike.

So, he had to convince you?

Yeah well it was a little sketchy and I was definitely worried about getting caught or whatever but the money was like way, way better and it actually wound up being a pretty laid back thing.

Were you delivering in Shang Heights then?

Nah, not that far south yet.  More like Brooklyn Heights, Fort Greene, out to Crown Heights sometimes, that general area.

Wait, Brooklyn Heights, really?  

Yeah in the nicer areas it’s a lot of teenagers actually, like kids living in their parents’ super sick brownstones [laughter].  Usually they’d wait until their parents were gone but sometimes I’d pretend to be a friend coming through for something. It was fucked up but those kids would pay whatever you wanted pretty much so I put up with it.   

So how’d you get started in the Brooklyn Chinatown area? 

Yeah, so a lot customers started moving down here a few years ago but we weren’t delivering that far south, like the farthest we’d go then was like maybe the cemetery.   

So you decided to fill the niche?

More like I was making all these exceptions because these kids we had delivered to like forever were suddenly living on like,  500th and 8th and we didn’t want to lose the business [Mister Magic laughed here then read a text, tapping out a quick reply before continuing].  But yeah, there was totally a market gap in that respect so I filled it. 

And your boss was cool with it? 

Oh yeah, he was totally cool with it,   it’s not some like, super hood operation — we were focused on high-quality stuff and our clientele is a lot of young professionals so it’s not like the Wire or something.   So yeah, we talked about it and he was cool with me moving on to do my own thing independently, but the business ties were totally still there, like suppliers and everything, so it wasn’t really a bad thing for him either,  see what I’m saying?  

You don’t really fit most people’s conception of a drug dealer-  highly educated,  upper-middle-class background, etc.  Are you surprised? Do you see yourself staying in this business? Is it satisfying? 

Yeah, I get that, totally.  Like, when I was fucking slaving away on my senior thesis it wasn’t to break into the weed delivery field but the recession left the job market just totally fucked.  So at first it was just for money, but after a few years of doing this it actually is really something I want to pursue, and it can be very satisfying, yeah.   

How exactly? 

Yeah well when you’re delivering it’s not just like, I throw a bag of weed at you and you slip me 60 bucks or whatever.  You talk to the customer, describe what’s available, match it to their tastes, all that. There really is a lot of variety in the experience in terms of the taste of the smoke, the nature of the high and so on.  It’s a sensory experience that can totally be curated and appreciated.

Do you think there’s a market for this kind of experience with weed? 

 People laugh at me when I say this  but it really can be kind of like being a sommelier, and the growers, at least the really good ones, are totally like any other producer of like, wine, or beer, or cheese or whatever. They’re botanists and artists at the same time, taking this plant and imagining how it could be better and making it happen.  

Botanartists?

[laughter] Right.  I think it’s pretty fucking cool and totally worthy of respect like those other industries.    

Like, just about the time I moved full time down here, and this is kind of a secret but important to the point I’m making, right when when I moved down was when I was getting really into growing, like really starting to get the hang of it, and even though I can’t really like, grow in volume because it’s the City it’s been the key thing that made me realize there’s room for thought and improvement and craft in this whole business.  It’s an intellectual and scientific and aesthetic process, so, like… yeah maybe college really does help you sell weed [laughter].  

So you feel like there’s room for growth, if you’ll pardon the pun? 

Of course, of course.  Just look at what’s happening in Colorado and Washington, it’s really only a matter of time until it’s legal here.

Long term I’d like to open a dispensary or coffee shop, y’know depending on what model they use to legalize it, and in your own store you can really bring out the experience that you really want, which for me would be the kind of aesthetic craft experience that I was talking about, like really give people the guidance and the opportunity  to explore the variety and depth in what’s available.  

Anything else you’d like to say to the readers of this blog?

Definitely. The week before Christmas we’re gonna have sick deals on quarters of everything so don’t forget to stock up before you have to go see your family [laughter]. 

Thank you very much for speaking with us, Mister Magic.

Yeah, thanks man.  Take it easy.  MAGIC OUT!

New Looks At Gray Gallery

“I was sick of all these places with a McDonalds attitude—we are not a fast food chain.”

The painter Sean Casey had a one-man show to mark the opening of a new gallery and artist studio, Gray Gallery, owned and managed by Alexander Gray, the well-known art reviewer for Capital New York and former winner of MoMa’s 2006 Young Curator award.

Although there are a few galleries and artist spaces already established (NARS, etc.), Gray wanted a more intimate field, and envisioned a place where the public and creators interacted with pieces in a tranquil setting.

“If you notice, our walls are not the standard stark white color that most galleries choose.” Gray said, giving us a tour on a recent afternoon. “To me, that’s boring and antithetical to a gallery show trying to represent individuals.”

The wall color was a shade of dark grey, and as the next show that was being hung, you could see how the darker color offset the mostly white canvases.

Detail from the upcoming exhibition.

Detail from the upcoming exhibition.

“Each visit to a gallery should be a unique experience,” Gray feels. “I was sick of all these places with a McDonalds attitude—we are not a fast food chain.”

Aside from the walls, Gray Gallery took another step away from the norm for their first opening, hiring a band and ordering Papa Johns pizza instead of the de rigueur crudité fare familiar to all of us who frequent openings.

“I want you to leave with an experience, and as a gallerist, I felt that I could do more to present work. I felt that I could become part of the work as well.”

Look for a rapid change over in the next few months, with shows only lasting a few weeks.

“It’s ambitious to be sure, but art is rapid, art is ever changing, and the modern gallery needs to be as mobile as a Google Image search.”

 

Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 2:00-6:00

4308 8th Avenue, 11220

The Dumper Shutters Forever

The Dumper is no more

The Dumper is no more

We all saw it coming —

ShangHeights’ beloved (and much used) party palace, appropriately known as The Dumper, is soon to be no more.

For those of you who never had the pleasure of heading down into the subterranean depths to get down and dirty, only the wild tales remain. Crawling through the bent-back chain-link fence, squeezing past the plywood over the hole left by the long gone front door, and then descending the staircase was like being born anew into a low ceilinged Christmas-light paradise of a basement.

And what a basement!basement

Think Silence of the Lambs. Think SAW. No one knows why the basement was so huge, so twisty-turny. All anyone knows is that the sound down there was amazing. And when the music was turned up, pumping the most intense Deep House or the filthiest trap,  you felt not only the need to dance and mingle, but more importantly, you felt frisky free.

Were you there in body and sweat for Dan Deacon’s 3 hour set?  Do you remember when  made the whole crowd tremble in liquid-metal synthesizer ecstasy? Everyone can probably agree though, the most memorable night at The Dumper occurred last week when the staircase collapsed, trapping partiers on the packed dance floor.  With improvised rope ladders and an old-fashioned leg up, everyone fled to the sound of ambulances and that fully sick Say My Name remix.  We all prayed for our friends and the venue we loved.

Sadly, those prayers went unanswered.

Most devastated of all is Dumper honcho and promoter Tieler Liddle, whose legendary pop-up parties on the Coney Island boardwalk and in lower Manhattan bank vaults established his reputation for hassle-free, rule-loose, pop-up party trending.

We tried unsuccessfully to reach Tieler to see if a recovery is in the cards –  he reportedly raised thousands of dollars to sustain DJ Magic Jackson,  fellow promoter and Red Hook resident whose sound equipment and extensive vinyl library were destroyed by the Superstorm.

A fundraiser, or even a legal campaign to stay the City’s Department of Housing order for demolition, seems unlikely at this point, but we should all be on the lookout for the next place to raise hell in the lower depths of Brooklyn.

Brooklyn Spiritual Center Opens On 8th Ave

The open-minded Brooklyn Spiritual Center is now open, providing space to those seeking enlightenment, unstructured worship and inner development.  Founders Trevor Zernike and Leanna Wurtz organized the Center from the ground up over about 8 months.

“The seed for the Center was really planted during our trip through Tibet, Nepal and India in 2010,” said Trevor, when he and Leanna “explored a variety of spiritual traditions.”  They visited Buddhist and Hindu temples, experienced 10 days of silent Vipassana meditation, and even delved into local animist practices.  Trevor took copious notes in a now-dogeared Moleskine, which he is working on turning into a travel memoir.

“We were constantly inspired by these new ideas,” Leanna recalled, “but very disappointed in the organizations presenting them.” The pair felt that all organized religions “seemed to be based on just making money, and that’s not what we’re about.”

At $16 a month, membership provides access to yoga classes, meeting rooms, a holistic wellness center, and prayer hours at a non-denominational chapel.

“It’s a space where everyone is meant to feel comfortable.” Leanna said of the chapel. “‘Chapel’ is sort of a shorthand we use. Officially it’s just a place for quiet contemplation for people of all faiths and beliefs; it could just as easily be a mosque, or a temple, or stone site.”spiritual center

While there have long been both Buddhist temples and a range of Christian churches in the area, the addition of a Spiritual Center will provide ShangHeighters with a new, more inclusive option.

“Obviously we don’t want to step on anyone else’s toes, but we’re definitely looking to build a real community around this place. We feel very strongly about that.”

For a full schedule of classes and events, and for more information about membership fees and donation opportunities, go online or check them out at their 8th Avenue location.

 

Brooklyn Spiritual Center

Hours: Membership required. Public worship: Sunday and Tuesday, 6AM – 7AM

718 365 1090