Instead of Keyboards … Typewriters
The Sellers: “On a computer, you’re distracted—you check Facebook, you iChat—but the only thing a typewriter was built for was to write,” says Brandi Kowalski of Brady & Kowalski Writing Machines (bradykowalski.com), a sixteen-month-old company that sells refurbished typewriters at the Brooklyn Flea (brooklynflea.com). Kowalski and partner Donna Brady have become the city’s foremost champions of type, refurbishing machines from venerable brands and in aesthete-pleasing colors: an aqua Smith Corona Cougar from the sixties ($250); a 1969 red Olivetti Valentine ($950). There are only a few repairmen who still know how to oil a machine, replace a tired ribbon, or realign tangled keys. The most trusted among them is Tony Casillo of Long Island’s TTS Business Products (325 Nassau Blvd. South, at Warren Blvd., Garden City South; 516-489-8300), and Paul Schweitzer of Gramercy Typewriter Co. (174 Fifth Ave., nr. 22nd St., Ste. 400; 212-674-7700).
The Scenes: The children’s room at Poets House (10 River Terr., nr. Murray St.; 212-431-7920) is outfitted with eleven vintage manual typewriters, on which kids write poetry during the school year. Michael Ardito, owner of Hometown Business Machines (hometownbusiness machines.com), has organized a Staten Island Type-In for July 16 at Full Cup coffeehouse (388 Van Duzer St., nr. Beach St., Stapleton; 718-442-4224; RSVP to email@example.com), where attendees can compete in a speed-typing competition and the grand prize is a vintage Smith Corona. On the performance-art front, Brooklyn’s masked duo the Bumbys (facebook.com/thebumbys) type out “honest appraisals” of people’s appearances at parties using a Brother GX-6750 Daisy Wheel. Says Gill Bumby, “The clicking sound makes it seem like things are being carved in stone.”
Instead of MP3s and iPods … Vinyl and Turntables
The Sellers: There have been a few record-store casualties in the recent past (R.I.P., Birdel’s Records and Fat Beats), but mainstays Academy Records Annex (96 N. 6th St., nr. Wythe Ave., Williamsburg; 718-218-8200), Other Music (15 E. 4th St., nr. Lafayette St.; 212-477-8150), Turntable Lab (120 E. 7th St., nr. Ave. A; 212-677-0675), and Sound Fix (44 Berry St., nr. N. 11th St., Williamsburg; 718-388-8090) soldier on. Newer to the circuit is Black Gold Records (461 Court St., at Luquer St., Carroll Gardens; 347-227-8227), a hybrid coffee bar–antiques store–record shop, and nine-month-old Audioarts (1 Astor Pl., nr. Broadway; 212-260-2939), which specializes in rarefied two-channel and hi-fi audio equipment from brands like 47 Laboratory, Brinkman, and Jadis. Dijital Fix (218 Bedford Ave., nr. N. 5th St., Williamsburg; 877-345-4349), meanwhile, is the go-to boutique for affordable listening gear, including turntables (some with USB hookups) and headphones.
The Scenes: Truth be told, listening to records is more about ritual than sound quality. As Gabriel Roth, co-founder of Brooklyn’s vinyl-obsessed Daptone Records, puts it: “You can’t roll a joint on an MP3.” D.J. Scribe’s I Love Vinyl parties (ilovevinyl.org) come off “like pre-Giuliani era,” says Scribe of the two-year-old vinyl-only affairs, held most Saturdays at (Le) Poisson Rouge or Park Slope’s Southpaw. D.J. Jonathan Toubin’s all-45s NYC Soul Clap & Dance-Off (newyorknighttrain.com) pops up every few months at some Brooklyn warehouse or rock club. For store pilgrimages and listening sessions, dozens of LP lovers congregate with the help of the NYC Vinyl Meetup (meetup.com/nycvinyl), while jazz aficionados gather at Mono+Mono (116 E. 4th St., nr. First Ave.; 212-466-6660), a Korean fried-chicken joint and “analog pub” that features music piped through vintage tube amps and a glass display case housing more than 30,000 records.
Instead of Camera Phones, YouTube, and Netflix … Celluloid Movies
The Sellers: A multitude of apps can approximate the crude charms of lo-fi celluloid film, but as J. J. Abrams could tell you, nothing beats the original. Pac-Lab (37 E. 1st St., nr. Second Ave.; 212-505-7797) peddles all sorts of camera film as well as Super 8 processing, 16-mm. reversal, and film-to-tape transfers. Brooklyn Flea vendor FDR to JFK (212-217-0467) carries a selection of old Super 8 and 8-mm. cameras (some working, some not), as well as film projectors, Viewmasters, and Kodak Duaflexs. The owners at Williamsburg’s Sunday Love (624 Grand St., at Leonard St.; 347-457-5453) scour flea markets and tag sales for their vast selection of celluloid cameras. Their Super 8s are priced around $30 apiece—or “cheap enough that if they didn’t work,” says partner Greer Keeble, “you could [still] hang it in the corner of your bathroom and pretend you’re filming people.” For the celluloid curious, Millennium Film Workshop (66 E. 4th St., nr. Second Ave.; 212-673-0090) rents Super 8 and 16-mm. cameras, light kits, slide projectors, and film-editing equipment by the hour.
The Scenes: If you don’t know how to thread a projector, sign up for DIY Super 8 filmmaking classes at 3rd Ward (195 Morgan Ave., nr. Stagg St., Bushwick; 718-715-4961) or entry-level Super 8, 16-mm., or hand-processing classes sponsored by Mono No Aware (mononoawarefilm.com). Those who would rather watch than film celluloid flicks can head to Williamsburg’s new Nitehawk Cinema (136 Metropolitan Ave., nr. Berry St.; 718-384-3980; nitehawkcinema.com), which will screen 35-mm. films in addition to digital projections, and has a nostalgia-sparking “VHS vault” in the lobby bar. The Cinebeasts collective (cinebeasts.com) occasionally screens celluloid around town; recently, the group invited archivist “Movie Mike” Olshan to co-host a screening of old education films and 16-mm. PSAs. Fringier still is the eclectic Cine Soiree series (cinesoiree.blogspot.com). There, filmgoers view a mash-up of original and found 8-mm., Super 8, and 16-mm. films backed by a humming Victrola.