Seven days with...Jamie Hook

Quirky lectures, arty maps and David Byrne-NYC newcomer Jamie Hook plans a week you won't forget.

  • Jamie Hook

  • Pearl River Market

  • Pearl River Market

  • David Byrne

  • "The Map as Art" at Christopher Henry Gallery

  • "The Map as Art" at Christopher Henry Gallery

  • "The Map as Art" at Christopher Henry Gallery

Jamie Hook

Modern Renaissance man Jamie Hook moved to New York City from Seattle three years ago, and while he finalizes plans to open an art-house movie theater in Williamsburg, he keeps busy organizing talks and performances, directing plays and making movies in Brooklyn. This week, Hook hosts a new edition of his Open City Dialogue, a bimonthly, nine-month-old lecture series that covers an irreverent array of linked, obsessive topics, from rooftop farms to abandoned buildings to Santa Claus. “It literally gives me a reason to go up to random people and say, 'I want to learn more about that,’” says Hook.

Thursday 26

Hook will be battling over drumsticks with his proto-Marxist family today, but in the past, he’s spent the holiday volunteering at soup kitchens. He suggests God’s Love We Deliver (212-294-8104,, which brings fresh meals to people living with life-altering illnesses—it’s still accepting backup volunteers, who help with kitchen prep and delivery. You may even find yourself engaging in a hearty political debate with a client when you hand over a hot meal of roasted turkey and all the trimmings.

Friday 27

Wine on
Dandelion Wine (153 Franklin St between India and Java Sts, Greenpoint, Brooklyn; 347-689-4563; Friday tastings 6--9pm, free) is Hook’s neighborhood wineshop. He’s addicted to its three-liter boxes of Blue Coast Merlot ($21), but he’s happy to swig some other options during the shop’s weekly tasting. Whet your appetite with a piece of Scratch Bread or charcuterie, which Dandelion offers gratis with the spirits.

Saturday 28

Knickknacks and colored lights
Wind through the disorienting aisles of tea sets, tin toys, origami paper and kitschy baubles at Chinese megastore Pearl River Market (477 Broadway between Broome and Grand Sts, 800-878-2446). This is where Hook plans to start his Christmas rummaging. “It’s as if China vomited on Soho,” he says. Since you’ll already be bewildered from the endless trinkets, Hook suggests checking out Dream House, an intense, psychedelic sound-and-light installation by composer La Monte Young and visual artist Marian Zazeela at MELA Foundation Dream House (275 Church St between Franklin and White Sts, third floor; 212-219-3019; Thu--Sat 2pm--midnight [closed Thu 26], suggested donation $5). All the neon and synthesizers may make you forget that your shopping isn’t even close to done.

Sunday 29

Shuffleboard and chicken
“Shuffleboard is an amazing game,” says Hook. “It rewards the willful application of nonexistent complexity as amplified by alcohol, with the illusion of increasing skill.” That’s his excuse for frequenting the Diamond (43 Franklin St at Calyer St, Greenpoint, Brooklyn; 718-383-5030) on one of its calmest days, when you’ve got the best chance of playing on the bar’s shuffleboard table. While you wait for a turn, sit in the backyard ski-resort gondola and down a few pints of Reissdorf ($3). Finish the night with takeout rotisserie chicken ($3--$8.50) from Peruvian restaurant Pio Pio Riko (996 Manhattan Ave at Huron St, 718-349-5925). KFC, step aside, please: “Their green sauce is like crack,” says Hook.

Monday 30

OCD lecture series with David Byrne
Tonight, David Byrne will take over the tiny back room at Pete’s Candy Store (709 Lorimer St between Frost and Richardson Sts, Williamsburg, Brooklyn; 718-302-3770; 7:30pm, free) for Hook’s latest OCD lecture series. Past subjects include oyster reefs and dropping acid. Hook was thrilled when Byrne agreed to present: “He is one of those rare people who actually wants to stay connected to his roots, and he doesn’t put on airs.”In his “Creation in Reverse” talk, the former Talking Heads frontman will discuss his insights about artistic creation, and how the context of a work often unconsciously influences a musician, artist or performer as much as their passion and emotions. Heavy.

Tuesday 1

Faux Sunday
Since it’s his day off, Hook treats Tuesday like a normal person’s Sunday. He plans to spend this one tooling around with his lady, beginning with a daring stroll through the graffiti-saturated Freedom Tunnel (St. Clair Pl and the off-ramp of the West Side Hwy, look for holes in the chainlink fence bordering the ramp and train tracks; free), a former Amtrak passageway that’s beloved by urban explorers addicted to street art. Hook refers to it as the “Rockefeller Center of illegal trespassing tourism.” Afterward, covered in city grime, he and his wife will then compose themselves while watching a 35mm restoration of Jacques Tati’s M. Hulot’s Holiday (Film Forum, 209 W Houston St between Sixth Ave and Varick St; 212-727-8110,; $12).

Wednesday 2

Art attack
Hook works part-time as an assistant director at Christopher Henry Gallery, currently hosting a multiartist show, “The Map as Art” (127 Elizabeth St between Broome and Grand Sts; 212-244-6006,; through Jan 10, free). He’s at the gallery on Wednesday, so let him give you a tour and explain the exhibit. “I never tire of going upstairs to look at Jerry Gretzinger’s decades-long project depicting a living map of an imaginary world,” he says. “It takes up a whole wall, and friend, it is lovely.” But Hook says the best part of his job might just be the gallery’s location: After he has his fill of aesthetic cartography, he pops around the corner and picks up a No. 1 sandwich ($3.75) at Banh Mi Saigon (138 Mott St at Grand St, 212-941-1541). “The day this sandwich leaves Soho, I quit.”

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