the brooklynite

In the Footprint
By Richard Haw

WITH ITS BRIC-A-BRAC-LINED WALLS, well-worn bar-top and warm, lazy atmosphere, Freddy’s Bar and Backroom seems like the classic Brooklyn neighborhood bar. Yet while the décor looks to the past, the bar’s owner and patrons are looking anxiously to the future. That’s because Freddy’s sits in the footprint of developer Bruce Ratner’s controversial Prospect Heights Nets arena and high-rise project.

If Ratner gets his way, Brooklyn would lose much more than a dive bar. Despite its humble appearance, Freddy’s is one of the borough’s most vital cultural hubs. Its backroom plays host to live music of all stripes, particularly jazz and country-influenced bands. It is also a venue for comedy, poetry readings, a pub quiz, karaoke, and art shows. On the rare off night, one can even squeeze in a game of pool. As if this weren’t enough, Freddy’s also provides a home of sorts to Lurch—one of the city’s most vibrant literary ’zines—and hosts Rev-99, an innovative audio-video project whose fruits can be seen in the bizarre video collages that play year-round in the main bar.

Fortunately, the folks at Freddy’s aren’t taking events sitting down. Instead, Freddy’s has taken on yet another role: a gathering place for activists opposed to Ratner’s stadium complex.

Freddy’s Bar and Backroom, 485 Dean St., Prospect Heights (2 or 3 to Bergen), 718-622-7035,

Richard Haw is an assistant professor of English at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. He is the author of The Brooklyn Bridge: A Cultural History, due out from Rutgers University Press in July.