Eric L. Adams is a tough former police captain, and a tender Brooklyn borough president, who stands for peace, brings communities of Brooklyn together, and builds and repairs relationships between the people of New York City and the NYPD. He develops progressive changes in protecting 2.6 million Brooklyn residents.
Eric Adams was elected borough president on November 5, 2013, humbly putting to work many distinguished attributes in developing the Borough of Brooklyn through technology, education, housing, health, public safety, culture and many more initiatives in a very short period: The Brooklyn Tourism Visitors Center and Gift Shop inside Brooklyn Borough Hall, his Dine in Brooklyn Restaurant Week, his BK Sings karaoke competition, and cultural celebrations that call on Brooklynites to “Embrace Your Hyphen” among many other festivals, carnivals, and international celebrations.
We had the honor to meet and listen to Mr. Adams speak during the presentation of the Bushwick Film Festival at Brooklyn Borough Hall, and after that we instantly wanted to chat with him about his views on Brooklyn’s cultural arts.
Mr. Adams, thank you for the honor, and your contribution to InLove magazine and its readers.
Across the Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan Bridge and Williamsburg Bridge, there’s so much history and culture, how do you see Brooklyn’s history of music, film and art developing through the years? What are the main accomplishments?
I believe that what makes our development and evolution of music, art, culture and even food is diversity. Brooklyn has this ability to bring these various cultures together and meet as one, creating what I call the “Brooklyn fusion.” For example, you can walk into an Italian restaurant in Brooklyn and discover a Chinese cook making you a roti dish based on beans and rice, and as we digest all these elements it excites our intellectual palette. When you have 87% of the population that speaks a different language other than English in Brooklyn, this creates a true mix and diversity of cultures.
It is also witnessed in music: you can go to see ballet and discover rap elements implemented in the ballet performance. Before Hamilton landed on Broadway, the mixture of cultures was already in full swing in Brooklyn. Block by block you have different ethnic groups, different styles, tastes, and sounds of music. In Brooklyn we are defined by the sounds of our feet: salsa, rap, Chinese dragon dance – when you hear those feet, you discover the diversity of cultures.
We are the wheels that never stop turning. We are nowhere near yet to where we’re heading.
What inspired you to transition from being a merited NYPD captain to being inaugurated for Brooklyn Borough President?
Being a police officer forces you to interact with people on the front line of close human interactions. This job did not entail the kind of interaction that a mail main, newspaper delivery person, bank teller, or being a service representative over the phone does, or even a teacher interacting with their students.
Police work forces you to be among people on one-on-one level; you feel their sweat, you taste their anger, and you will be in their presence. While doing that I realized that many people are walking around every day in pain, they are hurt for many different reasons. I felt their pain, and I witnessed many people giving up.
When I transitioned into the State Senate and eventually became the Brooklyn borough president, I made a prior commitment and a promise to do it for personal reasons, not for political reasons. That was really my training ground as a police officer, as I would go and solve problems, which people were facing every day. And that inspired me to implement different initiatives that help impact peoples’ lives every day, based on witnessing some of the things that people really needed and what was important to them.
Brooklyn is very trendy today, and is changing before our eyes, fueled by the vibrancy of cultural activities and all kinds of construction developments. How do you manage to preserve the authenticity that makes our Brooklyn so distinct?
People often say and ask, how do we keep the authentic Brooklyn?
The authentic Brooklyn is the next level that it becomes. The authentic Brooklyn is not what it was, but it is what it is today, and what it is going to be tomorrow. That is the authentic Brooklyn. What people must understand is that being authentic means change. It means that at one time when a baseball field was turned into the most prominent apartment building in the state, that means growth and development, that’s the authenticity of Brooklyn.
And that means continuing to evolve, facing the future. If we stay stagnant and not allow growth, that doesn’t mean we are authentic, but on the contrary, the natural way of transformation is authentic Brooklyn, which will continue to evolve, pushing towards the future.
The Century 21 store used to be just a pushcart retail space, eventually expanding into department stores growing all around the country. Nathan’s hot dogs originated in Brooklyn, expanded into selling millions of hot dogs throughout the country, and that’s just to name a few. Classic Brooklyn brownstones proudly stand among new condo buildings; parks became cultural establishments, Barclays Center, always growing…
What it means is that baby Brooklyn grows up to be a teenager, and then becomes an adult, and it doesn’t mean it’s not our original born and bred authentic Brooklyn, this transformation is real Brooklyn.
We didn’t say we lost Brooklyn when the Dodgers left, they left and a new building evolved in its place, that’s the real Brooklyn. We allowed Brooklyn Bridge that joins our two boroughs together to become the symbol of Brooklyn. There are no imaginary lines or numbers, and there are no limitations. Williamsburg, was previously a strong Hasidic community, today it has its own different ethnic groups called hipsters. It is allowed to be what it is, allowing the fullness, and unrestricted ability to grow into what it is today.
Embracing Brooklyn’s past, where Brooklyn has played a major role in various aspects of American culture including literature, cinema and theater as well as being home to the world-renowned Brooklyn Academy of Music, and the second largest public art collection in the U.S. housed in the Brooklyn Museum, what are the upcoming goals for Brooklyn’s arts, and how can Brooklyn-based companies support and contribute to its growth and development?
It is important that we nurture our up and coming artists, and don’t allow their physical boundaries, parameters and roadblocks to get in the way of their artistic development.
We are extremely supportive of “Arts East New York;” they have a very creative and interesting concept, using shipping containers to house their artists in a safe space. This became an amazing Brooklyn project we are proud of.
We need to make sure to create art space for the young emerging artists to cross-collaborate with each other, allowing their artistic synergy to unite into one community – the Brooklyn community.
Old European masters like Michaelangelo, for example, he was an apprentice before he trained other artists, and that’s how they cultivated their art and their artists. We need a system here in Brooklyn to cultivate our own artists and teach them how to make their dreams come true. We need apprentices to grow and create, and to cultivate new artists, and help them learn how to truly master their craft, and understand the true beauty of their creation.
Brooklyn has also played a key role in film and television industries, starting with the legendary The Lords of Flatbush, Saturday Night Fever, Annie Hall, Brighton Beach Memoirs, The Honeymooners, The Cosby Show and on and on… How do you see the numerous Brooklyn Film Festivals, with its independent filmmakers contributing to the development of Brooklyn’s film and television industry?
I think it’s more the power of the Internet. It has opened our minds to the possibilities. The big movie giants like MGM, Warner Brothers and others no longer imprison us. We now can take an iPhone and we can shoot a movie. The possibilities today are endless. With one camera you can create a full movie.
Now we are opening the floodgates of creativity, where people can create movies based on the topics that are important to them, and no longer feel restricted by others and by big money machines to support their art. We have these Brooklyn film festivals that are rays of various creative projects. We will become better people, as it will allow us to be open to the diversity of various projects that are coming from our film festivals such as the Bushwick Film Festival, LIU’s, Crown Heights’ and others…
These film festivals are important because people can experience various artists with various film levels. There are many Brooklyn film festivals open to different films and shows that make a difference in the industry of film and television.
Mr. Adams, maybe this question is a bit ardent for a hard-core politician, but we know you have a tender heart and our readers would love to know, what does being in love mean to you?
Being in love is when you look at certain couples that have been together for 50 years, and are still excited when they see each other. You think of someone like Howard Cosell, the American sportscaster, I will never forget when he lost his wife of probably 50 years, and how he said, “My darling is gone,” and you could see and feel that he was still in love with his late wife.
I am thinking of those couples that went through difficulties and trying times together, supporting each other and staying together, that is what being in love really means.
We have a physical presence and we have a spiritual presence, which is higher in importance than the physical.
Elena Vasilevsky / Miguel A. Elias.
To subscribe or purchase the magazine http://inlovemag.com/subscribe/