"I don’t want to sound like I’m badmouthing Manhattan,” Peter Vack says as he strolls up Manhattan Avenue in the North Brooklyn neighborhood of Greenpoint, “But the one thing I really love about Brooklyn is that the interesting places here are owned by actual people.” Vack still lives on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, but he’s planning a move to the old Polish enclave—now equal parts hipster and kielbasa—where he spends a considerable amount of time filming I Just Want My Pants Back. While the MTV show depicts typical twentysomething Brooklyn anomie at large, it’s set mostly in Greenpoint. “I think it’s important that we actually film here rather than in a studio or in Los Angeles,” he says.
On a crisp morning in October, the 25-year-old actor took us on a tour of his favorite local antique stores and cafes. “There’s such an appreciation right now for old items and artifacts,” he says. “I think we’re drawn to those things because you can feel them. They’re not digital, like so many things today… they’re real.”
I’m always tempted to come here when I’m in this neighborhood. It’s such a great spot. The funny thing about Five Leaves is that it’s fairly expensive. I feel like it blows every hipster’s cover by proving that they have money. The place is always packed with all of these people who are trying to be artistic types. There’s clearly money in Greenpoint. But the food is delicious. They have these great things called Devils on Horseback, which are baked dates with bacon wrapped around them. They’re amazing! And I like to bourge it up a bit sometimes and get oysters. I feel like Five Leaves is kind of the entryway for Greenpoint; it’s right on the cusp of Williamsburg and Greenpoint, and it’s almost like an initiation. Step One of Greenpoint: Go to Five Leaves.
Franchesca Mini Market – 1074 Manhattan Ave., 718-383-0463
This is one of the locations on the show. One of the main characters is a bodega owner, and we all frequent this store and have our morning-after discussions. It’s also a great local Greenpoint mini-mart where you can get all sorts of things, from religious icons to Olde English.
Word – 126 Franklin St., 718-383-0096
I’ve always wanted to be an actor, and I feel like I can contribute to the world of films and TV. But if I felt I could contribute to literature, I would totally try. I’m so moved by great books, and I do aspire to write a novel. Even if I wrote the shittiest novel in the world, just to have a novel would be enough. Word is such a quaint little place to sit and read. It feels so much better to buy a book from somebody who doesn’t work in a corporate chain.
Luddite – 201 Franklin St., 718-387-3450
My dad opened up a pizza place in Crown Heights, and once, when we were looking for some stools, I discovered this place. We found these beautiful stools here called Toledo stools, and they’re, like, 90 years old. They’re so well-made and were probably used in some industrial place. But they really were perfect for
the restaurant, because we were going for an aesthetic that suggested it had been around for a long time.
I stumbled upon this place when I had some downtime. It really charmed the hell out of me. The owner curates the most interesting items and has a really cool mix of new and old stuff. Like this belt buckle that can hold your Metrocard. You walk in there and feel like you’ve gone back in time to the ’40s or the ’50s. The owner also does denim repair; I have some jeans I should bring to her. The rents aren’t super expensive around here, so people can bring to fruition these cool, quirky, really idiosyncratic business ideas.