1977 NYC Blackout

Forty years ago, Newsweek sent me and another photographer, Marty Umans, out to Brooklyn to take photos of the blackout. There were fires everywhere and by the time I got there, most of the looting was over. This building, at the corner of Stone (now Mother Gaston Blvd) and Somers St in Brownsville was in flames. The Google Street View photo from 2014 shows the same intersection.

Brownsville, Brooklyn, Stone St and Somers St, 1977
Brownsville, Brooklyn, Stone St and Somers St, 2014

Brownsville, Brooklyn, Mother Gaston Blvd and Somers St, 2014

Slot Car Racing at Buzz-A-Rama

A few years ago, I was remembering Buzz-A-Rama, the slot car track in Brooklyn and some of my slot car experiences in New York.

I found this nice video by Rahul Chadha on Buzz and the track in Brooklyn. It looks like it’s still supported by parties for kids. I didn’t see any indication of organized racing, e.g., USRA (United Slot Racers Association) or ISRA (International Slot Racing Association). The track was never on those circuits when I used to go there.

I wondered how Buzz could stay in business all these years until I saw that track time was $20/hr on the Blue King. Maybe Buzz-A-Rama’s longevity is just a result of the interest in slot car racing that seems to have a revival every couple of years.

The Buzz-A-Rama 500 from Gorilla Face on Vimeo.

Do the Right Thing

I was watching Do the Right Thing and it reminded me of the time Kenny and I went out to Buzz-a-Rama in Brooklyn. Buzz-a-Rama is a slot car track that opened around 1965.

Early vs Late Slot Cars

It’s more in the neighborhood of Kensington, I think, not the movie’s Bed-Stuy. We had been making our grand tour of local slot car tracks in New Jersey, Westchester and Long Island sometime in the latter part of the 20th century.

Slot car racing was something I’d done as a kid in the 1960’s. I also participated in the brief New York City revival at Manhattan Raceway, as a member of the Rasta-Pasta-Noodle team. The pop culture status of the revival (I know, some people never stopped) was made apparent when Robin Leach and a film crew came to the track.

After Kenny and I left Buzz-a-Rama, we proceeded to the next course of our pastime, getting something to eat. We went to the local pizzeria. I told Kenny that he should ask why they didn’t have any pictures of African-American celebrities on the wall.