Old Bay® Sees, And Seasons, All

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Good morning and welcome to this August 13, 2019 edition of East & Creek, the Greenpoint newsletter, in which e&c gets absolutely, positively snookered into participating in a certain spice company’s viral marketing efforts:

e&c reports: Greenpoint may or may not be home to Old Bay® Seasoning’s #1 Fan

An Old Bay® Seasoning marketing campaign turned heads last Friday in Greenpoint. (image credit: Jesse Brizzi)

When Catherine Zhou first set up the WiFi in her Greenpoint apartment, she didn’t mean to announce any extraordinary affinity for Old Bay® seasoning — she just wasn’t feeling creative. A container of Old Bay® sitting on a bookshelf gave the router its name, and for five years it stuck.

Unknown quantities of internet detritus passed through that router while life went on around it; all the while Zhou’s WiFi signal paid tribute to a spice mix that she liked, but did not love.

It wasn’t until last Friday that she had any reason to clarify her regard for the seasoning. Around 10 a.m., while Zhou, a data scientist at Codecademy, was still in bed, her partner walked out the front door and saw a man wearing sandwich boards that pleaded, “If your WiFi network is ‘oldbayseasoning’… DM us.” About a dozen posters hung on nearby poles posed a similar question.

The posters, and the man, had been in place since 7 a.m., Zhou said.

But despite later online speculation that Old Bay® and the National Security Agency — whose headquarters are less than an hour’s drive apart from one another — shared more in common than their home state of Maryland, Zhou’s outing as a would-be spice fanatic was the result of a coincidence. “[Old Bay®] happened to hire a marketing firm with someone who goes to the coffee place next door to my apartment,” Zhou explained to e&c on Friday. “They happened to see my WiFi network.”

Lesley Scheuermann, a member of that marketing team, confirmed Zhou’s account. “I was getting some work done at a coffee shop in Greenpoint, and when connecting to WiFi, the network “oldbayseasoning” jumped out at me.”

That was before this summer, when Old Bay® began a marketing campaign targeting its super-fans. A June 6 Instagram post asks, “Do you have an Old Bay® tattoo? Wedding cake? Oil painting?” Answer yes — and, more importantly, post about it, and hashtag it — and you could be crowned “the ultimate Old Bay fan.”

Like John Cusack in Say Anything (1989), the McCormick subsidiary’s PR push naturally brought them to Zhou’s doorstep. And although Zhou has no intention of claiming supreme fandom, she nonetheless hopes to take home the grand prize: an Old Bay®–branded electric scooter, which has flames on it.

As for her privacy, Zhou says she admired Old Bay®’s commitment more than she worried for her or her partner’s geolocational anonymity. “Now I guess a small segment of the internet can figure out where I live by driving around in Greenpoint until they triangulate my wifi network.”

What else is up in Greenpoint?

Not too much else, to e&c’s knowledge. (If you know that not to be true, let e&c know.)

A DOT crew was scheduled to mill Bridgewater St (between Meeker Ave and Apollo St) and Van Dam St (between Meeker Ave and Bridgewater St) on Monday night. On Thursday night, the DOT plans to pave Greenpoint Ave (between Humboldt St and Monitor St) and Calyer St (between Jewel St and Russell St).

As a reminder, Assemblyman Joseph Lentol and State Senator Julia Salazar will hold a community meeting this Thursday at 6 p.m. in Bushwick Inlet Park’s community room.

While some local residents have taken time this month to mark the 75th anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising, one newspaper columnist chose this moment to complain about… “millennials,” who “insist” on “safe spaces,” despite never having had to “walk through a sewer, waist-high in human filth, choking on the toxic ammonia, yet unable to cough for fear of alerting the Nazi SS soldiers on the street above.” (New York Post)

Meanwhile in New York City…

A new study found that clean-air measures have saved thousands of lives in New York. (Rockland/Westchester Journal News’ Nancy Cutler)

During court proceedings last week, an investigator in the Manhattan District Attorney’s office described using — for the first time in New York City, reportedly — a “dragnet data request” for Google’s extensive location-tracking data. (WNYC’s George Joseph)

The long-sought 14th Street busway was meant to begin yesterday morning. For the second time in as many months, though, a court temporarily blocked the project at the request of local advocates who oppose the plan. (New York Times’ Azi Paybarah)

An 18-year-old driver blew a red light on Brooklyn’s often-deadly Coney Island Ave on Sunday, smashing into another car and causing the death of a 52-year-old cyclist. The driver was questioned by police but has not yet been charged. Jose Alzorriz of Park Slope was the 19th cyclist killed in the city so far this year. (Daily News’ Ellen Moynihan, Trevor Kapp, Rikki Reyna and John Annese)

“Despite preservation attempts, a 19th century house in downtown Brooklyn with ties to the city’s abolitionist movement appears headed for demolition, barring a last-minute intervention by the Landmark Preservation Commission.” (Gothamist’s Elizabeth Kim)

Brooklyn Borough President and likely mayoral candidate Eric Adams is “skirting campaign rules by raising tens of thousands of dollars from donors with business before the city for his nonprofit.” Donors to the nonprofit include Greenpoint-based Broadway States, which “is lobbying the city on legislation and zoning.” (Daily News’ Anna Sanders)


Thus concludes this August 13, 2019 edition of East & Creek, the twice-weekly newsletter about Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Read the full archives here.

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If you don’t like what you’re reading — or if you have any comments or questions — send an email to eastandcreek@substack.com.

See ya around the neighb,

Jon Hanrahan
Author, e&c