“Word on the Street New York” is a collection of over 250 interviews with New Yorkers. powerHouse Books released my first book Dealers, a collection of conversations with NYC drug dealers, on Oct. 29, 2013. Dealers has been featured in the Daily News, among other places, and is sold at Spoonbill, St. Mark’s Bookshop, The Strand, McNally Jackson, the MoMA store, Rough Trade, and Supreme. I am presently looking to publish “WotSNY”; In the meantime, I am going to let the site remain as is, a time capsule of how I spent my downtime from July 2009-June 2012. Additionally, I am working on a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure parody based on the research that is Dealers. Thanks for reading. —Peter Madsen, Brooklyn, NY, December 2013
BOOBERRY, 53, NORTH PARK SLOPE, BROOKLYN
Encountered on Bergen Street at Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn
WORD ON THE STREET: What do you think of fat people?
BOOBERRY: They’re people like me and you.
We are people. Neither of us is fat.
They just like you or anybody else, they’re just happy. You know, some people are fat, some people are skinny. Some people are tall, some are short. They just got different styles, and different shapes. They’re friendly people like me and you, like any ordinary person.
Do you think they eat too much food?
Oh, I don’t know, really. It’s just that they were born like that, that they just like to eat.
Do fat people run very often?
Maybe when they run and stuff like that, exercise might make them heavier. I think exercising is not good for you. It’s bad for you. I think it’s something where people work too hard or lift a lot of things. It may not just be that they sit around. Fat can just come from working too hard.
You’re saying there are some people who exercise and they actually get fat?
I think, yeah.
Aren’t you talking about building muscle mass?
Yeah, I think exercise can make you too muscular, too heavy. But if you’re relaxing, you won’t get big that way. Sometimes, that might make you more lighter.
You sir, are a thin man. What’s your secret?
I don’t exercise. I used to lift weights but people say it’s dangerous.
Are you talking about heavy weights falling on a person who’s doing, say, a bench-press?
Yeah, like doing curls or carrying too many bags. Or taking care of babies and wearing heavy clothes. That’s what makes a lot of people fat.
Wearing heavy clothes makes a person fat?
It may be that.
But that doesn’t make sense.
Think so? Do you think exercising is good for you?
I think regular activity is good. Jogging three/four days a week for three/four miles is great for a person. Or riding a bicycle all day for a job is great for a person.
I think I keep my exercise low. In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve didn’t have to work until the serpent came in and God made them sweat. I think it would be better if people are more relaxed, have peace of mind and quiet. Comfort, safety. Nice, really. I think that would make you skinny. If you have a right attitude you can forget about everything.
Have you ever approached someone on the street who was too heavy and suggest they not do any exercises and sit down more?
Yeah, I think that would be a good idea.
This is completely contrary to how people think about excessive food consumption, lack of exercise, and weight-gain.
There are people who aren’t fat because they hate fat. That will naturally make them small. But fat people, a lot of it has to do with them not doing the right thing and then working. Hard work can make you fat.
You’re talking big bellies, and big butts and big thighs.
Yeah, maybe they be wearing too much heavy clothes and stuff like that. Yeah.
Speaking of clothes, I want to ask you about the fur you’re wearing. Is it all real?
What fur is your jacket?
And around the pockets is that alligator? Oh, it’s stamped.
That is just plain old leather.
Is your cap also beaver?
Now, this is mink.
That is three or four different colors of mink. How long have you had your cap?
Maybe about seven years.
Is it a favorite hat?
I like it because it warm and sometimes it gets so cold in New York. I’ve been thinking about moving to where it’s warm, but until I’m there it’s best to be warm with clothes, hot food, maybe a steak. I keep my windows closed and I don’t use fans or air-conditioners. I hate fans and air-conditioners.
Do you think fat people are warmer on a cold day than thin people?
I think being warm would help you lose weight, like you be in a steam room. But when you get cold, that could make you stiffer, more fatter. Like when it’s cold, it makes the houses bigger. But when it’s summertime, those houses get more swamped in. Yeah. Where do you live?
I live around the corner.
Are you looking for any roommates?
We just found someone, actually.
Oh, okay. It’s cheaper over here. Where would you look for an apartment?
If not here then probably in Bushwick.
You mean like the Morgan Stop?
More around the Jefferson or Dekalb Stop on the L.
Oh, okay, that’s where there be white people at. I like it around white people.
Why do you like it around white people?
I just like their customs. Their style. I wear a lot of white because white is my favorite color.