Mr. Timm Chiusano.
LW: An Aussie mate of mine once told me of a great phone conversation he had with his uncle back in Australia. Both men are keen beer drinkers and were discussing the fact when his uncle said "Mate, only the other day, I was lookin' down at a beer in me hand and I said 'Beer, you've ruined my fackin' life - but I fackin' love ya!'". Fair point.
I know you are also a lover of a good ale, can you please give us your current top 3 beers that you're enjoying these days and why?
TC: Fair point indeed. It is remarkable to think of the history of beer and how it has been such a indelible part of the rise and fall of many men. With that in mind I believe that if you are going to take a few down that it has to be well worth it. Other Half Brewing opened 4 blocks away from my house in Brooklyn about 3 years ago and they have ruined all other beer for me. I was never an IPA or stout kind of guy but what they do over on Centre Street is brilliant. Every night, with the only exceptions being if I am on the road traveling for work, I allow myself 32 ounces of their deliciousness. My top 3 right now would all have to be from their establishment with one outsider getting a consolation prize.
All Green Everything is a 10.5% triple IPA that blew me away at first sip and has been known to make me spontaneously sing out loud about it. I have told my wife that on my deathbed I would like to be handed a can of All Green Everything and be left alone. It’s obviously a potent pint but the flavors are robust, there is no bitterness and the mouth feel is truly incredible.
Double Mosaic Dream is a close second. It has the incredible ability to be a both a ferocious double IPA at 8.5% while being a bit of a fruit bomb from a hops perspective. How they pull this off without compromising the integrity of a proper IPA while removing any bitter aftertaste is both perplexing and soothing.
In Absentia Luci is their infamous American Imperial Stout weighing in at 12% ABV. I refer to this as the ‘nectar of the gods’. It’s a real whopper and best consumed around noon on a lazy Sunday afternoon as your solo day drink. Its pitch black when poured and tastes like a dark chocolate brownie with perfect coffee and hop tones. It’s been a while since I had a pint of this at OHB and I’m getting oddly misty-eyed thinking about it now.
My consolation prize goes to New Glarus Brewing in Wisconsin for their Spotter Cow farmhouse ale. It’s a simple ale that is put together quite well and does the trick during my random work trips to the lands of cheese and sausage.
LW: When we first met you at the store back in 2012, you had just finished an extensive brownstone renovation in Brooklyn. What advice would you give to anyone thinking of undergoing such a project now?
TC: Do it. If you have the financial wherewithal and the gumption to take on a bit of a beast then sign up and dive into the waters.
First, Google the bejesus out of local architects and find a bunch whose body of work sparks your interest. You could be like us and pick one from a coffee table book and trust him implicitly from the get but its likely more prudent to reach out to a few that look the part to get some bids and thoughts on your project. They should be willing to come see the joint free of charge and give you some solid thoughts and price ranges before having to sign up with anyone in particular. The rest is a piece of cake!
Sorry, that was a lie. But these tips will help the rest be as enjoyable as possible because lets be honest, if you are gut renovating a house in New York City these are all goddamn luxury problems and if you can’t let that be part of your approach then you should not take this on.
But seriously: Be prepared to love the details. Where do you want the light switch to be when you walk into the kitchen? Where should the outlets go in the bedroom so that you can plug something in without moving the bed? How much space do you need for your Lord Willy’s suits, shirts, scarves, overcoats, pocket squares, ties, socks and that set of chattering teeth they sold you for $378? Know these and thousands of questions will come up and each one is an opportunity to make one spectacular and well functioning home.
Let function dictate esthetics. This is a very particular opinion but I strongly believe that when it comes to an NYC brownstone where space is likely at a premium even if you are talking about 3000 or so square feet the leading thought for all questions should be “will it function well”. Sometimes good function can lead to interesting esthetics but what the hell is the point of having something beautiful if it is counter to your functional needs.
Be cool. It will be stressful and time consuming. Pick people you know you can trust and then trust them. You don’t do this for a living, they do. Its very easy to second guess and make everyone’s lives more miserable if you are a shit client so be a good one with an open mind, have strong but pliable opinions, do your homework better than is needed and get our of their way otherwise.
LW: We also learned two other interesting facts about you that day, one of which is that you have quite an unusual, eclectic, collection of tattoo's. Can you tell us how you go about choosing, positioning and commissioning them?
TC: This is one place that I can easily say, “kids have it so much better these days”. I turn 40 later this year and I have gotten most of my tattoos in my thirties and am extremely grateful for that happenstance. I got my first when I was about 19 and luckily went to a place that was quite decent even though neither me nor any of my three friends that went had gotten one before. That day at the top of my thigh I got a Canadian maple leaf with the American flag in it and my hockey number at the time, which was 33. It’s still in pretty decent shape and the least seen of any of my pieces for obvious reasons.
For a while, everything had to have specific meaning and be custom. Both my wife and I usually go to the same people/places together and started out collecting at Brooklyn Tattoo, which I found through general Internet research. Two potbellied pigs was my first ‘big boy’ tattoo, which sounds ridiculous, but we were raising a couple at the time in our Dumbo apartment. The original flag of Bruekelen (Dutch namesake for our borough), two men shaking hands from the OK Computer album artwork and a few other specific pieces like a golf club and paint brush in an X form to embody my parents were some of the original custom pieces I got when my right arm started to get taken over by art.
I eventually moved on from Brooklyn Tattoo and met a woman named Ashley Love at New York Adorned. By this time Instagram was giving everyone almost unfettered access to the worlds greatest tattoo artists so the days of online reviews and popping into shops to look at books on the desk went by the wayside. Her work is bold, traditional but with details that push the boundaries of what was assumed possible within the traditional palette. At that point I also started the appreciation of collecting pieces simply because they were beautiful, had some history and worked with the space and context of my arm. A globe on my wrist as a constant reminder of how lucky I am in this world and to keep that perspective top of mind, an axe because it reminds me of the one I bought during the Ice Storm of 1998 in Canada to help clear debris, a bust of the Statue of Liberty made to somewhat resemble my wife and a bear because they’re cool and the boarding school I went to in Port Hope Ontario was nicknamed the bears and their motto “Beati Mundo Corde”, meaning “blessed are the pure of heart”, is as true as true gets.
Ashley moved to Salt Lake City and I was supposed to get a man in a suit wearing boxing gloves from her during a visit back to NYC last year but she got the flu. Having already set the time aside from work, wife and child I thought “I am still getting something today come hell or high whatever…” On my way home I stopped at Smith Street Tattoo Parlor which I had only been in once before oddly enough as it is about three blocks from my house and infamous for being one of the best in the business, period. Luckily Mr. Eli Quinters was available for a walk in and he helped me pick a random American shield that goes back to WW2 standard issue ink. His work is truly traditional but his skills are on another level. Bert Krak and all the gents at SSTP are outstanding gentleman and after you have been their a couple of times it starts to feel a bit like extended family or perhaps they just think my wife is hot and are cool to me anyway. But serious, Eli is sensational and my favorite all-time piece is either the cow-girl bandit made to somewhat embody my daughter or the tiger on my shoulder that looks crazy in the best way possible.
Positioning is about having an idea but similar to the comments on renovating a house you have to trust your tattoo artist. They know what will look best not just in the moment but in 5-10 years too and that is key. People get miffed if an artist pushes back on an idea when they are just trying to make sure you don’t make a treacherous mistake.
Do your homework, have a strong opinion about what you like but an open mind that will trust the artist that you have chosen. If you didn’t do your homework before you walk into someone’s studio then sorry, but you get what you deserve. If you did your homework then bring your thoughts to the table but collaborate and let the artist lead the conversation.
LW: And last, but not least, the other thing that we found out about you is that you and your wife shared your Brooklyn home with two pet pigs. For anybody out there, that has for a moment considered such a thing, can you enlighten us with the pro's an con's of Pig Cohabitation?
TC: They are brilliant, sweet-hearted, stubborn, talkative and overtly personable.
The pros include getting to live with pigs which are basically large, brilliant, lazy dogs with course hair. By smart I mean they can solve problems kind of smart. If a dog sees something above its head where it cannot reach it will jump or try to climb to get it. A pig will find something that it can get up on and push it over to use as a ladder. Once our younger pig, Runtly, pulled a family size bag of tortilla chips of a top shelf in our pantry (still not sure how), and took it into a bathroom, and closed the door behind herself so that our older pig, Cholula, could not steal them. Runtly opened the bag and ate the entire thing with Cholula angrily grunting at the door. My wife came home that night to Cholula staring at the bathroom door and no Runtly in sight. Once she figured out Runtly was inside the bathroom she opened the door to find her splayed out, not a crumb or spec of salt left and one incredibly bloated pig from all of that corn and sodium.
Cons are that you are looking at about 100 pound minimum per pig, there is no such thing as a teacup pig, those are called piglets and they grow up to be pigs. They may be jealous of your children if you have any. They will eat your lawn if you have one. They will break your heart because you will fall in love with them and develop a bond that is indescribable.
If you get one, DO NOT BUY FROM A BREEDER. Call Ross Mill Farms in Pennsylvania, go visit and spend time with them out in Bucks County. Again, do massive amounts of homework and then be prepared to never eat pork ever again.