News Wire, September 8, 2003
are responding to a number of complaints from Brooklyn residents
about a man who is being referred to as "The Cobble Hill Chatter."
Beginning in late July, there have been a rash of incidents where
innocent people have been accosted and spoken to by this man,
despite his being a complete stranger to them. Several of the
victims agreed to talk with our reporter about their ordeals.
D'Angela was at the Prospect Park Zoo one day, with his young
son, when he realized the man next to him was addressing him.
As Tony puts it:
was just watching dem seals, my boy and me, and dis goombah starts
talking about how fast da seals swim, da way dey use deir flippers,
how inneresting it is how dey streamline deir bodies. 'Streamline
dis,' I'm thinking to myself. I sizes him up and figger he's gonna
try and sell me something or he's like one of dem Mormon guys.
But no! It's on and on about da friggin' seals. What does he,
think I'm some marine friggin' biologist or something? I'm saying
to myself I gotta get out of here, or soon it'll be on to da friggin'
walruses and dolphins. I already got a friggin' headache cause
I had a few too many at da card game at da club da night before,
and da last thing I need to hear is dis guy telling me how da
dolphins do it.
on da sly I take hold of da kid's arm and starts backing away.
'Daddy,' he says to me, 'I wanna watch da seals!' 'Vinnie,' I
says to him, 'you can see da seals some other day. Your pop, he's
got a little agita.'
here comes da piece of resistance: 'Take care,' da mook says to
me, 'have a nice day.' Like I'm his old buddy or something. Den
he turns around and starts talking to somebody else! Ain't dere
a law against being a public nuisance?"
Dinnglbari, a waiter at The Hungry Camel Café on Atlantic
Avenue, tells of his hair-raising encounter with this man:
is this image which you must have in your mind: Our Yemeni restaurant
is in the basement of our building. Everybody inside, customers,
waiters, cooks, is an Arab. The cockroaches, they are Arab cockroaches.
The TV news is on in Arabic. This guy, with milky white skin and
a reddish beard, clearly not an Arab, wanders in. He sits down
like it is he who comes here every day. I let him sit for a while,
thinking soon the clear picture will come to him and he will go
I say to myself, 'He is not leaving; I must go serve him.' I go
over to his table and Allah save me! he begins chatting
I am, a scary looking Arab who scowls at all the infidels, and
this person is asking me where I'm from, how do I like the neighborhood,
how long have I been in Brooklyn. I tried deepening my scowl,
but it was not in the least that it deterred him. When he was
done eating, he told me he liked the food. You know, he was not
so bad of a tipper perhaps I could learn to tolerate his incessant
McFarlane, a resident of Brooklyn Heights who commutes to Manhattan,
describes the encounter she had with "the chatter" while she was
riding the subway: "There I was, hanging onto one of the poles
in the train and staring fixedly at the floor, you know, like
you're supposed to on the subway. This guy next to me suddenly
starts speaking. I glanced up to see who he was with… but he's
alone. Like, he was talking to me. And not just me, but
anyone around him who would listen. The train was moving pretty
slowly, and he's saying stuff like, 'They must be pulling this
thing with horses, huh?'" Latrina shrugs her shoulders. "I mean,
he didn't look homeless or anything, but I guess he must
police refused to make an official comment on the progress of
their investigation, an unnamed source told the Brooklyn News
Wire that their attention was focused on an under-employed writer
who had recently moved to the area from "Connecticut or Delaware
one a dem little New England states."