Fish Story


Location Prospect Heights

Price $490,000 ($430.15 monthly charge)

Square feet 1561 (renovated loft condominium)

Occupant Vince Bruns (owner, Westfield Seafood)

So this was the old Spalding building. Remember the pink ball you played street games with, Spaldeens? We weren’t city kids. We didn’t play the same game. I’m from New Jersey—Somerville, Milltown. The developer wanted to name this building Spalding Lofts but Spalding said no. Then it became Seagoing Lofts.

The building’s nowhere near the sea. Actually, it’s right near Macy’s. I was thinking how in your business, you drive to Fulton Street to buy fish but the fish get there on wheels. Most trucks get fish from planes.

Is water becoming obsolete? I wondered about this a year ago because of another story. This transportation expert said, “It’s because there’s more money in rubber.” He was talking about truck tires. This building’s called Seagoing because it was the company that was here after Spalding. They made uniforms for the armed forces, in particular for the navy. Reuben, the super, said that when they were renovating, the rehabbers were wearing bell-bottoms. Seagoing left them behind.

On the Town. How did you get into the fish business? When you study philosophy and you don’t want to teach, well. Then I was coaching swimming because I’d been a competitive swimmer. The relative of one of my young athletes was a shrimp broker and one of his buddies from high school has this big lobster wholesale business. My business is in New Jersey. I’m primarily a retailer. But my social crowd is Martha’s crowd.

Martha? Martha Wilson, founder and director of Franklin Furnace. We met in her performance art class at the New School. Years ago, I needed to do something different. I started going to see performance art in late ’89. I asked her out halfway through the second year. She said she had had her eye on me at events before the class.

This is the first time you’ve lived in New York in your life, 51 years. I officially moved here the first of the year. I talked about getting a place in the city for a long time. The East Village was a possibility. Martha and I are always there for the theater. A guy I buy fish from knew about this building. So I took a look and said, “Why not, I’ll take it.” It was the first place I looked at. I had some money and bought a place far grander than I need. I wanted a place big enough to have Martha’s friends over. Martha has a co-op on the other side of Flatbush, three minutes away. I refer to Martha as my bride. We’re wedded but not married.

I heard about that—30 children in party hats blowing bubbles in a Quaker meeting house—oh, you have a playbill for the wedding right here. Why was it a performance, not a legal ceremony? We’re too set in our ways. We’d been together five years then. We got our friends together to celebrate the relationship. If we got married, it would have changed the relationship. I’m a pretty solitary person. I’ve always lived alone. I had a girlfriend before Martha who felt she should move in. She left in three days. We’re still good friends. I like to do things with Martha. We have a great time. We felt if we saw too much of each other, we’d like each other less. Martha got me to take my first vacation in 13 years. We spent two weeks in Dubrovnik with her son. Martha’s working on developing an old-age home in Croatia for international artists. Martha believes in impossible projects.

Where do you sleep? Oh wait, the bed is over there. One advantage of being solitary, you don’t need any rooms. I put the whole kitchen in in myself. I started cooking during college. We have people over a lot from the artistic community. I’ve got a good line on fish that they haven’t eaten before. Artists, they’re fascinating people.

Ah, here’s a picture of Martha in her wedding gown, a sort of blue sateen robe. Turquoise. Turquoise is Martha’s favorite color.

This picture on the wall of a woman smoking, so sophisticated. Is this . . . ? Martha.

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