There’s a dilapidated storefront on Park Slope’s Fifth Avenue between 6th and 7th Streets where Brooklyn-based hip-hop duo Bi-Polar Bear (Gabe Karter and Andy Kaufman) decided to film a man dressed up in an over-sized bear head there as part of their “Been Hiding” video. With Bi-Polar Bear’s new album, When Ledge Is Home, released this week, SOTC met up with Karter at the nearby Mission Dolores bar to talk about the legend of the Fifth Avenue spot, how Kanye West treats his bear, and what a Bi-Polar Bear beer would taste like.
Why did you open the “Been Hiding” video outside the disbanded junk store on 5th Avenue?
We’ve been walking by that store forever now. It used to have a bunch of things for sale outside like strollers – but dirty and weird things – and the store used to be for sale. We always used to be mesmerized about what it really was.
Have you seen the guy who owns the building?
We didn’t see anyone out there for two or three years and then one day we saw a fellow peering out from a window upstairs, and that’s the guy who owns it. Now he sits outside all the time. He seems really funny, but he was scary as shit the first time we saw him. He’s always sitting outside on a fold-out chair but he never talks to anyone. He always sits like sort of in the way of people walking. I think he’s doing it to entertain himself right now.
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What do you think his back story is?
I have no idea but I assume that he or his family have probably lived there for generations. I’ve never seen him talking to anyone or with anyone, so I’d lead towards a sad story, unfortunately. He didn’t seem to have too much family around him. I don’t want to assume the worst, but I think it veers towards a sad situation.
Would you consider writing a song about the guy?
Now that you say it, I’m looking for material for my own solo record… I’m looking to write less personal things, so maybe. [Pauses] It might not be on my album, but it’ll be a single. I’ll make up a story about that fellow’s life. Maybe I’ll talk to him after this.
How do you feel about hip-hop’s other notable bear, the Kanye West mascot?
I don’t know, I’ve never loved Kanye as a rapper, but I respect all other bears. We’re big fans of bears in all forms. We mostly like them in the wild, but anyone who impersonates a bear, we’re cool with.
How do you think your bear would get along with Kanye’s bear?
I think they’d be friends immediately. Our bear is not a fighter. I think they’re sort of similar bears. His bear looks sadder than his records generally are, so I think our bear would get along quite nicely with his bear. I don’t know how we’d get along with him, but our bears would get along together awesomely.
Do you think Kanye’s bear is sad because he doesn’t take proper care of it?
Possibly. Yeah, he’s out buying clothes and his bear is sitting at home, probably hungry.
Your new album is released on Modern Shark, a label Junk Science are involved in. They once made their own promotional beer. What would a Bi-Polar Bear beer taste like?
It should probably be a winter ale, but it probably wouldn’t be. In the winter I’m more of a red wine drinker. In the summer it’s more the Belgian whites, so it would probably be like that – something on the lighter side that you could throw an orange in.
Do you think bears like to drink beer with fruit in it?
I would like to live in a world where all bears enjoy fruit with their beer.