UPDATE November 2nd:
Having finally made contact with Ben & his wife, their house was spared by "only" having 2 feet of toxic soup in the basement. However, the restaurant is pretty well wiped out. The basement, with all its compressors, freezers, fridges, stockrooms, is a total loss and the main floor---that gorgeous room that Ben largely built himself modeled after a tiny place we went to in Montepulciano, Italy, many years ago---had water up to the table tops. They will be closed, conservatively, for several weeks---a looong time for a small business.
The work is JUST beginning. Ben is lovingly described by his wife as being completely "smelly and gross."
In classic Ben fashion, here he pops up in a story in Time.com:
"A couple of doors down, Ben Schneider who runs the Asian-crossover
bistro Good Fork, has a table set up on the sidewalk from which he's providing his neighbors and volunteers free coffee and bagels, as well as serving as a clearing house for generators, pumps and other vital equipment being shared along the street. "Red Hook is like a small town," says Schneider. "It's natural that we want to help each other and get through this together." The water in his dining room reached near table top height, "but the basement, where pretty much everything happens in these restaurants, is finished."
Back in the early days of Bloodshot---when we first started, when we were figuring out how this whole racket works (cuz we've got it SO figured out now…), I lived in the Roscoe Village and North Center neighborhoods of Chicago. There were many late, LATE nights of writing, cutting and pasting catalogs and press releases (yes, cutting and pasting), listening to demos loudly, and lots and lots of bands flopping on our floors, sofas and any other horizontal surface whenever they came through town.
Some stayed for days and days. Some, like Neko Case and Sally Timms, stayed for weeks and months. Some ate all our food, drank anything and everything they could find and scratched my Ike & Tina Turner LPs. There were late night Jart tournaments in the yard with the Old 97s (when Jarts are outlawed, only Outlaws have Jarts!), a late night Xmas dance party with Kelly Hogan and the Sadies to tunes on my jukebox, lots of BBQs with the Meat Purveyors, "beer sampling evenings" (i.e. "benders") with Moonshine Willy, Trailer Bride and the Grievous Angels, and hundreds and hundreds of shows. Only Kelly bothered to help with the dishes, by the way.
My housemate through those days, Ben Schneider, not only put up with it, but reveled in it. Ben's got that gift, that charisma (that I can only WISH I had) that makes people feel right at home. A generosity of energy and spirit that turned bands and artists into friends. He was as much a part of BS in Chicago as Nan, myself and the musicians in those days--a constant presence at Lounge Ax, Schubas', the Empty Bottle. He was the Hideout's dancing fool every Tuesday night at the Devil in a Woodpile shows. He'd make b'fast and coffee in the mornings, find places to stay for folks in NYC, find a guy who could fix an amp or a van's tail light and provide a welcome port in the touring storm. He also made it easier for me to plunge into this endeavor no matter the obstacles because I knew that at every 3/4 empty venue or failed in-store there was at least one endlessly supportive and upbeat friend at my side, ready for a beer or a 3am slice of pizza.
In 2001, Ben moved back to his native NYC and, shortly thereafter, to the Red Hook section of Brooklyn. At the time, Red Hook seemed like the post-apocalyptic end of the earth. Barren. Remote. Undeterred, he and his genius chef wife Sohui built a restaurant, The Good Fork, and kick started the revitalization of the neighborhood. Watch her kick Bobby Flay's ass making dumplings HERE.
The Good Fork, and the tireless energy and vision and good nature that Ben brought to the early days of Bloodshot, carried over to this once forgotten part of NYC. All sorts of bars and restaurants, many owned by friends or former employees of Ben ---Fort Defiance and the Bait & Tackle to name two---have appeared and thrived in the past decade. And, if one of our bands hit the city, well, you can be sure they were treated like Sinatra at the restaurant. The born-to-be-a-host would make an off-day on tour a special night, and he'd usually pick up the tab, or ask for some embarrassingly small pittance in return.
This week, the superstorm/hurricane/Frankenstorm Sandy ground the neighborhood to a soggy, stinking pulp. The businesses along Van Brunt Street---the main vein of Red Hook---sustained heavy, heavy damage, including The Good Fork. Ben's house was also greatly impacted, though, fortunately, he, his wife and two young children evacuated and are safe. We're still waiting for word on just HOW bad it is, and how long they will be shuttered. Being a fellow small business owner and knowing the challenges inherent to such things--even when things are going well, I ache to think of how difficult the coming days and weeks and months will be.
For the past 24 hours, people from all over the BS family have been contacting us looking for ways to help. In the short term, I'd like to appeal to our fans. I know that folks are eager to help out in whatever small ways they can, and in a specific manner.
Thus, order ANYTHING from our site and we'll donate 10% of the order total to the re-building effort AND we'll match it.
I strongly suspect, from what I know of the guy, Ben will humbly turn down the offer, and, if so, we'll funnel the money raised to a Red Hook specific organization aiding in the recovery of the area. Think of it as a BENefit...
I realize this storm has touched millions and this might seem like a drop in the bucket, so to speak, but efforts like this put a face on the vast facelessness of a disaster and, for me, provide comfort and the ability to affect some progress. Bloodshot fans are, in my experience, good-hearted people appreciative of independent businesses and what they bring to their lives and communities. If this specific effort does not appeal to you, then I ask simply that you find another way, like the Red Cross or other local organizations with boots on the ground