Dick Doblin: Privateye—a new web series


by Keith R. Higgons

Web series are a dime a dozen. Every flunky with an idea, an iPhone or digital camera now feels they’re qualified to shoot a web series. “Technical prowess and the syntax of English be damned,” they scream as they upload their dreck to the web. And with powerful distribution tools like YouTube and Vimeo making it as simple as an upload and click to reach an audience…God, or whatever, help us.

But before I spiral down that rabbit hole and I receive a tersely worded email from my editor accompanying a heavily redacted version of this article, I want tell you about one of the better web series, Tyler G. Hall’s Dick Doblin: Privateye.

Hall, a North Carolina native living in East Williamsburg (that’s Bushwick to us old timers), created Dick Doblin: Privateye with his roommate, and lead, Lucas Whitehead. The character came about as Whitehead donned the private dick’s signature brown old-timey fedora. Said Hall, “Lucas immediately looked like an old fashioned PI with his brier patch mustache and classic good looks.”  The two started riffing at home and soon took Dick Doblin: Privateye to the people capitalizing on their Upright Citizens Brigade improvisational skills on the streets of East BushWilliburg.

Tyler and Whitehead pitched the idea to producer, Ross Brunetti (who also handled sound, editing and camera). Brunetti helped them hone the idea and thus Dick Doblin: Privateye, the web series, was born!

After catching wind of the Dick Doblin: Privateye’s successful screening at Nite Hawk Cinema of all five webisodes (yes, it’s a word now) cut together for a 25 minute Directors Cut, I decided to sit down and watch both that and each of the five “pro tip” episodes separately.

Filmed primarily in Park Slope and Williamsburg, Dick Doblin: Privateye is a sort of local road web series that centers around transplanted Pittsburgh PI Dick Doblin and his “pro tip videos on how to become a professional private eye.” The only problem is that his camera is stolen during the first episode, while he is shooting his first “pro-tip.”

The always thinking Dick Doblin: Privateye enlists the help of his old Pittsburgh buddy, Randy, played by writer/director Hall, to put his “pro tip series” into action, and production. Randy films each of the five tips as Dick Doblin: Privateye utilizes them to catch this “punk kid with a hooligan haircut and a drop out attitude” who stole his camera.

Taken as a long form 25-minute show, the premise and jokes in Dick Doblin: Privateye wear thin and fall flat pretty quickly. It seems as though this long form version was an after thought and the webisodes were cut together to meet a standard sitcom format. For me, it didn’t work. Fortunately, the editing works well enough that it’s coherent and it flows evenly enough so one doesn’t loose interest.

As a web series, it truly shines. It’s in these shorter versions where the jokes seem stronger and less one-dimensional. The writing and cinema vérité filmmaking have more impact when the webisodes are screened individually. I won’t spoil some of the funnier parts, but the saxophone shout out in episode 5 was a particular favorite. It genuinely left me wanting more. As a web series, it’s very effective and seriously funny.

What holds both the long and short form versions of Dick Doblin: Privateye is the sincerity of Lucas Whitehead. His Dick Doblin: Privateye comes across as an unfrozen film noir private dick crossed with the looks of “Bass-o-Matic” era SNL Dan Akroyd and the lanky cluelessness of Whitest Kid U’ Know Trevor Moore. The bonus music video on the Dick Doblin: Privateye website of Whitehead’s Trick Trodlin character singing an absolutely aborted and ridiculous version of “Old Man River” solidifies his connection to Moore and Akroyd.

When I reached out to Hall for a couple of follow up questions, it would seem that Dick Doblin: Privateye was still around. Commandeering Hall’s computer he fired off what can only be described as “whiskey soaked tips from a private dick.” Among them:

  • You can never be sure if food in Brooklyn will be “vegan” so bring some bacon bits just in case.
  • Look both ways before crossing Dick Doblin.
  • Did you know it’s illegal to smell bad on the subway? Oh it isn’t? Well it should be.
  • A good Privateye never reveals his clients…unless that client is Steve Buscemi and he still owes you money.
  • Being a Privateye isn’t all meeting women next to steamy sewer grates on dark nights. But sometimes it is and sometimes that woman is named Lucille Marlow and she’ll break your heart because she doesn’t know what’s good for—I’m sorry, what was your question?

Luckily, Hall was eventually able to subdue the intoxicated Doblin and reply to my questions. He told me that Dick Doblin: Privateye, while taking a needed rest, will be back for a more polished second series. He also told me that he and Whitehead have kicked around a spin-off show for Trick Trodlin and that both he and Whitehead will remain active with their improv team, Power Nap.

Dick Doblin: Privateye reminds me of what is good about both the web and web series. The web is the home where developing artists can explore their creativity and receive quantifiable feedback by views, comments and likes. Much like CBGB’s was home to a burgeoning punk rock movement and bands could receive quantifiable feedback by filling the place. And web series like Dick Doblin: Privateye represent the artists of that scene, like the Ramones, Talking Heads and Blondie.

Over the years, hundreds of thousands of bands played at CBGB’s and yet we still only talk about 20 artists, give or take, from those golden years of CBGB. Similarly, here we are in the golden era of web video where millions of videos and web series are uploaded and watched every day on the web. That’s a lot of noise to overcome for the Dick Doblin: Privateye crew of Tyler G. Hall, Lucas Whitehead and Ross Brunetti.

One thing is for certain, I’d like to see some more Dick Doblin: Privateye. So should you.

Greenpoint Artist will show Arab/Israeli Peace Lithograph in Prague

Screen Shot 2013-08-18 at 9.15.21 PM

Greenpoint artist Noa Bornstein will show her lithograph, Ach (the word for “brother” in Arabic and Hebrew) in a group exhibition at the HOLLAR Gallery in Prague, Czech Republic in the fall (Sept. 18—October 13, 2013). Bornstein printed the limited edition on a scholarship at the Manhattan Graphics Center which co-organized the show. She has been studying Arabic at ABC Languages on 29th street in Manhattan since 2010. Having previously studied Hebrew, the striking similarities between the two languages led her to the image which incorporates the Arabic and Hebrew letters: “Eleph Che” in Arabic, and “Aleph Chet” (the ‘ch’ being the guttural ‘h’ sound) that spell, “Ach”—pronounced exactly the same in both languages. The word in English also appears.

For further information on the show itself, contact Manhattan Graphics Center
(MGC) via Eileen Zyko Wolter (eileen@manhattangraphicscenter.org) / www.noabornstein.com

Greenpoint Pulaski Bridge is Ready for Her Close-Up

Poster by Nathan Punwar

Here’s your chance to catch a sneak peak showing of The Circle Bridge, tonight at 7:30 at Dixon Place.

Poster by Nathan Punwar

The Circle Bridge will be presented October 19.

Moviehouse’s The Circle Bridge is a new site-specific video performance that combines live choreography of Mayuna Shimizu’s Blue Muse Dance and large-scale animated projections of Nathan Punwar to tell a story of interconnectivity, travel and history. Audience members follow their own distinct narrative as they walk the span of the 2810 foot Pulaski Bridge that connects Greenpoint, Brooklyn with Long Island City, Queens across the Newtown Creek. Along their walk, they encounter four separate projections and two unique performances that each tell a distinct part of their tale. Each element is integrally designed to give each viewer a unique all-encompassing visual, audio and physical experience.

Tomatoes & Trains, End of Summer in Brooklyn

mcgolrick farmers market williamsburg greenpoint

Gothamist: “There will be no G train service between Court Square and Nassau Avenue all weekend. Jamaica Center-bound J trains will be running express from Myrtle Avenue to Broadway Junction on Saturday until 10 p.m. on Sunday. There will be no M service at all this weekend, and the L train will not run between 8th Avenue and 14th Street-Union Square.” See the rest of the transportation carnage beautifully detailed by the indefatigable Gothamist here.

Look at the subway without actually being on it with this great FreeWilliamsburg post: “Subway PSAs from the 40s and 70s & Kubrick’s Vintage Subway Photo.”

IT’S TOMATO TIME! Don’t blink or you’ll miss one of the most satisfying aspects of living in the Great North East—August is the juicy height of tomato season in our neck of the bricks. Bonus, on Sunday, you can snap ‘em up at  The McGolrick Park Down To Earth Farmers Market. Extra added flavor: The Annual Tomato Tasting from 11-1pm. Just stop by the Market Manager’s tent and get down to business. Free.

Market open Sundays, 11am – 4pm
Russell St off Nassau Ave — sidewalk outside park.

End Your Summer w/ the Endless Summer Pop of Cayucas @ The Knitting Factory

cayucas knitting factory

Celebrate the last gasp of summer with Cayucas’ brand of musical sunshine at The Knitting Factory on August 28.

Cayucas (ky-yook-us) borrows its name from the legendary surf town on the SoCal coast, just north of the band’s Santa Monica home.

Bigfoot, their indie-surf-pop album debut, brings us closer to that town’s dreamy, lazy vibe while “summer’s starting to drift away” here in the Big Apple.

WED 08/28
DOOR: 7:30 PM | SHOW: 8:30 PM
TICKET PRICE: $12.00 Buy Here

Nirvana Bio Doc Returns to Spectacle Theatre Tonight

kurt cobain nirvana film doc i hate myself


MONDAY, AUGUST 19 @ 10:00 pm at Spectacle Theatre, 124 South 3rd Street, between Bedford and Berry.

Tonight at 10 p.m., Williamsburg’s Spectacle Theatre re-screens the Nirvana ‘biography film’ I Hate Myself and I Want to Die, in celebration of the 20th anniversary re-issue of the band’s third and final studio record, In Utero, slated for September 24.

This 40-minute essay is described as “the biographical story of Nirvana told through the media detritus left in Kurt Cobain’s wake” created from “lost interviews, rabid fan tributes, insensitive true-crime shows, crushing live footage, and even Kurt’s long-lost 1984 homemade horror film, Horror Movies (Kurt’s Bloody Suicide).

Original event trailer:

Greg Eggebeen & Ben Shapiro, 2012.
USA. 40 min.
MONDAY, AUGUST 19 @ 10:00 pm at Spectacle Theatre.

Huge Sale at Rose Red & Lavender

rose red lavender brooklyn gardening flowers shop williasmburg greenpoint

Red Rose & Lavender Floral Design Studio and Organic Garden Center

Rose Red & Lavender has redone their shop, and just let us know that they’re having a big sale. Their’s is a gorgeous shop, and owner Kimberly is a killer combination of floral designer, gardener, biologist, chemist, and shop owner. Seriously, she’s got it going on (she also writes a column for WG. Here is one of her stories: container gardening in North Brooklyn.)

And so, to the sale: from Kimberly Sevilla, herself: “We’ve changed, in a good way. We recently changed our shop and made things bigger, fresher, and brighter. In the meantime, we are having a huge Cleaning House sale and you can save BIG (up to 80% off on stuff you want) on things like Hydroponic Kits, Canning Supplies (just in time for tomato season), tools and this and that.”

“Change is good and now we have room to have some more fun.”

“Ever want to try your hand at floral design? We have added a new Fresh Cut Flower Section and Open Design Studio. Our Studio is available for you to use to create your own floral arrangements with gentle guidance from our staff. Just come in, pick your blooms and your vase and we will guide you how to do the rest.”

Rose Red & Lavender is located at 653 Metropolitan Avenue Between Leonard and Manhattan. Find them 2 blocks from the Lorimer L stop, the Metropolitan Avenue G stop, or the Graham Avenue L stop.

KBY North Williamsburg Preschool Launch + Open House

kings bay y jewish community center williamsburg brooklyn preschool daycare

There is a lot going on at the newly opened Kings Bay Y at North Williamsburg (KBY), including community programs, a preschool open house on Thursday, August 29, a dual-language program, a library program, and September 5′s “Rosh Hashana Experience,” so open your calendar or bookmark this post.

KBY is launching its preschool, and there will be an open house on Thursday, August 29, from 5:30-7:30 p.m., at Caribou Baby, on 272 Driggs Avenue. Of course, bring the kids, there will be activities for them to enjoy while you meet preschool Director Linda Herman and other key staff.

The preschool is located at 14 Hope Street, between Roebling and Havemeyer, and will serve children aged 2 – 5. “KBY preschool combines the Reggio Emilia educational and progressive approach with a rich curriculum and an emphasis on Jewish culture and values presented in an open and pluralistic way.”

Make sure to RSVP to the open house by calling 718.407.6388.

Kings Bay Y at North Williamsburg (KBY) is the newly-opened annex of The Kings Bay Y. “Inspired by Jewish values and ideas, the Kings Bay Y works to build communities, create meaningful friendships, facilitate innovative programs and foster deeper connections at its multiple locations in southern, central and northern Brooklyn.”

For more information go to the KBY website.

Bright Horizons Kent Ave Daycare + Preschool Grand Opening

bright horizons williamsburg brooklyn daycare preschool

You need daycare, and you need it now. Vacation is almost over, the school year is about to begin, and there’s not an abundance of choice in the Williamsburg/Greenpoint area. Okay, deep breath.

What to do? Well, there is a brand-new option for your consideration, as corporate daycare giant Bright Horizons has announced the opening of a center at 175 Kent Avenue. The Kent Avenue facility will offer care for infants and toddlers. Included in the curriculum are Preschool and ‘Kindergarten Prep’.

Applying to preschool and/or daycare is not an easy process, nor is it any easy decision. Fortunately, there is a plethora of information available on the web about Bright Horizons. Here’s the link to the Kent Avenue section of their site.

175 Kent Avenue

Of course, daycare is not cheap, however, Bright Horizons is the largest provider of employer-sponsored child care in the country. Check with your HR department, you may be in luck.

First up is Bright Horizons’ Preschool Open House on Wednesday, August 21, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. Next, the Grand Opening Celebration is slated for Saturday, September 21, from 10:00 to 2:00 p.m., with offerings of refreshments, family activities, and live entertainment.

Can’t make it to either of these? Call 718-302-1113 to schedule a private tour.

Address: 175 Kent Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11211
Phone: 718-302-1113
Hours of Operation: M-F: 7:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Ages Served: Infants, Toddlers, Preschool, Kindergarten Prep