You’ve probably seen Pat Kiernan on NY1 delivering the early-morning news in his sincere yet slightly dry style. If you haven’t, then it’s very possible you’ve seen him in 4:44 Last Day on Earth, Iron Man 3, The Avengers, or Broad City. In each, he plays himself informing terrified TV viewers that the world is ending by way of a super-villain or super-storm. To the world, the sharp news junkie has become the face of New York, even if that face (and that haircut) is so sweetly Canadian.
A Calgary native, Kiernan two years ago when he signaled yet another demise: that of Brooklyn. There is no greater omen that Williamsburg is Dead than when a longtime TV news anchor moves from Manhattan and into a $2 million home on once-sacred Bedford Avenue – with his family. Or was Williamsburg already dead by the time Manhattan restaurant The Meatball Shop opened its Brooklyn outpost on Bedford Avenue nearly a year earlier?
Ironically, the crowded, smartly designed restaurant is full of life as well as crazy-delicious food. While enjoying his usual Kitchen Sink Salad and a single slider (for good measure), Kiernan detailed the Brooklyn afterlife.
The day we came to look at the house, we were walking back to the subway. We’d heard of The Meatball Shop, so we had lunch. And this bill came, and it was $41 for the whole family. I thought: I could stand with living in this neighborhood.
You feel like you can come here on a weeknight and not have blown the night-out budget for the week. To me, that’s part of being a regular: the places that I choose to visit, where quality is good but the value is good, too.
It’s quick and easy, and it’s tasty.
We’ve seen it change. Two years in, we’re complaining like old-timers that the neighborhood is getting too busy.
We’re too much a part of that problem to have disdain for the Manhattanites. What we’re tired of aren’t people who move here but people who come here for an afternoon. I don’t know what happened last year, but I swear one of the European tourist guidebooks put a walking tour of Williamsburg in it or something. On a nice Saturday, there are all these people walking around aimlessly with their nose in a guidebook.
I hope the neighborhood doesn’t lose all of its appeal, but it’s like every neighborhood in the city: it breathes; it grows; it evolves.
There is relentless pressure to develop property. Every piece of land that turns over, if it’s on the open market, it turns over at a price that the only thing you can do with it is build condos. You can’t build a bowling alley or a preschool. You get this haphazard construction with not particularly creative architecture.
Just to say that things should stay the same because they always should be, that’s not gonna happen. Not here. Not anywhere in the city.
I enjoy my job, and I enjoy my life. If the penalty for that is that my alarm rings at 3 a.m., then so be it.
What drives my thirst for knowledge is that I want to have enough information to make good decisions about whatever I’m doing.
It’s fun to be in a restaurant that is young and vibrant with real people who are trying to find their way in New York. It’s a dynamic, young crowd, and maybe there’s something when you’re in your mid-40s about surrounding yourself with people at that stage in life rather than the people you’re gonna be in 20 years.
This interview has been edited and condensed.