Open City Dialogue  (OCD) is a bi-monthly lecture series unraveling on alternating Mondays in the backroom of Pete’s.  Short (35-40 minute) lectures are woven together from the common thread of people’s obsessions, with guests coming from all over Greater New York.  Whether academic or crackpot; celebrated or unsung, our lecturers all have something to tell you…
Lectures are on Mondays at 7:30pm

Jan 9
Decoding the Toynbee Tiles
w/Justin Duerr

"TOYNBEE IDEA in Kubrick's 2001. RESURRECT DEAD ON PLANET JUPITER." With these words unfurled an urban mystery whose clues have confounded the most stalwart seekers of its arcane meaning. They are the Toynbee Tiles, strange messages embedded in city streets throughout the United States and South America that have been puzzling passersby since the 1980s. Are they art? The ramblings of a crackpot? An alchemical codex? Join Justin Duerr, who has been investigating these tiles for over two decades, tying together such disparate threads as David Mamet, short-wave radio programming, and the work of historian Arnold Toynbee to try and crack the door ajar on this elusive urban mystery.

Justin Duerr is a painter, musician, and resident of Philadelphia, where the Toynbee Tiles were first discovered. He was also the subject of the recent documentary, Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles.

Jan 23
The Photographs of Sasha Rudensky

Can one ever go home again? The unanswered question is the subject of Sasha Rudensky's photographs, which trace the broken lines of family, culture, and identity to portray her former Russian homeland. Since immigrating to the US as a child, Sasha has returned frequently to Russia to document the eroding idols of communism and national identity as they have been displaced by a swelling tide of capitalist individualism. Statues of Lenin, abandoned parks, and intimate portraits of family and friends create a narrative that shows a society in the awkward gestures of shrugging off its past, yet unable to fully relinquish its history. Sasha will be presenting her work and describing its progression from documentary street scenes to staged tableaux that reveal the theatre of the everyday.

Sasha Rudensky is an assistant professor of art at Wesleyan University and graduate of the Yale MFA program. You can see more of her work at

Feb 13
Re-Acquaint yourself with a lost art
w/David Rees

In New York's Hudson River Valley, craftsman David Rees still practices the age-old art of manual pencil sharpening. His artisanal service is perfect for artists, writers, and standardized test takers. For a mere $15, Mr. Rees will hand-sharpen your pencil to the most exacting standards, returning it to you together with the shavings, and a certificate of sharpening. Come learn about this fascinating lost art from one of its only living practitioners, as he prepares for a nationwide pencil-sharpening tour to coincide with the release of his upcoming book HOW TO SHARPEN PENCILS (Melville House).

DAVID REES used to be a political cartoonist, best known for his syndicated strip Get Your War On. His work appeared in Rolling Stone, GQ, The Nation, Harper's, and many other publications. He gave that career up to pursue his dream of getting paid to sharpen pencils.

Feb 27
The Past and Future of the Amahuaca
w/Katherine Needles
Photo credit: KATHERINE NEEDLES 2010

Half a century ago, renowned LIFE photographer Cornell Capa ventured into the Peruvian jungle to document the Amahuaca, an indigenous community then thought to be at the brink of extinction. Published in1961, Capa's images were the last visual references of Amahuaca culture...until now. Fifty years later Katherine Needles has retraced Capa's steps into the heart of the Amazon to recapture Capa's subjects, in the process discovering a thriving—if altered—community. Now, with the Peruvian government contracting with international energy companies to extract crude oil on Amahuaca land, these people's enduring but embattled story enters a new chapter. Documented at a crucial time, Katherine's images are a mirror of Capa's pioneering work, and a window into Amahuaca culture before irreversible damage is done.

American by blood, born and raised in Lisbon, Portugal, Katherine Needles grew up attending international schools and worked as a teacher, before taking her degree in Anthropology at the University of St. Andrews. Her interest in indigenous peoples led her to San Francisco to work with the social and environmental advocacy group Amazon Watch focusing on land rights issues in the Amazon Basin. She has since developed her passion for photography and is primarily focused on marrying these various fields of interest. She lives the dream in Greenpoint, Brooklyn!

March 12
A Lecture on the Moon
w/Jamie Hook

What is going on with the Moon? This "second-city" of celestial bodies continues to confound humanity some 6000 years into our spiritual quest through time and space with profound questions: What is it made of? Where does it come from? Why does it wax and wane? And does it follow any set pattern at all? Unlike the Sun, whose very reliability has made it the paragon of stars, with countless religions and cultural monuments dedicated to its trustworthiness, the Moon's haphazard performance, evident recklessness, and self-indulgent caprice have effectively limited its appeal to crackpots, maniacs, and female ethno-hippies throughout the ages. Join Jamie Hook for a lecture that promises to shed light on this misunderstood satellite, with reference to history, aesthetics, metaphysics, and of course sex.

Jamie Hook is a socially omnivorous urban dandy who makes his home in Greenpoint. A filmmaker, theatre director, and writer, Mr. Hook lives by his wits and his keen eye for the odd and interesting. The OCD Lecture Series offers him a venue to display all of his marvelous urban finds. You should also know that he likes pickles, hot sauce, and red wine in that order. He has previously lectured on topics (and substances) including The Artist Barry White; Pigeon Slums; Japanese Artificial Vagina Technologies; and (memorably) Salvia.

March 26
Civil War Simulacra
w/Matt Dellinger

Matt Dellinger has seen combat. He has followed his regiment into the eye of danger, crawled on his stomach beneath enemy gunfire and seen his fellow soldiers die beside him on the battlefield. His musket is a standard issue Springfield 1861 replica.

Matt is a Civil War re-enactor. He is part of a group modeling itself after the Brooklyn 14th, our borough's own storied militia. Dubbed "red-legged devils" by Stonewall Jackson for the fiery red pants of their uniform and their hell-bent spirit, the Brooklyn 14th fought in an impressive array of battles throughout the Civil War. Re-enacting these battles entails what Matt describes as a "mash-up of camping, American history, Halloween and playing war." Attracting history buffs, veterans and families, the pastime of re-enactment lets these men and women unplug from modern life for weekends at a time, re-staging historical battles and demonstrating how re-creating, like memory itself, can give mastery over a conflicted past.

Matt and other soldiers of the Brooklyn 14th will be on hand to discuss their unique pastime and shed light on some of Brooklyn's lesser-known lore.

Matt Dellinger is a freelance writer for The Atlantic, New Yorker, and New York times. He has written Interstate 69, a book about the in-progress construction of a superhighway connecting Canada and Mexico and is currently at work on a book about the Brooklyn 14th. He has met Abraham Lincoln several times.

(photo by Tom George Davidson)

April 23
Hyper-Density and the Future of Manhattan
w/Amy O'Leary and Friends

(Brooklyn, NY) How many people could Manhattan conceivably house? Some perspective: As crowded as it may seem, the fact is that today's island houses 30% fewer people than it did at its peak 100 years ago. Back then there were 700,000 more Manhattanites than there are today—many of them crowded cheek-by-jowl in the teeming tenements of the Lower East Side. And even that historic crowding pales compared to Kowloon Walled City in Hong Kong, the most crowded urban node the planet has yet seen.....

Join journalist Amy O'Leary for a panel discussion on population trends, urban planning, and the conceptual limits of density here in the Big Apple. Joining her will be city planner Frank Ruchala, Jr., transportation strategist Sarah Kaufman, and others.

Amy O'Leary is a reporter for The New York Times, who joined the paper five years ago as a multimedia producer. Before working at The Times, Amy was a public radio producer, working both as a freelancer and on staff at This American Life.

Sarah M. Kaufman is a Research Associate at NYU's Rudin Center for Transportation Policy & Management. Sarah focuses on the use of cutting-edge information technologies in transportation communications, particularly the implementation of open data and social media programs

Frank Ruchala, Jr. is currently an associate urban planner and designer with the Department of City Planning for the City of New York. Prior to this position, Mr. Ruchala, Jr. was an urban planner with Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill.

May 7
An Introduction to Cymatics
w/Jeff Volk

If you've ever run your finger around the rim of a wine glass filled with water, you will have noticed a visible pattern form on the surface of the water. How vibrations can be visualized in two and three dimensions is the concern of the field of Cymatics. First discovered by Galileo and further explored by scientist Hans Jenny in the mid-1960s, Cymatics combines divergent interests in physics, metaphysics, aesthetics, and—of course— sonics, to trace the hidden patterns found in nature and exposing them in visual terms. These geometric wonders offer a glimpse into the intricate design of matter and energy, forming a cosmic blueprint that reveals the inter-connectedness of all living structures.

Join poet, producer, and publisher Jeff Volk, for a whirlwind introduction to Cymatics, illuminating the inner nature of water.

For the past 25 years, Jeff Volk has been dedicated to popularizing the science of Cymatics, which demonstrates, through simple physics experiments, how "inert" matter can be "animated" into life-like flowing forms, by the subtle, invisible forces of vibration. The implications of these experiments are vast, and have inspired profound insights into the invisible realms of nature, in many who have seen them.



Jamie Hook is a socially omnivorous urban dandy who makes his home in Greenpoint. A filmmaker, theatre director, and sometimes journalist, Mr. Hook lives by his wits and his keen eye for the odd and interesting. After a dozen years in Seattle, where, among other things, he was the founding director of the Northwest Film Forum, he has settled in New York, where he makes films, writes stories, and struggles to pay the rent. The OCD Lecture Series offers him a venue to display all of his marvelous urban finds. You should also know that he likes pickles, hot sauce, and red wine in that order.