I'm thrilled to bring you the story of 162 Woodruff Avenue. For therein lies a secretive clan of communal livers whose devout trust in leader Stewart Traill knows no bounds. For some time, we'd noticed that the residents seemed "out of place" in an already wildly diverse Caledonia. There was never any hanging out in front of 162. People came and went quickly and quietly, rarely making eye contact; many were Caucasian, but without the telltale marks of the Gentrifier. Sometimes they'd carry what looked like artist portfolio thingies, making one think it was some kinda artists cooperative. Then, most befuddling of all, were the frequent appearances of an Olde Good Things truck. That last clue was the one that sent the Q into a days long investigation into the practices of the residents of 162.
Basically...it's the home of a cult. If I were to be more forgiving, I suppose, I could call it a communal house of worship or some such. 162 is owned by the Church of Bible Understanding, and if you click that link you'll get one of hundreds of references to the group's nefarious nature. I particularly like that list, because it puts COBU on a par with stuff like Scientology, the Moonies, Heaven's Gate and the Manson "Family" (who still has followers by the way). If you're curious as a cat about cults like I am, then you won't want to miss this; a autobio-blog telling the life of one COBU-ist who got out. COBU CULT. He goes into great detail about his life in a brainwashy state, and he's actually a pretty good writer, so it ain't dull.
Here's the basics of Mr. Traill and his COBU: atheist vacuum salesman gets "saved" in the 1960s; starts something called The Forever Family (seems like it was pretty easy to start a cult back then); attracts converts easily, grows his base; figures you need income to be a good cult, so he requires followers to work and tithe basically everything; keeps things cheap by making everyone live communally in low-rent urban buildings in NYC, Philly, Jersey, Scranton; gets into some trouble and changes name to COBU; starts a carpet cleaning business to make better money (lampooned in a Seinfeld episode), getting devotees to provide basically slave labor; divorces his first wife and marries a his young secretary, pissing people off but not enough to be a total cult-killer; embraces his yen for flying by buying some airplanes; runs afoul of the law by taking in and converting orphans; concocts some krazy kolor-koded way to interpret the bible; and in the end, actually has to hang around with the looney tunes he gets to follow him. Can't imagine that's worth the payday, but I guess it's a living.
And during their heyday, COBU bought an apartment house on Woodruff Avenue in Brooklyn. One can only imagine what goes on day after night. Or maybe things have toned down a great deal since the cult's heyday of 3,000 or so followers. Their numbers seem to be down to the high double digits to low 100s.j
In a breathtaking move of business savvy, the group opened super high-end junk store Olde Good Things after plying the trade haphazardly for years. (I think there should be an "e" on the end of Good as well, by the way). The business perfectly timed the country's newfound love of good old things from good old houses, and they now have nationwide sales in the many millions. Not bad for a bunch of ex-hippies. They also started a mission thing in Haiti, which some call a return to their predatory days of youth conversion.
And those "portfolios?" Apparently, COBUs go out in the world and do what are called "art shows." Using large placards, they're able to visually represent the 20-some tenets of their color-coded take on the New Testament. I've only read it described, never actually seen an "art show," though that must be the connection.
I'm telling you. Woodruff got some serious funk in its socks.
The Q at Parkside
News and Nonsense from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Lefferts and environs, or more specifically a neighborhood once known as Melrose Park. Sometimes called Lefferts Gardens. Or Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. Or PLG. Or North Flatbush. Or Caledonia (west of Ocean). Or West Pigtown. Across From Park Slope. Under Crown Heights. Near Drummer's Grove. The Side of the Park With the McDonalds. Jackie Robinson Town. Home of Lefferts Manor. West Wingate. Near Kings County Hospital. Or if you're coming from the airport in taxi, maybe just Flatbush is best.