House. If name alone isn’t ominous I can assure you the man attached is.

The first few weeks in our new place, my interactions with House followed the classic black-gangster-from-ghetto and white-dude-obviously-not-from-ghetto stereotypes.

Specifically, him mean-mugging me from a distance, giving me the feeling I needed to check for my wallet, and, on occasion, a well placed shoulder into my chest. If the body language wasn’t loud enough, I was soon informed that this was ‘his turf’ by a few locals.

Eyes consistently glazed over, House is always hustling. Like something out of a Rick Ross song, House, in his black pirates hat, black jeans, black puffy vest thing, is a constant fixture on the local corner.

Coincidentally, that corner House occupies happens to be less than 25 feet from my front door. Across the street from PS-28, in front of my favorite deli in BedStuy, and caddy-corner to the Brevoort Projects, is House.

The Brevoort Projects, a public housing complex that all 4 windows in my room face, is where House resides. Although publicly financed, it is well known the projects belong to House.

To take a quick dive back in ghetto history, I will start at a point all people can related to: Fa-bo-lo-us.

Most of you are familiar with the rapper Fabolous from his slick word play, often laced with references to the things he saw/experienced in the neighborhood he grew up in.

Here we share a common bond, as the Breevort Houses (across the street) are the exact projects Fab grew up in. Holla back young’n.

When Fab was ‘coming up’, he ran with a bunch of the other teenage punks from Brevoort which they collectively called the BGS (Brevoort G Squad). As Fabolous’s skills attracted more and more attention, his close association with the BGS was not the type of attention the record label was looking for. Not wanting to abandon his homies, Fabolous renamed the part of the squad he was closest with “Street Fam” and still often shouts them out on many songs.

Fast forward, and the BGS still exists. A bunch of teenage and early 20s kids from Brevoort, running around and involved with typical ‘hood shit. Nowadays however, the go-to head of the squad is House. The same House who stands 25 feet from my front door.

House gives the OKs for action, fixes problems and acts as a source of guidance to all these young gangbangers. He is like the black Godfather, if the Godfather drank malt liquor.

If you watch House for more than 10 minutes on the corner (which I often do from the comfort of my window 4 floors above) you will invariably see a kid, early teens to mid twenties, come up to him, exchange a handshake, some words, maybe a sketchy brownbag, and then the kid will retreat to the projects.

House’s location also means one thing- he sees most of what goes in, and out, of my apartment. It also means he sees a lot of me, as I walk each guest down to ensure a locked door behind them.

The prime House spotting hours are between 8am-11am (before his boys go off to school or wherever) and then really late nights. It just so happens that the majority of our female guests leave during this first time slot. Chalk it up to hormones or number of X chromosomes, but girls wake up before guys (generally). This leaves House, oblivious to the true nature of all our guests, and not in excess of intelligence to being with, to witness me escorting a variety of girls from all over the world out my front door each morning.

Eventually, House needed to get to the bottom of this. Winged by one of his BGS kids he turns to me in the deli and breaks the ice with “Yo son, you a stud” then turns to his boy and says “You should see the type of p**** this dude has leaving his place every morning”.

It became apparent that House, left with no other information that what he could witness, had deducted that each morning he was witnessing the walk of shame of countless girls of every ethnicity. If there is one thing that can bring together a white kid from the suburbs with a gangster from the projects- it’s girls.

Not wanting to lose my ‘in’ I gave a laugh, raised hands and gave a weak “hey, i do what i can.” House wasn’t satisfied with this response, “naw man, I mean that shit is crazy, how many girls you been with in the last few weeks?” This lead to an awkward 5 minute game of me not lying or admitting to sleeping with these girls and House pressing for more information.

That was it however, I was ‘in’.

The first few weeks our only common point of discussion was females, or the pursuit of. Over the subsequent weeks our conversations would become more eclectic: local police patrol patterns, the history of malt liquors, why magnum condoms come in packs of two, and the best wraps for rolling blunts (none of which I could speak much on).

From then on, House would also go out of his way to introduce me to any of the BGS boys that would come up to him as we were talking. Much like anytime a friend forces you to meet one of their friends who you know nothing of, the BGS wanted nothing to do with me. If looks could kill, I’d be dead ten times over. However, with time, and consistent head nods and ‘what’s good’-s, I became an established figure among them. I was the white kid that House always talked to. And they grew to accept that. Some even talk to me now……some.

Around 2 months in, House became our de facto security guard. This concerned me. He would routinely give me words of advice on how to stay out of trouble, how to deal with problems if they came up, etc. Then he started taking actions.

One time, we had a guest lost in the projects. Seeing a white, foreign looking girl toting a suitcase, enough of House’s neurotransmitters fired to ask if she was looking for me, and after confirmation, even brought her to the right place. A nod and a “just lookin out, you know” was House’s call after I came downstairs to meet them.

On a separate night, we were in the deli (as always) buying beers when the local drunk, Leroy, was in rare form. Leroy was a regular around the deli, but usually kept to himself. This night however, smelling like cat vomit and with breath that could melt steel, he started talking to us as soon as we came in. A rather attractive girl from Sweden (Amy we’ll call her) happened to be part of our group, and he quickly focused his attention on her.

Using slurred words that even I had a hard time understanding, he became frustrated when Amy returned his advances with looks of confusion, anger, and utter disgust.

“Whhhuuuttt isss wwrooongg wit u gurll” is all he could get out before House, like the ghetto Batman he is, appeared in the frame of the door. In his customary black and yellow, he said “YO, COME HERE MAN” and led, rather forcefully, Leroy outside. None of the words exchanged were audible, even through the thin deli glass, but after that night I have never, EVER, seen Leroy again.

Needless to say, ‘there are no free lunches’ and nowhere is that more true than in the ghetto. {To be clear, when I say the ghetto I am referring to where I live}.

So before long I knew House would want something for this unsolicited security:

House: “yo, whats goooooood”

The length of his ‘good’ concerned me. Enough to even mess up our ghetto-fab handshake I had become so good at (lots of practicing by myself with my left hand turned upside down).

Brent: “Sup”

House: “yo son, i gotta go see my daughter today”

Brent: “oh, word”

I’m actually in a hurry for once in my life as I was suppose to meet a friend in Manhattan for lunch.

House, picking up on my brevity and cutting to the point: “you think you could hook it up with $20, just you know till I get you back”

I opened my wallet praying that I didn’t have any cash and in turn could deny and still maintain street cred. Finding a $20 my mind said “fuck” which I guess I accidentally said out loud.

House: “huh?”

Brent: “oh, nothing forgot something upstairs, yeah dude, take this $20, I know we’re good.”

House turned to one of the BGS boys that was there and said “that’s whats up”

With the inability to portray body language through text your just going to have to believe me when I say the exchange had more context then handing over $20. We both knew that $20 would never be paid back, and that was OK, as House provided a service, and I was happy to accommodate. In reality, I was happy it was $20 and not $50 or $100.

That interaction served as a precedent. I now regularly give $20 to House for ‘his daughter’ and in exchange, I never have any problems anywhere in BedStuy.

Other important developments in our relationship include a night where an NYPD officer grabbed me and knocked a 40oz out of my hand. My headphones were in and I hadn’t heard when he asked me a question. This is a long story in itself, but to summarize a hammered Brent arguing with a police officer and threatening assault charges is a story House loves to recite to his homies, and one which won more of his respect.

I’m also the first person I have ever seen make House really smile, or laugh hard. This usually comes whenever I playfully ‘holla’ at the local girls when we are outside the deli. A move I have repeated a few times.

Brent {cracked out on coffee and yelling in worst ghetto accent possible}: “ey!…..ey gurl!!!……ey!!….whuurd you get dem green sweatpants?….hey!…..lemme try on dem green sweatpants”

Girl: {always laughing to her friends at the ridiculous white kid) “..boyyyyyyy, you trippin!….whatchu doin out here?”

Brent: “ trippin over you!…..whatchu doin later… know i got dat extra metro card!….”

House: {controlling his laugh and not looking up}: “DAWG… ARE trippin’”

At the point usually the girls are grabbing each other’s arms laughing at the sight, and House is close to tears.

Not to say House laughs that often: The true extend of House’s ‘gangster’ was always implied until one night a couple months into our ‘friendship’.

Returning home sometime past 3am from a Manhattan bar I could hear House before I saw him. He had that loud, boastful, drunk sound to him. As I got closer to the deli, I could see him charismatically waving one arm to 3 or 4 boys from the ‘hood, and carrying a bottle of liquor in the other.

As I approached, he saw me and yelled out:


I immediately glanced at the people he was talking to, to gauge reaction to the racial slur. Concluding the term was not found offensive as I had not said it, I proceeded

Brent: “What’s good man?”

House: “YO anyone been FUCKIN wit you son”

Brent: “Naw, it’s been straight”

House: “No, really yo, anyone been FUCKIN wit you”

Brent: “No, it’s all been good man”

House, still unconvinced: “You sure? You know I got you right?”

Brent: “for sure, appreciate that”

House: “you know, cause if anyone’s been fuckin’ wit you” he glances around and lifts up his shirt to reveal the top half of an automatic weapon, shoved in his pants “we keep things on deck.”

Brent, attempting to keep voice from quivering “…right on”

I walk towards the door, and House is laughing up a storm to the boys outside, reenacting my face. Right before I go inside he finishes with “BUT FOR REAL, we gotcha.”

After it was confirmed that House was quite serious in his protection, nothing really changed. I probably see House 5 times per week, and stop to chat 3 of those times. I don’t know what he thinks of the still constant stream of people coming out my door, but I don’t think it matters anymore.

Our relationship has even evolved to the point where the other day, when talking to Brahim, the owner of the deli downstairs, House had the following words to say when describing me:

“homie ALWAYS fucked up on that Ides….doesn’t give a FUCK….and them girls…….you got NO IDEA…….son, he like the realist white boy in BedStuy.”

Well, I’ll claim ownership to part of that compliment, and hold it in the top three compliments of my life. If you one day meet House, you will understand why.