Marty Markowitz first became a state senator in 1978 and was elected Brooklyn borough president in 2001. Over that time he’s accumulated a lot of stuff: shovels from ground-breakings, embroidered jerseys, alcohol and collectables from his beloved Brooklyn Dodgers. Markowitz’s favorite objects lean toward the nostalgic and the sports-related, but he waxes most emotional about his pet bird, “Beep,” an African gray parakeet. He keeps several photos of Beep on his desk, next to his wife and family.
- Photos by Jonathan Springer.
- A piece of cable from the Brooklyn Bridge
“That was from the original Brooklyn Bridge. I have no idea when I got that. [He examines the item, which is dated.] 1998, that’s when I got it. That is an original.”
- Ebbets Field home plate
“It’s not mine. It’s only good until I get out of office. Then it goes back to Fred Palm. He stole it with his friends in 1956. Security was different back then.”
- Ebbets Field wooden chairback seats
“I exchanged two Yankees’ seats for these two seats. You will note, by the way, how much thinner we were back then.”
- Nathan’s deli, framed picture
“These photos represent Brooklyn and me. Nathan’s, Abraham & Straus, Ebinger’s Bakery, the Mill Basin Deli, which is still there, Brennan & Carr—they have the best roast beef.”
- Coney Island boardwalk slab
“In 2000 they started repairing the boardwalk, and they cut a few slabs out. Everyone else seems to have a piece of the Coney Island boardwalk—California, Detroit, everywhere!”
- Guitar from “Hippiefest”
“I organize concerts in Coney Island every year and this one is from ‘Hippiefest.’ They gave me a guitar.”
- Rug with the Borough of Brooklyn Seal
“When I became borough president in 2002, I called an artist from Park Slope who made rugs and asked her to make me a rug with the Brooklyn logo—and this is what she did. She took about six months.”
- Brooklyn Nets jersey prototype
“This is not their official jersey. It’s from a press conference in Borough Hall in 2004 when the team was purchased. This was before the opposition, before the lawsuits.”
- Barclays Center ground-breaking shovel
“They keep giving me shovels. I tell you, when I get out of here in the next year, that’s the first thing that goes.”
- Alcohol made in Brooklyn
“There’s Absolut Brooklyn, one of the few cities the company named a vodka after. The rest I got has been consumed by now.”
- Barack Obama bobblehead doll
“The Brooklyn Cyclones were giving out bobbleheads of the president.”
- Leather briefcase
“The bag I started using on January 1, 1979 when I was first elected. It has been repaired at least three times. It’s not as if I can’t afford a leather bag, but it’s been a part of me through 11 terms in the State Senate, and three terms here. It’s part of my DNA. I’ve kept it and repaired it as best I can, but you can only do so much.”
- Photo of Beep, Marty’s parakeet
“He’s 11 years old. He’s got a vocabulary of 100 words. They are the most brilliant pets that you can own. A parrot can understand the words we make. He’s an African gray parrot. My bird does not have feathers. I have a plucker. This bird belonged to my wife’s mother and father, and when they died, three months apart, that’s when the plucking began. I think he missed his original parents.”
City & State: Can he say “fuggedaboudit”?
Marty: Yes, he does. All the time. I have it on tape.