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Thursday, January 07, 2010

A Small World


I have often dreamed of living in some small French village where everything is on a very human scale. Where old men gather in the town center and play boule, there is no traffic, everyone knows everyone, and even the outsider is greeted like family. Where people really care and will go that extra mile to help. And the quality of one's life is measured by his or her relationships.
A place where time is stopped, there is no sense of urgency, and things are done deliberately.

There are many places like this, and I have seen them. However, to live in a small town, I would miss all the things New York City has to offer. So at times, foolish that I am, I try to find a microcosm like that in New York City. If you look hard, you can find a place where it's a small world after all.

At Precisions RCs, the metaphor becomes literal - the diminutive size of the place is matched by its scale models, mostly radio-controlled (RC), for the serious hobbyist. Here, in this tiny shop, you will find an inventory of radio-controlled airplanes, cars, helicopters, and boats. There are also trains, rockets, and plastic models. The owner carries a line of current models, has an online business, and also specializes in many discontinued models - of interest to the aficionado. I accompanied a friend from out of town who has an interest in RC planes and purchased an out-of-production wood frame model.

Technology has made a huge impact in this hobby, as in most other areas of our lives. Although nitro-powered engines are still manufactured and sold here, there has been a shift to electric engines/motors for many types of RC models - fuel- and maintenance-free.

The value for the dollar is amazing - the result of a combination of technological advances and Asian manufacturing. The owner demonstrated an amazing little RC helicopter which can be flown indoors (photo lower right), controlled by a sophisticated multi channel radio - all for only $100.

What I enjoyed most was the clubhouse atmosphere with valuable floor space given over to regular visitors. When we arrived, four men were sitting at tables in the tiny shop. We were immediately welcomed and included in the conversations. Many of the customers are members of the flying club which meets at Floyd Bennett Field.

Everything conspired to send one message - that even in New York City, you really can find a small world :)

Note: Precision RC is located in a small two-story building (see the outside here) at 2306 Bath Avenue in the Bath Beach neighborhood of Brooklyn. Bath Beach is located in southwestern Brooklyn along Gravesend Bay.

3 comments:

Terry B, Blue Kitchen said...

Brian, I think you'd find in small town France, just as in small town anywhere, a cordiality but never acceptance. However long you lived there, you would remain an outsider, and your house would be referred to by the name of the previous occupant. People in big cities--especially New York, I find--are more open to strangers and different viewpoints. You've shown that again and again with your photos. And in big cities, people tend to create their own little villages, their neighborhoods. Shops like this one are another way people create intimate worlds in big cities. A great find, as usual.

Brian Dubé said...

Terry B - Thanks for the insight. I did have a conversation once with a Dutch man who had moved to a small town in the South of France who described a scenario much as you have and he was quite frustrated. Viva la New York :)

Chuck Pefley said...

Terry B. is right.

The biggest take-away I get when visiting NYC is the individual energy I feel on almost every city block. There is a palpable sense of community, a small-town feel of neighborhood. Walk into the corner coffeehouse and observe the regular customers who are known and know each other. I love that aspect of NY. I do find a somewhat similar feel in other cities, but don't feel it as strongly elsewhere as I do in NYC.

I'm intrigued by that helicopter. Think I should look locally as it would be a very fun toy! Thanks for sharing.