Kenn Lowy On Making Music And Owning An Independent Movie Theater In Brookyn

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Kenn Lowy is a busy man with many talents and interests. On any given day, you’ll find him riding his motorcycle through New York City, perhaps on his way to the East River for a quick swim. Or attending a Community Board meeting. Or working at his newly acquired independent movie theater (check out his Krrb corner for a rotating schedule of special events). Or putting together a gig in which he is one of the performers. And between all this, he makes time for writing music. Meet the man who doesn’t sit still.

he Brooklyn Heights Cinema. A long-time local favorite with a new owner.

The Brooklyn Heights Cinema. A long-time local favorite with a new owner.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Ok, you asked so here goes. I’m a musician, composer, singer-songwriter, computer consultant, movie theatre owner (Brooklyn Heights Cinema), political activist and marathon swimmer. I’ve been the President of a local Democratic Club, run for state wide office and swum around Manhattan and Key West. I manage to find an hour a day to play guitar, at least 90 minutes a day to swim and the rest of the day to work on the things that make money. I’ve become very good at managing my time (on most days).

Where are you from and where do you currently live?

I was born in Los Angeles but I grew up in the Northeast (Connecticut, New Jersey, Philadelphia, and then Brooklyn). I currently live in Brooklyn Heights.

The Community Bookstore on Court St. Photo: fangraph.com

The Community Bookstore on Court St. Photo: fangraph.com

What is the most awesome thing in or about your neighborhood?

There was always this really cool movie theatre about 10 blocks away from me. I’ve been going there off and on for about 30 years (since I was a kid). I thought it was so cool I bought it. Sahadi’s [Ed. Note: The best ever specialty middle eastern grocery store] is a half a block away, which works well for me. The Court Street Community Bookstore is a crazy place on Court Street that looks like a throwback to another era. There are books scattered all over the place. And I have a few really good friends that live a short walk away. That’s the best part. The worst part is all the stores that keep closing up.

A spotted rip tide at Cony Island, post swim.

A spotted rip tide at Coney Island, post swim.

What is your favorite place you go locally to discover hidden treasures.

Does the ocean count? There’s always something new down there that makes at least one swimmer a day say “what the hell was that?”. The problem I have with hidden treasures is that they are never where I think they’re going to be (seriously). I know they’re supposed to be hidden, but a clue would be nice. Some people have a knack for knowing where to go. I have to stumble on to those things.

As a kid, were any of your toys and clothes hand-me-downs? Stories please!

I don’t think so. My older brother was always into art and drawing and I was always into sports. I would have destroyed his clothes in a day or two. We both played piano, but that isn’t a hand me down kind of thing. He’s 3 1/2 years older than me, so by the time I could fit into his clothes they were long gone. I was pretty hard on clothes, so I don’t think my younger brother got any of it either.

Today, how often do you go to garage sales, flea markets, etc.? What is your modus operandi? Any personal tips you’d like to share?

Not often. I go if someone I know says I can’t miss it. And if they promise they’ll be there just in case I’m totally bored – so I have someone to talk to. And in the process of being there longer, I can find something So my personal tip is to go with someone who’s a lot more into it than you are and who won’t let you leave until they leave. That probably isn’t a very good tip for most people.

Have you ever taken home an object you found in the street or dumpster? If so, what was it? And where is it now?

I’m sure I have, but it must have been a long time ago because I can’t remember what it was or what happened to it. I live in NYC, isn’t that sort of a prerequisite for living here?

Are you a hoarder or a minimalist?

I’m between the two. Twice a year I decide to get rid of the stuff I don’t need. And twice a year I am shocked and appalled at how much stuff I get rid of. So I guess I hoard for 6 months, and make a failed attempt at being minimalist for a week.

One of Kenn's most prized possessions.

One of Kenn's most prized possessions.

What is your most cherished thrifted, secondhand, vintage, upcycled object you possess? What’s the story behind it?

Two things:
When my parents died we (my and my bro’s) had to decide what to take and what to give away or throw away. In my fathers case, he had a bar that my parents used from the time we were in Philadelphia. It’s a cool retro kind of thing that opens up. I have that and an old picture taken of a relative (great, great uncle or something) in front of his art supply store in Greenwich Village in the late 1800’s. And I have my mother’s couch.

Do you create/make things? What are you working on these days?

I’m a composer, so I’m creating a lot, although it goes in phases. Right now I’m gearing up to write a bunch of ambient music to be played at the movie house. When I’m working on a new CD, even if I already have the songs together, I get in the songwriting mode and when I’m done recording, I have a bunch of new material I want to get on the CD. There is almost always music in my head, mine or someone else’s. I have a new CD, or whatever it’s called now, coming out in the fall. I write folk-pop-rock, synth-pop and aggressive ambient music. Making sure the sounds that come out of my electric guitar sound nothing like a guitar is a huge amount of fun.

By the way, what’s your day job?

I’m a computer consultant, which I call being a technology wrangler. I own and run the Brooklyn Heights Cinema (with my manager). It’s not really a day job, which is good because I’m horrible at having “real” jobs. “I want to go out and swim for a few hours”, never goes over well with a boss. Or “I have a gig tonight, so I’ll be in a little late tomorrow”.

Thanks Kenn!

The Short List

Local Treasures
Brooklyn Heights Cinema, 70 Henry St., Brooklyn, NY
Sahadi’s, 187 Atlantic Ave., Brooklyn, NY

Find Kenn
Krrb.com/brooklynheightscinema

 
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