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HONKING MAD

Author confronts neighborhood traffic ills with a dose of poetry

The Brooklyn Paper
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It’s summertime. And that means Brooklynites are piling in cars for much-anticipated getaways. And that means road rage is not far behind.

Park Slope author Aaron Naparstek, who recently returned from a national book tour, offered the assembled at the Court Street Barnes and Noble on July 21 a way to let off some steam: by reading a few of his humorous "honkus" - haikus about honking.

The 33-year-old recalled for the audience that he only resorted to writing honkus - and posting fliers of them along Clinton Street from Brooklyn Heights to Carroll Gardens - after his frustration over a blue sedan honking at a red light provoked him to retaliate by throwing eggs at the offending vehicle.

"I remember the date: Dec. 20, 2001," he said, "was when I went over the edge."

Apparently Naparstek’s sanity is fully recovered and he’s hawking his new book, "Honku: The Zen Antidote to Road Rage" (Villard Books, $12.95), a collection of more than 100 short poems - a total of 17 syllables arranged in a 5-7-5 syllable-per-line format - that he wrote when channeling his energy in a non-violent, more productive way.

He recalled that while posting the fliers was as embarrassing as throwing the eggs, ("I also thought this was very strange behavior") he soon found likeminded neighbors who commended his efforts or had begun to post their anonymous honkus, too.

"Now I’m honking back," recalled the Cleveland transplant. "Writing them was soothing and putting them up was satisfying."

Samples of his honkus include: "If, in fact, TOMRULZ/ would he need to announce it/on vanity plates?" or "Screaming sirens pass/crap - now my ears are bleeding/ call an ambulance" or "Bells and whistles ring/breaking the still night silence/who’s alarmed? Sleepers."

Naparstek was encouraged by the positive community response to his efforts.

"That’s when I started to get active," recalled Naparstek. "My mission was that the no-honking, $125 fine sign on Pacific and Clinton would be enforced. It happened. The police came out there We got some action. That was very satisfying."

While Naperstek did share with the audience his apocalyptic fears about where Americans’ love affair with their cars will lead - he’s a staff member of Transportation Alternatives - and that he’s working on a new book addressing that issue, he also confessed that he, too, is a Brooklynite who owns a car. Luckily, "Honku" is just the right size to fit into a glove compartment.

For more information, log onto www.honku.org.

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