Mellow Pages fibbed about $50,000 grant from ExxonMobil

Small Bushwick library caught in Big Oil lie

The Brooklyn Paper
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like Brooklyn Paper on Facebook.

An experimental Bushwick library’s attempt to get into the black backfired after book-minders’ tale that they turned down money from Big Oil sprang a big leak.

The curators of the Mellow Pages Library became heroes of the local art scene this week when they claimed they turned down a massive donation from ExxonMobil on moral grounds, but the gas giant never offered them money in the first place.

“We have no record of any interaction whatsoever with this library, and the first we have heard of this matter is through media inquiries,” said ExxonMobil spokesman Richard Keil.

The year-old library at on Bogart Street at Harrison Place houses more than 3,000 titles and gives annual memberships for $20 or 10 donated books. Founders Matt Nelson and Jacob Perkins ran an online fund-raising campaign to save the place in the fall. The pledge drive netted just $5,218, far short of a $20,000 goal. Shortly thereafter, the bookworms behind the project claimed they got an out-of-the-blue letter from ExxonMobil offering them $50,000 in the form of three-and-a-half years of monthly rent payments.

On Tuesday, Nelson and Perkins posted a lengthy blog post on the Fanzine website asking supporters to weigh in on whether they should take the money from the company responsible for some of the world’s largest environmental disasters, including part of the decades-long oil spill in Greenpoint that was three times the size of the Exxon Valdez spill, another company catastrophe.

The following day, the pair posted a lengthy letter on the library’s Facebook page explaining that they were turning down the cash infusion because a) Perkin’s father was an Alaskan fisherman whose livelihood was destroyed by the Exxon Valdez crash b) they valued their independence, and c) they stood to lose the support of the indie arts community that would presumably frown on the tar-stained money.

The problem with the story is that the world’s largest publicly traded oil and gas company is not in the habit of making unsolicited offers to save hipster houses of mellow education.

“ExxonMobil Corporation has a long and proud tradition of supporting a wide range of worthy charitable causes, and the funding scenario the library’s officials describe in no way comports with the open and transparent way we handle our charitable and philanthropic giving,” he said.

Perkins copped to the deception in an interview with the so-called “lifestyle” website Brokelyn.

“We did it for the survival of the library,” he said. ““But we’re okay with the reality of the situation, that people will hate us now.”

The schemer added that the bizarre lie was more of a performance than a prank and claimeded that it has not saved the cash-strapped reading room.

“We had no intention of capitalizing on this and there’s been no material gain,” he told the website.

But the tale also got traction and pulled at people’s purse strings. The Facebook responses to the long posting detailing the Exxon refusal are filled with offers of cold, hard cash.

“Where is the link where we can all donate to in solidarity?!” wrote Liz Clark Wessel.

“You’re awesome,” wrote Stephanie Theodore. “If you need fundraising help, I’m happy to provide it.”

“Yes, really, WHERE SHOULD WE DONATE?” wrote Molly Rose Quinn.

Once the prank was revealed, though, many online bibliophiles said it was as low as an avant-garde book-borrowing business could go.

“I have to say this is probably one of the most disappointing things I have encountered since moving to New York,” wroter former supporter Conal Darcy on Facebook. “I had a lot of faith in the idea of Mellow Pages … I am reminded of a girl I dated in college who had a serious problem with lying.”

“Was belittling your fanbase with this prank actually worth it?” wrote Jimmy McMillan. “I don’t see why anybody would visit your library if you feel the need for this kind of cheap publicity.”

On Wednesday, Perkins declined to provide a reporter with a copy of the donation letter, saying he was afraid that ExxonMobil would sue him and his partner. On Thursday, after the reporter got in touch with ExxonMobil, neither librarian returned repeated calls.

Updated 4:23 pm, January 10, 2014: Acknowledgment of the hoax and reaction added.
Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at or by calling (718) 260-2511. Follow her at
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like Brooklyn Paper on Facebook.

Reasonable discourse

diehipster from Hurting Harrisons says:
...because we all know hipsters are honest and good people of the community. LOL. - Guess Mom and Dad cut these soyboys off if they needed to pull a scam like this.

"One neighborhood fauxhemian opined that Perkins and Nelson pulled the apparent elaborate hoax as performance art."

ART ART ART ART ART ART - what isn't art nowadays to these worthless Brooklyn-ruining hayseeds?

“Yes, really, WHERE SHOULD WE DONATE? wrote Molly Quinn."

Jan. 10, 2014, 7:53 am
Homey from Crooklyn says:
Moonbats !!!
Jan. 10, 2014, 9:18 am
John Wasserman from Prospect Heights says:
Pardon me, but "performance art"? Look, you all know that your own John Wasserman doesn't like to start any "trouble" on the air like this, but this really gets my lamb. I hate to be the one to say this, but fooling around on the computer is one thing, but WHEN YOU OWN A LEGIT BUSINESS, is another (while rape is a whole different thing, completely). These people deserve to have no Facebook friends and a large wooden Policeman pointing his or her finger right into their smug faces for what they have done, or worse.
Pardon the interruption.
John Wasserman-Prospect Heights resident-Patriot
Jan. 10, 2014, 1:45 pm
Hamster Man from Upper Beast Side says:
So you remove my comment because I criticized the quality of this article? Or was it because I called out diehipster on his worn and obscene anti-hipster sentiment? Whatever. How classy. How democratic.
Jan. 10, 2014, 2:10 pm
John Wasserman from Prospect Heights says:
As Mrs. Wasserman always said, "nobody likes a foulmouthed Gerbil Person".
Pardon the interjection
Jan. 10, 2014, 2:34 pm
T-Bone from DoBro says:
One could consider Die Hipster's act a kind of performance art. But, he couldn't even compete with hacks like the guy who takes his pants off at Union Square.
Jan. 10, 2014, 2:49 pm
Hamster Man from Upper Beast Side says:
Foul-mouthed, huh?
Jan. 10, 2014, 3:09 pm
John Wasserman from Prospect Heights says:
As Mrs. Wasserman has always said, "there's no accounting for taste". If you don't mind my saying so, in diehipster's case: I would now like to disagree with Mrs. Wasserman (rest her soul). I'm sure she doesn't mind; she's dead-void of opinion.
Jan. 10, 2014, 3:25 pm
Richard Grayson from Williamsburg says:
I had made an earlier donation of books to the Mellow Pages Library and am really disappointed in the deception. I've done "performance art," like heading an imaginary Martha Stewart Legal Defense Fund, something carried by the New York Post and other newspapers and media, but I made it clear that I wasn't taking funds, and nobody offered any. (I'm a lawyer and I know that would be a crime.) Even when I've run for Congress -- I was on the ballot a couple of times as the candidate of the Green Party and the Americans Elect Party -- I would never take any money. Of course, I didn't really need any.

I am really disappointed.

I suspect "diehipster" is either several different people or a performance artist (a real hipster) himself. A regular neighborhood guy isn't going to waste his time on those posts -- notice how they vary the ways the poster will do something to names he stereotypes as belonging to "hipsters" -- it just doesn't make sense.

Anyone can post anything under a fake name.

If there were an actual hipster-hater, one would think he would be behind a scheme like this to take money from those he despises.

"Diehipster," like this plea for money, is not real.
Jan. 10, 2014, 3:54 pm
Hanna B from Brokelyn says:
This was not “performance art” — it was a cheap prank that these two played on their own supporters. As time should tell, the real lesson to be learned here is that by alienating your own supporters and members, and playing a cheap prank on them, these two will find it less easy to find support in their future endeavors. This has been a waste of time and is neither provocative or profound, but rather childish and disrespectful of people’s time and energy.
Jan. 10, 2014, 4:19 pm
T-Bone from DoBro says:
Oh, Richard, I wish it was as simple as that. Who would actually waste their time trolling multiple websites with the same tired routine?

Well, it's some loser named Jerome. Google his website and you'll see the sad truth. What's worse than one sorry loser wasting his time is that he has a group of loser groupies like Swamp Yankee and Pat. I from New Jersey. Actually, most of his followers are not even from BK. They are sitting in various mother's basements across the country - even from some of the flyover places DH despises. I guess any hate site will dredge up the muck from all over.

And, I hope you don't mind the change of subject, but my condolences to John Wasserman. I thought his wife kicked him out of their Windsor Terrace home to his bachelor pad in Prospect Heights. I beg your pardon!
Jan. 10, 2014, 4:29 pm
John Wasserman from Prospect Heights says:
Pardon me, Mr. T., but while I thank you, I must tell you that there are no condolences necessary! All is well with your own John Wasserman. I get to see Edgar every other weekend, and I get to do what I dog on well please (if you'll forgive the foul language). As for the term "kicked out"...Her words!
John Wasserman
Jan. 10, 2014, 4:37 pm
SwampYankee from runined Brooklyn says:
Harrison ,Jacob,experimental,curator,blog ,indie arts community,Brokelyn,performance,Molly........ buzzword bingo anybody? Rubes from the midwest ripping off other rubes...warms my heart. I wonder if the library closes for the upcoming hipster high holy day...the No Pants subway Ride. LOOK AT MEEEEEEEEEE! PLEASE EVERYONE LOOK AT MEEEEEEEEE!!!
Jan. 10, 2014, 5:02 pm
Jay from NYC says:
yeah, I think from now on I will just give my charity money to the Human Fund.
Jan. 10, 2014, 7:12 pm
Rufus Leaking from BH says:
But like its an OK lie, because oil is bad, and like our library is better than like the public one, cause its a membership commune kind of thing so there are no stinky guys there, and like everybody likes a scapegoat if the boogey man is like oil.
Jan. 11, 2014, 9:25 am
old time brooklyn from slope says:
sounds like they were scamming by using false info - maybe the da should take a look at this as well as exxon for defamation or at last using their name in a charitable scam without permission (for use of the name not the scam)
Jan. 12, 2014, 11:58 am

Enter your comment below

By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:

You agree that you, and not or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.