Satori on Flatbush Avenue

Just when you think you’ve found a spot where you can pass for normal, along comes someone who reminds you that everything’s relative.

William Shunn
6 min readAug 19, 2022


A daylight view looking up at two signs for “Mooney’s Pub,” green on white with stylized shamrock/crosses, hanging above the street.
The magical, vanished place where it all happened. (Mooney’s Pub at 353 Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn, NY, in 2007.)

In June of 1998 I received a startling lesson in perspective. It happened during the NBA Finals, a hard-fought grudge match between the Chicago Bulls and the Utah Jazz. It left me as stunned as Karl Malone when Michael Jordan stripped the ball from him to seal up Game 6 and ice the championship.

I’d been living in Brooklyn’s Prospect Heights neighborhood for nearly three years. My girlfriend and I had broken up a few months earlier, after two and half tumultuous years, when I declined to abandon New York City along with her. My spiffy new job at Children’s Television Workshop (later renamed Sesame Workshop) meant that I could just about afford both the apartment that was now mine alone and the half of our consumer debt I was responsible for.

Though I had made a lot of close friends over the previous couple of years, it was still a lonely time as I struggled to find my place as an ex-Mormon naïf from Utah in the big, cold city. Many an evening found me putting down whatever novel I was reading (or short story I was writing) and heading around the corner to Mooney’s Pub on Flatbush Avenue for a shot of Jack Daniels, a pint of Guinness, and possibly some televised basketball.

Mooney’s was a neighborhood haven — not exactly a sports bar, not exactly a dive bar, not exactly a fern bar, but something comfortable and welcoming in the middle. I had spent a long and memorable thirtieth birthday there the previous summer, and I liked the dim, low-key vibe. I could sit at the end of the bar with my notebook and pen, imagining myself Charles Bukowski, and no one would bother me.

That spring, however, basketball became a bit of a distraction to me. I had never followed sports very closely, though I’d been exposed to enough growing up that I could at least follow the action when I watched. I always enjoyed seeing the Runnin’ Utes of my alma mater cream my parents’ beloved B.Y.U. Cougars at anything, but otherwise the only team that ever truly excited me was the Utah Jazz of the 1998 playoffs.



William Shunn

Writer, poet and puzzle maker. Hugo and Nebula Award finalist. Author of The Accidental Terrorist: Confessions of a Reluctant Missionary. He/him/Bill.