(Photo courtesy of Brian Van)
Last night, we headed over to CNET reporter Caroline McCarthy and Gawker finance biz dev guy Scott Kidder‘s joint birthday shindig where the hot topic of the evening was the arrest of photographer and New York media scene fixture Brian Van. Apparently, Van missed the party because he was in jail, but no one at the birthday gathering was sure why he’d been locked up. This morning, Van gave us the scoop, which involves a wiffle bat, a subway train and, not surprisingly, beer.
“I just got out,” Van told us. “I’m feeling high spirits tasting fresh air again.” As Van tells it, all the trouble started when he was returning from newly minted Deadspin editor Dashiell Bennet’s birthday bash Wednesday evening. Van spent about an hour and a half doing karaoke at the party and “was three beers in” before deciding to head home, boarding the D train in Brooklyn at Atlantic Avenue. He didn’t get further than one stop, because while the train was in motion, the conductor reportedly heard a ruckus coming from his car and called the cops. Police who arrived on scene found a wiffle bat and a damaged sign, Van says, adding that they arrested him because they assumed he attacked the sign with the plastic bat even though, as he points out, the bat “was not in my hands when I was found and arrested.”
After being arrested on the train, Van spent 34 hours in jail including time in an underground police precinct and at Brooklyn’s notorious Central Bookings facility. He faces felony charges of “criminal mischief or something,” which Van is still deciding how to respond to, according to his girlfriend, Chaya Chopra.
As news of the arrest trickled out last night someone created a blog called “Brian Van is in Jail” containing posts purportedly written by Van on a cell phone in his jail cell, with observations including: “My cellmate Claw has never even heard of Tumblr or Gawker!” Predictably, the blog is a hoax, so Van’s arrest won’t go down as the first liveblogged jailing in New York media history. As Chopra tells it, Van didn’t write the blog and they have “no idea” who did.