Author Topic: Cubby's: The Hackensack-Pyongyang Connection  (Read 8777 times)

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Cubby's: The Hackensack-Pyongyang Connection
« on: October 03, 2007, 09:57:07 AM »
The Hackensack-Pyongyang Connection

The New Yorker has a truly mind-boggling story in this weeks issue (full article), a story so bizarre we could hardly believe it, even though we're familiar with the subject. Bobby Egan, the owner of an unremarkable Hackensack meatery named Cubbys, has become an unofficial liaison with the North Korean government. We expected the piece to be pretty lighthearted, the tale of an unwitting dupe doing PR for Kim Jong Il as if he were the Mayor of West New York. The truth is far weirder, and more chilling: In fact, Egan presents himself as an adviser to the North Koreans on high matters of state.

The brilliance of the article is how it changes depth without calling out to the reader whats going on. Some parts are just laugh-out-loud inappropriate ([former National Security Adviser Charles] Pritchard can kiss my big fat uneducated ass, he said. The North Koreans are just knock-around guys who need a little insight into what we are really about. They need to know what the Bobby Egans are about, not the intellectuals in Washington.) Other parts are actually shocking, such as Egans description of his advice to Pyongyang about nuclear weapons:

    I said, Forget all this war rhetoric and all this crap. Dont blow up a plane, dont send another submarine to South Koreadont do any of that stupid stuff. Instead, he suggested, the North Koreans should show the Americans exactly what they had. And, in his telling, they listened. I said, You have them, right? Maybe you should test one. Maybe they have to see it. Four or five months later, the Koreans did that nuclear test. I called the Embassy that morning and said, Congratulations, you are in the nuclear club now, boys. They were all happy and stuff. I said, Watch the ball start rolling now. And it did.

The article makes you wonder if, in the first Superman movie, Lex Luthor didnt have the right idea in launching a nuclear missile at Hackensack. At the very least, we are never eating steak at Cubbys again.


(source for the above summary/opinion)

Our Man in Pyongyang [New Yorker]

Listen to an NPR story about Bobby Egan from 12/2006.
« Last Edit: June 28, 2008, 01:25:11 PM by Editor »



Offline just watching

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Re: The Hackensack-Pyongyang Connection
« Reply #1 on: October 06, 2007, 08:06:02 AM »
That New Yorker article is a pretty comprehensive piece on Egan, although it barely touches on his feud with the Hackensack Police. And how connected people in Hackensack have boycotted his store for over 10 years, and told others not to eat there. And how a Police Captain even opened a competing store up the street called the "Dog House Grill", which went out of business. 

Note also that the New York Times article CORRECTLY mentions that the review of the video-tape proved CONCLUSIVELY that Egan never made the racial slurs. That was a bombshell, and it made big press at the time. Who do you think persuaded the muggers to accuse Egan of launching racial slurs at them while they were ordering? I better not make a suggestion, or it will be edited out of this posting.  It was known around Hackensack at the time that Egan (who lives in a high-rise condo on Overlook Ave) wanted to run for a city council position, which is exactly why people in power were trying to discredit him.

So who's the real menace, Egan or those who have been harassing him.  I vividly recall how he posted a huge POW banner for so many years, and there is not a doubt in my mind that he is a patriotic American.  I am glad he is unofficially representing the interests of the American people, and bonding with the North Koreans.

The New Yorker article drew a comparison between Egan and Robert DeNiro. But I have a better match. Who's Egan? --- he's POW-advocate John Rambo but WITHOUT a machine gun. Just like Rambo, he's fed up with "the system", fed up with being back-stabbed, fed up with being harassed by people in power, and 100% patriotic. That's exactly what he is. I totally see his perspective.

THIS GUY IS A TRUE HERO, AND I AM PROUD TO SAY THAT I EAT AT EGAN'S. And I don't eat there enough, really. I plan to eat there more now that I know what he is doing for the interests of our country.

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« Last Edit: June 28, 2008, 01:27:11 PM by Editor »

Offline just watching

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Re: Cubby's: The Hackensack-Pyongyang Connection
« Reply #3 on: June 29, 2008, 09:02:22 PM »
No mention of Egan during tonite's CNN report on North Korea. 

However, let's look at the results.  The Bush administration recently removed North Korea from the list of countries that sponsor terrorism.  Some of us appreciate what Egan has helped to accomplish behind the scenes.  Keep up the good work, Bobby.  And keep those ribs' coming.

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Re: Cubby's: The Hackensack-Pyongyang Connection
« Reply #4 on: April 01, 2010, 03:51:21 PM »
(Thanks Homer)

Strutting With Some Barbecue Diplomacy
A new book, Eating With the Enemy: How I Waged Peace With North Korea From My BBQ Shack in Hackensack, is a juicy read.

Posted March 17, 2010 by Erin De Jesus


Bobby Egan, center, with North Korean diplomats at his restaurant in 2006.
Courtesy of Robert Egan.

If it seems unlikely that a delegation of North Korean diplomats once attended a Nets game and received a shout-out from the arena announcer at halftime, well, it was just a warmup in the even more improbable but equally real tale of Bobby Egan, long-time Hackensack restaurateur and self-appointed liaison to the D.P.R.Kthe Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, they of George W. Bushs axis of evil.

In his funny, eye-opening, and compulsively readable new book (out April 27), Eating With the Enemy: How I Waged Peace With North Korea From My BBQ Shack in Hackensack (St. Martins, $25.99), Egan (and writer Kurt Pitzer) explain how the [censored]y roofers son from the toughest streets of Fairfield grew up admiring wiseguys but found out he could never be made on account of being Italian only on his mothers side. So despite some drug problems and scrapes with the law, he cleaned up his act and went legit. For the last 28 years, Egan has run Cubbys BBQ, just down River Street from the Bergen County Courthouse.

Egan wanted to fight in the Vietnam War, but it ended when he was just 17. The plight of prisoners of war and the missing-in-action seized his attention. In the early 80s he got in touch with the Vietnamese mission to the United Nations in New York, and slowly developed a relationship that eventually enabled him to broach the subject of POWs. He befriended Le Quang Khai, a Vietnamese diplomat doing graduate studies at Columbia University, and when Le defected, in 1992, he held his press conference at Cubbys. Egan that same year testified before the Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA affairs.

The North Koreans evidently were paying attention, because the next year they contacted himfrom their diplomatic mission to the U. N.to set up a meeting. Frozen out from official contacts with Americans, they were looking for friendship, a liaison, in the hopes of eventually normalizing relations. Egan befriended them, inviting them to dinner at Cubbys, taking them to the Nets game in 1993 and on hunting and fishing trips, eventually making several trips to Pyongyang and arranging the delivery of humanitarian aid. The North Korean people, he says, are suffering well beyond what even I could have imagined.

The FBI took an immediate interest in Egans relationship with the North Koreans. They buttonholed him early, letting him know they expected him to funnel information to them, which he did (with, he says, the knowledge of the North Koreans).Over the course of thirteen years, Egan became close with U.N. Ambassador Han Song Ryol, until Han returned to Pyongyang in 2006. I never imagined writing a book, he says, until Bush labeled the North Koreans part of the axis of evil, and I realized that so few Americans know how far the North Koreans went to normalize relations with us. I want people to understand these are human beings.

Offline just watching

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Re: Cubby's: The Hackensack-Pyongyang Connection
« Reply #5 on: April 02, 2010, 08:12:40 AM »

Where can I purchase this book.  A guaranteed collector's item for anyone seeking "Hackensack stuff"

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Re: Cubby's: The Hackensack-Pyongyang Connection
« Reply #6 on: April 27, 2010, 08:52:06 AM »
Book details Hackensack burger flipper's tale as North Korean envoy
Monday, April 26, 2010
Last updated: Monday April 26, 2010, 7:54 PM
BY WILLIAM LAMB
The Record
STAFF WRITER

The notion that "a guy who flips burgers for a living" in Hackensack could pull double duty as a freelance envoy between the United States and North Korea sounds too far-fetched to be true.

And yet Bobby Egan, owner of Cubbys barbecue restaurant on River Street and the self-proclaimed burger flipper in question, has the photos, an FBI file as thick as the Hackensack telephone book and the word of enough former intelligence officials to suggest he isnt just blowing smoke.

Egan, 52, has bundled this unlikely tale into a book hitting store shelves Tuesday. Written with journalist Kurt Pitzer, "Eating with the Enemy: How I Waged Peace with North Korea from My BBQ Shack in Hackensack" traces Egans improbable evolution from successful restaurateur to back-door diplomatic conduit. Hunched over a corner table at Cubbys on Monday, Egan said he hopes the book will shine a light on what he says are unheralded good-faith efforts by North Korean diplomats to normalize relations with the United States.

"What did the North Koreans do here for 14 years?" he said. "The American public is not aware of that how much effort they put into trying to have friendly relations with the U.S. And they did that through me. I think this book gives the American people a true window as to who the North Koreans are and what theyre about."

Egans book deal with St. Martins Press followed a flurry of media interest in his story in the fall of 2007. Two long stories about Egan a 13,000-word piece on Vanity Fairs website and an 11-page New Yorker profile were published within days of each other in October of that year. Reporters from a pair of European newspapers Britains The Independent and Germanys Die Welt came calling in the weeks that followed.

Egan said he has traveled to North Korea four to six times beginning in 1994, not long after diplomats attached to the Hermit Kingdoms mission to the United Nations approached him seeking help establishing better relations with the United States.

Since then, Egan has welcomed members of North Koreas U.N. delegation to Cubbys for dozens of rib lunches, and has escorted the diplomats on nearly as many hunting and fishing expeditions. He says he has coached the North Koreans on American culture and politics, and helped them parse the rhetoric coming out of the White House. He states matter-of-factly that his efforts have helped both countries avoid World War III.

"Its what I do," Egan said. "Intelligence is my game. Why did Mozart write music? Because thats what he did. You take an individual that has a certain amount of talent, and that individual decides that society is not going to dictate how he uses his talents, OK?"

David Remnick, the editor of The New Yorker, told The Record shortly after its profile of Egan was published that his story was "irresistible."

"Here is the most mysterious country on earth, surrounded essentially by a kind of 'cone of silence,' as they used to say on 'Get Smart,' and very few Americans non-journalists and non-politicians ever go, let alone have any kind of relationship with North Koreans," Remnick said. "And here is this kind of bluff New Jersey barbecue guy who may, to some extent, put primary colors on the portrait of his relationship with North Koreans. But in fact he does have the relationship, and its very peculiar and funny and strange."

By the time he traveled to North Korea for the first time, Egan had established a track record for freelance diplomacy.

An adolescent obsession with the Vietnam War had evolved into a conviction that Vietnam continued to hold live American prisoners long after the war had ended. Egan writes in Eating with the Enemy that he called Vietnams mission to the U.N. and said he wanted to form a friendship to push the POW issue. The relationship paid dividends in 1992, when Egan delivered a Vietnamese defector hed befriended, Le Quang Khai, to the Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs.

Khai, a former foreign ministry official, testified about the existence of a secret underground prison in Hanoi where he said American prisoners had been held.

When the North Koreans were looking for warmer relations with the United States, Egan writes, the Vietnamese suggested they talk to him.

Slowly and methodically, Egan built trust with the North Koreans. The friendship he cultivated with Han Son Ryol, North Koreas ambassador to the U.N., is the narrative core of the 370-page book. Egan encouraged the North Koreans to be more open, coaxing them to Cubbys in January 1994 for a rare public appearance covered by The Record during a break in negotiations over international inspections of the countrys nuclear sites.

Egan traveled to North Korea, formally known as the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, for the first time in 1994.

"It was like no place Id ever seen," he said. "Time stood still. Ive seen a lot of Third World countries, and when I entered North Korea I knew Id entered a country that was unique to itself. You could see it, you could feel it, you could smell it that there was no outside influence on that country in the last 50 years."

Egan would return to North Korea several times, most recently in 2003. The North Koreans eventually made Egan the president of something called the USA-DPRK Trade Council, an organization that Egan acknowledges was a front that allowed both parties to push their respective agendas.

For Egan, that meant pressing the North Koreans for information about American servicemen still unaccounted for from the Korean War. The North Koreans, meanwhile, saw Egan as someone who could help them achieve their goals: "Complete normalized relations with the U.S., a reunified North and South Korea, 38,000 American troops off the DMZ and [the United States] taking [North Korea] off the preemptive strike list," Egan said.

All the while, Egan has been upfront with the North Koreans about his ongoing contact with the FBI a relationship that developed after Egan had a series of low-grade scrapes with the law during his days as a roofer.

Capt. Eugene "Red" McDaniel, a naval officer who spent six years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, accompanied Egan on a four-day trip to North Korea in 1996. They came home empty handed, McDaniel said, having failed to get the North Koreans to give up information about missing American servicemen.

McDaniel said Egan is "kind of rough around the edges." More than a decade after their trip, McDaniel said he still doesnt know how Egan managed to earn the trust of the North Koreans.

"I was very impressed with his ability to deal with the North Koreans, who we didnt have [diplomatic] recognition of," McDaniel said in a telephone interview. "I was skeptical initially and I made sure that I talked to certain people before I would deal with him. But after meeting with him and going to the mission up in New York with him, I was convinced that he had a special 'in' with them."

Michael Bronner, the freelance journalist who wrote the Vanity Fair piece, calls Egan "the Forest Gump of Hackensack," citing his uncanny ability to talk his way into "fascinating, restricted realms."

"Egans stories are generally embellished, but often with a compelling the nugget of truth at the core," Bronner said in an e-mail message. "Separating the wheat from the chaff was a mind-bending process, one that depended heavily on secondary sources. I culled considerably from a deposition he gave to the Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs, which had the added benefit of having been given under oath."

Over the years, Egan has weathered criticism from the intelligence and diplomatic communities repeated in the Vanity Fair article and attributed to anonymous sources that he is sticking his neck where it doesnt belong, and that his meddling is counter-productive.

Egans response is that he has done things the U.S. government cant or wont do. McDaniel said he agreed with that assessment.

"I personally think hes getting things done," McDaniel said. "I just feel he has credibility with [the North Koreans] for some reason, and I never saw him do anything that was anti-U.S. It was strictly dealing with an issue that the government refused to deal with."
Egan said Tuesday that he put his career as a freelance diplomat on hold for the last two years while he collaborated with Pitzer on the book.

"The guys over here now, Im not presently working with," he said of the diplomats currently staffing North Koreas U.N. mission. "We keep in touch from time to time, Ill say that. I dont fish and hunt with them anymore. How much of your life can you give up? Im running a business now, raising my family. I chose to write the book, to take a step back."

He adds that he doesnt rule out re-entering the fray.

"If Obama needs me for something, if theres something he thinks I can help with," Egan said, "he knows where to find me."

E-mail: lamb@northjersey.com


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Re: Cubby's: The Hackensack-Pyongyang Connection
« Reply #7 on: July 02, 2010, 08:01:02 AM »
<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/bX3MltcPaAI&amp;amp;hl=en_US&amp;amp;fs=1&quot;" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/bX3MltcPaAI&amp;amp;hl=en_US&amp;amp;fs=1&quot;</a>

Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/leah-lamb/a-bbq-chef-helps-stop-nuc_b_633244.html

Offline just watching

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Re: Cubby's: The Hackensack-Pyongyang Connection
« Reply #8 on: July 03, 2010, 08:54:42 AM »
"Keep your friends close and your enemies closer".  That's what Egan said and that about sums it up.  Yes, it is better to develop comraderie, to hunt, fish, eat, etc., than to go into battle with an enemy with nukes and a million-man army

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Re: Cubby's: The Hackensack-Pyongyang Connection
« Reply #9 on: March 22, 2011, 09:16:15 AM »
HBO Developing Project for James Gandolfini

HBO Films has optioned Robert Egan and Kurt Pitzer's book Eating With the Enemy: How I Waged Peace With North Korea From My BBQ Shack in Hackensack with Gandolfini attached to star, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed.



The development deal will see him portray a Hackensack restaurant owner who forged a relationship with the North Korean Mission in Upper Manhattan who went on to play an important role as a liaison in U.S. and North Korean relations.

The former Sopranos star will executive produce via his Attaboy Productions and Tribeca Productions. Mark Armstrong, Nancy Sanders, Jane Rosenthal, Brandon Brito and Megan Lyvers will also exec produce with Pitzer and Kimberly Levin co-producing.

Gandolfini next appears in HBO Films' Cinema Verite, which premieres April 23.


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Re: Cubby's: The Hackensack-Pyongyang Connection
« Reply #10 on: March 22, 2011, 08:03:32 PM »
Gandolfini agrees to play Cubby's owner Bobby Egan in HBO film
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Last updated: Tuesday March 22, 2011, 7:46 PM
BY ERIK SHILLING
The Record
STAFF WRITER

HACKENSACK The actor James Gandolfini, best known for his role on the HBO drama The Sopranos, has agreed to portray restaurateur and freelance diplomat Bobby Egan in a new movie for the cable network, according to a trade magazine report.
FILE PHOTOS
James Gandolfini, left, and Cubby's owner Robert Egan.

Egan, who owns Cubbys barbecue restaurant on River Street, acted as an unlikely back-channel conduit between the United States and North Korea for several years beginning in the early 1990s. A book he wrote about the experience with the journalist Kurt Pitzer, Eating with the Enemy: How I Waged Peace with North Korea from My BBQ Shack in Hackensack, was optioned by HBO for a movie last year.

On Tuesday, Egan said that Gandolfini and Robert De Niro had been in talks to make the movie for several months, with De Niro producing the film through his Manhattan-based company Tribeca Productions. Egan said that the two were now looking to find a screenwriter to adapt the book into a screenplay.

The screenplays gotta be written and its gotta satisfy Mr. Gandolfini, Mr. De Niro and HBO, Egan said. Were very happy with James taking the role on. Its homegrown New York-New Jersey people. Its great to have local talent.

Gandolfini, who grew up in Park Ridge, could not be reached for comment Tuesday, and a message left with a spokeswoman for Tribeca Productions was not immediately returned.

Egans relationship with the North Koreans began nearly two decades ago, when Vietnamese diplomats suggested that their North Korean counterparts talk to Egan if they were interested in better relations with the United States. Egan had previously been an activist searching for American prisoners of war in Hanoi.

By January 1994, Egans relationship with North Korean diplomats had warmed to the point that he hosted several officials from the Hermit Kingdoms United Nations mission for ribs and steaks at Cubbys a public event that was covered by The Record. Several more lunches as well as hunting and fishing trips followed over the years, and Egan became especially close with Han Son Ryul, North Koreas ambassador to the United Nations at the time. That relationship formed the core of Egans book.

Egan eventually visited North Korea between four and six times, he said, even as some U.S. government officials expressed unease with his approach, calling his overtures meddlesome and possibly dangerous.

Today, Egan insists that he was doing diplomatic work that the government had refused to do.

With my experience, I believe theyre open to change, Egan said of the North Koreans. Theyre open to change, but they just didnt know how and whether it would be allowed by the West.

Since taking off two years to write his book in 2008, Egan said that hes stayed mostly retired from the freelance diplomacy business, choosing instead to focus on his children and his business.

He said that he has yet to meet with Gandolfini, though his agent and co-author have.

I was welcome to go to California several times, but it was during hunting season, Egan said. Our common goal is to keep it authentic and to tell the story.

E-mail: shilling@northjersey.com

Offline just watching

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Re: Cubby's: The Hackensack-Pyongyang Connection
« Reply #11 on: March 22, 2011, 11:14:39 PM »
maybe they have it backwards....Bobby Egan would be the best person to portray James Gandolfini.

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Re: Cubby's: The Hackensack-Pyongyang Connection
« Reply #12 on: March 23, 2011, 08:38:05 AM »
I hear that Charlie Sheen might be looking for work.

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Re: Cubby's: The Hackensack-Pyongyang Connection
« Reply #13 on: December 20, 2011, 01:17:38 AM »
Hackensack restaurateur sees diplomatic opportunity in Kim Jong Il's death
Monday December 19, 2011, 8:12 PM
BY ERIC SHILLING
STAFF WRITER
The Record

HACKENSACK Restaurateur and freelance diplomat Bobby Egan said Monday that the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il represents a new opportunity for the Hermit Kingdom to open itself to the world.

Egan, who owns Cubbys barbecue restaurant on River Street, acted as an unlikely back-channel conduit between the United States and North Korea for several years beginning in the early 1990s. Kim Jong Ils death, he said, hands the two nations a new chance for a fresh start.

This is the opportunity, right now, Egan said, before offering some unsolicited advice to President Obama. I would suggest to him that tomorrow there should be diplomatic ties. Know your friends well, know your enemies better.

Egans relationship with the North Koreans began nearly two decades ago, when Vietnamese diplomats suggested that their North Korean counterparts talk to Egan if they were interested in better relations with the United States. Egan had been an activist searching for American prisoners of war in Hanoi.

By January 1994, Egans relationship with North Korean diplomats had warmed to the point that he hosted several officials from North Koreas United Nations mission for ribs and steaks at Cubbys.

More lunches as well as hunting and fishing trips followed, and Egan became especially close with Han Son Ryul, North Koreas ambassador to the United Nations at the time. That relationship formed the core of a book, Eating With the Enemy: How I Waged Peace with North Korea from my BBQ Shack in Hackensack, that Egan wrote with the journalist Kurt Pitzer.

Egan visited North Korea between four and six times, he said, even as some U.S. government officials called his overtures meddlesome and possibly dangerous.

On Monday he said that the dear leaders death was not all that surprising, considering his age.

He was [nearly] 70, Egan said. He noted Kim Jong Il's age was relatively advanced for a country with a life expectance of 68.9 years, according to the CIA World Fact Book, considering the lifestyle, the pressure of being a dictator, the womanizing and the drinking.

Egan still maintains contact with some of his North Korean friends, and he said that most of them were devastated by Kim Jong Ils death.

Thats all theyve ever known, he said. They revere him like we revere the cloth, or the Quran or any other religious symbol. These are the only images that they know that have led them. The Korean people are in mourning.

Egan also said that Kim Jong Ils death this year was in some ways fitting, coming amide the Arab Spring and, in particular, the death of Muammar Ghadafi.

A bad year for dictators, huh? Egan said.

E-mail: Shilling@northjersey.com

Offline Chief Oratam

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Re: Cubby's: The Hackensack-Pyongyang Connection
« Reply #14 on: May 05, 2012, 03:09:07 PM »

I stopped in Cubby's for lunch today.... I had to laugh....the sign over an inside door reads...

These Premises are being Video and Audio Recorded :o

How apropo..... Just like it is done in North Korea...

probably get recorded in the rest room also... :D


 

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