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Thoughts on Breuckelen

December 30, 2010

Wow, there is a ton of stuff going on in Fat Al’s last post . I’m not sure how much I’m going to comment on or how rambling these comments are going to be, but let’s just dive right in and see what happens.

My Brooklyn roots are much weaker than Al’s, but I do remember sleeping over at my Grandpa’s apartment on Brighton 7th St. a block, block and a half, away from the beach. This was the same small one bedroom where my father grew up and where my older brother claims he saw a live carp (or was it a pike) swimming in the bathtub, waiting to be sacrificed on an altar of blandness. The other important childhood memory from this neighborhood were the cupcakes my grandfather brought whenever he visited us in the Bronx. He would take the subway there and back, the ride well more than an hour each way, refusing all attempts by my father to pay for a cab. Anyway, these cupcakes were awesome, they had black and white cookie frosting, some all black, some all white, and some black and white together, as they should be. One day Grandpa showed up without cupcakes and when pressed on why he had done so explained simply that the bakery had burned down. He never brought cupcakes or any other sweets ever again, apparently there was only one bakery in Brighton Beach.

Jumping ahead a few decades it is clear we have a Brooklyn problem. Though it may be more accurate to say we have a Manhattan problem; much (most?) of Brooklyn is essentially unchanged. The people, languages, food, etc. are different, but adjusting for all this I suspect the basic plot lines are the same, with one big exception. That exception would be the Manhattan exodus into Williamsburg, Ft. Greene, Cobble Hill (or is it Carrol Gardens? I always confuse the two) and now Bushwick, etc.. Manhattan has become such an expensive place to live that legions of people who 10-15 years ago would never have considered living anywhere else now have no choice. To compensate for the loss of Manhattan they have been constructing some sort of Brooklyn fantasy land that is infinitely “cooler” than where they secretly want to live. And creating an authenticity that is anything but, an authenticity that ignores the place they actually live and starts giving silly products names that nobody has used in 300 years. It is as though they are loudly, too loudly, proclaiming “I never wanted to live there anyway”.

So the cool neighborhoods Al is talking about still exist and are doing fine, and even exist side by side with these new “cool” neighborhoods, which have most definitely jumped the shark; hell they are giving Fonzy’s shark jumping a bad name. Is there a more absurd neighborhood in the city than Williamsburg?

Now these Brooklynites whom I am unfairly criticizing are not entirely wrong. Manhattan is not the place it used to be. Beyond the so obvious fact that it barely needs mentioning that everything was always better in the good old days there has been a radical change in the wealth balance. There has always been enormous wealth in New York, but it used to share the sidewalk with poverty or at least just the regular un-monied and assorted weirdos and freaks. Many fewer freaks these days in Manhattan.

Also it’s all Michael Pollen’s fault. What with every third person wanting to raise organic bacon they slaughtered themselves.

Ok, that was pretty bad, rambling wise. So I’ll just stop here before I get myself into any more trouble.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. jco permalink
    December 30, 2010 8:03 pm

    I was right there with you up to the hating on Michael Pollan. What does Michael Pollan have to do with it? If it weren’t for the “local food” movement, the new-Brooklynites would have found something equally jackass-ish to parade contemptuously before Manhattan.

  2. December 30, 2010 9:52 pm

    Sure, Pollan has been a loud and even compelling voice in our societal discussions of food, health, environment, etc. , but he has also spurred on legions of moralizing twits who would have you believe that cheese is one of the great issues of the day. It is not, and chevre from a 3 goat farm in Greene county makes you neither a better or more interesting person.

    • jco permalink
      December 30, 2010 10:44 pm

      Fair enough, but the moralizing twits would moralize about something with or without Michael Pollan. Like, for example, cheese fries.

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