Things have changed a lot in the mere fourteen months since I first called Ft. Greene, Brooklyn my home. Gnarly Vines, a wine shop catering to bookish, bespectacled white people, has opened across the street from neighborhood staple Crown Fried Chicken. A second Connecticut Muffin has added a decidedly more pronounced air of East Coast Elitism at the corner of Lafayette and Fulton. And a new Walgreens franchise has been erected on Myrtle and Clermont, promising to shake the foundations of pretty much every bodega in the surrounding ‘hood with its wide selection, competitive prices, and brand name comfort.
There’s one problem, though: the goddamn thing doesn’t look like it’s ever going to open. The construction of this particular Walgreens has been going on for just about a year now, and at the moment it’s been sitting there with its doors locked, seemingly completely stocked and ready to go, for at least two months at this point. As a bespectacled, bookish white person, I acknowledge the homogenization and the edging out of local authenticity that goes hand in hand with the increasing prevalence of chains, brands and franchises (and, let’s be honest, white people), but I’ve also been very much looking forward to not having to scour bodegas for a very specific brand of skin-rejuvenating, blackhead-preventing Neutrogena face wash, or walking twenty minutes to the Atlantic Target, only to find that everything’s out of stock, picked over, and generally out of sorts. So, over the course of the past year, I’ve accepted the Myrtle Ave. Walgreens into my conceptualization of the Ft. Greene landscape, and looked forward to the ease with which I would be able to stock up on my beautifying man-toiletries.
So what’s preventing this haven for the franchise-inclined from imposing itself on an otherwise very quaint strip of Myrtle Avenue? Well, intrepid MoJaMa reader, I did a little research on the matter, in the hopes that I would shed some light on this incredibly pressing issue. As it turns out, local residents are quite disgruntled about the not-yet-open pharmacy, and have taken to the blogosphere with their unrest (which is not surprising, considering nearby Clinton Hill was the most blogged about neighborhood in 2007). And what did I determine? Well, nothing, really. A November 20th thread on Brooklynian cited an upcoming plumbing inspection as the culprit, while Brownstoner recently featured a story about the new housing units above the Walgreens being converted from condos to rentals. Meanwhile, commenters on Clinton Hill Blog were strikingly divided on their feelings about the presence of a Walgreens in the community, but seemed to agree on the necessity of talking about it on the internet.
The most likely scenario, in my completely uninformed, totally speculative opinion, is that the logistics of the upstairs housing situation at 375 Myrtle is to blame—some housing board, or developer, or general sort of entrepreneur who stands to make a great deal of money is in conflict with some other housing board, or developer, or something of that general ilk, and the result is that the good people of Ft. Greene/Clinton Hill, regardless of their feelings about a Walgreens unapologetically popping up in the midst of their stomping grounds, have been left uninformed and decidedly sans convenient amenities. It’s just seems that such a scenario would be the most unfortunately poetic explanation—a construction project that not only ushers in gentrification with its hyper-recognizable brand and excessively modern, flagrantly out-of-place housing design, but also one that denies the local residents their right to capitalize on the convenience it would afford them, if it would only open its doors and let the denizens of Ft. Greene buy some shit already.
Corporate big wigs of New York: spare us your indecision and gluttonous infighting! If you insist on shamelessly developing the life and soul out of our fair city, at least allow us the small pleasure of patronizing your institutions, so that we might, for a brief moment, forget the futility of our short, brutish lives and appreciate the facility with which we can acquire Ramen and/or tampons. You’ve dangled convenience in front of our desperate, sallow faces, then cruelly withheld it from us, leaving us to wait, hope, and dream of the day we might stroll down Myrtle Avenue and witness a Walgreens bustling with the glorious rhythms of free market capitalism. Give us our Walgreens! Grant us our dreams!