November 24, 2008
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.
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November 21, 2008
Thursday’s edition of the New York commuter newspaper, AM New York, had an installment in its Quality of Life series about rising crime during this slumping economy. The article focuses on high-crime hot spots like Staten Island’s 123rd Precinct and South Jamaica. Also in focus were rapidly gentrifying sections of the city, such as Fort Greene, where the slowing economy has exacerbated tensions between the haves and have nots who live in such proximity.
Though crime is still at historic lows in New York, the past year has seen growing concerns about an impending spike in violent crime rates. Not so long ago the New York Times canvased another area of rapid gentrification, Prospect Heights, about bubbling fears for public safety. Governor Patterson has projected massive budget shortfalls for the state and Mayor Bloomberg has already confirmed a decrease in the number of Police cadets who will be entering the academy. The future does indeed seem bleaker street for New York City, but who’s the real victim of this potential pending crime spree? The cool kids that seek out the hood for authenticity, of course.
Is it possible things could ever get too real for the kids from Wisconsin subletting a basement in a crack den somewhere in Bedstuy or is the danger of certain areas outweighed by just how completely totally over Williamsburg and Greenpointe are? Only time will tell, but no doubt the crowds of precocious college grads will keep coming in search of that Gossip Girl, How to Make it in America kind of world. Listen to the rantings of an actuary in Chicago over g-chat:
you need to change certain things to keep up with the trendiness of brooklyn
fuck all that
12:24 PM brroklyn is the fakest place on earth
ya digg that?
Damn. Brooklyn faker than LA? No wonder Vinny Chase was seen wandering around aimlessly at the Adidas anniversary party on North 9th and Bedford last night.
If you want to be ahead of the curve, move to Chinatown. That’s where the cool cats will be moving next. ‘Cause Brooklyn’s done, and apparently too dangerous.
September 9, 2008
The concept of “Relaxing the Butthole” was first introduced to me in the spring of 2007 on a visit to New York, during which I first began thinking of uprooting my stagnant existence in Chicago and settling down in Brooklyn. Late one night, I found myself waiting on the Smith and 9th F Train platform with my former college a cappella group co-member (and current roommate), Mr. Matt Pearson. As I fidgeted about impatiently, voicing my frustration at the inefficiency of the train’s late night service, Matt stared coolly into the night, seemingly immune to the laborious delay. “Just relax the butthole, baby,” he told me, lighting a cigarette. “Society’s big dick is going to slide up in there whether you like it or not, so the more your butthole is relaxed, the easier it’ll be.”
I was transfixed. Matt’s attitude was captivating. At the time, I was waiting tables at a decrepit make-your-own-stir-fry restaurant in a northern suburb of the Windy City, while trying to maintain both a failing band and a failing relationship. Tensions ran high, and a good deal of my nights were spent drinking through half my tip money, carousing about in dives and hipster bars in an effort to convince myself that I was having a good time. My butthole was decidedly not relaxed, and this constant state of ass-tension was beginning to manifest itself in every aspect of my existence.
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