“I was born in the South Slope on 11th Street off Sixth Avenue,” said Matthew Roff, 33, owner of the new Crown Heights beer garden Franklin Park. “Bar Toto was my bodega.”
Author: Nicole Brydson
On a recent Saturday night, I did a little experiment: I broke the rules of youthful social engagement and went to a bar by myself. I sat in the dimly lit courtyard behind Union Pool in Williamsburg. I made myself available, quietly sipping a pint of Blue Moon.
What do Jasper Johns, Cindy Sherman, Annie Leibovitz and Keith Haring all have in common? Each artist has work up for sale at the 4th Annual Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM to us locals) Silent Auction.
It isn’t often that New Yorkers get an intimate peek behind their neighbors’ closed doors. Even more unusual is a peek inside the intimate life of our state’s chief executive. But I digress.
As a child growing up in a 25-story filing cabinet for families and young professionals on West 53rd Street, I lived in apartment 10E. When trick-or-treating or selling my annual Christmas raffle tickets for school, I would get an intimate window into how my neighbors lived. We all have our domains, and regardless of how small they might be, they are ours. But what are we all doing behind those doors?
I’ve recently found myself traveling north to Williamsburg and Greenpoint for a night out more often and apparently, I’m not alone.
Apparently it’s quite controversial to discuss the experience of living in Brooklyn when it comes to the topic of race. A few weeks back, I dared to talk about it and received a lot of flack. But in my hood, Prospect Heights, and anywhere really, race, class and gentrification are heavy topics, and I’m not going to shy away from them.
It’s easy to feel helpless and vulnerable during your apartment search, tired of hoofing it from place to place, and being let down almost every time. On top of that, I was skeptical of my realtor, Angel, a 50-ish Asian woman who drives a Jaguar, when she first showed me the apartment I inevitably took.
On a recent chilly night, I was bundled up and on my way to Boerum Hill to have dinner at a friend’s apartment. As I walked down Washington Avenue the B45 bus pulled up next to me, and I hesitated. “Which would be faster, the train or the bus?” I thought. Before I could make a decision, the bus doors had shuttered. Luckily, the light at Atlantic and Washington was still red and I approached the bus and knocked on the door. The driver, a middle-aged African-American man, refused to open the door, gesturing to the next stop, three street crossings away, even though his bus was still idling perfectly in front of a designated stop. It was 15 degrees outside and I’ll admit it, I felt like the driver was sticking it to me for being white.
As I briefly mentioned last week, amenities and good location are hard to come by, especially at the same time and at a decent price. While looking at an apartment three (very long) blocks off the Dekalb L stop, I noticed little signs of revival in the outstretches of Bushwick—the facade of a tenement building repaired, construction workers milling about in paint-splattered overalls with ladders. A sign that the tidal wave of Williamsburgian revival will soon fall upon it. However, thus far, it hasn’t.
For three years I lived in Greenpoint, the northern Polish colony of Brooklyn. Though I wasn’t part of the first wave of gentrification, the wheels of which were long turning—fast—my indigenous neighbors didn’t necessarily seem thrilled with the influx of youthful college graduates. But, over the time I spent living there, the process completed itself. Greenpoint, close to Williamsburg and now home to hip bars, natural markets, galleries, brunch spots, fashion-forward boutiques and even a book store, became the convenient and affordable “choix de la jeunesse.”