Last week’s issue of Time Out New York featured a debate between two boroughs and which reigns supreme. It came just at the time I too, was debating one’s righteousness over the other, what makes each special, and which I am in the mood for, right now. In the end Brooklyn and Manhattan simply cannot be compared. They are each their own world, with its own people, its own community, its own styles and ruminations. Its residents are what makes the borough and it is up to that one person what they are in the mood for, what borough they have a history with and whether or not they will embrace or repulse the place. Each to her own.
I’ve recently daydreaming obsessively about living in the city, specifically the regions of east village and lower east side. I’m been fantacizing and romanticizing the idea of living in a tiny danky old apartment in the village where the tub is in the living room next to the bed next to the sink and you can walk the perimeter of the apt in 20 steps. An apartment with a built in history rife with smoke, punk, alcohol, wild sex, expat pat, delinquent, alternative, outsider aesthetics. Basically what the neighborhood was from the 60’s through the 80’s before coops and Whole Foods set up shop.
More importantly I was contemplating how my life has changed and progressed in Greenpoint over the last two years and why it is I felt this urge to leave an amazing community I’ve been welcomed to. For the first time in my ENTIRE LIFE I felt I had a home, I was included in a community and was neither judged nor isolated by others. I grew up in bumfuck Queens where the Azns stick to this clique and are incapable are opening their minds, their creativities, their networks. I tried being an Azn, I tried being the devout Christian (played drums in the praise team and denounced the whole effort upon entering college), I tried to be a blond wearing nothing but Abercrombie & Fitch and American Eagle, I tried to live the sheltered and narrow lifestyle that is suburbia. But I’ve always felt outcast, not included, kind of weird and as my father says, special.
Swiftly leaving Queens after high school I attended Hunter and lived at the dorms on 25th Street and 1st Ave. That was a most eye opening three years of my life. I discovered the Beatles, I finally understood what grunge was, I had a lover who was nothing but dark and goth, I wore blue eyeliner and plaid pants, I rebelled and cultured myself, all the while attending school full time and working full time and partying full time. I drank and danced and fucked and mooned people in the elevator. I befriended a diverse group of ladies that mostly grew up in the boroughs. Still, that was college life and I rarely see any of them anymore.
Upon graduating and entering the real world I tested the waters of Astoria, the Upper West Side, Bed Stuy, and Williamsburg before finally landing shore in Greenpoint, next to McGorlick Park. Immediately, I felt a sense of home, a sense of ease, a sense of welcoming, privacy and warmth. I was at that time out of a long relationship and had to remind myself what it was like to live the single life. Naturally, I had a blast.
Before long I decided to change my diet and started the Master Cleanse. This was a terrible experience for the most part. It’s immediate effect was the birth of my obsession with food, consuming and cooking and building a relationship with other around it. I got connected to and started writing for the local blog, then the local paper. I started profiling artists in the area, foodies in the area, I talked to cafe owners and met young creative folks on the verge of doing some amazing things.
One by one I contributed to a thriving community of people who love and are loved by art and food. I discovered a shitload of artists in Greenpoint that keep to themselves. I was inspired to put together Greenpoint Open Studios as an effort to build a platform in which artists can network, collaborate, and build relationships. I started cooking and baking like mad and held many a dinner parties. It inspired Greenpoint Food Market which has become a tiny yet exhilarating niche that does nothing but build a friendly and welcoming community of lovers. I met folks who were really onto something, folks who will be marked in history as initiating a movement, a localized and sustainable movement based on trust, honesty, thoughtfulness, sharing, creativity, resourcefulness, and downright fucking awesomeness.
Artists working in all mediums, in all points of their career, journalists, writers, performers, beekeepers, urban farmers, ice cream makers, chocolate makers, chefs, fishmongers, filmmakers, teachers, designers, small business owners, and the most educated and profound baristas. ALL, in Greenpoint. Everyone knew each other, worked together, helped each other and supported each other. It’s all about community and collaboration. Talk about there’s no I in team.
Now, this would not have been possible anywhere else, most certainly not in Manhattan. There is no rising ANYTHING scene in Manhattan. It has already risen, that is why it’s there. If it hasn’t risen it is suffering and trying so hard but failing. It would have to rise in Brooklyn and set in Manhattan.
Despite that, I’ve recently been craving the vibrations, the energy, the unpredictability, spontaneity, anonymity, romanticism, and diversity of Manhattan. I’ll be the first to admit Greenpoint has become a bit homogeneous for me. Everyone is white, everyone is doing something creative in the arts and food industry, and we all live in our perfect little suburb. There is no danger here. There is no riveting invasion from some counter culture or another. We ARE the counter culture. But there’s no substance beyond that. In Manhattan, specifically lower east side and east village people are from everywhere. They’re all over the place. I like the idea of being anonymous here, living a reclusive life, alone in a big city, doing my thang, alone. Maybe I’ve tired of community events. I want to hone down and take care of myself better, and not have to use my brain so much. Connect my city explorations with my heart and dispose my mind. Maybe it’s the sense of uncontrollability in the city that I don’t get in Brooklyn that draws me to it, especially when my world has become completely controlled, scheduled, and predetermined.
I am rambling beyond your tolerance. My point is. I love Brooklyn. I love Manhattan. I might just have been in the mood for Manhattan but I think I would get stoned if I left Greenpoint, so I will stay here til I find my escape, willing or not.