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A Faceless New York (Part 1)

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The other day, I overheard someone on the train crowing (with a friend) about her impending lease signing in the Bed-Stuy neighborhood of Brooklyn. She was glowing, beaming! I couldn’t place her accent but my money would have been on Memphis, Little Rock or say . . . Williamsburg. Not Williamsburg, Virginia – but Williamsburg, New York! What was clear to me in that moment was a glaring truth simmering over the past decade or so, something I didn’t want to ever admit to or believe – New York has lost face.

The gentrification of some New York City neighborhoods over the years has been stunning and in some respect, heartbreaking. Williamsburg looks more like the East Village than the actual East Village now. All of the former ‘rough’ areas are now fashionable real estate targets. Never in my dreams would I have imagined that Brooklyn would become “the place to be” or the hot-spot it is today. “Bushwick? No sweat – we have this beautiful, sunny luxury condo . . .”

While I am all for the decrease in crime, and seeing parts of New York revitalized, the tradeoff appears to be a rapidly deteriorating identity. Nowhere is this more unmistakable than in Brooklyn. What happened? I mean seriously. Brooklyn used to have grit and character. It was easy to distinguish Brooklynites from Manhattanites. Those rough neighborhoods used to evoke fear and paranoia from non-residents. Unless you were raised there, no one really desired to be there. Now, everyone I meet (it seems) hails from there. It’s their ‘hood. No, not Biloxi, but Brownsville! Where did all these transplants come from? And how did the turf transform to such lengths? The whole thing stinks, partly because Brooklyn is now borderline unrecognizable. What’s next? An amusement park in the “Boogie-Down” Bronx? Oh wait, the Yankees are already there. I suspect once the NBA transitions the New Jersey Nets hoops franchise to Brooklyn, the circus will only get worse (you’re welcome, Jay Z).

The day has finally come where I can watch Do The Right Thing or listen to Mos Def and feel like I am experiencing artifacts of history. Now, every time someone mentions hailing from Brooklyn, I feel the hair on my arms stand and my stomach feel like I had too many dirty-water hot dogs. And its not out of intimidation, but rather despondency.

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2 Responses to “A Faceless New York (Part 1)”

  1. Tom Humes says:

    Nice Site layout for your blog. I am looking forward to reading more from you.

    Tom Humes

  2. Ray says:

    Dude…it’s all messed up. I feel your pain…trust me!

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