the circular runner

The Brooklyn Industrial Complex (RUMBLING #1)

In Uncategorized on August 26, 2008 at 10:35 pm

In olden times (like the 90s), Brooklyn was one of those places that people from Manhattan didn’t come visit.  Too ethnic, too working class, too ghetto.  And the ones who did come did so because a third cousin lived there and they felt obliged or because they had a friend who was still hanging onto the dream of being a jazz musician. 

But now, things are a-changing and Brooklyn’s getting a second look.  In fact, it’s become a mecca for the bohemian chic.  If you want to seem “down,” “hip”, or “groovy” depending on your age group, if you want to seem edgy, but still live in Manhattan-style condos, or, if you have a little more money, a converted brownstone, then all you have to do is cross the East River.  The fact that you are displacing the native Brooklynite—that ethnic, ghetto-dwelling, Coltrane-playing relative—well, think of it as Manifest Destiny for the new millennium.  If you still feel a little guilty, just look how well the natives fared the first time around.  And if that doesn’t work, then why not a little shopping spree at Brooklyn Industries.

After all, every social movement needs a look, an image of their own, and Brooklyn Industries has been proudly providing that look for the trust fund Bohemian since 1998.  With all the style and club-like pump and funk of any other trendy store, Brooklyn Industries sells clothes for the person who has everything but who wants to seem indifferent to that fact.  Hoodies, torn up jeans, rags to wear on heads or tied on wrists—nothing that unusual except that all the clothes stress that this is what you wear when you’re in Brooklyn.  This is how you do honor to the people you’ve displaced.

There probably was always someone, somewhere selling Brooklyn pride.  T-shirts that said I © Brooklyn, etc.  But with Brooklyn Industries, pride, like the real estate, has become something only the well-to-do can buy, which often means that the only people walking around claiming pride about being “from” Brooklyn aren’t really talking about Brooklyn at all.  Those natives I mentioned earlier.  They had to move somewhere, didn’t they?  Well, these clothes are not for them.  You see, Brooklyn Industry Pride does not cover East New York or Brownsville.  No, those neighborhoods are not covered in the New Brooklyn, the New Bohemia.  Too ethnic, too working class, too ghetto.  It’s all about Park Slope, Borum Hill, Williamsburg—neighborhoods that a comedian recently likened to Swiss Villages, where the only people of color to be seen are those who push Maclaren strollers while mommy and daddy work their Manhattan jobs that allow them to buy out the nicest parts of the borough.

I know industries have to serve their target audiences, and cities push their poor out further and further away.  But does it have to be like this?  And do you really need another hoodie?


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