Saturday, August 23, 2014

Brooklyn Schmooklyn (Bushwick Is Still Shitty)

According to several articles I've read over the past several months, including this one, "Brooklyn is so over." I find it interesting that this opinion is circulating around some parts of the interwebs these days. Not because the opinion is interesting, per se, but because this is not a new opinion to me.

Basically, I've never thought Brooklyn was all that great. Well, perhaps it's better than the Bronx or Staten Island, but not great enough to want to live there. Not, like, on purpose. 

Sure, some parts of Brooklyn are very charming. Neighborhoods like Park Slope, Prospect Heights, DUMBO, Cobble Hill or Brooklyn Heights have their appeal. Greenwood Cemetery is absolutely beautiful. I'd probably enjoy living in one of those neighborhoods if I ever want to live in a place that offers Manhattan rental rates without the Manhattan appeal.

Even Williamsburg elicits a malaise-filled, "Meh" out of me. Call it 'The Burg' or 'Billysburg' or whatever other clever moniker people are inventing at the moment. I still think it's overrated. Despite the stunning beauty in some parts of Brooklyn, there's simply too much of a suburban vibe there for me; I came to New York City, in large part, to escape from all things remotely suburban.

For me, being in Manhattan often gives me a jolt of adrenalized blood that rushes through my veins like a volcanic eruption of life exploding out of a newly ignited, defibrillated heart. Brooklyn (specifically BUSHWICK) gives me a feeling much like the L-tryptophan induced food coma and drool-fest that I experience after Thanksgiving dinner; but instead of being on the couch at mom and dad's house, I'm often surrounded by black and brown snow in a dirty, smelly, rat infested back alley next to a garbage bin with a Puerto Rican flag over it, while reggaeton music is blaring in my ears at full blast, poisoning my soul every second that it's playing.

I will say this, though: The sunsets looking into Manhattan from Brooklyn Bridge Park or Brooklyn Bridge can be incredibly beautiful.

The people who seem to love Brooklyn the most seem to be either: first and foremost, people with lots of money in nice neighborhoods; moms who find it comforting to see baby-strollers everywhere in Park Slope; twenty-somethings living in whatever part of Brooklyn is still relatively cheap and gritty (i.e. crappy); hipsters pretending to be whatever the hipster crowd is pretending to be at this moment (we used to call them "posers" in the 80s and 90s, and yes, they're still in Brooklyn); or born-and-bred locals who are trying to hold on to the neighborhood's past identity--despite the influx of hipsters, white yuppie transplants, and gentrifiers--instead of moving to neighborhoods east or north of where they live.

As for myself, I live in a neighborhood of Brooklyn known to some people as Hell. Maybe you've heard of it. It's called Bushwick.

For the majority of 2013 and 2014, I spent most of my time in Bushwick, because this is where the girl who would eventually become my fiancé lives. And since she is currently on a lease in her apartment until May 2015, I had no choice but to move to Brooklyn if I wanted to live with her. I had to make a tough decision to move there, but I ultimately decided that I loved her much more than I disliked having to live in Bushwick.

For the record, I'm no stranger to bad/ugly neighborhoods. I grew up in some crappy looking, sketchy neighborhoods as a kid; but Bushwick takes the top prize for bullshit neighborhoods. I've never disliked living anywhere as much as I dislike living in Bushwick.

If I made a list of things that suck, ranked from most crappy to least crappy, I would put "Living in Bushwick" pretty far up the list. Like, just below, "Being engulfed in flames."

Still wondering why I dislike Bushwick so much? I'll tell you. Oh Bushwick, where to begin.

Well, for starters, it's uh, gritty. There's that word again.


People love to use that word instead of shitty, but there are no buzzwords that make it anything other than the shitty neighborhood that it is. There's really no nice way put it.

(1) It's dirty. It makes other dirty parts of New York City look clean and sanitary. (2) It's ugly. (3) It smells bad. (4) There's garbage everywhere. (5) No one gives a damn about keeping the neighborhood clean. (6) It's sketchy. (7) The neighborhood is full of obnoxiously loud young guys who drive cars with obnoxiously loud mufflers that have obnoxiously loud stereo systems that they play at full bast at all hours. All of these things are prevalent in all directions within at least a 5 block radius of where I live in Bushwick.

Bushwick has a large population of people from various hispanic cultures. Yet, the irony is that (8) as of 2014, finding decent hispanic food anywhere in the neighborhood seems nearly impossible. The one place I thought might be good is this little Cuban Sandwich shop on Myrtle Avenue, but it's run by a couple of young caucasian dudes who apparently have no idea what a good, authentic Cuban sandwich tastes like (I grew up eating authentic Cuban and Dominican food in Miami).

There are many, many more unflattering things that I can point out, but I'm guessing you can see where I'm going with this.

I'm not sure exactly what it is that people who are trying to make Bushwick sound like the next up-and-coming neighborhood really see in it. I suspect they're trying to convince themselves that it was a good choice to move there. I can't imagine any other reason why I would ever hear anything positive about living in Bushwick.

So if you're over 30 years-old, have reasonably high to medium standards, and are considering Bushwick as a place to live, let me save you from the inevitable cognitive dissonance you'll experience in trying to convince yourself that you're glad you moved to Bushwick: it sucks.

Clearly this is all just my opinion, but it's an honest one. Try not to hate me for it if you love Bushwick or Brooklyn in general. I know there are many of you out there.

It's just that I like nice things.