Americans have been getting to know the primordial land of noble savages that is Brooklyn over the last several years, most recently in the Los Angeles Times, which took a crack at profiling the local heathens in their natural heathen habitat—the Gowanus Canal.
We’ve covered Gowanus’ changing character before, and now the L.A. Times has given the good people of Los Angeles an understanding of just how weird and gross these Brooklyn gremlins really are. People canoe down the Gowanus Canal, despite it being designated a Superfund site. (Don’t they read English in Brooklyn??) “In this part of the city,” the reporter writes, “the Gowanus is what passes for the great outdoors.” Never mind that Prospect Park, all 585 acres of it, is within walking distance.
If the article’s purpose is just to serve up a slice of America for those who want to know about offbeat characters and the offbeat things they do—sure, boating down a toxic waterway sounds gross, but, hey, urban adventurers do zany things!—then it’s mostly fine… until this perplexing line: “Like Ebbets Field, the Gowanus both repels and attracts the locals; it’s part of the folk history.”
Ebbets Field, the long gone home of the Brooklyn Dodgers, has been melodramatically mythologized by basically everyone. I can see how a stinky Superfund site can repel a person. But the memory of a once beloved ballpark? What might really be repellent is that that smog-shrouded sprawl stole our storied major-league franchise!