Unfortunately, as you also may have noticed, things really hit the skids here when it comes to the Brooklyn trend piece. So much so that it actually kind of seems like they're baiting us. Even after Brian Williams — representative of one of the biggest, most mainstream, New York-based media outlets around — publicly mocked the Times' "discovery of Brooklyn" as the biggest news story of 2010, no one took the hint.
No, they actually started doing it more. For every article that hits its target — Bushwick was a great real estate investment in 2006, beer brewing has seen a big renaissance in the area — there's another, earnestly chronicling everything from Greenpoint's inevitable transition into the "next Williamsburg" to the existence of bars and people with tattoos on Wythe avenue. It seems like the Times' infatuation with the curious, trendy young things of Brooklyn has only deepened, if not necessarily been returned.
Below, we take a look through some of Grey Lady's weirder love letters to our borough (or at least the newly hip parts), and we, uh, put our phones straight to silent:
Summary: Writer, correctly, points out that a lot of famous authors reside in Brooklyn. Incorrectly, she seeks our collective sympathy that the competitive environment stresses her out. But oh, by the way, "I’m selling books, making film deals, moving copies in Germany." Just so you know.
Representative Quote: "Anywhere else in the country, people say, “Gee, you really published a book?” In Brooklyn, they ask when you’re going on Charlie Rose and if you know Jonathan Lethem. If not, end of conversation, time to move on. Getting off the F train right now is a young woman whose first novel was just pre-empted by Vintage for high six figures. The New York Times Magazine is writing her profile, Marion Ettlinger is taking her head shots, and she’s preapproved for a co-op on Prospect Park West."
Takeaway: Writing a trend piece about something you can't detach yourself from is just as dangerous as writing one about something you don't understand at all. Also, puns of the "Booklyn" sort should never be made. Except "Chilliamsburg," of course.
Summary: Apartment-hunters in Williamsburg are too focused on appearing cool, not focused enough on proving they can pay rent.
Representative Quote: "Robbie Stauder posted a short ad that mentioned, along with other basic information, his work as a television producer. He received about 50 responses (one signed “love”), most of them from people trying to break into his field. 'One guy sent me a music video he was in,' said Mr. Stauder, 30. 'It was this weird electro-dance European music with the guy carrying around an old milk jug. He found this girl and poured it on her.'
Takeaway: Show me a roommate horror story, and I'll show you five other people with one that's similar, and probably worse. Shitty New York roommates have always been, and always will be, the trend to end all trends.
Summary: Following the rise of soon-to-be mainstays like Mast Brothers and Prime Meats, the Times looks at the flourishing, soon-to-be unbearable foodie movement as it manifests itself in Brooklyn.
Representative Quote: "These Brooklynites, most in their 20s and 30s, are hand-making pickles, cheeses and chocolates the way others form bands and artists’ collectives. They have a sense of community and an appreciation for traditional methods and flavors. They also share an aesthetic that’s equal parts 19th and 21st century, with a taste for bold graphics, salvaged wood and, for the men, scruffy beards."
Takeaway: We can't say they were wrong, but god, the tidings of overwrought things to come.
Summary: You know how people make fun of the Times treating Brooklyn like a mysterious, quirky foreign entity? Constantly? That is literally what goes on here, as one author explores the fraught world of working in cafes on your laptop in a world he has dubbed "Laptopistan." If you listen closely, you can hear the angry tears of a thousand foreign war correspondents with each use of this newly made up word.
Representative Quote: "A quick glance around shows I have brought my laptop, a month-old MacBook Pro, to its nesting ground. Diversity here means the odd white MacBook or old black PowerBook scattered amid the silver MacBook Pros. Throughout the week I will see only a handful of PCs, each looking sadly out of place, like they have arrived at a black-tie affair in a corduroy blazer."
Takeaway: Privileged people in even the most vaguely creative industries really like to use Apple products and drink coffee, and like it better when other people are around to watch them do it.
Summary: Williamsburg: not just for hipsters anymore. Now serving hipster parents with toddlers. In condos.
Representative Quote: "In August they moved into a $980,000 three-bedroom at 80 Metropolitan. Through his living-room window, Mr. Signer can see the Domino Sugar factory and the Williamsburg Bridge, partly obscured by the steel beams of new construction — just the industrial feel he wanted."
Takeaway: A buzzed-about, up-and-coming neighborhood has gotten more expensive and attracted an older demographic. Tell me more!
Summary: Some men in Brooklyn — possibly elsewhere, too? — have decided to try to make buns happen.
Representative Quote: "Once you’ve committed to a man bun, how do you create one? Alexander Kellum, 31, a fine-arts painter and yoga teacher who lives in Williamsburg, bends forward and pulls his long chestnut hair in front of him; then he performs a twisting and wrapping motion until his hair is firmly tucked into a knot at the back of his head. Sometimes he’ll let a little hair poke out for an “abstract expressionist” flourish, he said. A rubber band, a hair band or even a piece of string holds his bun in place."
Takeaway: All style-related trends originate in Brooklyn, whether we want to be associated with them or not.
Representative Quote: "In France, there is still a widespread belief that the daily diet in the United States consists of grossly large servings of fast food. But in Paris, American food is suddenly being seen as more than just restauration rapide. Among young Parisians, there is currently no greater praise for cuisine than 'très Brooklyn,' a term that signifies a particularly cool combination of informality, creativity and quality."
Takeaway: People don't take too kindly to the use of "Brooklyn" as an adjective, particularly not the French, who also largely deny the popularity of food trucks. Mon dieu!
July 19, 2012: All Roads Lead to Wythe Avenue
Summary: Days after their discovery of late night diners, an investigation of bars, hotels, and galleries, some of which are located on Wythe avenue in Brooklyn. Need directions? They've got you covered.
Representative quote: "Upstairs, a D.J. who resembled Jesus Christ played dub reggae, and when the sun crept below the jaw-dropping Manhattan skyline, it seemed to activate everyone’s internal Instagram clock. A sea of iPhones shot up to capture the blazing pink hues (#nofilter), as if the singer Grimes had just made a surprise appearance at a Skrillex concert."
Takeaway: Williamsburg is really getting out of hand these days, but at least now there's a place for the parents and tourists to stay. Plus, the Times has hipped to the fact that "trés Brooklyn" is a phrase "so twee as to be routinely mocked." Progress?
Summary: Geez, this feels like a lot of talk about Williamsburg, doesn't it? Are you sick of it all, sick of yourself, sick of this world? No need to worry, because there's a new Williamsburg. It's Greenpoint!
Representative Quote: "No more bargain $8 haircuts, not even for dogs, though the local canines may have noticed the revamped sidewalks feel a tad smoother beneath their paws: gentrification is smoothing out all those hard edges."
Takeaway: A year from now, you can safely expect another list like this, comprised entirely of articles about Greenpoint.
Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.