So, after writing about why Brooklyn is the worst place ever, based on a totally arbitrary list of reasons that I didn't even come up with, I thought that maybe I ought to figure out some actual reasons why Brooklyn is the best place ever. Coming up, as we are, on the end of the year means that the Internet (including, well, us) is flooded with all sorts of lists about the year that was. I've been doing a bit of a walk down memory lane and revisiting all of the things that have gone down in Brooklyn this year. And, you know what? It's kind of been a depressing year. I mean, the hurricane and all the playground shootings this summer and the drama at the Park Slope Food Co-op and children being allowed to go to bars and dogs and cats living together. I mean, we're talking mass hysteria! But still, I live here. We live here. And I wanted to concentrate on why that is, on why Brooklyn is the best place ever and we love it.
There Might Be Danger Everywhere, But Most of It Comes from Ourselves
So, yes. There is danger in Brooklyn. Just last night, I was walking home after dinner and a rat jumped on my foot. It was fucking disgusting and, yes, maybe I should get tested for the bubonic plague or something. I mean, it didn't bite me, but still. I routinely convince myself that I have rabies despite almost never leaving my apartment and having virtually no contact with wildlife. Anyway, this is not about me, this is about us, as a borough. And the dangers that are in our lives. Well, as it turns out, there's not that much danger! At least not from our fellow New Yorkers. Gothamist reports that 2012 is shaping up to be a year when the suicide rate in the city is lower than the homicide rate. And the homicide rate is on pace to be the lowest since 1960. So, New Yorkers, well done! Now that we know how to treat each other nicely, maybe we can work on being nicer to ourselves.
Maybe You Can't Have a "Normal" Night Out, But You Can Have a Good Fucking Time
There are places to avoid, sure, especially on the weekends. But for the most part, Brooklyn is still a pretty incredible place to go out. There are tons of options in every neighborhood for whatever you want to do, eat, and drink. Williamsburg has become some sort of cinema mecca and the restaurant scene on Smith Street is as varied as ever. And if you were as unfortunate as I was to have had to be in Manhattan during Santa Con, you will never feel ungrateful for Brooklyn's nightlife again. At least no one is dressed up as an elf wearing a blinged-out VW medallion around her neck. What the fuck is wrong with people from Manhattan?
The Hippy Bullshit Is Actually Kind of Nice
You know what? Yes, there is something weird about almond milk being a bodega staple. But also? Almond milk is fucking delicious. And what exactly is so wrong with rooftop farms? And people making their own mayonnaise? And composting? And CSAs? And food that isn't pumped full of antibiotics and covered in pesticide residue? Nothing is wrong with it. Nothing at all. I love the fact that we have the luxury to bitch about how well we're treating the earth and ourselves. That's a nice thing to complain about. It's kind of amazing that even the big new stadium is sourcing most of its food vendors locally and that things like Fatty 'Cue and Calexico and Blue Marble are all available for mass consumption. There's nothing wrong about living well.
People Still Chase After Their Dreams
Remember when you were a kid and you were pretty sure that when you grew up you'd be some combination of prima ballerina/lawyer/veterinarian? I couldn't have been the only one who felt that way, right? Well, maybe those kinds of hyphenated professional existences don't really translate to actual adult life, but every time I walk into Gorilla Coffee and see everyone hard at work on their first novel, I get re-inspired. It's like nobody was ever told that their dreams were impractical, that they need to lower their expectations. Sure, a lot of credit card debt might be involved, but even so, people are chasing after what they really want in life. Is everyone going to succeed? Fuck, no. But they won't regret having tried.
Living Here Is an Extreme Sport
Ever tried to ride a bike around Downtown Brooklyn? If so, you too have felt death's cold, bony hand on the back of your neck. But, seriously, how else would you even know that you were alive? Would you want to spend your travel time safely ensconced in a big car and have no interaction with the people around you? I mean, some people want that I guess, but it's not the Brooklyn way. I like taking the subway. Even if it means witnessing what I saw the other day, which was a man dressed in a very nice business suit reach down and pull of his right pant leg, exposing a wound that hadn't yet scabbed over, sticking his index finger INSIDE the open flesh, and then bringing that finger to his mouth so that he could suck on it. He then repeated the action several times before getting off at Jay Street-Borough Hall. That is extreme. I love this town.
Brooklyn Is Big Enough to be the 4th Largest City in America, But It can Feel Like a Small Town
After Hurricane Sandy struck Brooklyn, the destruction in certain neighborhoods seemed staggering and almost insurmountably devastating. But Brooklynites banded together to help clean up areas like Red Hook and Coney Island, working to clear tons of debris and trash. Donations flooded into recovery centers in Sunset Park and Crown Heights and volunteers were turned away because there were already so many people helping. Never has a borough of over 2 million people felt like such a tight-knit community. I don't want to gloss over the fact that the recovery in some areas is still ongoing and that nothing is perfect in the wake of such a natural disaster, but, for the most part, Brooklyn came together and did the best it could to help out its neediest members. All of the elements of a metropolitan area are here, but not at the cost of the ethos of community spirit that existed post-Sandy.
Would You Really Want to Live Anywhere Else?
I mean, maybe. I have vague dreams of farmhouse living one day, surrounded by dogs and, well, dogs. But I would miss the shit out of Brooklyn. I would miss the fact that it feels like you're entering another world every time you move an extra stop on the Q. I would miss the variety in food, language, architecture, and people that you get here more than almost anywhere else on the planet. I would miss the fact that Brooklyn is always changing, but it hasn't undergone a massive Manhattan-ification yet, and I hope it never will. I would miss so much about being here in a way that makes me know that I fucking love the place. And not because it's perfect. You can only love something for its perfection if you are blind or an idiot. No, I love Brooklyn because it is messy and kind of gross and fun and because I know it. The more I know it, the happier I am to call it home. So despite all the ugliness of the last year—and, really, I had thought 2011 was bad, but it has NOTHING on 2012—at least there's one thing that is reliably here for us all. THe one thing I mean, of course, is all aspiring writers in Gorilla Coffee. You can do it, guys. You can do it.
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