Thursday, May 2, 2013

"Will.i.amsburg": or The Day the New York Times Officially Became an Internet Troll

Posted By on Thu, May 2, 2013 at 10:02 AM

Page 2 of 2

The middle-aged avowed Manhattanite goes vest shopping.
  • Casey Kelbough c/o nytimes.com
  • The "middle-aged avowed Manhattanite" goes vest shopping.

11) Roberta's: "Roberta’s has the ugliest entrance of any restaurant I’ve ever seen, barbed wire leading to heavily graffitied concrete cinder blocks: gulag in da hood."

12) Mast Brothers: "The store smells like heaven; I would happily die there."

13) 3rd Ward: "3rd Ward, a continuing-education center in Bushwick that is heavy on classes like chicken raising and rooftop gardening and cardboard furniture-making."

14) Repurposing (also, stupid young people): "After class, another 3rd Ward student asked me how the class went, so I told her 'Well' and then added, 'I’m thinking about turning my spare guest room into an abattoir.' She looked impressed."

15) Used Books: "I presented the calm, bespectacled Molasses employee on duty with three books whose resale value could accurately be described as limited; a collection of Ronald Reagan’s speeches, a 1993 book about the health care crisis and 'Hitler Laughing: Comedy in the Third Reich.'”

As you can see, Henry Alford really gets what's so funny about Brooklyn. It's all the stupid, earnest young people who have opened up businesses and are trying to combat the perhaps inevitable trajectory that much of Manhattan has taken into being nothing more than a sea of chain drugstores and banks.* Which, isn't that just so funny and so totally worthy of mocking? I mean, beards? Ridiculous! Portland totally did that first, you guys. And just as I understand that this article is meant as a spoof—because nothing is funnier than middle-aged white guys trying to be cool—I also feel like we reserve the right to be offended that a newspaper that routinely mocks the idea of "Brooklyn"—an idea that it has been key in perpetuating—is just straight-up publishing a Catskills-style humor piece that forgets the fact that Brooklyn is actually a place where millions of people actually live and work. And it's not all fixed-gear bikes and artisanal mayonnaise.

Brooklyn is not, even in jest, some exotic place that can best be reached from Manhattan by taxi (as the Times once recommended). It's a place that has become weirdly fetishized by the Times and routinely derided for being a place where people do things in a way that is not familiar to, I guess, the average Times editor. But what is really so exotic about anything that was mentioned and mocked in this piece? The only thing really laughable is that Henry Alford seemed to think that the reason the girl he talked to at 3rd Ward was dumbfounded about his suggestion that he turn his "spare guest room into an abattoir" is that she maybe didn't know what "abattoir" means. In fact, she probably just could not wrap her head around the concept of a spare guest room. That's the thing with these Times Styles pieces. They all come from such a rarefied tier of privilege that all they manage to mock is the idea that anyone could be living in a way other than the one that the Times mandates as being normal. So it becomes a joke to try and barter books at Molasses, because, who needs to barter anything? Haha, what a quirky lifestyle Brooklynites lead, with their vintage clothes and rooftop farms. The fact is, Brooklyn isn't what's exotic anymore. The Times should try spending a weekend in TriBeCa or the Upper East Side if it really wants to explore a lifestyle that's not relatable to most people. Of course, the Times will probably never do that, because neither of those neighborhoods will allow them to employ the word "hipster" in a headline, nor do they lend themselves to being turned into a Black Eyed Peas pun. The Black Eyed Peas. It's 2013, New York Times. Try harder.


*Note: At this time(9:30 am), I noticed that the Times changed the name of this article from "Will.i.amsburg" to "How I Became a Hipster." Unclear to me which is the worst headline. They're both pretty fucking terrible.

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About The Author

Kristin Iversen

Kristin Iversen

Bio:
Kristin Iversen is the Managing Editor at Brooklyn Magazine and the L Magazine. She has been described as "a hipster buzzword made flesh." This seems pretty accurate.

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