State Senate Candidate Andrew Gounardes Interview Part II: “A Williamsburg Culture Doesn’t Suit Bay Ridge”

10/18/2012 9:00 AM |

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What are you going to do if you lose?
Take a vacation. And I’ll figure out my next steps from there. Obviously I want to stay involved in the community, obviously I think I have a future doing this type of work. Maybe I’ll run again, maybe I won’t, we’ll see. But I’m just focused solely on the next 25 days. [We met on Oct 12.] And then my vacation, and then I’ll figure it out from there.

So you’re going on vacation either way?
Yeah.

Where are you going to go?
Most likely Argentina. I want to get out of here. I don’t want to know anybody, see anybody, talk to anybody.

Argentina’s a long way from Third Avenue.
Yeah. I like tango music. That’s why: I need to learn how to tango dance now. No better place to do it than Buenos Aires.

Do you speak Spanish?
Nope. I need another adventure in my life, you know, aside from this. My understanding is that there’s such a big expat community there already that you can get by with very little Spanish, and English. So.

Did you take Spanish in high school?
I took it, a little bit, but I don’t remember much of it. I took mostly Greek, which was probably a mistake in hindsight. But I know the basics in Spanish, I can get by. Very, very broken… I understand the basics, and that’s it.

How’s your Arabic?
Not good. Not at all. But actually, if you look at the map of the district, they cut out most of the Arab-speaking blocks from the district. Yeah. I mean, the Arab community isn’t just clustered in one area, it’s spread out, but for the most part it’s in northeastern Bay Ridge. Fifth Avenue, Fourth Avenue, in the 60s and 70s [streets]. And they cut out the movie theater. My district doesn’t start until Fifth Avenue and 72nd Street up that way. Was that intentional? I don’t know. Probably was!

That just happened a couple of months ago?
Yeah. So the next language I’m gonna learn would be Mandarin, because that is 25 percent of my district. And if you ride the subway, the N line or the D line, that’s all Asian now. That’s all Chinese-speaking. It’s a lot of people. All up 86th Street it got really Chinese. This is actually on pace to be the largest Chinatown. Brooklyn Chinatown would be the largest one in about three or four years, I think. Bigger than Flushing and Manhattan. The community’s growing very, very quickly. Very quickly.

Why is that?
I don’t know. I mean, I think a lot of things just happened. There are trends that just develop and then once you’re on that course, it’s happening. They come here, they have kids, they start their families here, and on and on and on. And maybe people are moving out of the city and coming to Brooklyn, you know, from Chinatown to here. That could be part of it as well. It’s definitely growing. And that community’s going to have a lot of specific needs in the years to come. Language needs, services. Things like that that, whoever the elected officials are, need to respond to and be accountable to. And it helps to be able to speak the language, at least understand those concerns.

So you’re going to learn Mandarin?
I spent a summer in Beijing in college. I took lessons but I didn’t learn anything. A month is no time. But I’ll try it now. I’ll do that after this is over. I think it’ll be fun to learn another language. I mean, I speak Greek as it is, but I don’t use Greek as much as I should, so I’m a little rusty with it.