Williamsburg has a bit of a reputation. As a mecca for young people with creative aspirations, the Brooklyn neighborhood is often cast as an aimless mass of trustafarians unconcerned with actual employment, content to work occasionally as "branding consultants" or baristas. So it's not surprising that the neighborhood's reopened McCarren Park Pool hosts hundreds of sweltering (and stylish) New Yorkers who are undaunted by a slew of bad headlines and unencumbered by traditional working hours.
Who, exactly, are these adults that can spend the week splashing around, with no cares aside from back-flipping hooligans? Surely they can't conform to every stereotype, we thought. We sent intrepid interns Jessica Goodman and Rachel Lauder to the pool to find out. It turns out people don't like referring to themselves as unemployed.
According to our highly unscientific but still fascinating survey conducted on Tuesday and Wednesday, grown-up New Yorkers prefer to focus on their pursuits in fashion, television, graphic design, and the like — just seven people told us they're simply jobless.
Thirty-three percent — a plurality of those asked — listed an artistic field as their profession, most of which they called "part-time" or "freelance" positions. Twenty-three percent had a free day thanks to jobs in the service industry (bartenders, waiters, chefs, and retail associates), while eleven had a free summer because they're teachers or school counselors. Eleven people at the pool said they're in college or grad school, and fourteen were less easily classifiable, including one doorman, a (slacker?) Wall Street trader, and a pair of therapists.
"It's really a lot of families, not crazy hipsters," insisted Heather, a 38-year-old who identified as a student. They're almost all from nearby: 75 of 100 people surveyed live in the tattooed havens of Williamsburg, Bushwick, and Greenpoint.
Still, Laura, a 29-year-old dancer, said the crowd is a mix of "stereotypical, nonconformist hipsters and kids," calling McCarren "the most mixed pool I've been to in New York." Just not politically: 73 percent said Barack Obama is the presidential candidate best equipped to fight national unemployment; only 6 percent picked Mitt Romney, and the other 21 percent selected neither.
Jeff, a 29-year-old aspiring cameraman, is mostly unconcerned either way, and just grateful for his paradisiacal present. "I'm unemployed, so I'm here a lot," he said. "Best summer of my life."