Hey everybody, lean in close. USA Today has some breaking news about that forgotten hunk of land floating just a few hundred feet east of Manhattan: Brooklyn is totally cool! (Reminder: Cool is a slang term meaning fashionable, hip and of the moment).
The arrival of the NBA Nets gives Brooklyn its first major league team since the Dodgers' departure for Los Angeles in 1957, and something else: more evidence that, as its denizens claim, the borough that was once a punch line is now the coolest place in America, a land of rooftop farms and pop-up art galleries, of haircuts, eyeglasses, hats and body piercings so chic that even Parisians utter, "Très Brooklyn!"
Oui, oui! Brooklyn is undoubtedly très chic, but what else makes it so? In list form please!
... integrated playgrounds; small shops on tree-lined streets; artisanal pickles and home-made granola; bike lanes and occasional valet bike parking. Spike-haired, tattooed skateboarders zip past bearded Hassidic Jews in long black coats. Houseboats ply the once-fetid Gowanus Canal.
Doesn't it sound lovely? The kind of place anyone would want to live? It's not. It's for these people:
... art students from Iowa and tourists from Helsinki, urban farmers and suburban shoppers, Swarthmore and Oberlin seniors, do-it-yourselfers and indie rockers, German graffiti writers, vegans, surfers, Manhattan writers, NBA stars.
That's right, it's a land free of the poor, where the working class never step foot and the downtrodden dare not trod. Oh wait:
It's dangerous to generalize about a borough of 2.5 million (if it were a city, Brooklyn would be the nation's fourth most populous) or to romanticize it. The government defines almost a quarter of the residents as poor, and although Brooklyn has fewer than a third of the city's people, it accounts for about 40% of its murders.
OK, so what we we've learned today is that Brooklyn is a giant city where the residents are either poor or own an artisanal cheese shop. Gentrification is spreading and that's a good thing as it makes "derelict or impoverished neighborhoods ... attractive to less intrepid settlers." Art galleries keep opening, tourists keep coming, Bushwick keeps beautifying and it's all thanks to the robust success of the "NBA Nets," who've replaced the Dodgers and taken this once-rancid swamp of multicultural muck and turned it into Sesame Street. Sound about right?