May 16, 2005

Cry, the Beloved Borough
Thank you for devoting the substantial ink to Brooklyn that we deserve, even in the form of Jonathan Van Meter’s hilariously irrational Brooklyn-phobia: a left-handed compliment worthy of the great Sandy Koufax [“I Hate Brooklyn,” May 9]. Hey, Brooklyn is not for everyone. In the face of overdevelopment here, Van Meter’s staying in Manhattan eases that pressure, if modestly. Or if he decides to move to his newfound love across the East River, then Queens’ gain will be Brooklyn’s gain, too.
—Marty Markowitz, Brooklyn Borough President

It’s been six hours since I read Van Meter’s story, but I still have a pain in my chest. I’ve been reading New York since I was 17, and as a native Williamsburg resident—born to Italian immigrants—I have never been affected by an article so much. This neighborhood is full of hardworking, humble people who are proud of our wood-frame homes, our culture, our epicurean delights! I run into people like Van Meter all the time—they think that just because they pay rent in Manhattan, they are real New Yorkers.
—Felicia Pecoraro, Williamsburg

Bravo to Jonathan Van Meter for venting on behalf of all of us who agree with the Brooklyn suburban phenomenon. Bloomberg Land has increasingly become all about being “safe for little Emily with asthma.” I’ll take my martinis and cigarettes in Manhattan—keep the kiddies at home in Brooklyn!
—Charlie Scheips, Manhattan

As a Manhattan native residingin Park Slope, I can assure Mr. Van Meter that I’m infinitely glad I gave up on the insufferable island of my birth. These days, it’s bad enough that I have to work in Manhattan. All the plastic Sex and the City types with their $14 apple martinis, silly affectations, and clueless arrogance are welcome to remain there and leave us the hell alone. If my newfound Brooklyn pride falls under his friend’s definition of a loser, then I welcome it.
—Henry Mena, Park Slope

I was absolutely mortified to see that Jonathan Van Meter has exposed us Brooklyn residents for what we really are. Not only is everything in his article true, but there’s more: We don’t (a) spend weekends re-creating Sex and the City episodes, (b) love name-dropping celebrities who live on our blocks, (c) fancy ourselves hip in ironic T-shirts from Urban Outfitters, or (d) enjoy restaurants more for the next-day bragging rights than anything else. Pathetic, aren’t we? Thanks for making me face the “shameful” truth about myself—that I am a Brooklynite at heart.
—Christiana Mavromatis, Park Slope

No doubt brooklyn is nice in its quaint way, but Manhattan is the major leagues.
—S. J. Estes, Manhattan

Because Van Meter’s frothy rant against Brooklyn is based solely on the fact that several of his friends moved there, he fails to mention or even consider the many residents who have been in Brooklyn’s currently trendy communities for more than a decade, and who are able to afford their homes by the grace of the real-estate gods. The Queens neighborhood Mr. Van Meter so smugly and embarrassingly “discovers” resembles some of the dozens of Brooklyn neighborhoods he hasn’t heard of. My own childhood neighborhood is just as multiethnic, ugly, cheap, and dominated by elevated train tracks. Alas, it is in the dreaded Brooklyn. Otherwise, it’s perfect.
—Margaret Cordi, Park Slope

Brooklyn isn’t just Carroll Gardens, Park Slope, and Brooklyn Heights. And you know what? That old lady sitting on the beach chair on the sidewalk is neither sad nor romantic. She’s a historian. Next time, Van Meter should ask her what she’s seen and where she’s been. If she’s a homegrown Brooklynite, she’ll be able to tell him more about this entire city than he’ll ever know.
—Elizabeth Jagessar, Flatbush

You know what I love most about Brooklyn? No one here really gives a shit what Jonathan Van Meter thinks. “To each his own” is the New York way.
—Adam Kline, Park Slope

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May 16, 2005