Only the dead know Brooklyn…
“Dere’s no guy livin dat knows Brooklyn t’roo an’ t’roo, because it’d take a guy a lifetime just to find his way aroun’ du f—- town.”
Only the Dead Know Brooklyn by Thomas Wolfe.
I moved into my first place in Bushwick on a April first. This doesn’t count the girlfriends I lived with before in Brooklyn, this is my own shit. I remember because Ray Ray had made a MySpace post saying he was leaving New York forever. I made my sister drive by his going away party at some cafe on Avenue B in the middle of my move so I could pay my respects. I only got a cup of “April fools!” Yeah, Brooklyn’s gonna be dope.
“So do you paint?”
“Where are you from?”
“Come see my band! show! art! noodle shops! coffee maker! yeaaaaahhhh!”
“what are those bites on your legs?”
Growing up in Manhattan, we didn’t venture out into Brooklyn much. It was a different time with less cops and more trouble. Lower East Side kids stayed in the Lower East Side and Brooklyn kids did the same… well most of the times. There wasn’t many floaters back then. You could tell where a person is from by the labels they wore. Polo? You where from Brooklyn. Tommy Hilfiger? You were Manhattan or was it Eddie Bauer? I can’t remember, the 90’s where senseless.
Now it’s Roberta’s on a Sunday after a Bushwick Art Crawl. You have brunch at Life Cafe because you don’t want the people you are going to be partying with see you eat, or you just wanna read the paper first. Andy Pry is going record for record with Eli Escobar, disco’ed out bass while you ironically pick the dry cocaine out of your nose. Yes the girl in the mom jorts with the mom wedges saw you but fuck that bitch she can’t afford your habit. She can’t pick out a real Bansky from the crap every SVU student prints out in their copy lab. She can’t cab out of Brooklyn and go to Le bain or Kenmare. She’s going to do afters at Rockstar Bar or that one apt with the foose ball table and fuck a trust fund skater or graphic designer because an available punk kid is usually homeless. She never saw the mob of hood niggas that came out of Marcy Projects and robbed your entire high school back in the 90’s. She never saw the weed spots in Brooklyn. And she’ll never care.
Before the lights where neon at Kellogs there was a diner that was constantly robbed at gun point. What was once Luxx is now Trash and Black Betty is now the Commodore. At times when you order Italian from Carmines they still make you come downstairs. It still feels like the same old Brooklyn, but I know it’s not. I can come back here at 5:30 in the morning and still find an after party on any of Williamsburg shitty condo rooftops. A random Euro with a little money has managed to chat up a design student who likes to shop at Alice and Olivia. Maybe you know Leeto.. maybe you don’t.. but he might be there. There is no one under the BQE and if you know how to skate and do tricks you should. You can buy a beer, you might get lucky and catch a cab on Metropolitan Avenue and drink on the way back to the Lower East Side to another after party then return to a loft on Classon Avenue with bed sheets as window curtains. You might have coke, you might need heroin, you already have adderal.
The wall of Brooklyn are decorated in dreams of gallery shows and a book sold at Reed Space. Flat blacks and four finger cap drawn phrases and elaborate screams for attention spray painted all over someones depleted factory. everyone’s a graffiti artist in Brooklyn. They bomb your ears and your closets and your stomach and your furniture and in anything you can imagine. People share a loft with 4 other roommates you so can sit on a couch they designed while high on mushrooms. People go to jail so you can see a wheat paste they did when that bitch with the bangs broke their fucking heart. Even in the dark and against the trees behind the sirens and garbage you’re still bombing, still screaming, still showing, still sharing.
The L train is more skinny jeans while the G train leans toward flared jeans and floral dresses. The JMZ is the closest you get to old New York. Someone named Poster Boy is getting arrested for cutting up subway posters. There is always a shuttle bus and Hana charges 2 dollars for a fucking Philly blunt. Everyone blames the rent but yet The Charelston still gives out a slice of pizza with every beer purchased. Bembe still does world music. Studio B is now closed. A Communist is handing out literature on Bedford Ave while a Polish lady tries to sell a used purse. The salvation army always stinks but you still go in with your horchata from Yolas. You’ve done everything and nothing at the same time, an empty shell of a weekend with the black boys that ride fixed geared bikes and hang in out in Savalas. You hate the kids from the Never Scared kickball team. You’ve thrown up Bagel Smith.
I can stand behind the DJ booth at The Wood and get a loosie on Union Avenue. Me and my neighbor are both Dominican but I pay 1000 dollars more than her in rent. I’m a gentrifier. I can see the jealousy in her face when I get whatever breaks in my apartment fixed instantly while her ceilings been leaking for years. I tip my super on Christmas like a Wasp in a door man building. It makes me cocky and unhappy at the same time. Whenever I catch myself feeling like I run Brooklyn I remember back when I ran from Brooklyn. How alive do you feel when you’re running? Every nerve in your body gasping for breath while your heart goes from down tempo to techno. That beautiful fear for your life. No ones afraid anymore, but Brooklyn was never scared.
Only the dead know Brooklyn now.
“I would rather be the man who bought the Brooklyn Bridge than the man who sold it”