At Dumbo Art Fest yesterday, I ran into a friend I haven’t seen in close to six years. Back then, we were part of a crowd that gathered around a funky little cafe-bar in Park Slope called Bergen Beats. It was a fun time, with all sorts of interesting characters who seem to have poured in from all corners of the globe.
As we were reminiscing about the good old times, I started thinking about how much Brooklyn has changed since I moved here in 1999. At a recent Greenpointe party, a twenty-something said to me: “It looks like sooo many people are moving to Brooklyn these days!”
It sounded almost like a new trend, with no conscience of the fact this ‘Brooklyn exodus’ already started happening in the mid-1990s. I myself still feel like a newcomer, surrounded by old-school locals. Yet there are many others who think they’re breaking new ground by moving to Brooklyn in 2008.
I’ve recently been passing places that have undergone several identities since I’ve known them. A baby boutique at the north end of 5 Ave used to be a karate shop; an Irish pub across the street was once the studio of a talented painter I hung out with for a period; a drycleaner ran by my adopted Brooklyn mama, Maria from the Dominican Republic, has switched ownership and is now run by a Chinese lady; the wacky cafe-bar owned by an old friend is now an upscale restaurant… Let alone the many condo buildings that have sprouted all along 4 Ave where once stood decrepit industrial buildings and urban gardens.
I keep on getting surprised by all the developments – IKEA in Red Hook, Trader Joe’s coming to Atlantic and Court… Some good, some bad, of course. Maybe that’s why I’m so attached to ‘newish’ fixtures like Madiba in Forte Greene, Robin du Bois in Carroll Gardens, Cafe Moto in Williamsburg…
Don’t get me wrong – I like change and I love living in a city that’s never the same. But a part of me also likes the feeling of being rooted, some sense of stability, of knowing where I am and what surrounds me. That doesn’t seem a possibility in New York. Or is that just the way that cities work? Like living organisms, they grow, change, adapt, get sick, recover…
If New York was a person and you asked him (for me, New York is a he): “How are you?”, I wonder what the response would be. I can’t tell these days. Is this development and change making him happy, more fulfilled…? Or is he just going with the flow, unable to turn the clock and looking back with a sense of nostalgia?