Thursday, May 27, 2010

finally, an honest statement in williamsburg, brooklyn

okay, i guess i should qualify the photo below for those of you who don't live in new york, and therefore don't understand the implications of williamsburg, and also for those who simply don't get my very underdeveloped sense of humor. williamsburg is a brooklyn neighborhood i moved into fourteen years ago after my nine-month basement hopping tour of manhattan mercifully ended. the very first stop on the L train into brooklyn after leaving manhattan's east village, there was a thai restaurant on bedford avenue and a lot of artists lurking in lofts that required a trek from the subway that at night felt empty and a bit on the edge of dangerous. my digs at the second stop on the L train felt like a moon away from bedford's mini bastion of cool. we were the youngest people around who weren't living with their parents. and we weren't italian. or puerto rican five blocks the other way. it's what i love about brooklyn--it's a patchwork quilt of communities.
but clearly, this patch has undergone a lot of changes. real estate brokers are now calling the seventh stop in on the L train 'East Williamsburg' and now the tourists and bridge and tunnel crowd come to bedford and beyond for their excitement. rents are so high that the only artists in those lofts have been there since the empty and dangerous days, or their parents are footing the bill. bedford avenue and north 7th street (at the subway stop) has become the times square of hipsterville. some days, you just need to walk parallel on driggs because you can't navigate through the bicycles, street vendors, accessory dogs and gawkers. and how many store fronts are now occupied by the model kitchens of the army of high rise 2 million dollar per apartment towers closing in on us from the bqe to the waterfront?
when this change started to accelerate, approximately eight years ago, i packed up my junk and moved just 15 blocks north to greenpoint, a homogeneous community of polish ex-pats living a quiet life on the other side of mc carren park . now, that same change is following me, but the hard core little warsaw will fight stronger not to be overtaken. it keeps a nice balance in check so i still love living here. but i bust my ass to find a low rent. people are content to move into this neighborhood and pay astronomical rents because williamsburg is a stones throw away. but not me. i will forgo the shining bosch appliances and sliding glass door balconies for a slanted, splintery wood floor and rooms you have to walk through to access the other. (memory of heinous houseguest upon discovering higher-rent apartments in the nabe: "i didn't know they had REAL apartments in greenpoint!") so i'm happy in my very charming, full of character apartment. because i've chosen to be a 'starving artist' eating rice and beans, and loving life free from the corporate rat race. so when you hear me humorously complaining about the creative ways we get by, worry not for us. it's just fun to make light of these situations.
for the others in the neighborhood in their brand-new buildings, there's mom and dad to foot the bill. this is common knowledge, yet something the hipsters do their best to veil.
which is why it was so refreshing to come across some honesty, and credit given where credit is due, etched right into that williamsburg building i came across yesterday while walking just a block from my former willy b home. "thanks dad".

for an early father's day nod (wait, didn't i do that a few weeks ago?), i say, 'thanks dad' for teaching me a strong work ethic, not to be spoiled and to make my own way through the world. i do not envy my privileged, hip neighbors.

Monday, May 17, 2010

it's bitter baby but it's very sweet...

okay, so i'll admit that i have recently found myself falling prey to a whole slew of issues i never thought i'd care about or consider relating to the process of aging. getting old, the kitty joe is. these issues manifest themselves in the most random places and catch me quite off guard. case in point: the other day when i landed in california for a family visit. standing on the sidewalk after mowing down a table full of mexican food, i noticed my baby nephew's arm scrawled with a message from his girlfriend.
understand that i still have to hesitate before i can type out those words 'baby nephew's girlfriend', much less accept them to be true.
understand that it really doesn't seem like long ago that i watched him being born.
but as i hesitated, i had time to realize that wow, my baby nephew is SEVENTEEN for chrissakes. and i was also seventeen when chris bowers wrote those red hot chili pepper lyrics on my arm and made me swoon and like a good cliched teenager, i washed around those letters hoping to extend their smudgy life as long as possible. or at least until he returned from seattle.
and this also didn't seem that long ago.
kyle was five months old.

Monday, May 10, 2010

my kind of 'welcome to california'

flying over south dakota i'd already informed jade that we would need to take 101 south and hit mission street to stop at taqueria pancho villa for a proper welcome to california. we needed to remedy new york's overpriced and under-flavored mexican food, pronto.

my sister abbie, having first made the faux pas of bragging to this ex-pat californian that there was now a local 'chipotle' in town, made a big save when she texted me immediately upon landing in san francisco, "burritos in the mission?"

hell, yeah. i said.

and like that they were gone.

luckily, there were "pudding filled churros" to introduce to jade.