Sometimes you fuckers don't know when you've got it good, do you? I'm talking to you residents of Williamsburg and other "edgy" neighborhoods experiencing what I call "gentrification guilt." I'm a negro, no wait, I'm a negro that was born in a really bad part of Brooklyn and have lived long enough to notice a sort of Renaissance in the borough of Kings, so I feel entitled to a few observations. Know what I observe? A lot of whiny art-dinks talking up a storm about how the neighborhood used to be cool, but now it's TOO arty, and TOO hip. They feel like they're living in a theme park.

Fuck you. Complaining that Williamsburg is becoming too hip is like eating at a fried chicken joint and complaining about the grease. Some people will never be satisfied. They remind me of those annoying people in High School that would drop a band just because they got popular. They play just as well, they're music is just as meaningful if not more, but heaven forbid, more than your group of freaks know about them. Can't handle that, can you? Don't feel so special?

Some people like the idea of living in a "hoody" kind of place. They want to feel like a strange part of the community. But I've got bad news for you: "You never will be, so give it up." It's not as if Mama Wollenski is going to come by your apartment with a steaming plate of pierogi because you've resisted the temptation to eat at The Pod for the last few years. They know who is really from the area and who isn't so give it up. (Hint: You're probably not originally from Williamsburg if you own a studded belt. Hell, if you've even looked at one for any extended period of time, the same holds true.)

Listen, you don't really want to come from the ghetto. The ghetto sucks. The ghetto's boring, and the stores only carry 40s and decades-old cereal. If it just so happens that in your quest for cheaper rent your neighborhood got more popular around you, then congratulations. Yeah your rents will rise, yeah posers will start moving in, but fuck it. The way I put it is this "I don't like the Backstreet Boys, but I can't stop people listening to them either."
And if you so desperately want to live among the natives, then I suggest you take yourself out to the end of the L and get a nice little apartment above a crackhouse. I said an apartment, not a loft you trust-fund-having bitch. Live there for a bit, get to know the customs, and when you're on your eighteenth mugging, shut the fuck up and move back to West Brooklyn.

Gentrification just happens, and I'm not for some seedy bastard moving poor families out of their places or destroying a neighborhood's character, but please, know what to complain about. There are laws to stop some greedy business school dropout from turning somebody's street into Disneyland, but we do need much tougher ones. And in many cases, I don't exactly feel sorry for the residents of these changing neighborhoods. If the only cultural institution that's existed on your block for years on end is the local liquor store, then your shit's going to get bought up. Simple as that. Half the people that lived there were probably talking about moving in the first place anyway. If a bunch of crazy Midwestern college kids want to live there now, what's it to you? If you're really fighting for your neighborhood, though, that's a whole different thing.

Perhaps being forced to live in Long Island with the friggin "Sopranos" extras gives me a different perspective on things. Yeah, that's where my family moved when I was real, real young, so I didn't even know of a nice part of Brooklyn until 2 or 3 years ago. When I found it I was like "Hmm, this shit nice." Then I saw the apartments. I said "This shit REAL nice. I wanna move here." These new neighborhoods opening up are like the East Village with decent sized apartments. I like that, I'm a fan of that, I'm jealous of you fucks.

So in closing, APPRECIATE WHAT YOU HAVE! Is almost everyone you know there now a hipster? Boo fucking hoo, you can move in with my parents, and I'll take your place.

Maurice Downes

Free Williamsburg© | 93 Berry Street | Brooklyn, NY 11211
[email protected] | November 2001 | Issue 20
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