Written by Taylor Tash
On a slow night a few months ago, my friend visited me at the bar I worked at to keep me company. A Grimes song came on the bar playlist, and it reminded my friend of a reference in a New York Times article she had recently read about how the opening of its new hotel had completely changed the vibe and demographic of Wythe Avenue in Williamsburg. She pulled the article up on her iPad and we laughed at all the overwrought references to all things ‘hip’ and ‘trendy.’ When the article mentioned the patrons of the Wythe Hotel’s rooftop bar looking like characters from the HBO show ‘Girls,’ we laughed it off and talked about how we imagined the article’s author to be an Upper East Sider in his sixties whose references were simply misguided attempts at being hip with a quick Google search of Brooklyn buzzwords.
I had all but forgotten about the article and the conversation about it until an incident last week that made it all come pummeling back to me. Another friend suggested we check out the Bossa Nova Civic Club, a new bar down the street from his apartment in Bushwick. I looked the place up on Yelp and found a few scathing reviews about the overpriced drinks and pompous clientele, but when I saw that one contributor ended her review with a complaint about how the bar was filled with “douchebags who model their lives after the show ‘Girls,’” I began to think about more than just how this place didn’t sound very conducive to a decent night out. I forgave the New York Times writer for such a comparison, but are people who actually live and hang out in Brooklyn seriously now using ‘Girls’ as a point of reference for anything relevant to their borough? If this is true, I can’t help but feel that it signifies the end of Brooklyn as we’d like to think we know it.
The denouement of Brooklyn cool has been discussed and debated as long as I’ve lived here. Today Bedford Avenue hosts more tourists than artists, and one of the most vociferated-about indicators of Williamsburg becoming a sandbox for greedy developers is a high-rise ironically called ‘The Edge.’ Brooklynites looking for cheap rent and spots to open art spaces have migrated to other neighborhoods in the borough, but now that anything remotely related to living as a young artist in Brooklyn has a universal descriptor as mainstream as an HBO show, has it become completely futile to consider ourselves truly original or leading some sort of fringe lifestyle? Because everyone who lives or hangs out there are now considered rip-offs of a television show, Bushwick is already starting to become less interesting even before its gentrification reaches the point of the McKibbin Lofts being torn down to build Barclays Center: The Sequel.
With so many other money-grubbers capitalizing on the essence of Brooklyn for so many years now, it was only a matter of time before the executives at HBO did too. I’m not faulting Lena Dunham or Judd Apatow for exploiting a specific zeitgeist, but it’s a little disheartening that this whole generation of Brooklyn-dwellers is being characterized as whiny and lazy because of it. Most of New York’s twentysomethings are some of the most dedicated and hard-working in the country, and to group each and every one of them under the annoyingly ubiquitous ‘entitled’ umbrella is ignorant and unfair. But we live in an age where the average citizen seems to be unable to realize that certain ideas, communities, or zeitgeists exist before pop culture starts to focus on them. Just as how for the past five years anything mid-20th century inspired or themed is considered “so ‘Mad Men,’” it looks as if from now on everything that was once fun, hip, and artsy about Brooklyn will forever be compared to ‘Girls.’
Let’s enjoy all the rowdy warehouse parties and trashy dive bars while we still can, because it’s evident that before long nobody will be able to even look at Brooklyn unless they’re making a six-figure salary, or have unlimited access to their parents’. New York City isn’t totally hopeless as a place to host a haven of arty awesomeness however, since this is still one of the best places to live. We can always start over, perhaps by re-building the Sandy-ravaged shores of Staten Island or find reasons to go all the way up to the Bronx. I regret to inform you, however, that no matter where we go, it will only be a matter of time until the nostrils of the rats with the bags of money start twitching in our direction.