Saturday, 29 January 2011

Finding home across the Atlantic

It appears I've changed somewhat from the little boy that fell in love with Manhattan and yearned to live there for so long. Now the monolithic grey towers that stretch block after block after block with nothing but the same chain stores at their feet leave me yearning to escape this island of intense capital. 

Feeling the oppression of this giant city we took shelter in Central Park for a while to work out what to do next and decided to use the library in the Barnes & Noble bookshop to look in some New York guidebooks, something we maybe should have done before we left. After a little reading we decide Brooklyn was the place to be and off we went.
What we find just the other side of the East River is the East London of New York. The buildings here are much more human scaled, many with beautiful side paneling and box design that creates lego effect neighbourhoods.  Most every house has a stoop that brings back many moments on Gore Rd. Already this feels like home. The majority of the shops are independents and sell a variety of vintage clothes, health food and out dated vinyl to the hipsters, scensters and fashionistas that fill these happening streets. 

It would appear that its cool to be a dickhead everywhere these days... 

Nestled deep in this patchwork nonconformity is a quaint little dwelling whose use has been re-appropriated by The City Reliquary, a higgledy piggledy assortment of New Yorkian artifacts and memorabilia. Here you can learn about every lamp post design in New York since the late 1800's, see a million and one postcards of our lady liberty and climb in a back garden tree house that appears to be one of the last places in the USA where health and safety doesn't apply. 

Everywhere in-between the delicate architecture of the houses lurch half built condominiums, relics that speak to the temporary pause in the thorough gentrification of this area caused by the abrupt and deep economic downturn. Wherever they haven't started on a high rise there lies empty patches of waste land slowly acquiring wildlife, presumably awaiting the foundations of capital that befell the empty plots before them. 

Something that really distinguished Williamsburg from its East London counterparts in Shoreditch and Hackney is the lack of diversity in its population.  Everyone here is so white, and this really effects the shops and foods on offer and leaves the area feeling much less naturally evolved, but instead somewhat swooped upon by this hipster generation. American culture is extremely polarized and Williamsburg's lack of diversity I assume is a result of this dividing and boxing of society, I guess i'd hoped that it hadn't permeated every facet of the American being but, in New York at least, it seems that it has.

New York doesn't feel real, its all too easy here, too much like home, my whole time here reeks of de ja vu from my last few days in London. I even get a great shower and wash my clothes in the swanky uptown apartment we're staying in, and we've got bus tickets to DC. Feels a bit like cheating. I guess we should enjoy this comfort, there'll be plenty of though times on the road to add that touch of 'reality' my masochistic side is searching for.


  1. wow, sounds barron lol

    hope your trip goes safe and i'll be reading to see what other adventures await :)

    Peace out homies

  2. totally agree with this stayed right by the williamsburg bridge. they totaly fetishise things more than we do over there. go to the charleston bar on bedford, free pizza with every beer, very very good.
    where are you guys staying? did bill manage to hook you guys up?

  3. Haha James you are funny. I know exactly what you're trying to do :P

    Keep this up though, one day you might have books out that people use as English lesson material in the US...

    Hope you are ok xxx