22.1.08

Atlantis

We trekked to Red Hook last weekend to get some Fernet Branca from LeNell's and check out the "degentrification" reported in New York Magazine in November 2007. The place is more like a New England port town than an NYC neighborhood. The closest subway stop is the Smith and 9th-Streets F and G stop and that is about a 15-20 minute walk from downtown Red Hook which is only a couple of streets deep.

But if shuttered old houses laced with vines and stooped like Grandpa Simpson, gritty locals who hold onto $125 bottles of Red Hook Rye Bourbon until their deathbeds and otherwise down Duff Beer like Barney, and the distinct sense that you are in New York City but not of New York City is your thing - then Red Hook is home. Red Hook should be where the American Joyce comes from.

We talked to a local bartender about the wave of gentrification that rolled back from Red Hook in the past few years. He seemed no worse off for the customers that were supposed to arrive at his bar but didn't. He also hasn't warmed up much to the idea of a giant Ikea going into Red Hook or the people it would drag along.

Red Hook is not gentrified. It's a gritty place where muggings and robberies are occasional but rarely violent relative to the statistics of the rest of Brooklyn. It's the kind of place that's better off, in all respects, for not having gentrified.

Red Hook's degentrification didn't have much to do with civil action or the boozers at Bait and Tackle taking to the streets against the oncoming Yuppies with lead pipes and old oars. No, it was more mundane than that. It was the subway line 20 minutes away and the prospect that the Smith and 9th-Street station would close in 2009-10 for a year for repairs.

The only way to stop gentrification, is to make it inconvenient for the yuppie scum to live there.

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