A Year In New York

A Daily Bite of the Big Apple

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Day 78: DIY in Williamsburg

September 13th · 1 Comment

Last night I made my first trip under the East River to Williamsburg, a refuge for the quirky-arty types who have been priced out of Manhattan. The crowd on the L train was young, I noted. Brooklyn girls wear strong, floral perfume.

I was to meet my friends Marc Scheff and Joe Mangrum, both artists who moved from San Francisco about the same time I did. I walked toward Grand Street in the rain. Gen-Y’s in skinny jeans and plaid shirts stood outside the bars smoking cigarettes.

A lamp store caught my attention. The lampshades had been hand-tweaked by someone, the owner probably, who had a strong work ethic but not perfect taste. It didn’t look like Crate & Barrel, where every plate is perfectly stacked and the accent lights are placed according to the retail consultant’s instructions. The Italian restaurant next door had battered tables that would have been replaced long ago had it existed on the Upper West Side.

I got to the gallery and found Mark and Joe and Joe’s wife Deborah. We caught up and had a few glasses of wine and then Joe and Deborah drove me home.

There is much more to know about Williamsburg. In addition to dozens of art galleries and a thriving music scene, the neighborhood has one of America’s largest populations of Hasidic Jews and, sadly, a legacy of toxic-waste problems, which might explain why it has remained low-rent as long as it has.

As a community it feels more real, more human-scale, than the glass towers of the island.

Tags: Museums & Art · Schmoozing · Sights & Scenes

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Erica // Sep 14, 2008 at 11:25 pm

    “strong work ethic but not perfect taste” Hilarious!

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