A week after cooing at Millennials for being so nice and loving mason jars, the latest missive from The NY Times Presents: Brunch Hate Reads tackles an even more serious topic: the plight of well-off Brooklyn residents who are being priced out of Brooklyn by equally well-off Brooklyn residents. It's a tragic tale of people struggling to find a place for themselves in an ever-changing urban landscape, only to settle for $550,000 apartments in Jersey City. All's well that ends well (for people who can afford $550,000 apartments), right?
Just Say No To NY Times Trend Pieces: There's nothing particularly wrong with lede couple Jeff Huston and Lisa Medvedik-Huston, who moved into "a spacious, duplex loft two blocks from the Bedford Avenue subway stop in 2007" hoping to enjoy "a safe neighborhood already dotted with clothing boutiques and wine shops," only to become witnesses to the area's transformation into an even safer neighborhood dotted with even more clothing boutiques and wine shops.
It's not their fault they are used to represent the Sad Plight Of White Brooklyn—only it is, because they agreed to let their utterly banal story, a story about a neighborhood whose socio-economic shift predated them, be told in the Paper Of Record. Like so many chandelier owners and futurism consultants before them, they made the fatal mistake of agreeing to become fodder for a silly real estate trend piece. Which is how we end up with grafs like this:
And so the Hustons bid farewell to Brooklyn. In October, they spent $550,000 on a 2,000-square-foot loft in a converted suitcase factory in Jersey City Heights, a section of Jersey City that overlooks Hoboken. "We weren’t sure there was anyone like us in the neighborhood," he said. Then a Brooklyn-style coffee shop arrived. "The line down the street was all people like us. We could have been in Williamsburg. It was all, like, expats."
The trauma of "life after Brooklyn" is almost too much for one newspaper to bear.
How Long Does It Take To Get The First Girls Reference? Five sentences; 110 words; 675 characters. Here it is in all its 2011 glory: "It was five years before the first episode of Girls aired on HBO." There is Before Girls (BG) and there is After Girls (AG). Token Corollary Brooklyn Reference, one sentence later: Jay Z ("The concerts that excited the neighborhood were held at an unused city pool, not a world-class arena christened by Jay Z").
All This Has Happened Before And All This Will Happen Again: Here's the thing about these Real Estate stories concerned with well-to-do, upper middle class (or lower upper class?) people: it's a repetitive loop of the same gentrification story, one that the Times has been hammering for the last 30 years. We pointed this out last year when a similarly-themed story about "Brooklyn's New Gentrification Frontiers" kept chasing its own tail. As one commenter put it, it's a realtor's circle jerk tracking trends that either a) aren't really trends or b) aren't new trends.
You might be thinking: well, at least this article is profiling people who have found the inner strength to move out of Brooklyn, and to "up-and-coming" places like Jersey City, Hoboken and Sunnyside. Which just means it's a re-do of last year's sublime Suburban Brooklyn Hipsters story (and don't forget that other recent trend piece about older New Yorkers who are starting to buy and rent properties in "youth-oriented outposts" where they can go "swimming in a sea of skinny-jeaned hipsters"). Which is even something the piece acknowledges 2/3 of the way to the end!
The northward migration of young Brooklyn parents along New York river towns like Hastings-on-Hudson, Irvington and Beacon has been well chronicled. Montclair and Maplewood, N.J., also have their share. And brokers and residents alike report a virtual pipeline of Brooklyn defectors to Queens.
So what's new from last year's piece? What has changed to warrant another maudlin stroll through the lives of people who, one place or the other, can afford the exorbitant prices of NYC property? All we can see is a sight change of emphasis: when once the focus was on the Brooklyn-ness of the suburbs, now the focus is on the Manhattanization of Brooklyn...and the survivors' quixotic search for a new Brooklyn. One more time, for old time's sake:
And so the Hustons bid farewell to Brooklyn. In October, they spent $550,000 on a 2,000-square-foot loft in a converted suitcase factory in Jersey City Heights, a section of Jersey City that overlooks Hoboken. “We weren’t sure there was anyone like us in the neighborhood,” he said. Then a Brooklyn-style coffee shop arrived. “The line down the street was all people like us. We could have been in Williamsburg. It was all, like, expats.”
As we noted last week, the NY Times has a weakness for self-parodying trend-baiting, masochistic Millennial obsessing, and the perverse lifestyles of the filthy rich. So if a reporter with the Real Estate, Style or Weekend sections approaches you about a story, just gently smile and run away. No one is forcing you to become representative of everything that everyone hates about New Yorkers. And if you can, please ask them to cut it out with all the Girls shit.
— Andrew J. Hawkins (@andyjayhawk) August 8, 2014
But hey, I suppose we should all just be glad they didn't mention the M word.