Hebrew School

Only Brooklyn knows the blog?
July 29, 2008, 9:59 pm
Filed under: blogs, brooklyn | Tags: , ,

It’s been official for quite some time, and the geotags are in: Brooklyn has the country’s bloggiest neighborhood, and likely would be the bloggiest city if in fact it was a city. The contributing factors, according to the reports, are the presence of higher education institutions, young people, decent internet connectivity, and that fly in the ointment, gentrification.

The blogs of Brooklyn are so numerous and multifarious in nature that it would be hard to make a sweeping statement about them. On one end, there are real estate advertising hubs like Brownstoner, which features graphics of gaudy highrises alongside articles about “hip” things to do in the neighborhoods of said megoliths. Just make sure you go to all those “hip” places before all that large-scale development cripples the neighborhood and its unique shops, restaurants, bars and clubs. (Newsflash: Unless some truly radical rebranding has gone on, Carroll Gardens isn’t among the neighborhoods taking the hardest hits from the subprime crisis.)

At the other end of the spectrum are blogs like Prospect: A Year in the Park, a photo chronicle of the park’s beauty interjected with commentary, and vanessamarie.net, the namesake’s perusal of food and place in Brooklyn, with some cat escapades along the way. Both of these blogs are DIY, homespun and yet professional, without a team of writers, and like most blogs in the world, are personal and have no advertising.

It’s in the squishy middle that the paradoxes of this sort of neighborhood blogging become conspicuous. IMBY, a fantastic blog which meticulously documents ongoing building development in that indeterminate area dubbed by tycoons as the “South Slope,” leaves no stone, permit notice, or stop-work order unturned when s/he spies so much as a pickup truck moving in. But does the title and spirit of the blog simply indicate a desire to live in a clean, quiet, sweet neigborhood that is desirable to Ninjalist or Curbed readers?

Then there’s my own neighborhood’s Best View in Brooklyn which, while keeping a swift pulse on neighborhood events, pulls no punches in highlighting alleged crimes in the area– substantiated or not. And if it’s unbridled snitching you want, turn no further than blog-cum-forum Brooklynian, which as of today displays complaints about cat food sold at a local bodega, a can of oil left next to a building (“what is the police stations [sic] number?”), an incompetent renovation company, and a “crazy painted tree house on Prospect Pl”:

“you know the one
its on prospect place between vanderbuilt and carlton. i was walking to the gym saturday when this older black dude with a thick west indian accent was just going off on this guy who was going into the main entrance of the building above the stoop. he just unleashed this crazed diatribe that went something like ” you fucking fagot you smell like shit ya jealous fagot mother fucker ‘ im assuming crazy screaming dude lives on the ground floor in the apartment with the year round christmas lights in the window. does he own the building? man i feel sorry for anyone who rents an apartment from this dude.”

Why have an earnest conversation with that annoying neighbor when you can complain about him anonymously on the internet, casting racially-overtoned aspersions and, with a self-satisfied air, calling on the vigilance of your “better” neighbors? And what ever happened to the time-tested approach of assembling a torch-bearing mob at an unsuspecting doorstep?

Such blogs, while more mundane and less commercial in their approach, seem to fuel the fire for Brooklyn’s large-scale developers, who would like nothing better than to run the presumed “riff raff” out of the area.

But then again, who’s to say that the most benign, wide-eyed post by the most angelic Brooklynite does not fuel this same fire? Though far from innocent, I’ve blogged substantially about the cool bars, delicious foods, and cultural events of my neighborhood. Am I lending my home creedence in a media environment still plagued (yes, still) by a digital divide?

If there’s any constant in the phenomenon of Brooklyn blogging, it’s this pervasive feeling of conflicted intentions. Whether we’re talking about the “bad apple” of a developed neighborhood, or the “diamond in the rough” of the under-developed one, the propagandas of gentrification and anti-gentrification play off of one another, leveraging allegations in a manner that somehow still has brokers popping champagne corks. The forces of the former highlight the charm they destroy, while the latter highlight the charm within the ostensible desolation, in a strangely critical moment of Brook-logosphere supernova.

While I paint a grim picture, I really have no real qualms about any of the bloggers I’ve mentioned. They simply write about what they see, projecting their aspirations outward in a society run roughshod. Blogs did not cause the affordable housing crisis– they are a response to it. And as long as the crisis continues, the best bloggers will continue to use their power to end it.

Hebrew School’s Brooklyn blog reader after the jump…

A Brooklyn Life * Eating for Brooklyn * Big Sky Brooklyn

* Gowanus Lounge * Prospect: A Year in the Park *

Dumbo Books of Brooklyn * Blondie and Brownie 

* vanessamarie.net * Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn *

Kinetic Carnival * Gunset Park * Brooklynometry


2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Nice write up and dead on about the feeling of conflicted intentions. Brooklyn bloggers are all over the place and appropriately so. I read a post somewhere that described Brooklyn as “The Glorious Mesh” which is, I think, a nice way to put it, whether thinking of architecture, culture, bloggers, etc.

And although I personally enjoy the food writing and cat stories, I’m glad there are bloggers out there really tackling the tough stuff, and keeping the rest of us informed.

Comment by vanessamarie

For some reason, I just love that Maze video/song. And, I only read your blog so, I think that makes yours the best blog.

Comment by Taylor

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