The Observer’s “Greenpoint Lonely Boy”: A Female Response
The header of Kate Mooney’s Observer piece, “The Eight Guys You Might Meet in Brooklyn,” should feature an italicized “might” across the board, but the Greenpoint Lonely Boy is an especially half-hearted descriptor of our male population and neighborhood at large. Not only is it common knowledge that Greenpoint is no longer an out-of-reach Siberia (it takes two stops on the G train at most, compared to several times over if you’re heading to Park Slope or further south or east), but this piece also condenses the regional nuances in a large Brooklyn neighborhood, treating the whole gestalt like the compressed culture terrine that might apply to the twenty-something post-grad population on the Lower East Side.
What part of Greenpoint does Greenpoint Guy live in, presumably? Have we established that McGolrick Park is about a mile and a half from Newtown Creek, and that they’re two landmarks referenced within syllables of one another in the slideshow but in reality are located in very different parts of town? Have we also established that Greenpoint’s demographics aren’t as “blue collar” as assumed – the household income is higher than the rest of the city’s average, and the poverty rate lower? Or that the demographic stratification between McGolrick and Newtown Creek changes from North Williamsburg overflow, to Polish, to Puerto Rican on the northern end – with a strong Scandinavian diaspora, freelancers, farmers, and, in no small amount, the homeless (with the sizable shelter blocks from the creek), peppered in between?
The REAL Greenpoint Guy probably falls somewhere in the middle of the North Williamsburg overflow and freelancer factions. He could live anywhere in Brooklyn, Queens, or Manhattan, really, but he’s chosen to live in Greenpoint because it’s a strange, colorful, and at times confusing pastiche of a place. He’s likely worried about having to move when the glassy, Kent Avenue-style high-rise culture snowballs its way in, leaving less room for difference.
Mooney is probably accurate in her assertion that Greenpoint Guy can’t afford to live in the absolute Candyland for faux-reformed Murray Hill/LES white kids that is North Williamsburg. However, what she gets wrong is that Greenpoint Guy doesn’t have the slightest trace of FOMO about his removal from that part of the city’s culture. He wouldn’t be caught dead at a bottomless brunch on Bedford Avenue or fist pumping while wearing fake neon hipster glasses at Output on a Saturday. He wants nothing to do with that part of town and the endless “untz untz untz” emanating from North 7th Street and its 5 block radius (though, admittedly, he may take his parents to The Ides for cocktails when they visit). To him, The Gutter is the OG Brooklyn Bowl. To him, Spritzenhaus is a Monday or Tuesday bar and a crowded place to be avoided on the weekends. On those days or nights, he’s at St. Vitus smoking a cigarette between band sets; he’s teetering on a slack line in McCarren Park; he’s walking his rescue dog in McGolrick (where the dog run is worlds better and safer than the McCarren fight pit, the latter of which requires an eye roll); he’s riding his bike from Greenpoint to the outer reaches of the city and back – with like-minded dude friends or a girl he’s into. And he might drink cheap beer at Capri Social Club from time to time, but the motive isn’t ironic; it’s simply to relax and save a few bucks. Greenpoint Lonely Boy might exist somewhere, but the personality type is an exception to the norm, not the norm.
Finally, like nearly all of North Brooklyn these days, Greenpoint isn’t necessarily a personal space mecca for a self-proclaimed loner, just as it isn’t an urban no man’s land. Have you been to Transmitter Park, where every square foot of grass is occupied on a nice day? Has author actually been to Pencil Factory? Godspeed to any fellow who’s trying to get a seat outside, let alone weave his way through the leashed Boston terriers and French bulldogs, saison in hand, to chat up “ceramics chick” (who in reality is drinking a happy hour carafe of rosé with her tattoo artist boyfriend at Troost). They don’t use condoms because she’s on the pill.