Not according to the Fabulous in Park Slope blogger, nor to the author of a new article in Blackbook magazine that paints Brooklyn as the land of the bed-headed samesters. In the latest salvo in the ongoing Brooklyn vs. Manhattan debate, Blackbook columnist Steve Lewis complains of a dull evening spent bar-hopping in Williamsburg. The popular Barcade, he says, was “the worst place I’ve ever tried to have a good time in,” and things only improved once he and his crew were safely ensconced back in Manhattan:
“In Brooklyn it was just more of the same everywhere. It was the same sad plaid and the hair do’s that don’t and wouldn’t even if they could afford to. In trying to be above it all they actually had lost sight of their own individuality. I know this was just a bad night at bad places, but only a very few places in old BK mix it up like, dare I say it, a good Manhattan joint.”
The next morning, back in Manhattan, Lewis is out walking his dog when he runs into Chloe and Andres Serrano as well as “a dozen other boldface names”:
“Everywhere we looked there were fabulous people mixing with the hipsters and all were happy with the promise of spring. The big difference between Manhattan and Brooklyn is the ages of its hip inhabitants. It’s younger in the borough and a celebration of commonality in taste and outlook is to be expected. I keep thinking about the quote “Everyone in Brooklyn just seems bored to death,” from the show [Bored to Death]. Though the Manhattan scene has been much maligned lately, the potential is still far greater.”
Lewis—a nightlife veteran—seems to be making the point that in Brooklyn, hipness is ceded to the young, while Manhattan has a class of people who never give up. You know the types: everyone from socialistas like Graydon Carter, Diane Von Furstenburg, Nina Griscom and the late Brooke Astor (who’d be a crazy cat lady if she lived in Park Slope) to folks like Yoko Ono, Patti Smith, Laurie Anderson, Lou Reed, and all the other artists, photographers, dancers who never got the memo that they’re supposed to become shut ins when they turn 50. New York Magazine founder Clay Felker comes to mind as well—he would boast that he could count a year’s worth of home-cooked meals on one hand because he was out every night.
I know I’m supposed to sound a note of outrage over Steve Lewis’ attack on our fine borough, but I hear what he’s saying. Manhattanites of all ages don’t just feel more entitled to step out on a regular basis—they feel it’s their duty. Does Brooklyn-style social effervescence have an expiration date, at which point you start staying home and stir-frying greenmarket kale every night because it’s cheaper and better for you (and maybe your kids)? Does Lewis have a point—that the Brooklyn scene is somehow lacking because hipness here is a young, plaid-wearing person’s game—or are there other Brooklyn-centric definitions of being “hip” and “fabulous” that he’s missing altogether?