Is Brooklyn fabulous enough?

Lewis with Lydia Hearst. Photo courtesy of BlackBook.

BlackBook's Steve Lewis with Lydia Hearst. Photo courtesy of BlackBook.

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?

30 Comment

  • Why didn’t he hit up Park Slope yo? That’s where the party’s at! Double-wide strollers with twins on every block? Check. Sports bars with 9000 t.v.’s? Check. Three Bagel shops every hundred feet? Check. Hip cafes with great food at decent prices? Errrrr, ummmmm, well….yeah, I’m sure one exists! Check. Self-righteous authors with huge audiences (in Brooklyn)? Check. Until this author gets to My neighborhood, I think he ought to lay off Brooklyn. He don’t know hip!

  • Lewis’s take is a mild scolding, a “GET OFF MY LAWN” rant couched in typical Manhattan-centric worldview, but I will say that most of the offenders in Bklyn he’s witnessing are merely young and immature.

    In my neck of Brooklyn, too many residents act (out) like their apartment loft is a dormitory and that Williamsburg is their college campus.

  • Ha. This guy goes to Williamsburg to find fabulous? People. don’t tell him about the rest of Brooklyn.

  • I get it. He’s old. It’s like if he went to a college party and complained about it not being classy enough. That’s because it’s a college party, and you’re too old to be there.

    Williamsburg is a neighborhood filled with young people and cool things to do and we don’t want or need 40 year old dudes coming to our bars and whining about them.

  • The generation that put down roots in Bklyn isn’t 50 or 60 yet. Give us time. (And please, keep up the Manhattan propaganda that you need to live there to be fabulous–it keeps some of the a*holes out of my boro.)

  • Yeah, I don’t know … It’s kind of just a different spin on the same tired story: Williamsburg isn’t fun anymore. I kind of thought we called that one a long, long time ago. Branch out, Brooklyn is a city, not a street.

  • Wait, an old dude goes to Kellogs and Barcade and from that deems Brooklyn an inferior borough? Of course Brooklyn seems one dimensional when you only go to one dimension of it in the very beating heart of hipster Disneyland. People move to Brooklyn to get away from this kind of attitude, the one that says your life is only worthwhile if you’re mingling with bold-faced names and repping a zip code that conjures up instant real estate appraisals. If I judged all of Manhattan from a recent outing to watch a Terps bball game near Union Square, I would have nothing to say other than it’s an island full of bros who pound shitty dometic beers by the pitcher and cut back on pommade expenditures only when they need to afford a new textbook for their correspondence business school classes. Lewis can keep his version of Manhattan with it’s $25 cocktails and bars packed door-t-wall with bold face bros. I’d rather be lounging at an outdoor bar in Fort Greene or shopping in Cobble Hill with ALEXIS BLEDEL.

  • Tim Donnelly all I can say is…


  • Who cares? Seriously.

  • Seriosuly? I mean seriously? Lou #$%ing Reed?

    Saw him in the Apple store with his personal Buddhist Monk in tow. A young tourist sees him and gets excited, and asks for an autograph. He gives her a look than I wouldn’t give Sarah Palin and walks away.

    Lou was cool 30 years ago. Along with flared pants and John Travolta. Now he’s just a cranky old man. Just like Steve Lewis.

  • hey i am over 50 and i go out all the time, i am not a hipster but i’ll be at Bell House tonight in fact… i was at beast last week, 95 south, tip top lounge, moe’s, fairway deck,
    just not as famous and lou, laurie and graydon
    AND i helped Bored to Death location guys find out an owner contact for friday’s shoot in vinegar hill! GO BACK TO THE SMALL ISLAND, we staying on the big island

  • Way to represent, Chris Havens.




  • Unsolicited criticism and competition = JEALOUSY.


  • As someone who grew up in NY, going to Manhattan makes me puke nowadays, and I’m talking about LES too… BK to the fullest

  • I’d much rather a good drink, good food, good people, than a fabulous scene any day.

  • Steven Lewis was 40 fifteen years ago.

  • It seems kind of silly to complain that Brooklyn is Brooklyn.
    On the other hand, the defenders who type in all caps kind of cast a vote against, don’t they? That’s sad.

  • Soooo, Steve goes to one bar in Brooklyn, then back to Manhattan where he has a bunch of famous friends and deems Manhattan better? If I was friends with Patti Smith and Yoko Ono, I would think Manhattan is better too. Instead, when I go there I see streets lined with bankers and tourists getting hammered.

  • I feel the same way when I go out to Manhattan now. When I first came here 6 years ago, Manhattan was the bees knees. Then all of a sudden, it got older than me and Brooklyn beckoned with youth and stupid decisions. It still does. The old man is entitled to his opinion. Can you imagine how tired he must have been on the trip back on the L at 8:30 pm though? Poor guy…

  • This article does have some good points but at the end of the day its just elitist throwing stones at other (hipster) elitists.

  • Well, Williamsburg sucks, so that’s his first problem.

  • Brooklyn’s great. And it’s got a hip vibe. But it can’t touch Manhattan for the night scene. But what place on earth can?

  • Most of the people I hang out with in Brooklyn are hovering around 40 and many look about 25. He shouldn’t assume that because people look young, everyone is a twenty-something. And yes, branch out of Williamsburg! There is so much more to Brooklyn.

    I will concede the point about people trying so hard to be above it all lacking individuality. I’m weary of the skinny-jean clad, 80s sunglasses set myself, probably because I was a teenager in the 80s and it was ugly enough the first time around.

  • OK, so the Brooklyn scene is a bit Vermonty, in a NY kind of way. And, the worst part is true: the bar scene especially suffers from generational homogeneity. And us young people are annoying and narcissistic and arrogant. But so are the die hard Manhattanites who think that living in a walk-in closet and not knowing how to cook is something to be proud of. Manhattan may have “diversity” but it’s all the same flavor of desperation; whole lives that are invested in being famous or recognizable or wildly successful or being in close proximity to someone or something famous or recognizable. Personally, I prefer kale stir-fries.

  • I would never live in a “fabulous” neighborhood… It makes me think of big cocktails, zero rhythm and people dressed up like the B-52s. I hate this debate anyway. If like manhattan so much then stay there. If Williamsburg is a college campus and you are too old to do that then stay off the L passed 1st (because if you don’t like Williamsburg then chances are you don’t like anything east of that). Who fucking cares. This debate is immature. New York City is where we like. Good and bad with too many people to fucking poll out the hippest spot. This is all bullshit.

    PS I love Barcade. Maybe because I have never heard B-52s there…

  • it makes me so happy to know that people like this enjoy Manhattan so much more than Brooklyn. He can have it and just stop coming over the river. Peace

  • hey i just stumbled across this and want to want to say thanks to you guys for correcting me. it was a bad night. i have since been changed. the old thing might be true but it unfortunately comes with experience. it doesn’t mean i don’t have a valid point or 2. barcade was awful that night and was awful for the 20 somethings i was with.brooklyn offers a more creative, more fun and more diverse scene than any in the “city”. it does tend to be young and of course that isn’t a bad thing. sometimes… although rarely, older folk can contribute and they have until very recently done a lot more of their contributing in manhattan. i do believe those days are waning and manhattan is merely a nice place to visit to see an opening or gig or do some biz. i don’t mind being wrong but i was wrong not because i’m older than some of you..most of you. i was wrong because i was dead wrong. it isn’t your brooklyn you know.. i’ve been enjoying the place since before you were born you whippersnappers. my criticisms were that the scene i witnessed that night was a bit clone-y and yes i have seen more since. btw i love kellogs now…having a shake… waiting to meet friends. thanks for the harsh words ..i needed that kick in the pants