Big Smoke

'cause it's hard to see from where I'm standin'

“I’m not racist”

Tags: , ,

says the exclusionists in Bellerose when faced with people who don’t look like them.

Actually, yes you are.

The joke about the American dream is the immigrant who, fresh off Ellis Island, stamped in and on American soil for the first time, immediately turns around to his compatriots, “now get the hell off my land!”

It’s amazing how Archie Bunker is alive and well in Queens. I forgot my bag at a house party I went to recently in Woodside and, as I work in Prospect Heights, I decided to bike the distance to pick it up before continuing on to Park Slope for drinks.

It’s not that hard a slog – most of Brooklyn is flat and Queens, apart from Queens Blvd, is relatively sedate – but the trip brought me through Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, BedStuy, Bushwick, Ridgewood, Maspeth, Woodside, Greenpoint, Williamsburg, Boerum Hill and finally Park Slope. It’s quite the cross-section, especially since the divisions in the neighborhoods were so stark.

Riding up Flushing Ave felt like skirting a demilitarized zone between Hasidic Jews and Blacks. Ridgewood seemed to have this five block borderland of warehouses separating Deepest Darkest Brooklyn and Working Whiteman’s Queens, straight from gated windows to POW flags. Maspeth was Archie Bunkerville, down to the suspicious looks I got for riding through.

Woodside was most evidently the very first neighborhood I hit that didn’t immediately feel depressed: New construction, no closed stores in daylight, people walking with purpose. ‘Course, there wasn’t a white face to be seen, hinting that for all of Queens’ total heterogeny, each individual neighborhood was jealously guarded from all others – or abandoned at the hint of incursion. Returning to Brooklyn, the neighborhoods of northern and central Brooklyn were fought over on a block-by-block basis, with miniature fiefdoms held by urban homesteaders.

Brooklyn is a city. Queens is a collection of small towns, and for all the ghettos of Brooklyn, there are neighborhoods in Queens that are, by far, the more close-minded and insular. Even if they do have cleaner sidewalks.

Tags: , ,

2 Responses to ““I’m not racist””


  1. Agencja interaktywna
    on Apr 30th, 2011
    @ 5:59 pm

    Thanks for any other excellent post. The place else may anybody get that kind of info in such an ideal way of writing? I’ve a presentation next week, and I am on the search for such info.


  2. pseudofolliculitis cure
    on Jul 27th, 2011
    @ 4:15 am

    *An impressive share, I just given this onto a colleague who was doing a little analysis on this. And he in fact bought me breakfast because I found it for him.. smile. So let me reword that: Thnx for the treat! But yeah Thnkx for spending the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love reading more on this topic. If possible, as you become expertise, would you mind updating your blog with more details? It is highly helpful for me. Big thumb up for this blog post!

Leave a Reply

© 2009 Big Smoke. All Rights Reserved.

This blog is powered by Wordpress and Magatheme by Bryan Helmig.