December 07, 2012

Coney Island, N.Y.

Coney Island, N.Y.


Few people in Brooklyn have a passport, and their idea of traveling is going from Bed-Stuy to Coney Island. (They spend all summer at the beach but still can”€™t swim.) Many of them have never even been to Manhattan, and the only ones to visit the Empire State Building are the ones who work there. In Brooklyn, you are defined by your city block and your union. During Christmas, the different neighborhoods have a Christmas-light showdown and the results are insane. Other tribes in Brooklyn are like teams in the league but as far as they”€™re concerned, everyone else is playing a different sport. I think this provincial lifestyle comes from the days when leaving your block meant entering someone else’s turf but even now that it’s safe, they still see exploring as trespassing. They can”€™t even ride a bicycle. In fact, if you show up on a bike they will laugh at you and call you a fag.

Despite living in a place with a high density of gays and having plenty of gays among their family and friends, they”€™re still weird about homosexuality. Almost my entire comedy repertoire is gay-based and if I”€™m not telling a guy he has “€œblowjob lips,”€ I don”€™t have much else to say. They never laugh at jokes like these and often act like you just zapped them with a cattle prod. I like to end phone conversations by saying “€œLove you,”€ and when I do it to a guy from Brooklyn, it inevitably begets a “€œJESUS CHRIST!”€ from the other end as I hang up the phone. 

No matter how sweet and innocent an old lady in Brooklyn is, she’s seen someone get their head blown off and the bullet went right by her head. When you ask her about it, she sounds like she’s talking about someone getting their hair done.

Everyone in Brooklyn “€œhas a guy”€ and can get you anything from a three-person stroller to an abortion. It’s handy getting whatever you want whenever you want, but that means you had better be available when it’s your turn. When making a new Brooklyn friend, he”€™ll usually ask you to do some random favor, and half the time it’s something he doesn”€™t even need. After doing some free plumbing work for me, a Brooklynite had me build a wood frame for one of his kids”€™ paintings. I don”€™t think he even used it, but now I”€™m in with that particular family until death. This tightknit behavior was particularly evident during Hurricane Sandy. The locals banded together and selflessly ripped out drywall and hauled garbage for days. Not only didn”€™t they ask outsiders for help, they didn”€™t even want it. Brooklyn isn”€™t a huge borough. It’s a tiny town.

It seemed like nobody in New York had gasoline during Sandy, but all the union men in Brooklyn mysteriously had three full cans in their garage. If you want tickets to a sold-out show or you want to see a closed exhibit at the Met, it’s not a problem. They drink for free, eat for free, and renovate their homes with supplies stolen from a building site. In a multicultural metropolis revolving around money, this strange sect has maintained a century-old monoculture that exists under the radar and thrives on the barter system. It seems archaic when you first encounter it, but a quick glance at where America is headed makes it clear the Brooklyn way is our future. So instead of putting them on some nostalgic pedestal, go meet them. You could learn a lot from dese fuggin”€™ idiots.

Image of Coney Island courtesy of Shutterstock


Sign Up to Receive Our Latest Updates!