Recently, I was picking up Cinnamon Toast Crunch and skim milk at the corner store under the Smith and Ninth streets station when two tourists rolly-bagged their jet-lagged way in.
Were they more disturbed by the giant spotlights lighting up the never-ending construction, the trucks coming off the BQE, or me in pajamas and flip-flops? They clutched hotel reservation printouts and needed directions and a good night's sleep.
The next week, Fodor's Brooklyn went on sale.
The venerable guidebook publisher has decided it's time for Brooklyn to no longer be a mere NYC guidebook chapter. I was primed to dislike it. There is the expected emphasis on words like "authentic" and "DIY" and "homegrown" and "unique." They call it "the h-word." (That's "hipster.")
But I was surprised to see such unabashed local, non-hipster locations as Ferdinando's Focacceria on Union Street (the panelle sandwich is a happy heart attack), Irish Haven Bar on Fourth Avenue (self-explanatory), L&B Spumoni Gardens (Do you call it L&B, or Spumoni Gardens? You must choose), to name a few. Hipper joints like the Wythe Hotels of the world tend to be rated higher, but as the Leaving Brooklyn signs say, Fuhgeddaboudit.
It's the nature of a guidebook to be upbeat, and perhaps the time has come for Brooklyn to assume the mantle of authoritativeness that Fodor's endows. Lonely Planet named Queens the No. 1 U.S. travel destination for 2015 (Brooklyn received a similar mention, in 2007). The true Brooklyn-dwelling Queens basher would say this indicates that Brooklyn is halfway to passé, or Paris.
Should Brooklyn residents be glad that many things are right? Should we appreciate the (accurate) characterization of the "snap" of a Nathan's hot dog? The inclusion of the Lefferts Historic House? Alternatively, should we bemoan or gloat over some of the stumbles or forgotten places: the eastern subway-less edges, from East New York to Sheepshead Bay?
Personally, I'll continue to proselytize for Marine Park, largest park in the borough, as well as Floyd Bennett Field and Jamaica Bay.
When my girlfriend saw the guidebook on my desk, she grabbed it and wouldn't respond to inquiries until she'd rifled through to her neighborhood's section. "OK, good," she said, "they didn't put in [name redacted]. It won't be ruined yet."
This is an eminently reasonable reaction to a guidebook. But someday [name redacted] will be found. There's nothing we can do about it, and nothing we can do about the guidebook buyers swiping tentatively with their MetroCards -- beyond spreading the wealth from the tourist influx evenly, and ensuring that Brooklyn remains or becomes again a place where anyone can live, get educated, work, prosper. Which is, in the first place, what drew strivers and families and restaurateurs and entrepreneurs to its shores.
Beyond that, we might as well enjoy our spoils.
This is a debut column for Mark Chiusano, an editorial writer for amNew York.