How many times have I talked about Brooklyn? Seriously, everything that I love happens there. From the edgiest parties, to the most forward-thinking urban renewal and gardening projects, to the most memorable shopping experiences, Brooklyn is where you go when you want to get away from the touristy, see-and-be-seen, rejected-at-the-door, mass-produced and massively overpriced crap that is Manhattan. Brooklyn is infamous for hipsters, but there is a softer side to what many call faux-hemian, and underneath the earnestness is a protest against what society forces on us: that we need to go broke on perfect outfits, that we are all striving for a job in finance, and that you don’t count if you don’t own a car. I can get down with that.
It’s Saturday afternoon, and I’ve already taken the 2 down there twice. It’s a long trip – an hour or more – with the 2 stopping at every single station along the way because of construction. It’s painful. But worth it!
Last night I went down to BK to meet up with a college friend for dinner and a party. She brought along her friend Ariel, a pretty aristocrat-cum-hippie with blond dreads and plenty of stories to tell. We had dinner at a little Oaxacan (read: southern Mexico) restaurant called Chiles y Chocolate. Ariel just visited Oaxaca for a wedding, and told us that Chiles and chocolate are what Oaxaca is known for.
The restaurant was a far cry from Don Tequilas in Lexington, where my college friends and I would stuff our faces and then spend the rest of the day moaning over our distended stomachs. (Or if you were member of a certain sorority, nonchalantly purging your stomach of all that cheese and questionable white sauce.) Chiles y Chocolate has seductive lighting, fresh flowers at the tables, and filling food that eschews grease for grease’s sake. I’m told they serve delicious hot chocolate as well, naturally.
We sat in the back outdoors room, with just some draped cloth and tarp between us and the biting wind outside. In the middle of the meal I finally ceded to the chill and pulled my jacket back on. But I enjoyed a glass of Yellowtail chardonnay, which they of course took the trouble of describing for us as buttery and smooth, with notes of blah blah. Or you could get the Turning Leaf, with aromas of fresh citrus-like lemon and lime. Love it. After my meal of shrimp and diced fruit, I felt full yet comfortable. We left the restaurant and walked to the apartment in the Park Slope neighborhood, Ariel walking her bike alongside. Have I told you that I really want a bike? More on that later. After she wrestled the bike into submission under a lock, we got buzzed into the bottom floor of a row house.
It was a typical Brooklyn party: low on fashion, high on unknown and upbeat music. The host mixed us fancy whisky drinks and bonded with me over our love of Hype Machine, which he used as his playlist. I love weird music, by the way. At parties I have trouble concentrating on the conversation sometimes when there is a good song on.
I went home early though, as fun as it was. I had gone out hard and late Thursday night, and by 12:30 my eyelids were sticky and heavy, and I was being a huge bore.
Today I was back in Park Slope with Vicki. It was opening day at Brooklyn Flea, and I was pumped. First we stopped by Beacon’s Closet so I could drop of some clothes for consignment. They took my bag of stuff and told me to come back in an hour. I already had an idea of what they would choose. In there I had a short-sleeved, pink, Members Only jacket and an acid washed denim vest. Both of them were relics of a time when I had some idea of my being a pseudo-hipster, uber fashionable New Yorker. Ha. Now I know better. As much as Sartorialist and LookBook are fun to look at, I’m much better suited to simple yet classic cardigans, oxfords and ballet flats. C’est la vie.
After that, we beat it up to the market, cooing at the adorable boutiques, blossoming pear trees, and delicious-looking fair from the coffee shops and cafes. We stopped on the way to find a bathroom in the mall and Vicki went into the McDonalds to use it there. Oh, man, talkabout depressing. It was a gorgeous day outside, yet that stupid fast food restaurant in a mall was packed with families. I watched in disgust as the chubby mother of a wailing toddler stuffed handfuls of fries in her mouth and slurped a coke while she gossiped with her friend. I finally turned and fled the madness, waiting for Vicki outside.
When we got the market, the placed was packed. I stopped by to say hi to Monkey, who’s lovely jewelry from salvaged records makes me drool everytime. He told me there were close to 10,000 people there for opening day. The sun was so bright I had to squint to see the wares. In between browsing the racks of clothing and flipping through prints, I gobbled up a chicken dog with kimchi topping, a stroop waffle, and an almond and pear torte. Vicki said everytime she would see me I would be munching on something. Well, you know, that’s how I roll.
I also came this close to buying a sweet, old road bike. I’ve been mulling over for a while the idea of biking to work everyday. I’m a block away from Riverside Park, and my work is all the way over on 11th Avenue as well, so I could largely avoid having to deal with the dangers of cycling – getting doored or getting straight up hit by a taxi – by cycling all the way down the West Side on the bike path. Plus my apartment building has bike storage and my work has showers and a storage locker. Could it be any easier? I need to get some exercise somewhere. Cuz what I’m doing right now isn’t working.
The guy at the bicycle stand guided me to a road bike, because he says the one-speed cruisers with leather seats that the hipsters favor aren’t much for commuting. They’re as heavy as they are cute. Vicki finally talked me out of buying anything, pointing out that I should probably get my ducks in a row as far as reserving some space in the basement and figuring out where the bike storage actually is at work first. The fact that she would have to deal with my taking it home on the subway might have had something to do with it as well.
My only purchase was 3 embroidered handkerchiefs at a dollar each. I’ve stopped buying those little tissue packets, because it’s a waste of money and trees. Plus doesn’t using a pretty handkerchief look so much nicer than paper?
We didn’t leave the market until all of the vendors were packing up their stuff at five. Now, as I write this back in my apartment, the orange sunset is flaring up behind the skyline of water towers and steeples on the Upper West Side. It’s beautiful, but really, if it weren’t for my awesome roommate and the time I’ve spent putting together a beautiful room, not to mention my two closets, I would be down in Park Slope in a second.