After the ever-popular Brooklyn Flea recently left its new home at East River State Park in Williamsburg less than a month after moving in, journalist and Williamsburg resident Astrid Harders (@tintosinazucar) explains the crowded, noisy vibe of the neighborhood as more and more young people arrive. Please share your opinions with Metro via Facebook or Twitter (@MetroNewYork).
Let’s get one thing out of the way: I’m the worst. I live in a gentrified neighborhood. I’m to blame. Now that we’ve established that, we can address the second and third waves of young people in Williamsburg. I want to start with a particular softball team that played in McCarren Park last summer. I bring those softball players up because I fear that soon they will be back. They will half-jog into the park, with their matching jerseys, yelling “woo-hoo” and “good job!” and they will produce clouds of dust. And then it will happen, the worst of the worst: Their DJ will roll two XXL speakers onto the once fluffy grass and crank up the sh–tiest dance hits. Last year, the thumping bass and hissy beats could be heard all the way into McGolrick Park in Greenpoint.
Guys, it’s phenomenal that you have an activity in common. It’s fantastic that you are exercising, but do you have to noise-pollute a cherished (and scarce) spot in nature where people go to relax? That afternoon last summer, my husband and I gave up on the books we were reading, furiously put on our flip-flops and stomped home. You kicked us out of the park, you audio-bullied us out of a community public space. It wasn’t the last time we encountered you. It’s a park! Birds and squirrels should be the ones partying! Wanna hear awful, loud music and interact with balls? Go to a bar in the Meatpacking District.
The anger the softball DJ produces in me can probably only be matched by the latest craze in Williamsburg: restaurants that serve noise. Isn’t it a little too loud when you can’t hear the person sitting next to you? I get it, skinny-jeans-wearing, Morrissey-quote-tattoo-owning waiters are totally into their Spotify playlists, but they’re also serving people the wrong plates because they can’t hear what folks are ordering. Why is everyone convinced that loud equals fun? Do people talk less and eat/drink more when they can’t hear one another? Is that it?
While there might be a marketing technique behind the insane volumes in restaurants, I think this love of noise has something in common with the softball DJ: selfishness. And it’s that complete disregard for others that is bleeding into every eatery.
Lastly, let’s talk crowds. Yeah, it’s NYC, we’re all constantly way closer to a stranger than we’d like to be. But usually, crowds during rush hour on the subway, for example, have a precise purpose: People need to get to work. The massive crowds of distracted and slow youngsters using this neighborhood as some sort of thrift-store catwalk likely have little purpose. It’s because of this that I am kind of psyched about the L train shutdown (let’s see how you all get here when there’s no train).
Anyway, I’d gladly turn in all this anger for some community. How about a little less obnoxiousness, a lot less noise pollution and a lot more mindfulness? That’s all – now you can go ahead and tear me to shreds. Because I still want to live in this beautiful neighborhood.