Perhaps it was because of the release of the L Magazine‘s Best of Brooklyn issue, but the fact that Vogue launched their own round-up of where to go and what to do in our fair borough just one day after we did, well, it flew under my radar. But now that it is on my radar, how can I not talk about it? I can’t. I can’t not talk about it. This is, after all, the magazine that featured a multi-million dollar Boerum Hill mansion as if it were some kind of rustic retreat. In other words, what could Vogue tell me about Brooklyn that I don’t already know? What secrets would be revealed?
Well, there weren’t that many secrets revealed and Vogue didn’t tell me much that I didn’t already know. But it turns out that this is kind of ok. I mean, is Vogue‘s hook that Brooklyn is basically Paris (“Paris has the Eiffel Tower; Brooklyn has its iconic bridge. Paris has Père Lachaise; Brooklyn has Green-Wood Cemetery. Paris has Pierre Hermé; Brooklyn has Jacques Torres. Paris has the Théâtre de la Ville; Brooklyn has BAM. Paris has the Canal St.-Martin; Brooklyn has . . . the Gowanus Canal?”) a little twee and too on-the-nose? Sure. But many of the places that Vogue highlighted are ones that have graced our pages as well. Restaurants like Rucola, Maison Premiere, Donna, and Roman’s are judged to be some of Brooklyn’s best by both Vogue and, well, us. Shops that Vogue shines a spotlight on, places like Bird, Twig Terrarium, Brooklyn Kitchen, and Catbird frequently pop up on our sites as well. So, I guess what I’m saying is that it’s kind of hard to knock Vogue for recommending exactly the same places that we do all the time.
But then I took a look at the map Vogue made which pinpoints all the different locations of the places they recommend in Brooklyn. And I was outraged for a good couple of minutes! Just look at that map! I thought self-righteously. Other than a single spot in Windsor Terrace (which, yay for the Windy T!) there isn’t anything outside of the parts of Brooklyn that are all within spitting distance of Manhattan. That’s terrible! And so I considered making a map of the L‘s Best of Brooklyn places, to show how different we are, and how much more emblematic of the real Brooklyn. But what I quickly realized was that we’re actually not all that different. Oh, sure, the L‘s Best of has some more spots in Bushwick and Bay Ridge represented (thanks in no small part to the fact that two of our editors live in those neighborhoods) and there were plenty of Bed-Stuy and a lone Coney Island mention. And Park Slope is often represented in our pages, though the neighborhood of Dansko clogs went almost unnoticed by Vogue.
But really, what’s more remarkable is how similar the lists are, and how little most mainstream publications depart from the same well-trod neighborhoods and already acclaimed establishments. I don’t blame Vogue for doing the same thing that we are frequently guilty of doing here—staying in our neighborhood comfort zone, celebrating what is already celebrated, failing to recognize the wide swaths of the borough that rarely get written up in positive ways. No, I don’t blame Vogue for doing that at all. After all, Vogue‘s target audience is made up of a demographic that still considers life in Brooklyn to be the equivalent of a “rustic retreat.” That isn’t the case for us. We can do better. Reading Vogue‘s Brooklyn guide had the effect on me of wanting to explore more of Brooklyn, not neglect the places that have become my (and, apparently, Vogue‘s) go-to spots, but go further and deeper into areas to which I don’t usually travel. In the same way that Brooklyn is no longer a foreign country to Vogue, I don’t want to feel like parts of this borough remain unknown or unvisited to me. And so I guess what I’m trying to say is thank you, Vogue. Thank you for making me want to be a better person. Oh my god, I never thought I’d thank Vogue for that. But I just did.
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