There was a time about a year ago that we’re going to go ahead and call peak “Goodbye to All That”-era on the Internet. It all originated with the publication of a collection of essays chosen around the theme of what it was like to leave New York, if only for a little while. The release of that book was enough to cause a veritable flood of wannabe Joan Didions (our favorite was Alec Baldwin) to unleash thousands of words on the well-trod topic of why they were leaving this city of ours. Eventually, though, as Internet tides tend to do, this one turned and the amount of personal essays detailing why people decided to move to other places (mostly having to do with money and weather) slowed to a bare trickle. But, you know, the world of the Internet essay meme abhors a vacuum, and so now it seems like there’s a new kind of anguished essay about leaving New York, or a part of it anyway: Welcome “Goodbye to All That: Neighborhood Edition.”
Real estate site Brick Underground published an anonymous essay on Wednesday in which the author said goodbye to Bed-Stuy for good. Yes, after one year in what he (or she, we guess, but due to the self-righteousness of Anonymous, we’re going to go with “he”) describes as “New York’s cool neighborhood du jour,” Anonymous was ready to leave for another neighborhood. And Anonymous really wants you to know that he and Bed-Stuy are never, ever, ever getting back together. See, despite being described by realtors as being “the hottest neighborhood in Brooklyn,” Bed-Stuy is not all it’s cracked up to be, and it’s certainly not as great as Clinton Hill, which—despite sharing a border and several defining characteristics with Bed-Stuy—is a much, much better place to live.
Anonymous—who used to live in Clinton Hill and has since decamped for Fort Greene—has a litany complaints about Bed-Stuy, where he lived, remember, for just one year. His grievances with Bed-Stuy include: poor and infrequent subway service, trust fund kids, dog-poop laden sidewalks, high crime rates, bad grocery stores, 911 being a joke, not every building is a brownstone. Sounds terrible, right? No wonder Anonymous took the time to write a diatribe against Bed-Stuy, it’s clearly his civic duty to warn other people away from what the New York Times misrepresents as being some sort of haven.
Except. Well. Many of the things that Anonymous dislikes so much about Bed-Stuy are not really exclusive to Bed-Stuy. For example, the poor and infrequent subway service? While it is true that Bed-Stuy is only served by the G, A, and C (plus the JMZ along the northern border), and the G is, after all, the G, there are plenty of other neighborhoods that are similarly afflicted. Take Greenpoint, for example, which only has the G. Or Windsor Terrace and Kensington, which just have the G and F. Or Bay Ridge, which has to rely solely on the ultra-local R. Or even Clinton Hill, which has the exact same subway “problems” as Bed-Stuy. Seriously, unless you live in Downtown Brooklyn or North Slope or, well, Fort Greene, chances are that you don’t have more than one or two subway lines at your disposal. Which isn’t even a Brooklyn-only problem; it’s a problem in many places in the city, deal with it.
As for the other issues: there are trust fund kids all over Brooklyn, and certainly not just in Bed-Stuy; there’s dog shit everywhere (especially in Kensington, which Anonymous calls out as probably offering “much cleaner walking fare”), except maybe for Downtown Brooklyn, because there aren’t any dogs here; some neighborhoods, like Windsor Terrace, don’t have even one grocery store; calling 911 to make a noise complaint is the wrong thing to do in any neighborhood, try 311 next time; and, sorry, but nobody ever promised you a brownstone, there are plenty of Brooklyn neighborhoods with much uglier architecture (again, see: Kensington).
All of which is to say, it’s obviously Anonymous’s right to leave Bed-Stuy and to think it’s over-rated as a neighborhood and that other neighborhoods are more worthy of his time and money, but in much the same way that all those “leaving New York City” essays became increasingly tedious (just go already, nobody really cares why), this post feels attention-grabby and desperate in the worst possible way. Not wanting to live in a particular neighborhood in Brooklyn—or even Brooklyn or New York in general—is fine; not every person is meant to live in every place, even when said place is suddenly surging in popularity. But complaining in excruciating—and sometimes factually inaccurate—detail about everything that’s wrong with that place is pointless and misguided. Anonymous isn’t saving anyone from the making some huge mistake by moving to Bed-Stuy, he’s only using a website as a platform to whine about what went wrong for him while he was there, simultaneously dismissing all the good things about Bed-Stuy (which even he admits include such positive things like that it’s “a beautiful and diverse place, with a friendly interaction between people of different ages, races and income levels, for the most part, and stretches of gorgeous architecture”). Enjoy Fort Greene, Anonymous. I’m sure Bed-Stuy will be just fine without you.
Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter @kmiversen