>A Brooklyn Discourse


I was born in Brooklyn. Once its own city, it was consolidated into New York in 1898.  That is not to say that its character as a city has become subsumed, leaving it as nothing more than a borough. Instead of being competitors like San Francisco and Oakland, or Baltimore and D.C., Brooklyn and Manhattan are sisters. One is the runway model, the other is the athletic one, bound for the big leagues. She’s a cauldron of pluck and bubbling verve that enjoys being removed from the limelight that bathes Manhattana. And geography plays into it too. Manhattan is patently phallic. It was gridded more than 400 years ago because the Dutch settlers knew that it would fill with people, and that all of them would eventually vie for space. In Manhattan, it’s not possible for a building to take up more than a square city block. It is a city of autonomies, of arid scimitars. Brooklyn, south of Manhattan, also has easy access to the River and spreads, north to Queens and the Island. But it’s vulvular. All of the streets come together to form a V, slanting and coy, taking you from one neighborhood to the next, as long as you know your way. They’ll accept you, even if it is with a raised brow or an evil eye. And because I was born there, not in the graceful cradle of pomp and circumstance, it comes  reflected in my character. It’s why I’m adventurous, yet wary of standing out, because Brooklyn is not about standing out like Manhattan, it’s about who can stand out the best while blending in. Sometimes I press on with insouciance away from the stage, preferring instead to revel in the glory of size, biding my time quietly, comfortably, in the way Brooklynites are proud. I live for authenticity, because that is a true New York characteristic, and Manhattan is ready to deceive with illusions of grandeur and bright lights. Brooklyn can’t be swindled. The former is a place for work, and tourists, and millionaires. The vast ocean of Brooklyn lies removed from the hubub and centerpiece of Times Square and the financial center. Across the East River, well into the 21st century there are neighborhood enclaves of immigrants, and they point to the old bubushkas with pushcarts and the slick haired kids elongating their vowels outside of salumerias, the affordable brownstones, the Puerto Rican auto body shops; that it is here where the poor immigrants came and slaved all away to make it in the world delivered upon them. 

By Daniel Ryan Adler

Daniel Adler writes fiction and nonfiction and is finishing his MFA at University of South Carolina.

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