Monday, March 31, 2008

Good Reads: The East Bay as Brooklyn West?

Yesterday's New York Times featured an interesting article called "Sisters in Idiosyncrasy." The piece described how the Bay Area -- specifically East Bay cities like Oakland and Berkeley -- share a sort of cosmic, arty connection with Brooklyn. Says author Noam Cohen, "There is a young, earnest population that is beating a path between artsy, gentrifying neighborhoods in Brooklyn and their counterparts in the Bay Area, especially East Oakland and the area south of Market Street in San Francisco, or SoMa."

Now don't get me wrong, I love The New York Times (and, in fact, I have written for The New York Times, not to mention having lived in Brooklyn). But I'm always amused by its signature arch -- although still somewhat breathless -- reportage on trends and social phenomena. As if the newspaper is the first to notice such things, and is doing a thoughtful and charitable public service by filling in the rest of us cretins on whatever it has so astutely taken note of. Like, "Wow -- there's a 'creative class' here in the East Bay, kinda like the one in Williamsburg and other arty, gritty Brooklyn 'hoods? I had no idea. Thanks ever so much for enlightening me, New York Times!"

I also love how the Times never fails to see everything through its New York-as-Center-of-Universe prism, as depicted by the classic New Yorker cover, above. Of course Oakland is the corollary of Brooklyn -- because, I mean, rather than having its own unique identity, every other place in the United States is simply aspiring to be a little more like New York City, right?

Anyway, give it a read and let me know what you think.


Anonymous said...

Definitely a 101 article for us Oakland denizens but thanks for sharing it. I'll email a link to my mom who still doesn't understand why I moved here - she may be the cretin who needs the PSA.

The whole "resident tourist" thing at the end is a little irritating, don't you think? I love it here and I'm here to stay.

Jasper said...

I, for one, appreciate that the Times has a reporting interest that reflects the intellectual curiosity of a broad readership. I guess I'm one of the cretins that needs to be filled in.

youth--less said...

it's kinda like the way that hipsters see a town thru their own center-of-the-universe prism. like when y'all discovered oakland back in 01 or whenever it was!


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