Iceland

Show #46: Brooklyn, N.Y.

Walt Whitman often took up his pen to fawn over Brooklyn's charms. Consider the bearded bard's observations in "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry":

Crowds of men and women attired in the usual costumes! how curious you are to me!
On the ferry-boats, the hundreds and hundreds that cross, returning home, are more curious to me than you suppose;
And you that shall cross from shore to shore years hence, are more to me, and more in my meditations, than you might suppose.

I am not as enthusiastic about Brooklyn and its "usual costumes" as Walt Whitman. Brooklyn is not "more to me...than you might suppose." Instead, I deem Brooklyn "average," or "adequate." Walt Whitman has no use for these middling adjectives.

When in Brooklyn, I do visit Hana Foods. Last year, I recorded an album at a studio in gentrifying Williamsburg near this organic-ish health food store. Though I did not sleep often during this three-week recording session and certainly did not shower, I visited Hana Foods daily. There, I purchased vegetarian chicken-salad sandwiches. Like Brooklyn, these sandwiches were not great, and were not terrible. These sandwiches were adequate sandwiches.

I played the last show of my tour in Williamsburg for a worthy cause. After the show, I bumped my head on a P.A. speaker. In a daze, I wandered out of the club and into the street. Earlier in the evening, a light rain had coated Brooklyn's streets with a glistening slime. Rubbing my head, I trudged through this slime in the direction of Hana Foods. En route, I met a man searching for Berry Street.

"Where is Berry Street?" asked this man.

"Berry?" I said. I looked around, rubbing my head. Because of my head injury, I wasn't sure where Berry was. "Huh?"

"Berry," the man repeated.

"Uh...I..." I continued rubbing my head. "I think Berry is one street back," I concluded. The man disappeared into the slimy night. I should have told this man that I am not from Brooklyn and have a head injury, I thought. Alas—too late.

After another block, I stumbled into Hana Foods. I walked towards the refrigerated display where the adequate vegetarian chicken-salad sandwiches were stored. I looked down at the adequate vegetarian chicken-salad sandwiches and regarded them. Christ, I thought. These adequate vegetarian chicken-salad sandwiches are adequate as ever.

As I contemplated my adequate fate, a young man was trying to purchase rolling papers. "Do you have any rolling papers?" he asked the Hana Foods cashier.

"Don't sell them," said the grumpy cashier.

"No rolling papers?" pressed the youth.

"Don't sell them!" shouted the owner. He turned his response into mantra. "Don't sell them! Don't sell them!" he shouted.

I thought of the young man's failed attempt to purchase rolling papers. Hana Foods can't be all things to all people, I thought. I stared back at the adequate sandwiches. I want an incredible sandwich, I thought. These sandwiches are merely adequate. I am sick of adequacy. I will not purchase these sandwiches anymore.

Comments

  1. #1

    spot-on summation of brooklyn.

  2. #2

    I went to a popular chain restaurant the other day. The waiter brought a cheeseburger and a cup of coffee, which turned out to be adequate. Remarkably, I could survey the restaurant parking from my booth. The place presented a combination of stillness and movement: while some cars, trucks and SUVs were moving in or out, others remained motionless for some time. In the end, I surprised myself by ordering a vanilla ice-cream.

  3. Ermest Everhardt
    #3

    I resent this consumer experience crap, I really do. "adequate".. Wish one could saythe same for this blog. Alas, the word 'crapulous'springs to mind instead.

    It's hard for me to remain within the constraints of bourgeois propriety, I'm sorry.

  4. Peggy Maplewood
    #4

    Ernest, may I say how lovely your everhard is looking today.

  5. #5

    Peggy, the only thing I like more than you in that outfit is you out of it. Maplewood? Don't you mean Maplesyrup?

  6. #6

    Oh Ernest, you wisecracker.

  7. #7

    Ha ha ha.

  8. #8

    I tried to buy a pack of American Spirit cigarettes at Whole Foods some years ago. Likely, the store was then called Fresh Fields. The chipper, well-groomed checkout clerk raised her eyebrows and said, "we don't sell cigarettes here, this is a health food store!." I retorted with something about the hypocrisy of selling eggs, but only soy-based mayonnaise, and asked her how healthy she thought a typical organic rib-eye steak was.

    I didn't get any closer to buying cigarettes with that argument, so I walked across the street to the gas station instead.

  9. #9

    Damn, very nice website. I actually came across this on Ask Jeeves, and I am stoked I did. I will definately be coming back here more often. Wish I could add to the conversation and bring a bit more to the table, but am just absorbing as much info as I can at the moment.

    Thank You

    Italian Restaurant Dublin

  10. #10

    Paper rolls… extremely great read you know alot about this topic i see!…

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