|Brooklyn’s landscape has continued to shift over the past decade, but certain aspects of life remain the same.|
As a native, I’ve been watching Brooklyn change since my youth, dating back to the 1970s and ’80s, and continuing through present day. Although gentrification of neighborhoods such as Park Slope, Fort Greene, and Williamsburg help define the “New Brooklyn,” certain aspects will always be the same no matter how much the landscape has transformed over time. While I can’t swing a stick without hitting a hipster these days, the following pieces of Brooklyn take me back to a time when life was simpler and purer.
Independent, Small Businesses
While big box stores have replaced many mom-and-pop places of yore, smaller boutiques and specialty stores have moved in and now line the streets of hip areas such Park Slope’s Fifth Avenue, Bushwick, and downtown’s Smith Street.
Whether you’re looking for the latest chic clothing styles or an off-beat item like organic baby clothes, these areas have got you covered. Plus, when it comes to great food, Brooklyn is populated with a plethora of impressive, independently owned eateries, and the pizza is still great as ever. And let’s not forget the bodegas throughout the borough. What would we do without them?
|You’ll still find plenty of bodegas throughout Brooklyn.|
Brooklyn is identified by its toughness and swag, and sometimes brutally honest style. So, you’ll never have to ask a true Brooklynite how he or she feels; they will tell you what’s on their mind without even asking.
There’s the: “Hey, you looking at me?” Or, “Excuse me, what time is it?” With a response like, “What? Do I look like Big Ben to you? Get yourself a bleeping watch, pal.” You gottta love Brooklyn!
Sure, most New Yorkers have an accent, but Brooklyn peeps have their own unique way of enunciating certain words that will make you flat-out laugh. Hey, we don’t speak, we talk. In fact, when we talk, we drop the “al” out of the equation and replace it with an “aw”. Therefore, we tawk, wawk, and so forth.
The “er” combination at the end of words is optional. Mother, Father, Sister and Brother all develop a special Brooklyn sound—Motha, Fartha, Sista and Brutta. Need I say more? And, Ts? Who needs them? The T in water becomes wahda, and smarter becomes smahda. You get the picture?
When I was growing up, Brooklyn was inhabited by a multitude of people of different nationalities, races, and religions. From Italian immigrants to Puerto Ricans to Eastern Europeans, Brooklyn was one of the most eclectic places I’d ever seen. Though there has been a shift in its cultural makeup, Brooklyn remains a melting pot of diversity well represented in the countless languages spoken, foods eaten, and religions practiced.
Today, I often visit outdoor spots such as Marine Park, and watch various people enjoy the widely-popular game. Now, younger people have joined in the fun, and I often see women play as well as men.
As a young, wide-eyed lad, I used to watch the older Italian gentlemen play Bocce for hours at a time. The object of the game is to get as many of your bocce balls as close to the pallino (smaller target ball) as possible. If you’re more successful in getting the bocce closer to the pallino than your opponent, you win points.