From Here to Canarsieby Theodore Hamm
“Forget New York, it’s Over!” So says Whitney, a cantankerous fixture on Lorimer near Metropolitan. By Whitney’s count, rent has gotten too high, while the crime rate is never low enough. We here at The Brooklyn Rail feel that Whitney is only half right.
For better or worse, depending on whether you’re collecting or paying it, rent indeed has been skyrocketing throughout North Brooklyn in the last few years. So much so, in fact, that the topography has now changed. By landlord fiat, or perhaps brokers’ sense of eminent domain, East Williamsburg now includes the warehouse areas formerly known as Bushwick.
So what is the nature of this beast, this Octopus, that threatens to swallow every flat from here to Canarsie? What is it about the name Williamsburg that translates into extra zeros on the rent check? Frankly, we’re not sure if it all adds up, or what the fuss is all about. Still, armchair metaphysicians that we are, we continue to spend many nights pondering the eternal question, “What is Williamsburg?”
This issue marks the renewal of The Brooklyn Rail in print. Over the past year and a half, we’ve operated solely in cyberspace, that vast shopping mall in the sky. We come back unafflicted by Sudden Wealth Syndrome, and all the more intellectually rich as a result. Given our returns, it made perfect sense to register as a Non-Profit, a fitting designation to be sure.
Our goal in restoring—and obviously expanding—the Rail’s print edition is the same as when we first started pamphleteering two Septembers ago. We are here to debate the arts and culture, and to connect them to our daily lives as residents of Williamsburg, Greenpoint and the rest of Brooklyn. In our minds, urban planning further qualifies as an art, thus explaining our focus on issues affecting the future of our neighborhoods as well as those across the city and beyond.
Thanks go out to all those involved in making this issue come to life, a listing of which can be found below. We all feel particularly grateful, though, to Fernanda Schmidt, whose exquisite design has finally made the print Rail a publication easy on the eyes. Finally, to all those who’ve read us, written for us, sketched for us, and simply pushed us in the right direction, the following pages are merely a small token of what we owe you.
Welcome back to
The Brooklyn Rail.