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To BK or Not to BK

October 24th, 2011  |  by  |  Published in Uncategorized  |  7 Comments

Brooklyn Dads

There is something foul afoot in Manhattan. It is the sheer expensiveness of the place. We did fine for a while, when I had a corporate job, and then even afterwards when I had left that job but was working plenty. But now, even though I’m actually working more than ever, somehow we slipped, fell behind. This place is too much money.

Enter Craigslist. We are looking for a cheaper place to live. But we are not sure: Brooklyn or Manhattan.

Data point: a child’s fourth birthday party in Greenpoint on Saturday. Not a random child, but the child of old friends. We love these people, and now that he’s around, we love their child. They also still live by art, for the most part, and earn accordingly, which is why they live in Greenpoint. It is cheap(er).

And yet, it’s not just cheap(er). It’s also, well, a community. We walked around the corner into the yard of the church (where the mom volunteers at the soup kitchen while the boy naps, bless her heart), and BOOM. Five thousand kids. Which is terrifying, unless you have kids yourself and then it’s pretty great. Because your kids are fired up and they don’t want a thing from you, which is all we are really asking for as parents.

These kids were just kids from the neighborhood. Some from the boy’s preschool, but many just met at playgrounds, etc. And that’s just it: I can hardly remember the last time we met someone from the playground in the Upper West Side. We met one family, and they were great, then they moved to Maryland. But in general, the attitude of the upper west is: you have a kid? So do I. Fuck off. Or: you have a kid? I’m busy. But text my nanny and our kids can play before I get home from work.

This is the lot of the Upper West, and lord knows I am not complaining, because we do have good schools and shaded streets. But like so much of parenting, what is more expensive or desired is probably not the best thing, for parent or for child.

All of our friends live in Brooklyn. That is what it is.

Data point, opposite direction: there were a lot of hipsters in the Greenpoint crowd. I felt like a banker, and I am actually just a writer with a lowgrade drinking problem. But forreal: one dad there had a fedora and a red leather jacket, which is fine, it happens. But then I looked around and saw that his son, not more than five years old, ALSO had a fedora, a tiny one. And a red leather jacket. And that was a little much. So it’s possible that with my stiff shoes and baggy “normal” jeans, I would be an outcast there as I am here, but for different reasons.

So we could move to Brooklyn. But it would not be cheaper, really (it isn’t, because Brooklyn is not undiscovered or underdeveloped. It is a fabulously expensive borough, for the most part). And it might not be a social panacea. We could pay all the money and the hassle of moving and find that they are not our tribe either over on the other side of the East River.

On the plus side, if we did move, then at least you wouldn’t have to read my chronic complaints about whether or not we should move to Brooklyn. And then we could just give in and name this blog FedoraFathers or something like that.


  1. dave says:

    October 24th, 2011at 4:50 pm(#)

    Why does everyone skip over Queens in these kinds of rants? Particularly those who, like the Dadwagon crew, are (I know for a fact) not sheep who simply move to whatever nabe is deemed “cool”; who are adventurous souls who thrill at discovering new and exciting experiences/foods/people in some of the most diverse areas around; and who have some sense of pioneering spirit?

    Nate Silver’s number crunching found my little corner of the world the third “most livable” neighborhood in new york city (http://nymag.com/realestate/neighborhoods/2010/65374/index2.html), though I disagree with the “lack of restaurants and nightlife.” True, it will be awhile before sex and the city films it’s umpteenth sequel out here, but that’s fine with us. We’ve got a lot of nice places where you’ll usually find someone you know. We DO have community; I know my grocer, my bartender, the restaurant owners, all of them pretty well. Our kids play together in the parks, and often go to the same schools. Sunnyside Gardens Park is a true gem – private, 250 acres, single gate, no worrying about your toddlers running off; you can enjoy a can of beer and a bbq (try that at a public park) and you’ll always run into neighbors and friends. We mix just as easily with cab drivers and civil servants as we do with artists/actors/musicians/architects/lawyers/mediafolks. Mark Ibold lives here! We have the first openly gay city council members! (how hip is that?)

    I’m not saying you have to move here, though we’d love to have you. At the very least, put the borough into the consideration set. It’s true we don’t have the architecture, the celebrity cache, or too many people who wear those little fedoras. We do have some of the best food in the city (including farmers markets), down-to-earth neighbors, ethnic diversity beyond compare, good bike lanes, nice parks and a close easy ride to Manhattan. I can even get to Greenpoint in 10 minutes by bike, so just maybe you’d have the best of all worlds.

    OK, rant over, thanks for letting me vent.

  2. Daddy by Default says:

    October 25th, 2011at 11:32 am(#)

    I grew up on Long island, which isn’t much cheaper than manhattan, and I’ve lived in several of the more expensive cities in the country including Manhattan and Los Angeles. They’ve each got their draws, and drawbacks.

    But lately, I think it’s gotten really expensive to live and do business in New York, and thus the drawbacks outweigh the draws for me.

  3. scottstev says:

    October 26th, 2011at 8:36 am(#)

    I’m just glad I was 15 years ahead of the trend in picking Richmond to live. But typical of Richmond’s high self-regard and inferiority complex (two sides of the same coin, no?), I’m officially blase but secretly thrilled when my fair city gets national press like this. No borough gets coverage like that, eh? oh.

  4. Nathan says:

    October 26th, 2011at 10:04 am(#)

    @Dave: Sunnyside! You are right to chide us for living in a black-and-white manhattan-brooklyn false-choice illusion-world. One of my good friends just moved there, actually, and I’ve been waiting for a report. Queens reminds me of the best of Oakland–which is one of the most diverse cities in the country–but even more so. So there. It’s on the list.

    @DbD: Long Island is actually where my wife’s new work is based (tho she won’t have to visit the hub often). But right: it’s not cheap enough to actually be able to stand the traffic.

  5. TorontoDad says:

    October 28th, 2011at 11:19 pm(#)

    One word: Weehawken.

    I second your thoughts about the UWS. We lived on 71st and Columbus for years, so I know exactly how unconnectable the neighborhood is. We’re gay dads. There are tons of gay dads in the neighborhood. There were multiple sets of gay dads in our building! Nope. Oh? You’re gay dads too? F off, indeed.

    The playgrounds in the park? The little one off 68th and CPW only had children with nannies who didn’t seem all that friendly to men with small kids. The big playground closer to CPS? Let me tell you, Hugh Jackman isn’t all that friendly either.

    During the financial crisis we unexpectedly found ourselves in Weehawken of all places. Boy, were we pleasantly surprised. It’s like a small town with great views. Children everywhere. Interesting and chatty neighbors. Writers. Actors. Corporate execs. All in a charming, Grover’s Corners setting. That is, if Grover’s Corners had families from all across the world.

    Take the kiddos to either of playgrounds across the river one Saturday afternoon and meet some of the friendliest and interesting parents in the tri-state area. And nary a hipster to be found!

  6. dadwagon says:

    October 31st, 2011at 10:15 pm(#)

    @Scottstev Yes, even minor publications do tend to get Richmond excited when they write about the place. I cannot say that I feel the UWS or NYC in general is in need of any more exposure. For one, it would be nice if they stopped filming movies all over town (with requisite street closures, car-towings and so forth). So yes, pride in residency: another thing I lack here.

  7. Nathan'sBrother says:

    November 1st, 2011at 6:27 pm(#)

    Ashamed that it took me a week to notice this thread Nathan, but you know what’s coming….AUSTIN!! Yes, its hotter than Hades in the summer, and our proximity to Perry is disturbing, but this town is outrageously friendly, exceedingly well educated and politically engaged, and impossibly kid-friendly. Did I mention affordable? Tacos? BBQ? Live Music? Why half-step your way out of the center of the city when you can 2-step it all the way down to Tejas??

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