Michael Bieber, Brooklyn Calendar Editor
I've been in love with Brooklyn since 1985, when I drove my elderly grandfather to his snowbird nest in South Florida, and, while negotiating twists and turns of the Gowanus Expressway, heading toward the Verrazano, I noticed neat rows of brownstones on streets that sloped upward toward a park. A year later, with college behind me, I moved into a floor of one of those brownstones on 10th Street and 8th Avenue in Park Slope.
Back then, real estate brokers were showing young graduates the wonder of pre-gentrification brownstone Brooklyn, talking up the bohemian vibes and cheap rent as the happening alternative to Manhattan. Seventh Avenue in the Slope was teeming with nightlife. Jazz musicians were heard practicing scales from the street. Visual artists found cheap loft space in Williamsburg and Gowanus. I, meanwhile, played my guitar loudly at night in a band that tried to sound like the Feelies, and worked as a music magazine writer and editor by day.
Full disclosure: When a cheap, spacious sublet presented itself in Manhattan's Lower East Side, I grabbed it. It was the right thing to do at a time in my life when I felt a bit isolated in Brooklyn and yearned for the bright lights and big city. After meeting my wife, Sarah, a true East Village rocker, we both longed for a little less of the wackiness and dirt of Alphabet City. We had married, our son Russell, now 10, was about to be born, and we needed a clean, kid-friendly environment with the art and culture we were accustomed to.
A decade later, I continue to work and live in Brooklyn with Sarah, Russell, and our daughter Charlotte, who is 3. Unlike 25 years ago, hip daddies wear T-shirts adorned with "Brooklyn" tags and assorted insider references: One reads "Gowanus Rowing Club" (we all know that the Gowanus Canal is a Superfund site!); another shirt bears the old Kentile flooring sign visible from the Gowanus Expressway and the F train viaduct running over the canal. Brooklynites wear their Brooklyn T-shirts with pride.
I revel in the same kind of pride, although when I put on my "Made in Brooklyn" T-shirt I can honestly attest to that claim. I was born in Brooklyn. And while not born in Brooklyn, my children are products of it and I cannot think of any place else that I would like to live or to raise them. Sarah wants to move to Montclair, but that's another story.
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