And Veuve Ran Through the Streets (with Photographic Evidence!)

I was tricked into living in my neighborhood. First, there was the broker’s confusion on the difference between Wyckoff Street (in a neighborhood I deemed yes) and Wyckoff Avenue (in a neighborhood I never heard of or desired to visit). Yet, the loft apartment on Wyckoff Avenue was amazing and there was zero walking distance to the train. The two clinchers that led me to buy it (not counting the apartment’s amenities) — the broker’s threat that he’d shown me all the available apartments I could afford and his next suggestion was New Jersey. And, his lie that the apartment was in East Williamsburg.

Since all the publications that mattered (New York magazine and the New York Times, naturally) deemed East Williamsburg the “next big thing,” I kept looking for evidence of this “big thing. I didn’t see it. Not helpful that the apartment is actually in Bushwick, a fact that even I lied about.

Fast forward six years and I finally have some evidence that change is underway, and not just the fashion.

Signs That Your Neighborhood May Have Changed:

1. On New Year’s Day, you find Veuve Clicquot bottles in the gutters.

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2. The dogs at the dog park all have on outfits.

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3. Even the big dogs.

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4. A Puerto Rican flag and Gay Pride flag on the same building

Every June, the flags come out in time for the parades. This June, near Maria Hernandez Park, a building was sporting a Puerto Rican flag on the second floor and a Gay Pride flag on the third floor.

5. When it’s the Gay Pride flag that’s still hanging there 7 months later.

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6. People lie about living here.

Walking home with a friend, we walked further than I expected. “This is Queens. You said you lived in Bushwick,” I accused. “Please don’t tell anyone,” he pleaded. I guess that blog he writes about Bushwick won’t feel that authentic if I let that secret out.

7. You’re inconvenienced by filming

Girls broke the cherry. Now, there are television and film crews and photographers taking over regularly. One day I almost crashed the car when five long, dark-haired, slim suit-wearing male models were being photographed standing in the middle of the street. And in September, my dog took particular interest in some fake snow.

8. People come to the neighborhood to be photographed in front of the graffiti.

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9. The corner grocery store changes:

  • There’s no longer a “white people aisle,” as the checkout girls used to call it. It’s now “organic.”

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  • They longer play Spanish music. Which I really miss and plan to protest! I hear “Call Me Maybe” enough already.

10. Taxis know where to go

When I first moved to Bushwick, cab drivers would sigh heavily when I piled into the back. First, that they had to go to Brooklyn and second that neighborhood. We’d always end up on Broadway, and thus lost. I live nowhere near Broadway (but that’s what Bushwick means to some people).

Now, cab drivers ask, “J train Bushwick or L train Bushwick?” click on the meter and off we go.

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Red Soled Shoes Spotted on the L Train

And I wasn’t wearing them. New York being the fashion capital, this may not seem like news. Yet for a Rockaway bound-L train — beyond the Lorimer stop — it was indeed an odd sight.

In my neighborhood, the white girls don’t comb, brush or regularly wash their hair. Clean hair is so unusual in fact, that one day, held captive on an elevator, a girl behind me stuck her face in my dreadlocks, inhaled deeply and said, “Wow, they don’t even smell.” No sweetheart, stinky is not cute. You millennials can keep that. Oh, and put some makeup on, already.

Bushwick fashion includes tights and stockings with holes developed so meticulously that they snake their way all the way up the right thigh, with just one hole on the left for a smidge of symmetry. These hipsters are redefining style to their own tastes, which I respect. And I’ve even accepted that I’ll never understand their flea market shopping and combat boots worn with flowery, loose, yet belted dresses in the middle of summer. Actually, they wear those terrible boots with everything. The boots often look as if they’ve been worn through actual combat, not just the streets of Brooklyn. These hipsters do, however, carry the super colorful and super cute Cambridge Satchel bags in every color — including fluorescent pink (LOVE). Bushwick fashion is like a mix of the 1970’s hippies and 1980’s punk at the same time.

When I mentioned the red-soled-shoe sighting at one of our so-Bushwick bars that requires walking past a leaning, unpainted poultry shop that will allow you to walk in, pick a live chicken that they then kill, pluck and butcher, then hand to you, still warm, so you can take it home and cook it up for dinner that night, they didn’t believe me.

“I’m serious,” I huffed to my friends between sips of red wine on tap — another Bushwick experiment. Interesting, but I wish they’d get some Malbec by the bottle already.

They insisted the shoes must have been Payless knockoffs or those Miu Mius. I wouldn’t have been fooled by such! The Miu Miu shoes have pink bottoms and if I can’t tell the difference between Louboutins and Payless, I should be required to relinquish my Pink Platinum Fashionista card. Someone wearing their Loubies on the train though — it was hard to believe considering that just that a few years ago, it wasn’t safe to have white earbuds stuffed in your ears because thieves assumed they were attached to an iPhone 2.

Several weeks after the red soles spotting, I was again on the train, almost at my stop. I noticed a MAN sporting the exact same tote I talked about and coveted for five years before finally buying it in Paris this year. I had to think about yoga to remember how to breath. First of all, a MAN was carrying my bag. Not only that, his looked crisp, like he’d just walked out of the store with it. It was a gut punch. But you know what made it worse? He was ROCKING it. I mean killing it. Better than I could. It was the cut and color of the rest of his outfit, his slimness and his posture that made him pull it off so well.

I have no beef with men carrying purses. They usually carry bags that I wouldn’t be interested in having. There’s no risk of a sample sale fight over the last remaining handbag with a man. I thought. Now they’ve crossed the line. This man and I made eye contact. Suddenly, the two of us couldn’t wrench our eyes away from each other. Romance blossomed — between a girl, a boy and a bag.

Your Balls Don’t Get Their Own Seat

ImageTaking public transportation is usually pretty great. You have time to read, no car traffic to fight. What’s more, it’s an efficient and cost-effective way to get around.

There’s just something about summer that stirs up my irritation at the things we straphangers have to put up with.

Men who take up two seats

Dude, your Metrocard doesn’t entitle you to a second seat to air out your balls. You don’t get to sit all wide-legged and then get mad when I ask to sit down.

Candy-selling kids

When does school start again? I’m so over these kids going through cars selling candy. Were they set loose by some opportunist dentist? Or maybe it was Dr. Z.

Short and funky

If you don’t wear deodorant, please don’t hold the handrail at the top. Instead, use the pole and avoid lifting your arm and fumigating the room. Short people who come to breast level and act like they want to lay their head right on your breasts also need to move out of the way.

Yes, you deserve a seat, but…

Disabled people who have a choice of available seats but pout or get angry because they prefer a certain seat.

Sick passengers

The “sick passengers” who cause constant delays on the L and F train. For years, I was convinced it was just models, artists or novelists who needed a sandwich. But the other day, the sick passenger was on the car I was in. Witnessing that she was an elderly woman, I felt bad about trivializing. But there has to be a better way to get sick people aide without, in this case, causing an L train stoppage for nearly an hour!

Rats

Obvi.

For some balance, here’a a list of things I love about the subway. 

  • Men — gentlemen — who stand or yield when a seat becomes free.
  • People on the “L” train on the way out or coming back from an evening. It’s like theater.
  • The Eastern Parkway-bound train on Labor Day. The party starts there!
  • Any train on a warmish Halloween. I’ll take shirtless hot guys any time.
  • Little kids going on field trips. They are just so freaking cute.
  • Morning commuters — they are generally silent, spend their time reading, and it’s fun to guess the kind of job people have by what they’re wearing.
  • Riding the train after a concert or ball game. Everybody on the train has just come from the same event and the energy is INSANE.
  • Air conditioned cars — you gotta admit the freezing train feels pretty good after being outside or standing on that hot platform.
  • Great ad campaigns. The ones that have us talking. Haven’t seen any of those in a while.
  • This tribute on the way home after MJ passed.
  • Being on for 30 minutes with chatter all around you and none of it is in English.

In Honor of Fashion Week: Looks That I Just Don’t Understand

In honor of the eight days of Fashion Week which begins later this week, check out these eight fashion  looks that deserve my fitting commentary.

White tights

1. White Tights
Unless you have snow white legs, white tights are not for you. Or for your daughter — have you seen all the fun tights little girls have these days? You don’t have to dress her like mom dressed you back in 1978. Get thee to Lil Missmatched right away!

Scrubs in the supermarket
2. Scrubs
In the operating room, I get it. In the dentist’s office, I expect it. On the L train? Unfathomable.

Track Suits

3. Track Suits
They’ve had their moment as leisure wear. First, the wind suits. Then the velour suits. Then the juicy on the bootie suits. It’s time to put them away. Overdue. If you must go out supercomfy, think hoodie with non-matching yoga pants.

Pleated Pants - Just say no

4. Pleated Front Pants
I ranted about this before and was told by several men that they are more comfortable for those with certain body types. Remedy: tailor your flat front pants. There’s nothing that a little tailoring cant do to make something look and feel great. But you’re talking to a girl who wears five inch heels, so clearly the comfort argument won’t go far with me.

Overalls

5. Overalls
Back in high school, people wore these with one strap hanging. Ridiculous. But oh they hang on. Ladies, stick with the jumpsuit or romper. Men, just avoid it. Unless of course you have amazing guns on display and all is potentially forgiven.

Sagging pants

6. Sagging
I can’t believe it’s 2012 and I still am subjected to this. The other day while waiting for the train, I noticed a youngster with sagging, rigidly starched SKINNY jeans, revealing almost his entire Burberry boxer short. I wanted to bump him off the platform. Now ladies, I know that some of you protest to men in skinny jeans at all. Personally, I like them, but I’m a fan of the slim-fitting, sleek European look. But sagging AND skinny. He needs to go regroup.

Flip flops at work

7. Flip Flops as an Everyday Shoe
On the beach, during your commute, I get it. But walking around the office in a plastic, nail salon flip flop? SIGH. BTW, I’m sure that you realize that we share our streets with rats, right? Not to mention urine and other questionable substances on the sidewalk.

8. Athletic Shoes with Jeans
Not fashion kicks like Pumas or Gucci’s, but jogging shoes. With jeans. I. Just. Don’t. Get. It.

And the items I was itching to put on the list, but there weren’t enough days in Fashion Week to feature them: Uggs, Crocs, sweater vests for men and khakis. Those of you who’ve followed me for a while may be pleased to know that I’ve given up on ridding the world of capri pants.

Have fun with it and enjoy the shows!