Brooklyn Diversity

I had put on Francie Nolan’s shoes  – don’t know if she had any but I hope so – and followed her steps down Manhattan Avenue. As I somehow had managed to leave the loft early – that means before 11 am – I decided not to take the G train to Metropolitan and walk from there but walk the whole way from Clay Street down to Broadway. The appearance of Manhattan Avenue is changing several times along the way. While in Greenpoint it is strictly commercial with mainly cheap shops, it becomes residential in North Williamsburg after passing the BQE (Brooklyn-Queens Expressway).
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It seems to be a nice and quiet area until Grand Street, where Francie’s Saturday morning walk might have started. Beyond Grand the old buildings have been torn down and replaced by housing projects.
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Well, I guess those are needed. On Broadway J and M trains run elevated. They might not have been there at all, when Francie went to the Nickel-and-Dime store there.
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Like Francie I walked back on Graham Avenue which then was called the Ghetto street and is now called Avenue of Puerto Rico. It is the main shopping street in East Williamsburg. Mainly cheap shops like on Manhattan in Greenpoint. I was looking for a store where I could get a copy of Time Out Magazine. Not possible here.
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Having reached Johnson Street I turned east and got into an industrial area. It should take me to what I did not find on Tuesday: the hip part of Bushwick. I had remembered the name of a quite famous Pizza place there, Roberta’s, and had googled it. And Kim had sent me an article about a vegan pop-up market- Both resources directed me to the area around Bogart Street. I had not found it on my walk through Bushwick because I had thought that this area would still be East Williamsburg, not Bushwick. So now I was right where I meant to be on Tuesday. What I found there however was not really fascinating. Plenty of graffiti and murals, warehouses, big trucks. Some little shops in former warehouses and lots of loft spaces to rent.

And Roberta’s, unless it is pretty easy to overlook it. There is just a crappy door in a grey wall and a sign with “Roberta’s” above it. Does not really look like a restaurant.
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The door stood open and showed a red curtain. I decided to peer inside through the curtain. Not possible, because behind the curtain there was another door. So I simply entered and stood inside what looked like something between a garage and a mountain cabin with a bar, a wood-fired oven, shelves with plenty of wine bottles, big wooden tables and lots of people apparently enjoying their lunch. Young locals as well as families and business people. Roberta’s is a place to go. A waiter took me to one of the tables and brought a plate, a bottle of water and a menu for me. The business people were apparently eating everything on the menu. Workmen next to me had huge sandwiches with plenty of meat. At the bar two people were having a wine tasting. I had a simple Pizza Margherita and it was delicious.

After lunch I walked to Morgan Avenue station and took a little detour around Flushing and Knickerbocker Avenues. On Flushing I suddenly stood in front of a little bookstore. Not my fault, it was just there. I had not expected a bookstore here, so I curiously entered and after a while left with two books. That makes four after just one week!

To finally get a copy of Time Out Magazine I travelled across the East River to Manhattan. Somewhere around Union Square I was sure to find at least one Newsstand. After a short stop at Strand Books – without buying something, just to have another look into that book about neighborhoods someone had written before me – I took the train back to Brooklyn and got off at Greenpoint Avenue station, my local one. When I got out onto Manhattan Avenue I remembered that I wanted to go to that hardware store and look for a clip lamp to use as a bedside light. So I should have left the train one stop earlier and now walked all the way back to there. I did not really find what I was looking for, just a little lamp to be plugged into the socket. It was just 2 Dollars, so I took it. The vendor told me the price in Polish. In a Polish meat market I bought polish salami. In a Polish deli store I got fruit and Polish beer. Then I headed towards the nice little Polish bakery to get a poppy seed bagel. Two men were in the shop, looked at me and I think talked about me. I just didn’t understand anything because of course they talked in Polish. The girl behind the counter could speak English. No poppy seed bagels today. I took “with everything” instead. And as I asked for a piece of delicious looking cheesecake she told me she could only sell me “half or whole”. So no cheesecake.

At home I had a little fight with Booboo. She came into my room and lay down on my table, right on the cover of my laptop. When I came back into my room after having stowed groceries into the fridge, she was not there anymore. I found her upstairs on my bed. I pushed her out of the bed but she came back and dug her claws into my sheet. Finally I grabbed Booboo and carried her downstairs. She did not like this and showed strong resistance, trying to cling to whatever she could reach. But I was worried about Friederike, my mouse and did not want to expose her to Booboo as a toy.

In the evening I went to another bookstore event. A reading by New York Times’s travel writer Matt Gross. Not many people were there but they all knew him and he knew all of them. I felt a bit like an outsider. I liked his writing, although he was reading pretty fast and I had a bit of a problem to follow. Asked about what he was focusing on, he said people and food. On my way home I was thinking about that: people and food. I need to meet more people…

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