Longtime Pitchfork writer Amanda Petrusich throws her hat into the "Boy, Williamsburg sure has changed" ring in this excerpt from her new book "It Still Moves." Now, the book is about Americana and Folk music, so bear in mind that this rumination is an impulsive detour that most likely stems from some personal investment in Williamsburg--she just couldn't help herself.
Like most bandwagon Burg critics, she points to gentrification as the great art/fun-killer:
After a dizzying shower of newspaper trend pieces, condo developments, $4200-a-month lofts, and glossy photo shoots, the neighborhood lost its artistic cache, becoming less the terrain of trailblazing bohemians and more a haven for bond traders with iPods.
Unlike most, she includes herself amongst the guilty:
Studying the crowd, I check off rote signiﬁers of twentysomething Brooklyn hipsterdom: star tattoos, oversize sunglasses, studded belts, canvas bags with woodland animals (squirrels, deer, and ﬁnches, especially) patched in place, scads of rubber bracelets, American Apparel T-shirts, too much jewelry, choppy haircuts, skinny waists. We all look the same.
Also unlike previous critics, she engages in some original theorizing, and actually makes some pretty damn good points.
After all, the perceived appeal of today's Williamsburg is not the slummy industrial setting that gave rise to a hotbed of creativity--it is simply that alleged hotbed of creativity, whose essence has been tapped into to sell condos. As Petrusich puts it:
. . . it has to do with too much change, too fast, by young people culturally predisposed to celebrate grit. Williamsburg and Greenpoint are spared the ﬂower boxes and reﬁnished exteriors of equally (if differently) gentriﬁed neighborhoods like Park Slope, and here, dirty vinyl siding and rusted tin awnings are reminders of a past that's been consumed and commodiﬁed by the present. I can't decide which revolution-- the one that erases all ugliness or the one that anoints it-- is creepier.
Then she turns to the show she's seeing, coincidentally Iron & Wine at one of the early Pool Parties, and of course, in true Pitchfork fashion, proceeds to wax poetic/grandiloquent about the mythology of the band, atmosphere of the show, mood of the crowd, like-sounding obscure indie bands, background of Iron & Wine's record label, styling of the vocal delivery, and the evolution of American folk music in general.
And when you went to see Iron & Wine, you thought you were just watching a bearded guy sing you lullabies.