Wednesday, September 7

Williamsburg-N3rd & Bedford

N3rd and Bedford Avenue is a strip so hip it even has a palindrome for a zip code (or, it did): 11211. It has since been changed to the less than palatably pleasing 11249, one that many residents have yet to acknowledge despite its formal, brisk throat-clearing arrival on July 1st, 2011. The lines that divide 11211 and 11249 are barely discernible, and it is almost considered an affront to be a part of the 11249 crowds, as if one has been exiled. "I still put it on my Fresh Direct orders, without a problem so far", said Douglas Berman, a resident of Williamsburg and frequent visitor to the N3rd walk-up apartment stoops. " We're one neighborhood".

A bagel store across the street  ('The Bagel Store') displays actual bagel- homage graffiti; colorful, too. A group of androids are marching, one carrying a 'Williamsburg Walks' sign that is a harbinger for N3rd as the beginning of Bedford strip, and another android eagerly carrying a stack of bagels for the trek. The Bagel Store is the kind of friendly place where you are called 'boss', and residents of Williamsburg have been kind in return.  In recent years The Bagel Store has seen a steep increase in tax rates, and Starbucks has expressed an interest in the location. This has raised the ire of most Williamsburg residents, but perhaps no one can match the ire of Reverend    Earthallujah (a veritable veteran of the campaigns to retain Williamsburg's authenticity. Ten years ago, Starbucks was to have a supposed takeover on N5th and Bedford. On July 15th, 2001 the Reverend pioneered a protest, until it was learned the new space would actually be taken over by "Fabiane's Pastry and Cafe: an Independent Pastry Experience:): In an March 5th, 2010 interview with The Gothamist, the Reverend stated, " The definition of Billyburg is that it is the defiant, complex, always surprising birth of new culture. The definition of Starbucks is that it imitates cultures that are original and uses images of cafe society back when it was dangerous, i. e. Cabaret Voltaire, Paris, the beats... to sell its non-Fair Trade bad coffee. Williamsburg should break the windows every morning and surround the landlord with shame. Bring back the Bagel Store!"

Across the street from The Bagel Store is a Duane Reade; a chain that has the omnipresence of Starbucks but not the omnipotence. Faced with initial opposition, Duane Reade has taken account of their young demographic and become a valued member of the community. A state of the art beer bar was an integral part of Duane Reade's overture to the neighborhood, and in keeping with Duane Reade's receptivity to meeting the needs of it customers. According to the NYtimes, "In some residential areas of Midtown East in Manhattan, for example, the stores sell cut flowers and, over the holidays, they sold fresh-baked pies. In the Bronx, Duane Reade carries more items from Goya, a brand of Hispanic food..." It is precisely Duane Reade's delicate attentions that have kept it from going the way of Starbucks in public opinion. An interplay of reciprocity and reserve exists between the residents and the chain; an interplay not unfamiliar to the beginnings of a long relationship.

On a right diagonal from Duane Reade is an empty parking lot. The parking lot is its own little island, and its shape is that of a plump arch. A lone Puerto-Rican man drives near the lot each summer Saturday, propping up a blue and white lawn chair and a stereo box that plays bomba melodies. The lot is an aberration, a remaining remnant of old industrial Williamsburg that most residents have all but ignored. Occasionally, however, a passerby will momentarily abandon their walk and dance with the man.

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