We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Maggie's Farm readers are frequent guests of Bird Dog on his visits to the arts in Manhattan. I was shocked, really, actually shocked, when Bird Dog told me he'd never been to Brooklyn. By itself, Brooklyn is the 4th largest city in the United States. About 10% of Americans' families trace their families to originally being Brooklynites. Many of America's most famous celebrities hailed from Brooklyn, ranging from the early Dutch settlers who also bought Manhattan for trinkets and Thomas Paine, John Greeleaf Whittier and Walt Whitman, Mae West and W.C. Fields, George Gershwin and Aaron Copeland, John Steinbeck and Joseph Heller, Woody Allen and Barbara Streisand (my sister was at Erasmus Hall High School with her, Erasmus having the highest number of Westinghouse and National Merit Scholars in the nation), Lena Horne and W.E.B. DuBois, Gil Hodges and Sandy Koufax, to .........the list goes on and on. It contains top flight colleges. Prospect Park rivals Central Park. Its restaurants and arts are world class. There are far more beautiful brownstones than anywhere else. And, then, to top it off, its beaches have been New York's summer playgrounds and winter strolls for generations. One of those beach communities, next to Coney Island, is Brighton Beach. My grandmother and, later, my mother, in their old age lived in Brighton Beach highrises looking over the Atlantic and if you craned your neck you could see the Statue of Liberty. Here's a terrific photo homage to the Brooklyn that I grew up in. The video below is about Brighton Beach today, a thriving enclave for Russian emigres. They settled there because most were Jewish and the area was Jewish.
Bird Dog, doggit, you've got to get thee to Brooklyn, often. Manhattan midtown is where people not from New York City hang out, missing the real New York City.
Parts of Brooklyn are like small towns packed in on top of each other.
I lived in the Gowanus neighborhood, my next door neighbor was the grandson of Italian immigrants. Now and then his father Mr. DeRosa would show up. IIRC, he lived nearby in the Carrol Gardens neighborhood.
Mr. DeRosa was packed full of fascinating info about what the neighborhood had been like before World War II, and loved talking about it.
I was astonished once when, in the midst of telling a story, he commented offhand that he hadn't been in Manhattan for about thirty-five years. "Really?!!", I said. "Sure - why would I go there? I got everything I need over here."
What got me was that Gowanus and Carrol Gardens are more or less due south of the lower part of Manhattan, and depending on what train you took, as little as fifteen or twenty minutes away.
Of course, he was completely justified. Everything anybody needs is right there where you are. No need to cross the river. Got it's own art museums, concert halls, stores for every need, restaurants, parks, etc. Pick up Brooklyn and plant it anywhere else and it would be one of the best cities ever all by itself.
But it was funny hearing that provincially local take - "Manhattan -- who needs it?!"
The common thread that ensured American civility: Christianity and its implicit top-down moral authority, which everyone was expected to internalize.
Nobody celebrated diversity. In fact, the children of immigrants were desperate to conform and be accepted into the American culture. Of what value was retention of the cultures that their parents had striven so hard to escape?
Fast-forward a couple of generations.
Rather than seeking to build a unique culture based on freedom, many Americans are now seeking to replicate the world in microcosm, with all its interminable hatreds and conflicts.
Celebrate diversity, indeed.
AAAAAAAGH! I can't imagine these people surviving in the Flatbush I grew up in, nor not being mugbait, or at least being pelted with water-soaked toilet paper from the roofs by kids anywhere else in Brooklyn then. -- Heck, I'm in a beach town suburb of San Diego, CA now, and they wouldn't even not be a total goof here.