Here's a song I once wrote about my favorite place on the planet. It's called Brooklyn Blues
Well I was born in Brooklyn on a sunny winter day
And when I wasn't lookin' all the years just slipped away
Now the story of my life is that it ain't over yet
I'm gonna stick around, I'm gonna take what I can get
I got the Blues in Brooklyn I been livin' here all of my life
Sometimes it gets so heavy you can cut it with a knife
I got the blues in Brooklyn but I just can't go runnin' away
I got my feet in Brooklyn and it looks like I might stay
I know the small side streets and the tree-lined boulevards
I swear I know this town like I know my own backyard
I seen so many changes but it's the same old game we play
I play my cards in Brooklyn and I play them where they lay
I got the blues in Brooklyn Mama
I got the blues in Brooklyn mama
I got the blues in Brooklyn mama
I got the blues in brooklyn mama
I got the blue in Brooklyn I been livin' here all of my life
We got some pretty women they're all smart as they can be
They think they know what's cookin' but I don't let that stop me
You know there's sometimes I win and then there's sometimes that I lose
That's just the way it goes when you got them Brooklyn blues
I got the blues in Brooklyn mama…
Not a bad song. I'll just have to record it soon and post it on this site. It's a flat out rocker with a strong back beat. I can't picture writing a soft tune about my hometown. Not that Brooklyn doesn't have it's sweet places and mellow moods, but the overall vibe of the place is a high energy locale. I love it here and never want to relocate anywhere. No knock on any other place, I've seen a bunch of cool places in this world, but Brooklyn, New York City is in my blood and is my home sweet home.
Like the song says, I've seen a lot of changes around here. When I was a very little boy we had a major league baseball team here,The Brooklyn Dodgers, currently the toast of Hollywood. Losing the Dodgers ripped a big chunk of Brooklyn's soul out and was the beginning of a long period of upheaval, decline and eventual renewal. A lot of people moved away, neighborhoods fell into ruin and large sections of this city of three million people became dangerous areas full of poverty, crime and violence. The town got a bad reputation, most of it nonsense but some of it earned and deserved. We sure did have some Brooklyn blues.
A lot of my relatives and friends moved away. Some were looking for suburbia and got that dubious reward in Long Island and New Jersey. Others had the American wanderlust bug and wound up all over the map. Some were simply racists and fled to areas where minorities were scarce. Their loss, and their ilk is not sorely missed. Others… well, how can I say this? I'll just come out and say it: Some were simply not strong enough for Brooklyn. A lot of these poor souls moved to places where they felt like aliens and never adjusted very well. They missed Brooklyn. Truth be told, Brooklyn missed them too. It hurt to see my home town bleeding good people just when it needed them. I don't begrudge anyone seeking their happiness wherever their hearts lead them, but it hurt just the same.
Me, I stayed, and always believed. Even in the bad times for Brooklyn it was still and exciting, vibrantly alive city. While neighborhoods crumbled and were abandoned, others grew. Then a lot of new immigrants poured in and saved the day, most notably West Indians from every island in the Caribbean, Russians, Asians and Orthodox Jews. They came with skills and energy and a pride in their surroundings and spruced up the places where they settled quite well.
Then a lot of former city dwellers came to their sense and moved back. It was sort of a what-was-I-thinking? movement of people who confused suburbia with utopia before the realization hit them that they were spending hours and hours commuting to their jobs in the city and not really enjoying their lawns and cookie-cutter boring little towns all that much. New York City is the Rome of today, the center of the world and where the action is, financially, culturally, artistically and any way you care to measure LIFE in capital letters. Brooklyn is this city's soul.They came home. Others followed, people from all over the United States as well as all over he planet.
Brooklyn was waiting for them. The town was rebuilt and remodeled. Commerce is thriving and the place is one of the most international communities anywhere. That's a great thing just for the food alone, never mind the the fact that people of every race and nationality you can think of are doing just fine getting along with each other. Not that the place is perfect by any means. Every so often there's an ugly racial incident or a hate crime, the poor are having trouble finding affordable housing in such an in-demand real estate market and traffic is a real pain in the ass sometimes. A lot of jobs are leaving Brooklyn, too, the Pfizer drug company in Bushwick being the latest large employer to desert the borough, following Domino Sugar, the Schaeffer and Rheingold breweries, Bond Bakery, the waterfront shipping business and a thousand other businesses that provided decent jobs to Brooklynites.
But people are working on these problems, not sweeping them under the rug as in past decades. Coney island is about to receive it's fourth or fifth reincarnation in the past hundred and fifty years with Nathan's, The Cyclone, the Wonder Wheel and the world's most famous boardwalk remaining as centerpieces. Community leaders are insuring that local residents and businesses get some of the lucrative construction jobs that are always going on in a city that never stops rebuilding itself. The city government is trying to make efforts to entice employers to relocate here. Indeed, downtown Brooklyn is becoming a tangle of skyscrapers mirroring the hustle and bustle and the good jobs of lower Manhattan, with many more big projects just getting started or in the planning stages. You'd hardly recognize some parts of Brooklyn these days.
I'd like to see a new highway installed. I've got the perfect place for one too, a plan that wouldn't rend neighborhoods like many highway projects have done in the past. There's an old abandoned railroad line running from the Canarsie Wholesale Markets to the south Brooklyn waterfront. It already divides anything a highway would likely divide and is public property. I remember sitting in class in high school counting the railroad cars on the trains as they rumbled by in the distance. Maybe bored high schoolers can count the tucks and sedans on a new highway that would move traffic better around here and give our streets a break.
There's a few more things I could suggest but civic leaders generally don't check with bobcrespo.com before breaking ground on new projects. But if they did I'd tell them don't forget about the kids and make sure there's plenty of places for them to play. One thing anybody from Brooklyn will tell you, whether they moved away or stayed is that Brooklyn was a great place to grow up. Don't mess with our many ball fields and parks while you're building a better tomorrow, maybe add a few more while you're at it before all the vacant land gets filled up. And see what you can do about getting the Dodgers to come back home where they belong. Then Brooklyn will be perfect and we'll have to start taking applications from people looking to move here.}