In Brooklyn there's a block of Bergen Street, between 5th and 6th Avenues, that wasn't there a year or so ago. The block itself was there, the street, the sidewalk. People lived on it. But today, almost overnight, it has become a tightly constructed microcosm of hyper-gentrification. Urban scholars should study this block. It's a New Urbanist dream come true.
It went up as quickly and completely as a Hollywood set and exemplifies everything that "White People Like." Which, as we know, is less about whiteness and more about "Bobos in Paradise." In fact, the entire 21st-century, urban, upwardly mobile, heterosexual reproductive cycle can be completed utilizing only the new businesses on this block.
Imagine a couple, let's call them Ben and Lauren. They are 35 years old, both of them "creatives" at a multimedia design "lab." They go on their first date at Melt, which they love for its "pure, honest and sustainable" food choices and "live off the land philosophy." They marry. For the wedding, Ben buys a pair of John Varvatos Converse at the men's boutique Private Stock, because he doesn't want to look like a total douche in his tux.
They try to get pregnant. Sex becomes tense. So they head back to Bergen to do some shopping at Toys in Babeland. They pick up a vibrator for Lauren and a buttplug for Ben. It works. In a few months, Lauren is shopping at Bump, right next to Babeland, for maternity fashion. While she's browsing stretch-waisted skinny jeans and calendula nursing balm, Ben heads next door to Bergen Street Comics, that "sleek clubhouse for the sophisticated fanboy."
Little does he know, while he's reading the latest Dan Clowes book, Lauren's in Eponymy charging a Gucci handbag to the house account. They'll argue about it later, down the block, while sipping fair-trade coffees and dipping kale chips into a bowl of "live" hummus at Sun in Bloom cafe.
In time, baby Cullen will be born. Ben will rent a rugged jogging stroller at Brooklyn Ride, and while he's pushing Cullen through the bike lanes of the Brooklyn he will inherit, Lauren will stay on Bergen, taking her Pilates Garage class at Lululemon, trying to tooth-and-nail it back to her pre-baby body. Lauren considers herself a devout "Luluhead." After their morning exercise, the whole family will reunite at "artisan chic" Bark for hot dogs smothered in baked heirloom beans and oak barrel aged sauerkraut.
"Did you hear," says Ben, between gulps of his retro-hip Foxon Park diet white birch soda, "That crummy bookstore down the block is going to be a store for tweens."
"That's great," says Lauren, patting her flat tummy, "It'll really come in handy when little Sophie gets big."
"Little Sophie?" says Ben, "Really? Another baby? I guess it's back to Bump!"
I stepped off the Bergen Block (after my own browsing through comic books and personal lubricants) and wondered how something so unreal-looking could pop up in such a short amount of time. It couldn't have been an organic process, I thought. All the signs are exactly the same. What condo developer engineered this so he could stuff his brochures with pretty pictures of nearby amenities? It's like Disney's master-planned Celebration, I muttered, passing by sheets of blue plywood and the skeletons of up and coming condos.
The Brooklyn Paper reported that the engineering was done, indeed, by the Pintchik brothers of Flatbush fame. They carefully transformed the block, says the paper, "into a little slice of some small town Main Street in just two years."
I can't say what the ultimate goal is, but we all know that the Bergen Block will act as a fertile harborage for more of the same, that its commerce will attract, breed, hatch, and spread as efficiently as, well, bedbugs. It's biological class warfare--like introducing lady bugs into the garden to rid your prize roses of aphids.
Said one of the business owners on the block, "Coming here is like stepping off of Flatbush Avenue into Nantucket."
I guess if Greenwich Village has Little Wisco, Park Slope can have "Little Tucket."