Dear Brooklyn: YOU DON’T SCARE ME

Dear Brooklyn:

The last time I was in New York, I was in Manhattan and I got a whole bunch of tweets that went like this:

“If Scalzi was a REAL MAN, he’d come to Brooklyn.” Because Brooklyn is the crucible of manly manliness, apparently, where only the most testosteronic of humans can possibly survive, fending off man-sized rats, rat-sized cockroaches and cockroach-sized amoebae. And, of course, CHUDs, who came over to the borough because the sewer rents in Manhattan just got ridiculous.

Well, Brooklyn, you don’t scare me. I’ve seen the skinny jeans. I’ve seen the courier bags. I’ve seen the chunky glasses. Don’t think I haven’t.

(They were on the CHUDS.)

And anyway, Brooklyn, what’s the deal, thinking you have to impress me with your diamond-hard man-osity? It doesn’t have to be like that, Brooklyn. I like you for all of your awesomeness. Right down to the CHUDs.

That’s why, when I come to you tomorrow, June 14, 7pm at the WORD Bookstore, I’m not gonna come over to prove I’m a real man. I don’t have to do that (my mom says I’m a real man and that settles that). No, I’m coming over because you rock and I want to be part of all that rock.

Come rock with me, Brooklyn.

Even the CHUDs. Because, come on. CHUDs are awesome.

52 Comments on “Dear Brooklyn: YOU DON’T SCARE ME”

  1. You are really bouncing around the country aren’t you…

    I think your travel arranger needs a map.

  2. I love writing about Brooklyn, home of so many great authors, in science fiction. For example, if I may be permitted a tiny excerpt from “John Dee, Peter Stuyvesant, and the New York/New Amsterdam Discontinuity” (not as funny as your reading last night at Vroman’s, on your way to Ecuador, where, as we discussed, with a peak elevation of 6,310 metres (20,702 ft), Chimborazo is the highest mountain in Ecuador. It is the highest peak in close proximity to the equator. While Chimborazo is not the highest mountain by elevation above sea level, its location along the equatorial bulge makes its summit the farthest point on the Earth’s surface from the Earth’s center.):

    Part 11: Zilla Ayrton Zangwill at Zuidelijke Punt Fort

    When I awoke, I could see my wrists and ankles bound by some sort of
    light metal shackles, perhaps aluminum or titanium. I was in the back
    seat of an electric or otherwise silently powered automobile, with a
    caped officer on either side of me, two in the front seat, one of whom
    was the camera or cellphone and gun gal.

    The car rolled southwest from St. Mark’s Church, to the bustling
    waterfront, past City Tavern, to a fort at the southern tip of
    Manhattan Island. Appropriately, the signage at the gate identified it
    as Zuidelijke Punt Fort, which was Dutch for southern tip fort. To
    save time, these notes are my English translations of the dialogues I
    had with people on Earth-1042, the full transcription being available
    as hypertext appendix.

    “Who are you, and what are you doing here?”

    “My name is Zilla Ayrton Zangwill. I am from here, New York City.”

    “New York City? Is that in northern England?”

    “No, I’m from this island of Manhattan, this city of New York.”

    There was some discussion between the magistrate, the officers, and
    someone who had a stethoscope around his neck, presumably a doctor.

    “With all apologizes, madam, you are suffering from some delusion.
    This is Manhattan. We overlook the City of Breuckelen across the
    river. And close at hand, New Amersfoort, [by which I knew he meant
    the flatlands of Brooklyn] and Pavonia [which I knew was Jersey City]
    But this is, and has always been, the city of New Amsterdam.”

    We discussed that simple point of geography. At one point, the
    magistrate handed the bailiff a photoreproduction on faux parchment of
    a famous Dutch document from 1649. I recognized it from my briefings.
    The author, Adriaen- van der Donck, was a protégé of Peter Stuyvesant
    who then became the leader of the political faction which opposed him,
    and got the Hague to back him up. Adriaen van der Donck was also , as
    he himself states, a free citizen of Breda and a lineal descendant of
    Adriaen van Bergen, part owner of the famous turf boat in which a
    party of Dutch troops were clandestinely introduced, in the year 1599,
    Trojan horse style, into the cattle of that city, whereby that
    stronghold of Spanish tyranny was reduced….

  3. The first time I visited NYC we went to the Water Street pier. I looked over at Brooklyn and was amazed at how lopsided the buildings were, and dirty (except for a few like the Watchtower Society building).

    I guess living among lopsided, dirty buildings makes one manly?

  4. Gee the Brooklyn testosterone level kinda sounds like Robin Williams doing Elmer Fudd doing Springstein doing ‘Fire’.

  5. Good grief, JvP. 1. Just because the main post is about Brooklyn doesn’t mean everything about Brooklyn is automatically on topic; 2. that’s not a “tiny” excerpt, 3. it’s made longer by your bad copypaste operation putting in extra line breaks; and 4. you don’t give an attribution—does that mean you’re the author? If so, your saying “home of so many great authors in science fiction” and then giving this as an example is pretty hubristic. If not, you should have said who the author was.

    I’m not John, so I can only tell you how much that annoys ME. And I’m just one person, so you can probably ignore me safely. But…dude.

  6. I’m with you, Xopher. I kept waiting for the punchline. Even if there had been a punchline, the wait would have been rather too long.

  7. Heh, you are having way to much fun writing these announcements. Please send some of it my way.

  8. @DG Lewis re R.O.U.S.s
    Funny! Is there a fire swamp in Brooklyn for them to inhabit?

  9. Anne – those are over in Newark. They commute in – PATH to the L line.

  10. Beth, I keep thinking I can’t be the only one who’s annoyed. I still think you and I can’t be the only ones. Maybe everyone else is just content with eyerolling, or maybe I should shut up and let John deal with it as he sees fit, which indeed I am doing; I’m just expressing my own annoyance. Thanks for letting me know I’m not alone.

    JimF, I think we share a delight in the way Scalzi does this sort of thing. He seldom makes a dry announcement. (omething I’ve never been able to get the business community to understand: things that are fun to read are more likely to be read. Formal prose is no fun to read. You’d think the conclusion would be obvious, but it isn’t.)

  11. There really is such a thing as cockroach-sized amoebas. By that I mean single-cell critters up to four inches in diameter. So far they’ve only been found at the bottom of the Mariana Trench. So far..

  12. Denver, John, Denver. You want to talk about survival, here in Denver the air is thin, but that doesn’t stop the Bears, Mountain Lions and man-sized Crows from devouring people are random. You can’t call yourself a manly man until you survive the wilds of Colorado.

  13. I grew up in Brooklyn Heights, in the building where American playwright Arthur Miller lived, half a block from W. H. Auden, down one street from Norman Mailer and another from where Walt Whitman wrote for the Brooklyn Eagle. I love Brooklyn, and honestly wanted John Scalzi to know a little more about Brooklyn History and Literary giants than one can clearly see from Covina or Ohio. Sorry if I offended anyone.

  14. If you think you are tough, manly, etc. Then you gotta have that cool walking like John Travolta from Saturday Night Fever. If not, you aren’t from Brooklyn.

  15. Xopher Halftongue, Beth: Agreed about JvP. I was sorta hoping he’d at least put it under a cut so those of us not inclined to muddle through it didn’t have to scroll down half a screen to miss it.

  16. As someone who lives in Greenpoint, that is not BROOKLYN Brooklyn. I mean, its nearly Queens.

  17. John,

    There’s nothing at all scary about Brooklyn. Any random kid will be happy to watch your luggage on the sidewalk for a few bucks. You should feel comfortable hopping into any car you see stopped at a light and asking for a ride to wherever you want to go; the driver is sure to oblige. Or, if you’re driving yourself, just pull up in front of your destination, toss the keys to any passersby and let them know what time you’ll need the car back; it’ll be waiting for you when you’re ready to go.

    And the Queen is ALWAYS the card on the left. You can win big money with this knowledge.

    I hope you’ve found this helpful.

  18. Also, not to undercut the basic premise of this thread, but in fact Brooklyn has a lower rate of crime, violent and otherwise, than Dayton, Ohio, the city nearest to where John lives. Lower, in fact, than any city in Ohio. Also lower than Minneapolis, Omaha, Boston, Albuquerque, and Charlotte, to name just a few of the dozens of American cities with higher levels of murder, rape, and robbery than Brooklyn.

    Don’t believe everything you see in TV. We live in a working-class neighborhood of Brooklyn–and most of the houses on our block don’t have bars over the basement windows.

  19. PNH,

    I was riffing off of Matthew’s “it’s nearly Queens” comment. Just a short swim across Newtown Creek…if you dare.

  20. All this negative stuff about Brooklyn, except for N Patrick Hayden. I’ve never been, but I always picture Moonstuck. (And now someone in NYC will correct me in my geography.) It always seemed to me where normal happy people live in NYC.

  21. itsathought: Yes, you get it exactly. Brooklyn is where New York keeps the normal people. We protect ourselves by shoving a thin layer of hipsters up to the margins of the Buttermilk Channel and the East River, from Columbia Street through Dumbo to Williamsburg and Greenpoint. Behind those ramparts, in the vast ocean of 2.5 million people stretching from Downtown to Bushwick, down Flatbush to Floyd Bennet Field and down Fourth and Fifth Avenues to Sunset Park and the bridge beyond, in Carroll Gardens and Red Hook, in Crown Heights and (yes) Bedford-Stuyvesant, even in parts of East New York and along the mysterious No Conduit Avenue, in Midwood, Sheepshead Bay, Borough Park and Dyker Heights, along the boardwalks of Coney Island and Brighton Beach and in the social clubs of Bay Ridge…life is good.

    (Okay, there _is_ the giant Park Slope Yuppie Re-Education Camp, whose inhabitants don’t even know they’ve been interned. What can I say, it’s a social experiment that went bad in the wild. Next time we’ll leave out the food co-op.)

  22. Brooklyn: All dat and more.

    One of my favorite anecdotes from 9/11 was an overheard remark made by one of the people evacuating lower Manhattan on foot: “Let’s go to Brooklyn — they can’t get us there.” It simultaneously makes no sense at all and all the sense in the world.

    Farley @2:11 said: “The first time I visited NYC we went to the Water Street pier. I looked over at Brooklyn and was amazed at how lopsided the buildings were, and dirty (except for a few like the Watchtower Society building). I guess living among lopsided, dirty buildings makes one manly?”

    You were looking at some of the oldest neighborhoods in New York. You liked the Zombie Factory better? Takes all kinds.

    Anyway, you weren’t looking at the *really* off-center buildings. For that you want Park Slope, where everything’s off-true. The soil there is 300-1000 feet deep, so they have a real subsidence problem. They also have wisterias with trunks like trees growing out of front yards the size of a bridge luncheon tablecloth.

    Why so deep? Because when the Ice Age glaciers scraped all the topsoil off the northern part of the continent, it had to go somewhere. That somewhere is Brooklyn — this whole end of Long Island is terminal moraine. So yeah, our buildings lean a little — but YO, NEW ENGLAND! GOT YER TOPSOIL *RIGHT HERE*.

    Heckblazer @4:02: I am fantasted and mildly creeped out by the thought of amoebas bigger than the cockroach I manfully slew the other evening. I deplore the scientists’ failure to mention whether the amoebas have an Aura of Evil. Giant cockroaches certainly do.

    Mac @7:13: You forgot to mention the crabs the size of dinner plates that have been turning up in the Gowanus since the flush was rediscovered. White goo, black mayonnaise, Brooklyn my Brooklyn.

  23. I grew up along the North Conduit. It’s not mysterious, it’s *bike-riding territory*! Once you get the training wheels off, that is.

    However, I was born in East New York. You bet your bippy there are bars on the basement windows — though, perhaps, left over from the 70s. To my mind, this really takes nothing away from Brooklyn. *snarky Park Slope comment edited due to dear friend who lives on Ocean Parkway and is sane and has sane neighbors*

  24. Get on up to Cambridge! Heck, you’ll be right next to Hahvard, home to a million red (um..okay Crimson) shirted youths.

  25. ANd, hey, Teresa.. we don’t need no stinkin topsoil. We are tough Yankees and we grow crops on rocks. (Okay, so we grow rocks as crops too.)

  26. When I lived in Brooklyn and saw Manhattan over the water for the first time, I’ve looked for the same view in other cities. So far it’s Brooklyn over everywhere else. Promenade to the left.

  27. Erm, if you’ve already survived Australia (as our host has), there is no geographical manliness test left. No matter what Brooklyn thinks, it has neither the array of deadly wildlife nor the bogans to compete. :)

  28. If you are going to be in Greepoint and on Franklin Ave, you need to eat PIZZA at Paulie Gee’s. Ask the Word people, they will tell you.

    And then when you are done you need to suck it up and get a second, Polish dinner. I would strongly recommend Krolewskie Jadlo. Its about a 10 min. walk from Word. Manhattan Ave. near Norman.

  29. Teresa Nielsen Hayden @ June 13, 2012 at 9:24 pm:

    If it makes you fell any better, scientists aren’t sure if they have an aura of evil because the critters tend to disintegrate when they aren’t under a pressure of 1,000 atmospheres. Scientists also seem to keep changing their minds over whether they’re amoeboids or something in a new phylum entirely.

    I recently saw a preserved giant isopod at the Smithsonian, and that…thing…sure did have the evil aura of evilness down pat. Be warned before clicking, these suckers are basically two foot long woodlice/pillbugs.

  30. @Bill, great comic!

    I was there too, and I wanted to take the opportunity here to tell you, John, that I should have geeked out more when I had you sign my book. I was trying so hard NOT TO geek out and blather like an idiot about how much I love your work and how much I hope my dad loves the copy of “Redshirts” that I bought for him, that I think you thought I was only there to get a book signed for my dad.

    Truth is, you are my second favorite SciFi writer ever — behind only Frank Herbert (those are hard shoes to fill), and my most favorite living SciFi writer. It was so great to hear you speak and read new stuff, especially [REDACTED].

  31. That would’ve been funnier if you’d said “your mom says I’m a real man”.

%d bloggers like this: