Thank you for visiting this first installment of my fresh-out-of-the-packaging new blog, Eastern Parkway. The site is named for the Brooklyn boulevard that runs outside my kitchen window—the world’s first parkway, designed in the 1860’s by Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux to connect the surrounding area to their Prospect Park. (Best park in NYC. I hear they have one in Manhattan, too.)
My adopted habitat, especially along Franklin Avenue just north of the Parkway, is still changing. After the mid-aughts real estate frenzy pushed waves of home-seekers like myself deeper into Brooklyn, the burst of the financing bubble in 2007 cleared space for entrepreneurs to enliven and add value to the neighborhood. Services for the urban settlers are mixing easily with thriving long-time businesses operated by and for the much-larger West Indian community.
Several distinct and idiosyncratic communities live together along the Parkway—if not always happily, then largely without incident. The simmering inter-communal rage of Dinkins-era Crown Heights has mostly dissipated into grudging tolerance. The threat of violence persists, but the knuckleheads responsible are mostly aiming at each other. The continued evolution of this neighborhood provides a reason to stay alert, and interested.
The rich surroundings provide a platform and a reason to write; the name on the banner is a signal to the blog’s purpose. Still, the animating question remains:
Why would any sane, upright American with a decent day job want to bring one more blog into this world? Every day, trillions of words are spilled onto the interwebs. What can you add? Why would you try?
There’s a simple answer. I used to write under my own name for a living, but my last day as a working reporter was before the turn of the century; my byline was last spotted on the East Coast maybe five years ago. I’ve worked hard since at putting words in other people’s mouths. Truthfully, selfishly, the blog is an outlet for a voice I’ve kept silent for a long time.
So yes, I do hope to seed the blog by writing about the neighborhood I call home, and addressing its place in this great, unruly city. In this, I will need the help of my neighbors, who I encourage to visit and contribute. But this blog will be a true mashup: a neighborhood blog, a food blog, a blog about news and politics, a blog about technology, a blog about whatever passes for entertainment these days… and the threads that tie these all together. I like to cook and eat well, I am a political junkie with radical centrist views, I have a growing interest in the possibilities of Web technology to affect change in the real world, and I cannot stop myself from watching several hours of television a week. One day late this spring, I will become a father. You may read more about any or all of these things here.
And, I hope to keep these entries short, for my sake and yours. So, welcome. Come back anytime.