Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Swapping Duds at the Brooklyn Yard

Since moving to the BK I've learnt to spot a thousand shades of hipster at a hundred paces. Although leafy, green-blocked Boerum Hill is hardly "edgy" Bushwick, we still get our fair share of PBR-swilling action. This Saturday, after a confusing couple of hours pulling weeds by that former Mafia body dump, the Gowanus canal, I stumbled into a veritable hive of facial-hair and youthful irony at the Brooklyn Yard. There was mashed-up music, free watermelon and poi wars. My heart broke for the little Brooklynites; so clearly desperate for a British-style music festival; so very determined to hula hoop the afternoon away with their tongues firmly stuck in their cheeks.

The beds of my fingernails had been thoroughly mulched, and the dirt clung to my arms and face where I'd got a little slap-happy with the sun-tan lotion. I hoped that everyone would assume that I'd been doing something artisanal - like hooping my own wine barrels or building an eco-treehouse in McClaren Park. I'd lugged with me a load of dubious $1 book buys in the hope that I could exchange French existentialists for summer clothes. Happily, since it was a laid-back, too-cool-for-school swap, we were told to just drop off our books and take whatever goodies stole our fancy. There was no points/quota/value system to get in the way of a good time. Naturally we had to compete for the gems with pointy-elbowed hipsters who looked like they were prepared to fight to death for an angora sweater, or some knackered old braces. I'd always done well in the polite, English affairs I'd attended back in London, but this was, I soon realised, the roller-derby of swaps, and it would take a quick eye (and a quicker right hook) to grab myself a new wardrobe.

After a while I dropped back and played spectator. A striking redhead made a turban out of a yard of green cloth. A skinny, bearded guy squeezed himself into a pink polo neck. Two friends dared each other to try on a billowing acid trip of a dress.

Then the watermelon was finished and my bag was full again and the sun went behind a cloud and it was time to go. I left the rummaging kids behind and walked slowly back to streets where no DJs played and to shops where you can only buy the things you had enough money for.

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