Question of the Day

Is Brooklyn the New Bohemian Paradise?

We try to be on top of things, but we confess that we hadn’t read this article in USA Today titled, “Brooklyn Rebounds as the New Bohemia” until last week, even though it came out in August. If you clicked that link, don’t bother, because you’ve probably read the exact same article a decade ago—Brooklyn is “hip” now! Because demographics change over time! Isn’t that craaaAAAzzzy? We’re in Brooklyn, so we thought why not ask some of our neighbors what they thought of USA Today anointing the borough. Is Brooklyn the new bohemia?

Nick, journalist: It would be just like USA Today to just put a piece about that out. New York magazine had a cover story called “The New Bohemia” in June of 1992 that said, “Get this! You’ll never guess where all the artists are moving now. Williamsburg!” That was more than 20 years ago. And I think, obviously, there’s more bohemia in parts of Brooklyn than other parts of the country.

Which parts of Brooklyn?
Well, bohemia is a nebulous idea and depending on exactly what you’re talking about... probably Bushwick, actually. If you go far enough out in Bushwick, there’s some interesting stuff going on. You can still live pretty cheaply and you have space to have a studio if you’re an artist. And bohemia is about not having a full-time job. That is the key. Not working for the man. And in some way, at least pretending that you’re living for some kind of art. And in any bohemian scene, 98 percent of the people are not producing anything very much at all.

Larry, stone-setter: It’s been the new bohemia.

For how long?
Ten years.

Are you a bohemian? What is a bohemian?
No. I have no idea.

Yet you think they are here. How do you spot them?
Yes, they are here. You just know. It’s their aura.

That sounds pretty bohemian.
Anyone who’s not a local is bohemian.

Marshall, host at a sushi restaurant: I don’t think it’s a new bohemia. I just think it’s now being noticed.

Just recently?
Recently. They’ve been saying that in different publications for the last three years.

Are you bohemian?
No. I think that the definition of bohemian had changed. I think if you would have asked me if I was bohemian a decade ago, I would have said yes compared to everybody around me, but now it’s very much a surface thing. You can buy it at the store now.

What did it mean ten years ago?
Actually being a creative and working for yourself and making something out of nothing and just living life to the fullest and loving people around you. It was more of a lifestyle back then, whereas now it’s a trend.

Sam, web developer:  No. It’s actually really expensive to live here and I think in order to be a bohemia, bohemians have to be able to live there without being homeless, which I don’t think is possible right now in better parts of Brooklyn.

Are you a Bohemian?
I work a lot, so I don’t consider myself one, no.

Do Bohemians not work?
Um, I guess that’s inherent to my understanding of what a bohemian is. Not not working at all, but being able to spend a lot of time pursuing the arts in a way that having a traditional job wouldn’t allow. Like how you used to be able to live in SoHo on almost nothing.

Matt, bartender: It was like ten years ago.

Are you Bohemian?
No. I’m not an artist and I’m not changing anything.

That’s good. Leave things the way they are.

Previously:

Would You Rather Live in a Fascist Nation or Complete Anarchy? 

Would You Rather Be Peed on by Everyone in Japan or Have Sex with Everyone in London?

What's the Secret to Successful Dating?

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