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The Last Bohemia; Scenes from the Life of Williamsburg, Brooklyn

The Last Bohemia; Scenes from the Life of Williamsburg, Brooklyn

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A firsthand account of the swift transformation of Williamsburg, from factory backwater to artists’ district to trendy hub and high-rise colony     Williamsburg, Brooklyn, is now so synonymous with hipster culture and the very idea of urban revitalization—so well-known from Chicago to Cambodia as the playground for the game of ironized status-seeking and lifestyle one-upmanship—that it’s easy to forget how just a few years ago it was a very different neighborhood: a spread of factories, mean streets, and ratty apartments that the rest of New York City feared.      Robert Anasi hasn’t forgotten. He moved to a $300-a-month apartment in Williamsburg in 1994 and watched as the area went through a series of surreal transformations: gritty industrial district, low-rent artists’ enclave, dot-com denizens’ crash pad, backdrop for neo-bohemian cool, playpen for stroller-pushing trendy parents, and now a high-rise real-estate developers’ colony of brushed aluminum and plate glass.     Tight, passionate, and provocative, The Last Bohemia is at once a celebration of the fever dream of bohemia, a lament for what Williamsburg has become, and a cautionary tale about the lurching transformations of city neighborhoods. Through Anasi’s eyes we see the warehouses become lofts, secret cocaine bars become stylized absinthe parlors, barrooms become stage sets for indie rock careers, and rents rise and rise—until the local artists find that their ideal of personal creativity has served the aims of global commerce and their neighborhood now belongs to someone else.
A firsthand account of the swift transformation of Williamsburg, from factory backwater to artists’ district to trendy hub and high-rise colony     Williamsburg, Brooklyn, is now so synonymous with hipster culture and the very idea of urban revitalization—so well-known from Chicago to Cambodia as the playground for the game of ironized status-seeking and lifestyle one-upmanship—that it’s easy to forget how just a few years ago it was a very different neighborhood: a spread of factories, mean streets, and ratty apartments that the rest of New York City feared.      Robert Anasi hasn’t forgotten. He moved to a $300-a-month apartment in Williamsburg in 1994 and watched as the area went through a series of surreal transformations: gritty industrial district, low-rent artists’ enclave, dot-com denizens’ crash pad, backdrop for neo-bohemian cool, playpen for stroller-pushing trendy parents, and now a high-rise real-estate developers’ colony of brushed aluminum and plate glass.     Tight, passionate, and provocative, The Last Bohemia is at once a celebration of the fever dream of bohemia, a lament for what Williamsburg has become, and a cautionary tale about the lurching transformations of city neighborhoods. Through Anasi’s eyes we see the warehouses become lofts, secret cocaine bars become stylized absinthe parlors, barrooms become stage sets for indie rock careers, and rents rise and rise—until the local artists find that their ideal of personal creativity has served the aims of global commerce and their neighborhood now belongs to someone else.

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Publish date: Aug 7, 2012
Added to Scribd: Jun 29, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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11/04/2014

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Farrar, Straus and Giroux18 West 18th Street, New York 10011Copyright © 2012 by Robert AnasiAll rights reservedDistributed in Canada by D&M Publishers, Inc.Printed in the United States of AmericaFirst edition, 2012Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication DataAnasi, Robert, 1966– The last bohemia : scenes from the life of Williamsburg, Brooklyn / RobertAnasi. — 1st ed.p. cm.ISBN 978-0-374-53331-1 (alk. paper) 1. Williamsburg (New York, N.Y.)— Description and travel. 2. Anasi,Robert, 1966— Travel—New York (State)— New York. 3. Williamsburg(New York, N.Y.)— Social life and customs. 4. Williamsburg (New York,N.Y.)— Social conditions. 5. City and town life— New York (State)— New York. 6. Bohemianism— New York (State)— New York. 7. Socialchange— New York (State)— New York. 8. New York (N.Y.)— Description and travel. 9. New York (N.Y.)— Social life and customs. 10. New York(N.Y.)— Social conditions. I. Title.F129.W75A53 2012974.7 '23—dc23 2011051267Designed by Jonathan D. Lippincott www.fsgbooks.com 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1The names and identifying characteristics of some individuals depicted inthis book have been changed to protect their privacy, and all dialogue isreconstructed according to the best of the author’s recollections.
For my mother and father
 
17
The explosion cracked the summer evening. Light flash and then smokerising. Another crack and flash, and another, four in all, shredding airand reverberating in the basin of the empty pool. The two camerapeople watched, transfixed as the sound claps faded and smoke bil-lowed around them. From somewhere in the cloud, a voice emerged.You guys shot all that? Great. Let’s get out of here.The artist stepped out of the cloud.Pack up your cameras, he said. Come on! We’ve got to move!
In 1990, a young filmmaker named Esther Bell made herfirst trip to Williamsburg. She’d been hired for a shoot by anartist named Stephen Bennett. All Bennett told her was thathe had an art installation in the neighborhood, that it was ata local pool and that they’d need to be careful there. He alsopaid cash, half in advance. This was more than enough for
1
Dark City
1988–1994

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