I’m not sure I know what that means exactly. But I don’t mind taking a stab at the last part of that statement, “You can’t get the Brooklyn out of the girl.”
I think growing up in Brooklyn, one of the most popular boroughs of New York City, Brooklyn has been known for many things, but what I remember most as a kid, I’d have to say was the Brooklyn Dodger. Growing up in the 1950s and ‘60s the Dodgers were the beloved baseball team where I came from, anyway. The Dodgers were heralded in the Daily News as the “Brooklyn Bums” but ever so loved as “The Boys of Summer” when they finally beat the New York Yankees in the World Series.
They called my section of town Carroll Gardens. It wasn’t always named Carroll Gardens, not until Brooklyn became ‘yuppified’ which is my own term of art. We called our section of town South Brooklyn, which was one block north of the Gowanus Canal. Now if you know or knew anything about the Gowanus Canal, it’s always been a controversial body of water. Tugboats pulled barges back in the day which carried an unusual stench emanating from its water that would cause its residents to want to wear gasmasks. In other words, it stunk! There’s been a petition circulating around town for decades for the conversion of the Gowanus Canal into something more like Venice with beautiful restaurants constructed along its waterfront with gondolas steering lovers down its banks.
That leads me to my first guess about Brooklyn girls. Brooklyn girls are street smart. I’m not getting on any gondola on the Gowanus Canal, nor am I eating at any restaurant they may open on its banks.
I currently live near the Shrewsbury and Navasink Rivers, close to the Jersey Shore. Actually, my house is 50 steps away from the beach on the Atlantic Ocean. I have a nice salty breeze blowing my way every moment of the day. Brooklyn can keep its idea on being Venice of the West!
Now another thing, we Brooklyn girls have is a sense of humor. You have to have a sense of humor when you come from Brooklyn because for the rest of your natural born days you’re going to hear someone mention to you, no matter whether you’re in Europe, the Bahamas, or out on the West Coast, or even on board a cruise ship, “Hey, is that a Brooklyn accent I’m hearing? Right, buddy, that’s a Brooklyn accent you’re hearing. So what about it?
Yeah! Brooklyn girls are tough too. Listen, I don’t mean we get into fights, you know, like Mike Tyson style. But if we have to nibble an ear or two, or bite a piece of an ear off to make a point, it’s not out of our realm. When I was a kid, maybe ten or eleven years old, walking up my block towards Hoyt Street, minding my own business, right there on the corner of Union Street I saw a bunch of boys poking a stick at a dog, taunting him, scaring the poor dog. Now that’s just not right. I told those boys, “Hey,strunz, leave the dog alone; he’s not bothering you, is he? Maybe I sounded authoritative, I don’t know, but those boys gave me the finger and took off in the other direction. I went over to pet the poor boy, you know, give him some love, and sonofabitch, that dog took a bite out of the fleshy part of my midriff. I still have the scar to prove it. But Brooklyn girls are tough, so I doused a bit of peroxide on my wound, and cried when no one was looking.
Brooklyn has the best pizza parlors this side of anywhere. And Brooklyn girls like to eat pizza. I could probably map out Brooklyn in pizza palaces during the 1950s; they’re probably all gone now. Me and some friends, we’d go to the junk yard dealer for a few nickels on what we sold and head right over to Guzzie’s on Court Street for a slice of mozzarella and tomato pie.
Brooklyn girls are strong. We hauled pipe, lead, steel, or anything we could find in the garbage or in the dumps that would bring in a few bucks for Guzzie’s pizza. We were just kids. We could eat pizza five days a week. The way we played and ran all day, we didn’t gain an ounce.
Brooklyn has had its fair share of great writers grow up and become famous. Evan Hughes’s written a book Literary Brooklyn, called Walt Whitman the Grandfather of Literary Brooklyn, among a host of other Brooklyn authors he pays homage to in his book. As a past Brooklyn resident, I’m particularly excited about this literary aspect of Brooklyn because I’ve aspired to join the ranks of famous writers who have preceded me.
So call me Brooklyn, if you want. Brooklyn girls have attitude too. We can take a punch, a ribbing, a joke, and don’t worry about taking the girl out of Brooklyn, she’ll do just fine anywhere she goes in this whole wide world.
So what do you think, does it matter where you come from, or what your accent sounds like? If it's your voice that captures readers, don't you think you have a leg up on hooking him/her to read your work?
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