Today’s New York magazine cover story on artisanal Brooklyn is absolutely killing it. It’s the best thing ever:
It’s easy to be seduced by the vision: a world, or at least a borough, where thousands of salvaged-teak schooners ply the oceans, or at least the Gowanus Canal, bearing Mason jars full of marmalade made from windfall kumquats. It’s like a child’s dream. The supermarket aisles are lit by Edison bulbs, staffed by scruffy men in butcher’s aprons, and stocked with cruelty-free dog food and hand-pulped toilet paper. But wait: Should the TP come from new-growth forests (more environmentally correct) or old-growth (more authentic)? Those lightbulbs are beautiful, but aren’t they inefficient? If small batch goes global, how will the idiosyncrat perform this pageant of superior taste? (By embracing Wal-Mart-scale production as a “retro” counterculture?) And is there really a mass market for $9 chutney? In other words, can twee scale?
(Sure, yes, yes, probably, not really and “kind of.”) One thing that I really like that this piece gets at is the hideously annoying steampunk and Victoriana underpinnings of Brooklyn twee. It’s the suspenders on the boy waitstaff at Prime Meats; it’s in the beard oil (*gags*); it’s the lovage soda from P&H. (What’s next, borage soda? Vom! SIDEBAR: I absolutely love P&H Soda and drink it on the regular. So I guess there is a market for $10-bottles of syrup: gay dudes.) More importantly, there’s more than one dark side of Brooklyn localism: for instance, once you sell out the tiniest bit, you’re dead to your fellow artisans.