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Smartmom wants to know: does New York Times Op-Ed columnist David Brooks know anything about Park Slope?
This Sunday, the neo-conservative writer and enthusiastic supporter of the U.S. intervention in Iraq (on moral grounds, no less!) ranted against hipster parents in his article, “Mosh Pit Meets Sandbox.”
In the process, he insulted an entire generation of counterculture parents, who buy Ramones t-shirts for their kids, log onto Urban Baby, and prefer that their kids listen to Dan Zanes and Music for Aardvarks than Disney fantasy garbage.
As if that wasn’t enough, the author of “Bobos in Paradise” managed to conflate Brownstone Brooklyn with Williamsburg and dig his sharp pen into the parents of Park Slope.
“Can we please see the end of those Park Slope Alternative Stepford Moms in their black-on-black maternity tunics who turn their babies into fashion-forward, anti-corporate, indie infants in order to stay one step ahead of the cool police?” he wrote.
Hold on there! Brooks may have a penchant for clever coinage, but he also suffers from out-of-control generalizations. He certainly isn’t talking about the Park Slope that Smartmom knows and loves (and, yes, sometimes thinks is ridiculous).
In fact, Brooks is so off the mark, Smartmom wonders if he even knows the difference between Williamsburg, Park Slope, Cobble Hill and Fort Greene. (Why he decided to bring up the title of a 1970s movie about desperate and robotic housewives is anyone’s guess).
In Park Slope, the moms are pretty darn conventional — they care about good schools, neighborhood sports, and, damn it, they even want their Bank of America ATMs un-littered.
Park Slopers are probably more conservative about “child-rearing” than Brooks — except, of course, Slopers insist on gender neutrality, race diversity, and eco-friendly toilet paper in the bathroom.
If anything, Park Slope parents are the uber-parents that the hipster parents from Williamsburg love to hate.
Obviously, there are plenty of reasons for Brooks to rant against Park Slopers. But turning their babies into “fashion-forward, anti-corporate, indie infants” isn’t one of them.
The fact is, no one could ever accuse Park Slope parents — or their offspring — of being particularly fashionable or cool.
Everyone knows that Park Slope is the schleppy capital of Brooklyn.
“Most of the women I see at drop-off are hardly hipsters,” Mrs. Cleavage told Smartmom over lattes at the Cocoa Bar. “They all need fashion makeovers. The fashion faux pas are rampant. No lipstick, no make-up. I’m sorry. Everything is shapeless and drab.”
Smartmom immediately put on some lipstick.
Which isn’t to say that there aren’t fashionistas around here. But they stick out like a Fresh Direct box at the Food Co-op.
Smartmom isn’t knocking schleppy. It’s just that Seventh Avenue isn’t exactly Bedford Avenue, if you know what she means.
Come on. Williamsburg is where the hipster parents live. If Brooks would just leave his office at the Times and hop an L-train (it leaves Manhattan, David, so you may want to grab a map), he could visit groovy playspaces like Mama Lou’s and hipster tot shops like Flying Squirrel and Mini Jakes.
It seems that Brooks has really fallen under the spell of writer Adam Sternbach, who recycled the not-very-flattering word, “grups,” to define a generation of New York parents who who look and act like 22-year-olds.
Why does Brooks rely on the observations of a New York Magazine writer when he could just read The Brooklyn Paper or, Buddha forbid, come out to Park Slope himself (don’t forget your map, Dave)?
Sternbach took the term from an episode of “Star Trek” in which the crew lands on an adult-free planet ruled by children. (It doesn’t stop Kirk from falling in love with one of the kids, but that’s another story.)
While Park Slope does sometimes feel like a planet ruled by children, Smartmom doesn’t think the parents around here are quite that youthful.
But if Brooks thinks she and her contemporaries look and act like 22-year-olds — she’ll take that as a compliment.
Even when it comes to cyberspace, Brooks gets Park Slope wrong. Contrary to Brooks’s generalization, no one around here reads UrbanBaby.com, which describes itself as “a dose of hip info on where to shop, play, eat, travel and have fun with your kids.”
Park Slope Parents is more like it. Has Brooks even heard of it?
He even is wrong about the books Park Slopers read. “In a sign that the hip parenting thing has jumped the shark, the movement gets it own book, the indescribably dull ‘Alternadad,’ ” Brooks wrote.
That was the last straw buddy. Park Slope is one of the most literary neighborhoods in New York City and “Alternadad” is not even in the window of Community Books. Didn’t he read Smartmom’s take-down of Neal Pollack a few weeks ago in these very pages? Smartmom thought the Times had editorial researchers to make sure the columnist didn’t make such glaring errors of omission.
The funny thing is this: Brooks could have found loads to object to in Park Slope if he’d really done his research.
For starters, most of the people around here opposed the war in Iraq (from the start) and are disgusted with Bush’s plans for escalation.
And Park Slopers by and large oppose the Atlantic Yards because they care about contextual architecture and human scale cities.
Thousands of Park Slopers are willing to work three hours every four weeks as members of the Food Co-op to shop for inexpensive organic food and green products.
Instead, he falsely blamed Park Slopers for leading the gruppy brigade. And that’s just plain wrong.
It reminds Smartmom of Brook’s support of the war in Iraq. Like Bush, he picked the wrong enemy — Iraq — as responsible for 9-11.
As for his other criticism that hipster parents are turning their offspring into “miniature reproductions of their hipper-than-thou selves,” Smartmom had one comment: Isn’t that what parents do?
Whether they’re living in Brooks’s halcyonic 1950s suburbia, a hut in the Sudan, or an apartment in Bensonhurst, parents everywhere try to make their children just like them.
It’s up to the kids to reject their parent’s values — and whether they’re rejecting Lawrence Welk or Patti Smith — what’s the difference?
Yes, Park Slopers do so many things that would make a conservative like Brooks go ballistic. But why are they getting blamed in the New York Times for being hipster parents when they’re not really that hip at all?
You just can’t win.
©2007 Community Newspaper Group
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