Day Ten • 12 Views of Brooklyn
IT’S FUN TO MONITOR THE REAL-ESTATE MONIKERS for neighborhoods – especially the Edsels among them, like the failed attempt to brand WesChe. It conjured up English dog breeds or stinky cheese rather than the intended Chelsea-beyond-Tenth-Avenue. Some say it all started in the late ’60s with WestBeth, the early West-of-Bethune Street loft conversion for artists’ residential use. But it came to sound like a Laugh-In rerun, as if Dan Rowan has crossed the East River into Outer Brooklyn and is trying to orient himself with a broker’s map. Rowan: Wait, Soho, isn’t that in England? Dick Martin: No, it’s SOuth of HOuston. Rowan: Houston, isn’t that in Texas? Martin: No, say HOWston, don’t say HEWston. R: Well, then, for NoHo, shouldn’t that be NoHow? M: No way. R: Tribeca, was that a Native tribe like our Canarsie and Gowanus? M: No, TriBeCA is the Triangle Below Canal. And besides, Gowanus wasn’t a tribe, it was the name of the sachem of the Canarsees, the local group of the Lenape. (Long pause.) R: You Manhattanites make up stuff just to confuse people. In Brooklyn, our neighborhood names have history and dignity: Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill, Vinegar Hill, Park Slope, Prospect Heights, Crown Heights. M: With all those hills and heights, you Brooklyns must (rolling eyes) really like being high. Maybe that explains why you have a neighborhood called – heh heh –Dumbo. R: That’s an acronym for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, a historic district that recognizes Brooklyn’s hard-working industrial past. Martin, holding hands beside his head and flapping them like wings, annoyingly: Nothing to do with Walt Disney’s 1941 movie? Rowan stares, shakes head and exits stage left to the R train, proud to be a bridge-and-tunnel person.