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Neocon maudit

Where is the best neighbourhood for a middle-aged upper-lower-middle-class bachelor

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TLDR: scroll to last two paragraphs. Otherwise you might indulge me whilst I quote Mr Blair:

 

I was born into what you might describe as the lower-upper-middle class…the layer of society lying between £2000 and £300 a year: my own family was not far from the bottom…Nevertheless, the essential point about the English class-system is that it is not entirely explicable in terms of money. Roughly speaking it is a money-stratification, but it is also interpenetrated by a sort of shadowy caste-system…Hence the fact that the upper-middle class extends or extended to incomes as low as £300 a year — to incomes, that is, much lower than those of merely middle-class people with no social pretensions.

 

I was born into the upper-lower-middle class: my family in good years earned enough to [barely] qualify for the 1 per cent, but they had no social pretensions. Other than some amorphous idea that their son should attend Harvard, their class signifiers were no different from their neighbours who might earn one-tenth their income. I did not share even this one pretension, as I felt the idea of my attending an Ivy was ridiculous in both conception and probability. I only wanted to be left alone to play computer and tabletop role-playing games with my friends.

 

Somehow, during my adolescence, I became the most pretentious person I know. Somehow, the tabletop role-playing games played a part in this. So did listening to [mostly northern] British pop music. Also, I came to realise I was more concerned with beautiful things and lofty ideas than the average American. In a young man, pretension is a forgivable offence if it comes bundled with promise. So I got admitted to Harvard.

 

Three years later, the promise seen to be exaggerated, I got myself sent down, and the doors of the Meritocracy were shut with me outside them. I'd realised I wasn't fit to join the upper-middle class, and I hated the dreams of my own class, so like many other would-be artists and intellectuals, I played at being poor. I got rather good at this, until most respectable lower-middle class people would safely rank me below them, at least until I opened my mouth.

 

I'm middle-aged now, and getting on towards the years when I'll look it, and it probably won't be at all appropriate [it never much was] for me to keep socialising with twenty-somethings. So the way of life I've lived till now will have to change. I can't keep living in a tenement in Newark and dining in the West Village. My many pretensions include food and wine of course, and naturally I found I enjoy the fancy stuff best, but I never got the hang of dining with calm and confidence alone. In even middle-class bistros, I have seen my hand shake till I got the first glass of sherry or Champagne in me. I can emulate a proper diner, more or less, when I am with someone, even, or especially, a young woman, perhaps because I've someone else's dignity and enjoyment to keep up. But as I said, I can't go on dining out with Millennials. But I do want to keep enjoying good food in whatever way I can.

 

So I will move out of this tenement, and grow up and start the next stage of my life. I know grown-ups should cook for themselves, and with a proper kitchen I hope to cook better and more. But I find cooking and dining alone a wearying business, and the tidying up alone afterwards even worse. I should like, therefore, to move somewhere with good food everywhere about me, most of it food that I can eat alone, and if need be when respectable folks have gone home to bed. Given my limitations suggested above, most of it shouldn't be too far up the class ladder from myself [by myself], more old school and Outer Boroughs Chowhound than upper-tier Mouthfuls. And I don't think I'll want to see too many young people of the sort I could have been, which rules out many of the glamorous gentrifying neighbourhoods.

 

I've often seen Sunset Park come up in rosters of ethnic eats. And this week I finally Googled the place, and I realised it's the stretch of Brooklyn along Interstate 278 before one reaches the bourgeois brownstones. I've sometimes driven below the expressway and wondered who lived there. I realise it's gentrifying, but it's still mostly working-class and heavily populated by immigrants, including the greatest Fujianese population in New York. The large numbers of working-class immigrants mean cheap food, and better and more varied than my usual fast-food chains.

 

Is this the ideal neighbourhood then for a bachelor c̶h̶o̶w̶h̶o̶u̶n̶d̶ gourmand? Are there superior alternatives for my purpose? Sunset Park appeals to me not only for its own restaurants, but because it's a short distance from the Muslims and Italians in Bay Ridge and only 23 minutes by 'N' train from the 59th St stop to Canal St. I wish there was more South Asian food in Brooklyn, and it's probably what I find most appealing about Queens, but it's a much longer Subway ride from, say, Jackson Heights to Downtown Manhattan. Perhaps, however, I should be seeking ways to avoid Downtown as much as possible.

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I'm middle-aged now, and getting on towards the years when I'll look it, and it probably won't be at all appropriate [it never much was] for me to keep socialising with twenty-somethings.

 

 

You'd be surprised.

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Sunset Park might be a good place for you. Definitely "improving". The quality of the food available in and around that neighborhood (including bordering Borough Park and Dyker Heights) is, not to put too fine a point to it, sensational. One problem is that, unlike Brownstone Brooklyn, it is in no way "charming". Another problem is that you'd still be a "pioneer" at this point. Meaning, I guess, that it would be a good place to escape all those young women in their 20s that you seem hellbent on getting away from.

 

You might also want to to look at the previous no-man's-land stretch between the South Slope and Sunset Park now known as Greenwood Heights. But that's getting pretty expensive already.

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"sent down" are we talking prison or just expulsion from school? makes no difference for my answer but now i am curious. you might like forest hills or rego park. there are express buses that will get you to work and home and the train lines go all the way downtown. and there's lots of ethnic food if you stay near queens blvd

 

in brooklyn ssunset park

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Agree with Sneak. I'm on a tablet and it's late. I'll give you a more expanded reply tomorrow.

 

You're asking good questions.

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'Sent down' means kicked out. In my case, I decided I wasn't any good at being a college student [i've always hated 'school'], but I was too weak to give up my place at the university gracefully [it was probably the first place I'd ever been where I didn't feel lonely 98 per cent of the time]. So I simply didn't show up to any of my Finals. :P

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Clinton Hill or Park Slope

 

Read like Dostoevsky

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Sunset Park also has Industry City, which has a bunch of millenial food stalls. Although I haven't been so can't confirm if there are millenials millenialing there.

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The apartment prices haven't gotten too crazy along Grand St.

 

And we were in Clinton Hill last night for an event - beautiful neighborhood. (I thought we were not as close to Mekelburg's as I realized after, otherwise we would've popped in).

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This reminds me of a conversation 35 years ago. A Jewish friend was interested in buying a house in CT and when meeting with the realtor for the first time, asked the realtor where the Jewish neighborhood was. Answer was "Wherever you buy."

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Grand St in Williamsburg? One of the things I've noticed is that quite a few very affordable [upper-floor walk-up, heh] HDFC coops come up for sale south of Grand St. Though I don't quite understand the market for HDFCs. How can one afford the flat, even at the sub-market price, at such a low income [i barely qualify for some of them]? Are the buyers allowed to use their parents' money? Otherwise it seems impossible unless they won the lotto / inherited a packet a couple of years previous.

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