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Walt Whitman often took up his pen to fawn over Brooklyn’s charms. Consider the bearded bard’s observations in “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry”:
Crowds of men and women attired in the usual costumes! how curious you are to me! On the ferry-boats, the hundreds and hundreds that cross, returning home, are more curious to me than you suppose; And you that shall cross from shore to shore years hence, are more to me, and more in my meditations, than you might suppose.
I am not as enthusiastic about Brooklyn and its “usual costumes” as Walt Whitman. Brooklyn is not “more to me…than you might suppose.” Instead, I deem Brooklyn “average,” or “adequate.” Walt Whitman has no use for these middling adjectives.
When in Brooklyn, I do visit Hana Foods. Last year, I recorded an album at a studio in gentrifying Williamsburg near this organic-ish health food store. Though I did not sleep often during this three-week recording session and certainly did not shower, I visited Hana Foods daily. There, I purchased vegetarian chicken-salad sandwiches. Like Brooklyn, these sandwiches were not great, and were not terrible. These sandwiches were adequate sandwiches.
I played the last show of my tour in Williamsburg for a worthy cause. After the show, I bumped my head on a P.A. speaker. In a daze, I wandered out of the club and into the street. Earlier in the evening, a light rain had coated Brooklyn’s streets with a glistening slime. Rubbing my head, I trudged through this slime in the direction of Hana Foods. En route, I met a man searching for Berry Street.
“Where is Berry Street?” asked this man.
“Berry?” I said. I looked around, rubbing my head. Because of my head injury, I wasn’t sure where Berry was. “Huh?”
“Berry,” the man repeated.
“Uh…I…” I continued rubbing my head. “I think Berry is one street back,” I concluded. The man disappeared into the slimy night. I should have told this man that I am not from Brooklyn and have a head injury, I thought. Alas—-too late.
After another block, I stumbled into Hana Foods. I walked towards the refrigerated display where the adequate vegetarian chicken-salad sandwiches were stored. I looked down at the adequate vegetarian chicken-salad sandwiches and regarded them. Christ, I thought. These adequate vegetarian chicken-salad sandwiches are adequate as ever.
As I contemplated my adequate fate, a young man was trying to purchase rolling papers. “Do you have any rolling papers?” he asked the Hana Foods cashier.
“Don’t sell them,” said the grumpy cashier.
“No rolling papers?” pressed the youth.
“Don’t sell them!” shouted the owner. He turned his response into mantra. “Don’t sell them! Don’t sell them!” he shouted.
I thought of the young man’s failed attempt to purchase rolling papers. Hana Foods can’t be all things to all people, I thought. I stared back at the adequate sandwiches. I want an incredible sandwich, I thought. These sandwiches are merely adequate. I am sick of adequacy. I will not purchase these sandwiches anymore.