A helpful Jonathan Lethem—acting “less like the author himself than the man auditioning to be Jonathan Lethem’s literary executor”—took The Guardian‘s Gaby Wood on a jaunt through Brooklyn, which she chronicled in this Sunday’s paper.
Naturally, gentrification (”’a Nixon word,’ as his parents saw it”) is the theme du jour. But in addition to neighborhood name-changes and neglected Puerto Rican supermarkets, we get some less conventional signs of the times. For example: fewer communes.
As Lethem tells Wood while strolling down Dean Street:
These were very active, thriving communes well through the 70s and the 80s. I remember who had the best parties. The communes all had their own flavour – 222 Dean was hardcore Maoist. And then there was 166 that was much more, you know, quasi-Black Panther, druggy, a little more American indigenous terrorist feeling to it. That was my favorite place. It was where I first heard reggae, for one thing. And it was where I first snuck a pot brownie off the parents’ table, pretending to think it was just a regular brownie, even sort of to myself.
Those were the days!