Tuesday, January 09, 2007

They Call It The Planet

That's Gang Starr, referring to Brooklyn, though I always found The Place Where We Dwell to be a better evocation of the borough's charms (Bonus fact: A snippet on the "Place..." where, referring to the A train, Guru mentions "take the uptown to Queens and the Bronx," ended up opening DJ Cam's "Bronx Theme", which is hardly cricket).

So yeah, this is going to be a Brooklyn post. I greeted NY1's story that Brooklyn had made the Lonely Planet's list of top 10 global tourist destinations with a certain amount of trepidation. This is because, as any NY1 watcher knows, there's a clause in NY1's license that says that if a story mentions Brooklyn more than once, then they must interview Marty Markowitz (the link goes to Wikipedia rather than his own site, since Wikipedia's digest on Google helpfully highlights his campaign fraud episode).

I'll try and say something more constructive in this post than "Urgh, I saw that fool Marty Markowitz on the telly and it made my blood boil, god damn the man's a fool." In fact, I'll go further, and note that as a tourism promoter, the man looked knowledgeable, articulate, and presentable. In fact, if either the city, or whichever gang of real estate interests bought up his support during his Borough President campaigns, could possibly pay for him to keep charge of tourism in an ex officio capacity after he's term limited out, it would a) avoid him causing any more mischief and b) free his successor to do something more useful than what Marty has spent the last five years doing.

More importantly, the interview marked the first time I've seen Markowitz acknowledge that the Borough's attractions extend beyond familiar 50s tropes he brings up again and again in interviews. To leave aside, at least for this post, the question about what a gaggle of skyscrapers is going to do to the vibrant yet small town vibe of Brooklyn, the Beep must surely be aware that the high-end backpackers' bible Lonely Planet is not buying the same story as the Broadway and Bubba Gump crowd. Markowitz probably thinks that getting through to the world's travel agents involves establishing the Borough as brand, probably in the crassest fashion possible. He'll find, though, that maintaining the Borough's appeal will require a much more nuanced approach.

Which is all another, much less readable, way of echoing what Fans For Fair Play's inestimable Scott Turner said in a much more eloquent fashion, that bogus nostalgia peddlers have gone from being a nuisance to those of us that care about the Borough, to being a threat. He manages to get through an entire post about Markowitz' inferiority complex without saying "Williamsburg Savings Bank envy", and only including one peculiar simile, which I'll reproduce here simply because it's so colourful:

If Freddy's is Saddam, then the News' publisher and editors are beneath the scaffold in skimasks shouting "Ratner! Ratner! Ranter!!!"


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