Southern Brooklyn

Note To L Mag: We Love You, But You Need To Get Out More

A typical street scene in Sheepshead Bay. Nope, no culture here. Photo by Boris Shekhman

Here is the sort of thing that sticks in my craw, and I think it should chap the behinds of all artists, photographers, writers, restaurateurs, merchants, activists, and Southern Brooklynites, in general, who are imbued with a modicum of civic pride (as they damn well should be!).

It doesn’t take long to figure out what is so very wrong about L Magazine’s “Brooklyn Neighborhood Power Rankings.” What a hunk of rotten baloney. Okay, let me take that back, because as one of the purveyors of “news” around here, I should let all of Sheepshead Bites’ readers form their own opinions on the matter, but here are the facts (as I see them): L Magazine selected 12 neighborhoods throughout Brooklyn to give gold stars to, using a very suspect criteria “scientific approach.”

L Magazine writes:

Ranking the neighborhoods of Brooklyn is like choosing between one’s children: sometimes you just have to do it because it makes for good copy. Using a very scientific approach, we judged neighborhoods on criteria like food and drink, accessibility, culture, infrastructure, affordability, and our deeply held prejudices about the time we’ve spent there.

Afterward they allocated quirky old doors and doorknobs to the neighborhoods with the highest ranking (As a friend of mine would say, “I booshit you not.” You need to see the photo they used for the story to understand what that means), along with reviews of the dozen neighborhoods worth reviewing. For example:

“…Billyburg retains enough of its counterculture sheen to still attract actual cool people from around the world—the French, the Dutch, the Spanish, the Italians… and holy crap a lot of Japanese hipsters. So yes, galleries are leaving, and the kids can’t afford rent, but if you like good restaurants and don’t think it’s crazy to spend $400 on (really effing beautiful) shoes, the hood’s for you. The old hipsters grew up and started having babies, but there’s a ton of cool shit still here, you just have to look for it (and have the money to enjoy it).”


The rest of us poor slobs, well… we’re just “On the outside looking in.” And where on the list do the wastelands us pedestrian goobers reside in rank? In numerical order, from numbers 13 to 47:

13. Vinegar Hill 14. Windsor Terrace 15. Prospect Lefferts Gardens 16. Boerum Hill 17. Crown Heights 18. Bedford-Stuyvestant 19. Parkville 20. Kensington 21. Bay Ridge 22. Sunset Park 23. Brighton Beach 24. Gravesend 25. Coney Island 26. Midwood 27. Sheepshead Bay 28. Flatbush 29. Dyker Heights 30. Bergen Beach 31. Marine Park 32. Bath Beach 33. Manhattan Beach 34. Sea Gate 35. Mill Basin 36. Bensonhurst 37. Canarsie 38. Flatlands 39. Downtown Brooklyn 40. Homecrest 41. Starrett City 42. Wingate 43. East Flatbush 44. Brownsville 45. East New York 46. Gerritsen Beach 47. Borough Park

I took the liberty of bolding the talentless swamps, which comprise Sheepshead Bites’ coverage area. And what’s the deal with Borough Park coming in at number 47? Does the staff at L Mag have something against lox, kishke, Beis Yakov schools and the Bobover Rebbe? The nerve! And just before Rosh Hashanah.

The point is, in my capacity as a frequent contributor to Sheepshead Bites, I have seen just as much talent and creativity on these pages — from fellow contributing writers, Morning Mug submissions, and homegrown talent, in general — as can be found in any of the douchebag art galleries and free range, organic, homegrown, locally-imported rooftop sage and basil gardens or micro-breweries in Williamsburg, Bushwick and Greenpoint.

And on top of that, we have tons of awesome restaurants. Hello? Brennan & Carr, Roll-n-Roaster, Il Fornetto, Randazzo’s, Del Mar, Mei Mei’s Chinese Kitchen, Anatolian Gyro, Jay & Lloyd’s, Chicken Masters, Jordan’s Lobster Dock, Clemente’s, Maria’s Restaurant, Wheeler’s… do I even need to continue?

So, while we still love you, L Mag, we’re feeling a little dissed here.

What say you, readers? What do you think of this cockamamey list? While I am tempted to round up the usual suspects and have us march down to L Mag’s offices, baseball bats in hand, I’d instead encourage you to sound off in the comments. And go the extra mile, because we have to prove to them that we’re not a bunch of uninspired, inbred dum-dums.

Comment policy


  1. There was no mayhem last Halloween in Starrett City.

    And to show just how out of touch L Magazine is with Brooklyn, Starett City changed its name around ten years ago to Spring Creek Towers.

  2. Everyone knows L Magazine is written by a bunch of MFA hipster-yuppies who are very proud of the thesaurus that they use in their movie and record reviews. The only good thing that magazine ever did was promote the Pains of Being Pure at Heart, one of New York’s best rock n roll bands. But anytime I read that rag, I could hear the authors’ voices saying everything in valley girl accents, ending every sentiment as a question. 

    On the other hand, their assessment of Williamsburg is spot-on. 

  3. It doesn’t matter what they changed their name too, everyone there calls it Starrett and there is nothing there but the Apartment Complex, a very minor “mall” and some lawns. There is literally nothing of cultural significance inside “Spring Creek”.

    Despite how some of Gerritsen Behaves it does have some features and character. The narrow and quiet streets, the two beaches, a historic bar or two, a model airplane strip, etc. Yea, i’ll joke around that GB belongs near the bottom, but It’s miles ahead East New York and Starrett.

  4. The article claims it’s biased right from the get-go.  If this were an attempt to rank neighborhoods impartially, then I would agree with you Erica.  This isn’t the case, however.  It’s an article written by hipsters, for hipsters.  Being a biased piece, it’s obviously going to favor the neighborhoods they live in.

    I get that it sticks in your craw, but I don’t think it’s the article that’s bothering you.  Rather, the perceived notion that these Gentrified neighborhood residents look down at us, and that’s fine.  We tend to look down at hipsters as fake and shallow people.

    We’re all guilty here.

  5. I really have to agree wit you RKramden. L Magazine’s readership is clear so the article’s slant is obvious from the get-go. However I  think what is most important about your point is your touching on the fact that both hipsters and people from neighborhoods like Sheepshead Bay are equally guilty of being provincial. 

    As a native Sheepshead Bay resident who moved to the city for a few years and had friends “just discovering” Brooklyn, I saw the frustration of seeing my home treating like it was finely worthwhile when I always knew it was. At the same time when a friend invited me to brunch in Williamsburg, I felt equally culpable in turning down the invite. 

    Hipsters could learn a thing or two from a trip down to a place like Sheepshead but the locals on our end are just as bad in their unwillingness to take a ride on the L. 

    Frankly I can’t wait to see tempers flare when the Nets starts their season next year in BK. Their whole aggressive campaign to steal fans from lower Manhattan is going to ignite more of this argument over who Brooklyn belongs to.

  6. Using a very scientific approach, we judged neighborhoods on criteria like food and drink, accessibility, culture, infrastructure, affordability, and our deeply held prejudices about the time we’ve spent there.

    1) Scientific approaches don’t involve opinionated judging.
    2) If they included the phrase “based on…” and explained their criteria for choices more, it might have come off better.
    3) At least they admit they’re prejudiced. 

    I never put stock in lists like those anyway, unless they come from people who actually live in the area and have seen both sides of a community or venue (and even then they’re probably still biased). There are a number of comments on their page already, complaining about how they singled out the white/rich/hipster neighborhoods. I hope someone on their staff feels some remorse for posting the article, at least.

    Also the doors/doorknobs are a cute idea in theory, but it would be more useful to represent the neighborhoods with more recognizably local images.

  7. The issue, as has been for a long time, is that South Brooklyn is the forgotten step-sister of other Brooklyn. Don’t even mention Bed-Stuy or Brownsville, they are the relatives we hide in the basement.  
    Why is there no love for South Brooklyn? Where are our civic activists or better business associations? Where are our Russian Day parades on the boardwalk or even our Arty galleries and better publicized cultural events? They don’t exist. So whose job is this? Politicians or citizens?
    Take it from me, having lived all over N. America…the multicultural mecca that is South Brooklyn is fading, fast.

  8. East New York is much better than it was 30 years ago thanks to the churches which rebuilt much of the housing there. Even grafitti is way down and I wouldn’t be surprised if the streets are cleaner than Sheepshead Bay. We shouldn’t be putting down any neighborhoods. This was just a plain dumb list. If you are going to rank neighborhoods, just pick th top ten and stop there.

  9. No surprise..East New York is much cleaner than Sheepshead Bay. There are more people that take pride in their neighborhood. 


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