Ten Years After “Where the Girls Are, and the Commute’s Easy”

And so: it’s 2012. The year of a Presidential election; a year in which summer will bring the Olympics. Culturally, the Afghan Whigs are back! The Avengers is coming. It is, some might say, a year of milestones. And yet there’s one occurrence, one anniversary, that hovers above the rest.

I am, of course, referring to the fact that it’s now been ten years since the article “Where the Girls Are, and the Commute’s Easy” first appeared in the New York Times. Here’s an early paragraph, which pretty much lays out what you can expect:

Now, in a reversal of the old bridge-and-tunnel migration, young Manhattanites discouraged by the sky-high expectations of the opposite sex in their home borough are dressing down, in faded jeans and vintage leather, and taking the L train to the bars and loft parties of Brooklyn. There, especially in Williamsburg and Greenpoint, where lower rents have encouraged an influx of arty postcollegiates, dating success doesn’t require a big bankroll or blinding beauty.

It gets progressively more surreal from there, as author Julia Chaplin interviews a number of Manhattan residents seeking love in distant Brooklyn; references are made to Puff Daddy, romance blossoms over a plate of pierogies, and an archetypal figure called Carhartt Guy wins hearts and minds. (“Carhartt Guy is a real man with real values.”) It should be mentioned that “distant Brooklyn” here refers to, you know, parts of Brooklyn that can be visited via a short trip on the L — and during a time when said line wasn’t out of service for weekends at a time, I might add.

Much like Vice‘s oral history of Kokie’s (with bonus electroclash history!), this piece is a reminder of why I try to avoid feeling nostalgic about my bygone years in the city. But for all that I find that some of the quotes in here hover on the laugh with/laugh at divide, it’s a memorable enough piece of writing that I still find myself thinking about it a decade after I first saw it. That’s no small accomplishment.

Still, I do find it odd that in the preceding ten years, no one has named their band Carhartt Guy. I still hold out hope that someone might.

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