Brooklyn (pretty much) Rules

[Ed. Note: Today I’m lucky enough to have Danyel Smith as my guest blogger. Danyel’s a former editor at large for Time Inc. and the former editor-in-chief of Vibe, and she’s visiting my site today to promote her book More Like Wrestling. Go pick up a copy. And welcome, Danyel! –Anil]
Ft. Greene, Brooklyn. Named for Revolutionary War General Nathaniel Greene, and one of Brooklyn’s most diverse ‘hoods. I love it.
I love Oakland, California more, but that’s another story. It’s the story of my first novel, More Like Wrestling.
But Ft. Greene is the bomb. And the surrounding areas – North Flatbush, Brooklyn Heights, Park Slope, Prospect Heights, Cobble Hill, Boerum Hill – are interesting and seductive as well. I walk all over these streets. It all seems like one big neighborhood. There is no rhyme or reason to my travels – I just go.
I live on Dekalb. Right across from lovely, hilly Ft. Greene Park. I’ve been in the same apartment since 1997. When I first moved here, I had to trek to Brooklyn Heights for dog food. Now I can go to Kiki’s, right on my block. I eat at Mo-Bay waaay too much. The oxtails are beyond the beyond. The cabbage (oniony and with carrots) and yams (like candy) are scrumptious. LouLou is on my block, too. Perfect little romantic place. The food is delish, and there’s a tiny garden patio in the back. On Saturdays, in the summertime? Fulton Mall is the hot spot. Heavenly, teeming record stores (nose your way toward the not-so-legal mixtapes), awesome sneaker shops, every fast food restaurant you have a jones for, plus big jewelry, sidewalk vendors, sexy dresses in the windows, small appliances at good prices, ice cream trucks, and every family within a five-mile radius is out in full force. Crazy. Loud! Fun. The best. When I need to calm down afterward, I walk over to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Lush. Kaleidoscopic. Relatively quiet.
Back toward Ft. Greene, I love Madiba for South African food and mojitos. Chez Oskar used to be good, but they’re always out of stuff that’s on the menu. I live right up the street from Junior’s, but I’m not big on cheesecake. I will stop in for their huge brunch on a Saturday or Sunday, though. (Psssst: There’s a full bar in Junior’s, too.) The River Cafe in Dumbo has a beautiful view of Manhattan, and fancy food, and gorgeous service. I go to the giant Pathmark in Ft. Greene when I need lotsa groceries, but Blue Apron on the slope is excellent for when you need that special bit of chorizo, or Sullivan Street Bakery bread. From Park Slope, I walk down to Fifth, to sit in the bigger Ozzie’s to read and to write, and for coffee (I like Gorilla Coffee, too), and then I stop into Su Casa for whatever I can afford. I got my winter comforter from there last fall. Then it’s back to Ft. Greene for a little hot yoga. Sigh. Yes. Then off to walk my well-fed dog in Ft. Greene Park.
It ain’t Oakland, but Brooklyn will do, for sure.