Williamsburg, Brooklyn, is now so synonymous with hipster culture and the very idea of urban revitalization—so well-known from Chicago to Cambodia as the playground for the game of ironized status-seeking and lifestyle one-upmanship—that it's easy to forget how, just a few years ago, it was a very different neighborhood: a spread of factories, mean streets and ratty apartments that the rest of New York City feared and everyone but artists with nowhere else to go left alone.
Robert Anasi hasn't forgotten. He moved to a $300-a-month apartment in Williamsburg in 1994, and watched as the area went through a series of swift and surreal transformations: the warehouses became lofts, secret cocaine bars became stylized absinthe parlors, barrooms became stage sets for indie-rock careers and rents rose and rose—until the local artists found that their ideal of personal creativity had served the aims of global commerce, and that their neighborhood now belonged to someone else.
Tight, passionate, and provocative, The Last Bohemia is at once a celebration of the fever dream of bohemia, a lament for what Williamsburg has become and a cautionary tale about the lurching transformations of city neighborhoods throughout the United States.
"Most tales of urban gentrification suffer from similar tropes. Robert Anasi transcends the customary and offers instead a penetrating account of a neighborhood in transition. His deeply personal ethnography leaves the reader with a complex grasp of Williamsburg's manifold contradictions."—Leonard Benardo and Jennifer Weiss, authors of Brooklyn by Name
"Anasi's insider account of a Brooklyn of drug addicts, struggling artists and financial hardship is only a few years in the past abd yet seems light years away. Although Anasi is never sentimental, his observations are imbued with a sense of loss—of a New York where young artists could arrive in the city and make work without the benefit of trust funds. I was lucky enough to have Anasi as my personal tour guide to the Brooklyn that was, and now he has brought that world to life for anyone willing to pick up his book. The Last Bohemia is compassionate, vivid, and astringently honest."—Beth Raymer, author of Lay the Favorite
Reviews from Goodreads
The explosion cracked the summer evening. Light flash and then smoke rising. Another crack and flash, and another, four in all, shredding air and reverberating in the basin of the empty pool. The...