Irony in Carroll Gardens (Alanis Morissette Style)

May 5, 2014

David Foster Wallace is credited with predicting way back in the mid-90s that excessive irony would lead to the ruin of our culture. Around that same time, Alanis Morissette had her own far less erudite and flawed take on irony, which went a little something like this:

“It’s like rain on your wedding day
A free ride when you already paid
Some good advice that you just didn’t take…”

With all due respect to the prescience of DFW, life for me — at least these days in my Brooklyn neighborhood of Carroll Gardens — far more resembles Alanis Morissette’s screwy version of irony.

6sqft’s Andrew Cotto — an author of two novels and a journalist whose work has appeared in The New York Times, Men’s Journal, and — will be sharing his experiences as he makes his way around New York City. This week, he describes life in Carroll Gardens.

***Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, NYC irony, Alanis Morissette, David Foster Wallace, food, restaurants, Brooklyn parking, Brooklyn crowding, The Warriors, NYCsubwaysI first heard of Carroll Gardens during my Manhattan days in the early 90s. A friend of mine would come back to the city from a weekend away, and instead of returning directly to Manhattan to pay a week’s rent for a monthly parking spot, she’d venture into Brooklyn to park for free somewhere near the elevated Smith-9 subway station, before taking the F train home to Manhattan.

Having never been to that part of Brooklyn before, or really any other part of Brooklyn, I imagined the scene in the film The Warriors where the boys from Coney Island had to make a run for it under the elevated tracks to evade a marauding gang and catch their train. I knew, even then, that that was just my imagination at work, though I didn’t know then that I’d be living in Carroll Gardens someday where I could never imagine how hard it would be to park my car.

Two to three times a week, at various times depending on my schedule, I’ll spend 45 minutes to an hour circling the neighborhood searching for a f&*king parking spot. There may be worse ways to spend one’s time, but it’s hard to think of any, especially when I’m passing under the Smith-9 station for the 8th time without a spot in sight and my friend’s long-defunct parking secret running through my head. “Isn’t it ironic? Don’t cha think?” Hit the chorus.

Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, NYC irony, Alanis Morissette, David Foster Wallace, food, restaurants, Brooklyn parking, Brooklyn crowding, The Warriors, NYCsubways,  F train
Image © Buttermilk Channel

Of course, when not seeking parking spots in Carroll Gardens, I’m free to indulge in the abundance of magnificent eateries which line the main avenues and dot the leafy brownstone-strewn side streets. From old-school to new-school, farm-to-table and inventive fusions/updates/reinterpretations, we got it all in Carroll Gardens. Hell, it’s so gastro-happening here, some of our more decorated joints don’t even bother with a name. At least, there is nothing out front where, you know, the name of a particular establishment might be displayed. We don’t need your stinking signs! This is Carroll Gardens.

Plate-for-plate the best eating neighborhood in the city. Ask anyone. Ah, well, maybe not anyone. You can’t ask me. Or a lot of other people who live around here because we can’t get into these places to eat. Nobody takes reservations. Lines start forming around 5:30 for some of the more desirable kitchens. And if you walk in nearly any establishment at a normal dining hour to inquire about a table for two, you can expect to be told to come back in two hours. Yeah. I got two hours to kill on a Saturday night before I sit down to dinner. So, I live in a famous food neighborhood and can’t even enjoy the food. “Isn’t it ironic? Don’t cha think?” Take it away, Alanis.

The lesson here, for me, at least, is that the cynicism that David Foster Wallace portended starts to take hold when the erroneous musings of Alanis Morissette begin to make sense. Oy. Cue the music.

Andrew Cotto, Andrew Cotto writerAndrew Cotto is the author of The Domino Effect and Outerborough Blues: A Brooklyn Mystery. He has written for numerous publications, including The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Men’s Journal,, the Good Men Project, and Teachers & Writers magazine. He has an MFA in Creative Writing from The New School. He lives in Brooklyn, New York. Follow him on Twitter @andrewcotto

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