Monday, August 25, 2008

In Brooklyn, No Sign of the Times

Your first steps out of church on a Sunday morning in Brooklyn offer a cozy narrative collage: mothers and their children dressed in their Sunday best; elderly men in fedoras with canes between their legs hastily eating salt fish and bake; a black boy trying basketball moves on the sidewalk, crossovers and spins and head fakes not yet ready for the unforgiving quickness of the court.

You'll have no problem, once you stroll down Flatbush Avenue, noticing the many corner grocery stores, often known to New Yorkers as bodegas. They're a one-stop shop for just about anything one could crave on a Sunday morning. An egg sandwich? Sure, coming right up. Hot coffee? How do you take it? The No. 3 scratch ticket? Here you go, good luck.

So when I strolled out of church and onto Flatbush, I thought I'd have no problem finding the Sunday edition of the New York Times.

I might as well had been looking for the Times Mirror of London.

Three stores in a three block radius did not carry the Times, just a few tattered copies of the Daily News. Newspapers were largely out of sight amid the muted bustle of this particular Sunday in Brooklyn; the manager at the ubiquitous drug store, Duane Reade, said they had stopped selling newspapers long ago. As a journalist, I felt as if my calling had no currency.

I should note, that it was the complete opposite to the feeling I had on of a recent visit to a quaint Northern Virginia neighborhood where it seemed that everyone was reading the Post's Style, Business or Sports Section over some sort of omelet, their dogs obediently chained to a fence. This, I thought, was pretty cool. Every bit the status symbol, I never thought I'd see the day where the newspaper was so sexy.

So relevant.


It was Jemele Hill who asked, "If you put a newspaper down in a barbershop, do you have any idea how many people will read it?"

The answer is a lot. Amazing how enthralling a free newspaper is, versus one that costs you 50 cents. If for nothing else, I bought the paper to make a statement: Newspapers aren't dead. Not there. Not in front of the No. 2 train on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn.

Anyway, your probably wondering where I found the paper. Not at the bodega or Dunkin Donuts or Duane Reade.

There's a newsstand on the corner.

Posted by Darren Sands at 6:12 AM | link

Read or Post a Comment

You are so right. I have been really surprised by the lack of good reading materials in the area right before the subway stop. Some of the papers available - if you decided to read them (I mean Daily News vs. the Post?? really now!) are usually so dirty and rumpled that after you think twice and thrice, you decide not to buy them.

I cannot believe though that Duane Reade doesn't have a better selection...forget newspapers, even their magazines are limited and the ones they have are dated.

My solution? I bring my own reading materials...and of course always have the Bible that I brought for church service...Heheh. I'll try to find your "newsstand" next time I run out of reading materials.

Posted by Blogger Keri @ 7:46 AM, August 25, 2008 #

"Amazing how enthralling a free newspaper is, versus one that costs you 50 cents."

Generally in my house we get the paper once on week on Sunday's. So I must admit when I saw $1.88 cover price I wondered if we'd really paid almost $2. Relieved that on the street it still costs only a $1. I don't know why but I sort of objected to paying more than $1.

Almost after this weekend's redesign of "The Sun" formerly known as "The Baltimore Sun", I wonder if I'll still read the new format in print or head straight to web.

Posted by Anonymous Anonymous @ 9:59 AM, August 25, 2008 #

It's no better in Harlem trust me. I've given up. It took 30 mins. to find a bodega (and I live damn close to 125th) that had the Sunday (New York) Times.

Posted by Blogger Ashley @ 11:17 AM, August 25, 2008 #

I'm ashamed to admit this as a newswoman and former newspaper reporter, but I'm pretty much reading The Times on my iPhone ... I will grab the Sunday Times if the mag preview is any good.

Posted by Blogger hizzle @ 12:14 PM, August 25, 2008 #

I'm a guilty brooklynite. Maybe it is a sign of the times...I'm spoiled by New York Times online. Its free and the headlines are there as soon as I sign in my email. Admittedly, there is something sensual about flipping through a newspaper, the smell, the rustle of the pages as you try to keep it in tact, eyes running down the page and over to the next column. Only problem is...I get that fix through Metro, and AMNY while I make my way to work and then read the Times online.

What I've noticed about reading the times online is that I only really go to the sections I'm used to reading. With a physical paper, I'll read pretty much the whole paper...or as much as I can in 2 hours. Many sections in the online paper, get no love at all, particularly since I'm at work and on the clock. Unfortunately, I've been relying on NPR and YBF for all my latest tidbits.

As for that search for the NY Times on Flatbush thats old news (literally and figuratively)...

The people of Brooklyn who read the Times actively...I don't think they are on Flatbush(I used to live about 4 blocks away from the Flatbush Junction)and getting the Times for my weekly Science Journal entry was like the search for the holy grail. I'd bet you could find the Times in Park Slope, or Brooklyn Heights...In fact, you could probably find it on every park bench, who needs a newstand?

Posted by Blogger Lindsay @ 12:17 PM, August 25, 2008 #

let's talk about the real issue:

why does that shit cost $4 bucks now (and $5 bucks outside of NYC)?

My guess is these smaller stores simply can't afford selling the times for fear if they don't sell out, they will have to eat some of the costs.

Posted by Blogger Vandy @ 8:01 PM, August 25, 2008 #
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