Every year I do a Thanksgiving post that mentions all the things I’m thankful for.
I don’t even know where to begin this year.
I’m of course thankful for the usual things: amazing kids, doing what I love for a living, incredible customers, and being married to an incredibly hot piece of ass. You all already know about those things. I’m also thankful that my business, while set back a tad, wasn’t completely destroyed. That Bay Ridge was spared when so many neighborhoods I love weren’t. That my family is safe.
I have lived in Brooklyn all my life, as did my father before me, and his father before him. Crazy thing about kids from Brooklyn- this isn’t a “place” to us, it’s not simple a hometown.
It’s sticking your head out of the window and screaming at your friends on the street- many times while in a moving vehicle. Now that I’m thinking about that one, that’s really not smart. We should probably stop doing that.
The knowing everyone’s mother and grandmother. Particularly the ones who barely spoke English, but knew enough to always tell you that you “looked too skinny” and would feed you a little something.
The fact that “a little something” is a giant plate of meatballs, or stuffed cabbage, or pernil, or a nice fat slab of spanikopita.
The riceballs. Not “Oh, you don’t really know how it’s done until you go to Italy like I did when I backpacked through Europe and had authentic (say in randomly ethnic accent) arrrrr-an-CHEEEE-neeee”. Not “arancini”. RICEBAAAAAAWWWWWWWLS. Big fat stinking riceballs the size of a small child’s head, covered in globs of sauce, ricotta and mozzarella. You hit Joe’s of Avenue U if you want to know how the f*** it’s done.
Knowing that if anyone says “Meh, Joe’s is good, but it isn’t that good”, you will punch them square in the face, and no cop in Brooklyn would blame you. This also applies to Brennan & Carr, Randazzo’s, and Lioni’s. Don’t ask about pizza unless you want to hear us yelling amongst ourselves for hours on end (though the correct answer is Totonno’s. Yeah, I said it).
Also that you pronounced the riceball description as “covered in globs of sawce, riGOAT, and MUHTzarell”. You call anyone who says different a “mar-ah-KONE”, even if your family has, like mine, been in Brooklyn 100 years.
The accent. Years of speech classes as a teenager have made mine almost disappear, but you get me angry (or drunk) enough, and I sound like an extra in a Jimmy Cagney flick. Also, you should know if you know if you ever hear my accent you are possibly in imminent danger and should run away as quickly as possible.
The hip-hop and freestyle. Especially George LaMond. I don’t care how many hardcore and metal albums are in my collection- “Bad of the Heart” comes on, and I lose it every. single time. He’s also TOTALLY playing tonight in Bay Ridge, and I am TOTALLY going to be at home on my laptop working on getting holiday ordering up for you guys (December schedule’s up by the way!)
Biohazard, Indecision, Type O Negative, Candiria, Beastie Boys, and DEBBIE FREAKING GIBSON. We also gave the world Barry Manillow and Neil Diamond. YOU’RE WELCOME, REST OF THE WORLD.
The fact that you live in a place with over 3 million people EVERYONE finds a way that the’re connected. Everyone went to school with someone’s brother, or your first cousin watches some kid after school whose grandma lives next door to your best friend. You think I’m popular? You should meet my mother. One time when I was a kid we went to Disney World, and the guy driving the train on “The Great Movie Ride” knew who she was. Woman’s not even on the internet and she has more fans than any of us ever will. She runs a dental office in Bay Ridge.
Deep down, we’re all the take-no-prisoners tough guys and gals of legend, the type who will throw down any time and any place if someone or something goes after one of our own.
I am so thankful that in this lifetime, I get to say that I am from Brooklyn. And I am thankful for every single one of my brothers and sisters here and in Staten Island (if you didn’t know, everyone from Staten Island is originally from Brooklyn. They even have their own Joe’s of Avenue U over there!). Sandy came for us, and we are standing together and swinging back. You DO NOT mess with Brooklyn. Ever.
I love you, Brooklyn, and I will never stop being proud of the person you made me, and what you have always been. Even before the New York Times found out about you.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone.
Ebinger: Chocolate cake, chocolate custard buttercream, chocolate fudge buttercream, chocolate cake crumbs
Pumpkin Spice Latte: Pumpkin cake, espresso mascarpone buttercream, chocolate espresso beans
Bourbon Caramel Apple: Apple cake, bourbon salted caramel buttercream, roasted apple, bourbon caramel drizzle
Sweet Potato Casserole: Sweet potato cake, toasted marshmallow buttercream, demerera sugar