Middle-earth Real Estate

My roommate and I, each time we move to or visit a new neighborhood, like to play a game in which we relate our surrounding Brooklyn to the land of Middle-earth from Lord of the Rings.* Somehow we manage to do this between our busy lives of smoking pot, watching television and not having sex with girls. What’s interesting is that I have yet to place Red Hook in this fantastical world. And I’ll be moving to Red Hook in two weeks.

Currently we live in a neighborhood called Park Slope. Park Slope is a friendly place that I’ve grown to love quite a lot. There are beautiful tree-lined streets, sweet looking families all around, a huge green park, comfortable bars and restaurants perfect for singing songs and getting on with your friends and an all around pleasant feeling. In the land of Middle-earth, Park Slope is easily identifiable (at least in our minds) as the land of Eriador, where the Hobbits live. Can’t you just see Hobbits sitting around Prospect Park, or getting an elevensies scone at Tea Lounge, or dancing and swapping stories with the old drunks at Jackie’s Fifth Amendment? No? That’s just my fantasy? Fine.

Anyway, like Bilbo and Frodo before us, my roommate and I finally felt the call of adventure. We’d been in the Shire for two years and a new path had formed, leading us out. Where would we end up? We didn’t know. But we were open to anything in Middle-earth. Or anything in Middle-earth that was posted on craigslist. There were the ornate, pre-war buildings and beautiful, towering architecture of Prospect Heights (Moria). The mystical land of Williamsburg (Rivendell), where insanely attractive Elvin-hipsters move about in bizarre costumes, with an incredible wealth of knowledge the extent of which you will never even begin to comprehend (and I bet hipsters can walk on snow too). There was the failing land of Gowanus (Rohan), a broken, war-torn nation with bizarre creatures (Canal beasts and killer mosquitos).

Rivendell elf or the lead singer of the electroclash band that played Music Hall of Williamsburg last night?

Rivendell elf or the lead singer of the electroclash band that played Music Hall of Williamsburg last night?

We passed through all of these places on our road to Red Hook. The road was long, friends. And we learned so much. Like not to give a deposit on an apartment with a flooded basement and no light fixtures. We learned to not trust cute hipster girls who show lofts in Greenpoint. We learned that the G train can be your friend. We learned that Hasidic Jews might just like an Irish Catholic guy more than a non-practicing Jew. And most of all, we learned about the power of friendship.

And then we learned that the nearest subway station to our new apartment (already a fifteen minute walk) is going to be closing for renovations for two to three years. So where does Red Hook fall on the map of Middle-earth? Is it Gondor, with its beautiful river-side views and neighborhood pride? Or were we walling ourselves off in Mordor? Surrounding ourselves with mountainous obstacles? Cutting off all communications with the rest of the world? Will my roommate have to homo-erotically carry me home each day?

Luckily, dear reader, I can tell you that Red Hook seems like a wonderful place. I’ve been spending a lot of time there, walking between the piers, visiting the Waterfront Museum, getting drinks at bars like Ice House Tavern (insanely cheap pork sandwiches), Bait & Tackle and Botanica, watching people play petanque down by the water, and just taking in the amazing views. So I’m not quite sure on what part of the map Red Hook will end up. Maybe it will be the beautiful port where elves go to die (appropriately close to the BQE underpass, where pigeons go to die). In any case, I look forward to finding out. As Bilbo once said, you step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.

Picture Me Strolling.

Picture Me Strolling.

* Warning: if after reading this sentence you experience a sensation of your virginity re-forming within your body, please stop reading and consult a doctor.

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11 responses to “Middle-earth Real Estate”

  1. g.a. says:

    This post was hilarious — especially the asterisked note. What would Manhattan be — the White Lands to the West?

    The thought of Park Slope as the Shire was particularly appealing. All those little kids in the park — Hobbit babies!

  2. Nice post. Do you read “Cat and Girl”? All (well most) of my knowledge of hipsters in Red Hook comes from that source. Do you know there is an Ikea?

  3. (My sister just moved to Atlantic and Nevins — is that on the map? I’ll be in Brooklyn tomorrow for her house-warming, I will watch out for orcs.)

  4. Andrew Kelley says:

    We didn’t actually factor Manhattan into the equation, although comparing Manhattan and Middle-earth could be its own game.

    Haven’t read Cat and Girl but I’ll try to check it out.

    Atlantic and Nevins…maybe that would be Bree? It’s hard to say. Another fun game? Doing the same thing, but with planets from the Star Wars trilogy. Okay, so fun is a strong word.

  5. LT says:

    what would IKEA be in Middle-earth?

  6. I don’t remember a lot of discussion of stores in Tolkien — every time they were at a business it was a tavern or hotel IIRC. Maybe they stopped at a store or store-attached-to-a-tavern in one of the towns in the eastern part of the Shire, but I don’t remember what it was called. I think there’s some mention of a store maintained by the evil guy who takes over the Shire near the end of Return of the King?

  7. g.a. says:

    It doesn’t have to be so literal. IKEA would probably be the mines where Gandalf battled the Balrog. I’m quite sure there’s a Balrog living in the textiles department of the Red Hook IKEA — which is accessible by a free ferry (fairy?) ride from Manhattan. Shit. Maybe Manhattan is the land in the West across the sea …

  8. Paul W says:

    Don’t know LOTR, but I lived at Court and 9th for a few years; not Red Hook, but on the border between it and Carroll Gardens. For us, the highlight of Red Hook was the huge, clean, beautiful public swimming pool. Just remember to make sure your swimsuit has a lining. They check before they let you in.

  9. Elyas says:

    One time I was in Prospect Park and I saw a 300lb woman with a 175lb ass in her “panties” (if you can call them that) being dry humped from behind by a drunk man in his boxers. This is the idyllic paradise of the fun loving Hobbits? No my friends, no.

    And I live in Bushwick, which on a good day is like a bad day in the town of Bree, where people’s lives are cheap. And on a bad day is like a stroll through Mordor.

  10. Tim says:

    What is this mystical land of Brooklyn of which you write, with its Slopes and Hooks and Burgs? It must be far from the safe haven of Silver Lake, somewhere east of Mt. Washington, perhaps even beyond the outskirts of known civilization, El Sereno and Alhambra. I must visit sometime.

  11. lane says:

    “Eriador” – YESSSSSSSS!