Wednesday, September 26, 2007

We're the 'Brews

Friday night we'll be drinkin' Manishewitz
Goin' out to terrorize Goyim
Stompin' shaygetz, screwin' shiksas
As long as we're home by Saturday mornin
Cause hey, we're the Brews
Sportin' anti-swastika tattoos
Oi Oi we're the boys
Orthodox, hasidic, O.G. Ois

So my friend Rich was in town from the Pittsburgh area this weekend. On Sunday evening he and I decided, after yet another failed attempt to go see a movie, to head over to the Brooklyn Industries outlet store in Williamsburg. Williamsburg is this weird little part of Brooklyn that is sort of ghetto-as-fuck, but also swarming with hipsters who pay massive amounts of rent for recently converted factory-to-apartment shitholes (hey, I have yet to see a nice Willy-B apartment, and I've seen quite a few, including one that was BARELY two bedrooms, had two walls knocked down and no bathroom sink. Oh, PS, the kitchen floor is coming apart. $1600/mo.). Williamsburg is also a major hub for Hasidic Jews.

Backing up a bit, we drove there from my place in Bensonhurst, which is just outside Borough Park, which, reportedly, has one of the largest concentration of Orthodox Jews outside of Israel. It's not uncommon for me to run into Hasidim at the postoffice, on the train, in the shops, or on the sidewalk. We don't talk, but their culture is fairly insular. I did a lot of Wikipedia research on them after my room mate started saying that she thought they hated her. She goes running, often in short shorts and a tank top, and was, at the time, convinced that they found her offensive. Honestly, I think that we place others' judgments on ourselves when we don't quite understand said others' culture. I learned that they don't shake hands because they consider all touches intimate. I learned that their marriages aren't arranged but rather adults in the community set up their kids on dates. I learned about the ways that the keep alive the Yiddish language.

So when Rich and I went barreling down 18th Avenue (really it was more of a crawl in rush hour traffic) in his red Jetta, blasting "The Brews" by NOFX, with the windows rolled down, well, I blushed a bit as we hit Borough Park. You can't look left or right without seeing Hasidim, and, while I'm sure they didn't care or know that we — two back-woods gentiles — were listening to a song that, in its own way, celebrates Jewish culture, It was like a 'hood-wide awkward mo'.

And, to bring this full circle, as we exited the BQE, now full of the Big Gulp coke (no ice) we'd gotten at 7-Eleven (fountain soda felt necessary after our big plan to see a movie in Cobble Hill was quashed), the NOFX record had begun to repeat itself. Through the streets of Williamsburg "The Brews" played again, and the 'brews were out and about, and Rich and I laughed.