“Nah man, don’t move to Manhattan,” Daniel, a Starbucks union organizer and my new-found friend, said. “Manhattan’s over. Brooklyn’s cool.”
And he was seemingly right. When our managing editor Ashley and I got off the Q train in Flatbush on Saturday, we had ambitions of a book signing.
In the hour we spent on the borough’s streets, we found much more.
Our mini-odyssey began with the new book “Generation Debt: Why Now is a Terrible Time to Be Young” by Village Voice writer Anya Kamenetz.
As a fellow twenty-something, Kamenetz writes a column by the same title about the bleak future, both financial and otherwise, of our generation. As avid Voice readers, we were familiar with Kamenetz’s work.
And when Ashley told me she was going to be doing an event in Brooklyn, I was sold.
The event took place at a bookstore/coffeehouse called Vox Pop, that also sold pints of beer.
The store was only slightly bigger than a dorm room, a surprising site for the event given the subject matter and location.
We arrived late, as usual, and had missed the speech Kamenetz gave.
But luckily, as our friend Daniel pointed out while recruiting us to spread the word about his union as we walked in, Kamenetz was still inside.
“You guys came at the perfect time,” he said. “You caught her when she was already relaxed.”
When we walked in, I was struck by how young Kamenetz actually was.
It was refreshing to see that the person who cared about our generation’s future was actually one of us.
She shared her appreciation for young people reading her column, and expressed an interest in coming to speak on campus.
The entire scene felt like a grassroots networking organization, with everyone spreading word about their individual causes to parties who were genuinely interested in learning more.
Vox Pop, which translated from Latin means “voice of the people,” was exactly what you would expect from an outer-borough multi-tasker with a slogan like “Books, Coffee, Democracy.”
With a wall of alternative books on the left, a coffee bar with off-beat beer varieties like Red Point and Blue Point on tap on the right, and a small performance stage at the rear, the space looked like a hipster’s wet dream.
But the store’s packed events calendar indicates a deeper social interest.
Aesthetically, Vox Pop, like its home borough, is unbearably cool.
But it appears to have the social consciousness to back it up.
As we wandered back to the Cortelyou subway station with Daniel and a fellow union worker in tow, I was reminded of my early Brooklyn education.
“You don’t want to go to Brooklyn,” an adult in my life once said. “You never know what you might find.”
Thankfully, she was right.