Angry Rant From A Real Brooklynite: Ben Adler Has Jumped The Shark

By Spencer Ackerman

Authenticity is, I’ve contended, a mug’s game, a sucker’s bet, an argument doomed to be lost. But never is an authenticity debate more obnoxious or inane when a New Yorker — a child of a polyglot, miscegenated and cosmopolitan immigrant city — intones about what’s the realest of real. Irony being what it is, argument-prone New Yorkers can’t help themselves, and so the infinite regression continues, to the eye-rolling exhaustion of all non-New Yorkers. My Manhattanite friend Matt Yglesias once memorably remarked that the truest New Yorker is the privileged white youth from Bridgeport who finally makes it to the city and claims it as his own. He’s right. Put less provocatively, to be a New Yorker is to reject essentialism.

Which brings me to my friend Ben Adler’s idiotic attack on Old Bay-slathered crabs. You can read Ben Miller’s substantive response for why Adler is wrong. I’d rather focus on the schtick. Much as I remember what it’s like to arrive in D.C. from New York and hate everything, the act has worn thin, revealing an insecure refusal to accept an experience for what it is because that’s not how they do it in the Old Country. As a favorite Brooklyn son once put it, I tried to ignore him and talk to the Lord, but some fools are just born to perform. So let me do this in my old accent, on Ben Adler’s terms.

Ben Adler: you are from the fakest part of pre-2000 Brooklyn, the People’s Republic of Park Slope. You are a brownstoner. Do not front. I have been to your parents’ house. Even before the late-Giuliani gentrification swing, your neighborhood was filled with stroller-pushers. I remember it all, even from my outpost on Glenwood Road, where Flatbush meets Midwood by the Junction. Am I from the hardened streets of Brownsville or East New York? No, not at all. But I’m sure as fuck not from Park Slope. And I am calling you out in the interest of full disclosure. Remember this, IFA readers, the next time Adler proceeds to tell you why everything outside of his actually-anti-New York provincial mindset is wrong: he’s never even had ice cream from Taste The Tropics. Rate some beef patties for me, Badler, and then you can tell me why Old Bay sucks. From your house in Mt. Pleasant. Your neighborhood in D.C. is realer than your neighborhood in Brooklyn, and you can get better Latin American food there. Or are you still pining for California Tacqueria?

I feel dirty now, and wish I hadn’t descended into an authenticity debate, but I’m feeling like my hand was forced. Yesterday I had possibly the best meal of my life at D.C.’s Komi with Mandy Simon — nothing I ate back home comes close. Tonight Amanda Mattos and I are going to see Wale perform, and we’re going to hear “Chillin‘,” and we’re going to marvel that his style on that track marvelously updates a style that Brooklyn began. That’s the way Brooklyn wants it: unafraid of outside influence. I’m headed for D.C.; anybody feel me?


14 responses to “Angry Rant From A Real Brooklynite: Ben Adler Has Jumped The Shark

  1. Yeah and you’re not from Texas, neither!

  2. This was important and necessary. To question Old Bay is to question the worth the entire human endeavor.
    Plus, it’s always nice for a DC kid to see native New Yorkers give the District some respect.

    See you at Wale, even if it’s a little warm out for my Nike Boots.

  3. hahahahahahaha best food (and/or authenticity) snob takedown ever.

  4. Nothing in NYC compares to Komi?

    I love Komi, but please.

  5. Also, there is no good Latin American food in Mt Pleasant. Unless you’ve never been to Latin America/California/Chicago/the Latino parts of Queens, NY.

  6. Spencer wrote “nothing I ate back home comes close,” not “nothing in NYC,” The Tops.

    Tops is also not from Texas!

  7. spencerackerman

    My first Tops comment! Fuck yeah. After I published, I wondered if that line would press your buttons.

    As Capps noted, I didn’t write “nothing in NYC” is better than Komi. I can merely speak for my own experience, and so I never alleged that I’ve sampled every NYC eatery in the 29 years I’ve been alive. You’ll have to take my word for it that during the 22-ish years I lived in NYC, I didn’t taste anything that compared to Komi’s fare, whatever that says about my experience.

  8. Amen!

  9. I figured as much, but your comment does read that way. If you’d never really eaten out in NYC much, what’s the point of even saying that?

    Also, to be fair to Adler, aside from saying “angry rant from a new yorker”, he didn’t really say crab was an authentic New York thing. He just said Old Bay killed the delicate flavor of crab. I happen to agree, and in general, the treatment of seafood in American coastal areas tends to be a little rough.

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  11. Don’t worry about it, Spack. Having eaten at Per Se, I can tell you, definitively, that nothing in New York compares to Komi.


  12. Nice bait, Ezra. But I won’t take it.

    I think Komi is on par with the best in NYC (except maybe Le Bernardin, which is just stellar). Considering Johnny Monis’ age though, it’s an amazing place.

    Diamond in the rough, though.

  13. true brooklynites came from the old brick apartment houses on empire boulevard, where, on friday nights, the halls smelled like clouds of roasted chicken ….near where the old ebbett’s field used to be, and the old brooklyn dodgers played.
    and down on rogers ave. was the little bakery where you would get white cardboard boxes filled mohn cookies and rugelah, with strings on the box tied like little bows.
    years later, i lived on clinton street, near atlantic ave, not far from the promenade.
    there were syrian and lebanese shops like sahadi brothers…..dark ,exotic stores filled with halvah and beautiful nuts and spices and copper and brass coffee sets. they were like vignettes from a bazaar.
    i wonder if those amazing food stores are still there on atlantic avenue…..or if they were part of the vanishing world.

  14. brooklyn, sahadi brothers et. al are still there on atlantic. so much good food…

    smith and dean streets

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