"WHATEVER YOUR intentions, to be a member of the new, more privileged wave of residents in a gentrifying neighborhood is to be a part of a process that is displacing families who have lived there for decades, even generations. You have to be something of a moral idiot not to feel some queasiness about this."—Evan Hughes, "Consider the Gentrifier"
Branded by artists and writers, gentrified beyond recognition, self-worrying at questions of hipsterdom, appropriation, and authenticity—it's Brooklyn. It's Portland. It's the Portland-Brooklyn issue of Tin House, of which Hughes' insightful essay is the unofficial centerpiece.
Highlights of the issue, which pulls writers from both coasts, include Jon Raymond's self-interrogating report of a night spent at an Occupy Portland rally, torn between an attractive political cause and a dirty, drug-infested encampment. Raymond finds historical precedent for the street kids who gravitated to the Portland camp—the same kids who sprawl with their sad dogs on downtown street corners—in Don Carpenter's 1964 novel Hard Rain Falling. The piece is named for Carpenter's description of those hardscrabble kids, a lineage dating back to World War II: "The Broadway Gang."
On the Brooklyn side, CJ Hauser's "The Shapeshifter Principle" contains whispers of Junot Díaz: a sister cares for her blind brother, searches for her missing mother, wonders if a shapeshifter could ever capture the essence of the person it's impersonating. And Salma Abdelnour's account of exploring New York's Arab enclaves is a great piece of food writing that reminds us that though our hipsters look the same, Brooklyn and Portland really aren't so similar after all.