Dear Department Of Homeland Security

October 6, 2008 by
Filed under: Greenpoint Magic, Williamsburg 

False alarm. Please refrain from casing or otherwise harassing the patrons of the Russian Orthodox Church at 228 North 12th Street, Williamsburg (if you are engaged in such activities, like I’d know). It’s not their fault they were labeled as being a Mosque on this handbag.

Anyone who has walked around McCarren Park knows this edifice (which sports a number of crosses gracing its “onion domes”) as the Russian Orthodox Cathedral of the Transfiguration of Our Lord. Crosses = Christianity. Minarets = Muslims. This church was retrofitted with minarets.

This church, our church, wasn’t. Muslims (many of whom I call neighbors and friends) refrain from this kind of showmanship. That’s the way they are. The above-depicted crosses are a uniquely Orthodox kind of thing. Saw it in Astoria, see it here. To each their own.

I honestly don’t care what (if any) god my neighbors worship: good people are good people— and I have the pleasure of knowing a lot of good people here in Greenpoint. That said, I prefer the company of those savvy enough to decipher an Orthodox Church from a Mosque. If you’re going to profit off my neighborhood get it right. This is not rocket science.

Miss Heather

BIG PROPS for this post: al oof

…have you seen the williamsburg tote bag? there is so much not to like about it, but the main things that stick out to me are the misuse of the term ‘greater’ (to mean a little bit more than) in reference to Greenpoint (it’s all of Greenpoint, but only some of Williamsburg) and the mislabeling of the Russian orthodox church on McCarren park as “The Mosque”.

P.S.: This church is technically in Williamsburg. But their P.O. Box is in Greenpoint — or would that be “Greater Williamsburg”? 😉


9 Comments on Dear Department Of Homeland Security

  1. dearbirthday on Tue, 7th Oct 2008 9:43 am
  2. ah! that bag is actually produced by locals and i’m fairly certain that the mislabeling of certain establishments is intentional. i mean, kokie’s is on there.

  3. neighborhood threat on Tue, 7th Oct 2008 10:45 am
  4. Back when I was doing real estate, I had a building at Graham and Engert with four empty units, so I was up there a lot. I would tell clients to come up Driggs and turn right on Graham, as it was the easiest way for newcomers to find the place.

    One day, I am waiting, and waiting, and waiting. A client calls, they misjudged the time, they just got off the L train.
    5 minutes later, they call again, concerned that they are going the wrong way.
    I ask them to tell me what they see.
    “We’re at the mosque right now.”
    I panic, because the only mosque in the area I know of is on Eldert St (I believe), somewhere around Meserole. “How on earth did you get there,” I think, and ask them to please describe anything else they see.

    You know what the punchline is here.

    Every time I have told that story I have gotten a stern lecture that I can’t possibly expect people to know the difference between onion domes and a minaret.

  5. al oof on Tue, 7th Oct 2008 6:31 pm
  6. dear birthday,

    there is a huge difference between including a bar that used to be an icon of the neighborhood and mislabeling an orthodox church as a mosque. one is an homage to the history of hipsterism, and the other is cultural insensitivity. if they’d written ‘the church’ or some such, they could maybe have gotten people who attend that church to buy their bags instead of totally alienating them with their ignorance.

    when i asked the local who made the bag, ‘you know that’s not a mosque, right?’ he said that he didn’t. then he said, ‘well, everyone just calls it that.’ i’ve never called it that, and i’m local too. and i’d bet the people who attend the church (some of whom are probably local) have never called it that either.

    i could also take issue with the term ‘ghetto’ being used to describe the two ‘beaches’ on the bag, but, unfortunately, so far as i’ve seen, people do actually call them that.

  7. cebic_t on Tue, 7th Oct 2008 11:09 pm
  8. trying to be cool or hip or ironic…whatever. this is really pathetic and stupid. just get it right. it might not be there much longer anyway. it is really stupid to confuse this church with a mosque…especially in a city like NY. i am sure this is some liberal arts student from RISD or somewhere “exceptional” like that. i have been living here for 10 years and not once did i think it was a mosque. but to add to this…i was married to a serbian and i can assure you this is an orthodox church, greek or otherwise. in a way williamsburg/greenpoint is changing in exactly the direction it should. full of idiots. it has nothing to do with what made it livable at one point. where do they sell this bag??? at the bookstore on bedford? i dont even want to know.

  9. Caught My Eye on Wed, 8th Oct 2008 3:44 am
  10. […] NYShitty – Russian Orthodox Church Mislabeled a Mosque by some idiot Miss Heather is a loon (which we all know and love) so when she says "Muslims…refrain from this kind of showmanship. That’s the way they are." You know it is false, since she probably basis this on the peeps in her hood and on the secularized or westernized variety. I wish she'd just stick to taking pictures of crap, she's good at that. (tags: multiculturalism brooklyn) […]

  11. nutsinny on Wed, 8th Oct 2008 1:56 pm
  12. newyorkshitty & commenters…

    thanks for the stimulating discussion

    perhaps this ads to the discussion:

    hope so, best.
    David @ NINY

  13. al oof on Mon, 13th Oct 2008 6:12 pm
  14. hey you probably saw, but this bag was in the ny post today (and on gothamist, therefore.) the comments on gothamist are pretty dumb. my favorite part though is that the creators are actually saying they -intentionally- mislabeled the bag, even though they told me they didn’t realize it wasn’t a mosque. so they -want- to look like assholes instead of dumbasses, and now they are clearly both!

  15. dearbirthday on Mon, 13th Oct 2008 10:11 pm
  16. ok well i knew it wasn’t a mosque (yeah, crosses at the top are a key giveaway) and most of the locals i know do as well, but a friend’s dad who just happens to be a super genius came to visit from out of town and he didn’t know the difference. people tend to live in their bubbles and make mistakes that seem pretty stupid to anyone on the outside. it happens. i’m just saying that i doubt that this was a blatant attempt at cultural insensitivity and that people seem to be getting really upset over what amounts to a couple of dudes making a bad inside joke that didn’t actually hurt anyone.

    i don’t know them at all and i don’t mean to be excessively defensive of them, but it seems like maybe this is a case of people getting all up in a huff over what amounts to nothing.

  17. al oof on Tue, 14th Oct 2008 7:03 pm
  18. people don’t -attempt- to be culturally insensitive. it is essentially the definition of insensitivity that you not be -trying- to do anything. as i said, i think it’s funny that now they are saying, ‘it’s not that we’re dumb, it’s that we think it’s funny’. even though it was really that they were dumb. the people most in a huff about it are the people who they ignored when making the bag, the congregation of the church. if it -had- been a mosque, and they called it ‘the synagogue’, would you still not think there was anything wrong with that?

    the basic problem here is not that they were wrong about it being a mosque. the problem is that at no point did it occur to them to involve themselves in the culture that was here before they arrived. people move here like it’s a blank slate on which to build their (corporate fueled) indie rock art scene paradise. this bag is merely an illustration (literally) of that tendency.

    now, when it was pointed out to them that the building is not a mosque, it made more sense to them to -leave- the design alone and defend it with ‘everyone calls it that’, which again, illustrates just who it is they think comprises ‘everyone’, which would explicitly exclude anyone who attends that church. they told me they’d ‘consider’ changing it! not, oh shit, we’ll have to fix that next time, which seems a pretty reasonable response. in the post article, they say that ‘newcomers’ won’t recognize that building as a church (which is just not true) but would ‘recognize the domes’ as if domes means mosque? i mean, if they called the building ‘the domes’ or ‘the green domes’ or ‘the copper domes’ none of this would be an issue.

    so again, the problem isn’t just this bag, but the greater issue of people moving to north brooklyn and ignoring the fact that people have been living here consistently for the past 150 years. it was not a frontier. it was not an empty patch of land in alaska. we are not pioneers.

    i’m also not totally sure why a few blog posts and an article about the church folks feeling offended is people ‘getting all up in a huff’. the bag is insulting and ignorant and i’m not sure why there needs to be any defense of it at all. if anything, defending the bag is getting upset about nothing.

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