Is Brooklyn Expanding?

5 Jul

Dr. Flicker says that the universe won’t be expanding for billions of years and we’ve got to try to enjoy ourselves while we’re here. 

That wraps up my favorite flashback to Alvie Singer’s Brooklyn childhood in Annie Hall

I post it here, in part, because you may not remember it, but mostly because I get pleasure out of seeing it on my blog, as if I might now boast a fraction of ownership in the thing.

So, here it is, in its uncomfortable hilarity:

Last night, I read  this article in the Mercury News about climate change and its (now nearly) irreversible effects on the health of our oceans, and I began fretting to my husband about the many figurative ways in which I perceive a catastrophic expansion of the universe.

He may have felt like exclaiming: “WHAT IS THAT YOUR BUSINESS?”

He did not, but he did remind me that:

Brooklyn is not expanding.

I was sorry as soon as he said it. These words (so well worn at our house) place one party (me, this time) squarely in the role of neurotic child jockeying to get out of all manner of homework and, instead, delight in despair.

And the speaker unwittingly takes on the role of stolid, uncomprehending, positively Fellini-esque mother and therapist. Really, nobody comes off well.

And, then (I didn’t say this, but I thought it), what if things have actually gotten so bad that Brooklyn really is expanding? What then?

Is Brooklyn expanding?

Don’t you ever feel like slouching down on the couch, looking up at the adults sulkily through your thick-rimmed glasses, and demanding: “What’s the point?”


35 Responses to “Is Brooklyn Expanding?”

  1. carrah July 5, 2010 at 10:25 pm #

    I think Dr. Flicker is right! And I intend to enjoy our beautiful beaches which are not (yet) covered with oil, But I don’t know-I think maybe Brooklyn is expanding.

    • jenny July 6, 2010 at 12:35 pm #

      Carrah, welcome to my blog…umm, I mean: Hi, mom!

  2. Cheri July 6, 2010 at 1:02 am #

    Yes. I find myself doing this all the time to the adults I know.

    • jenny July 6, 2010 at 12:32 pm #

      Any sulking is hidden behind the dark glasses. Good move.

  3. Andreas Kluth July 6, 2010 at 3:36 am #

    I loved that movie and that moment in it.

    Brooklyn is definitely expanding.

    • jenny July 6, 2010 at 12:39 pm #

      Sure. Just the answer I expected from a member of the liberally biased media!

      • Andreas Kluth July 13, 2010 at 2:45 am #

        LSM, they call us. Lamestream media.

  4. lyndabirde July 8, 2010 at 8:48 pm #

    ahem. as I’ve not been to Brooklyn EVER, how do I know? Carrah’s in Florida, I’m in VA, God’s is in His heaven, and all’s right with the world. Hmm.

    You still have to sweep the floor and fold the towels even though you’ve done it before and you’ll do it again. Do you hope to improve the task or abolish it? Irreversible THEY say.

    Do you know how many cockroaches are in Virginia? I never saw one before moving here. Are they part of the food chain? I don’t know why they have to be here. Exterminators. What is the point and are there cockroaches in Brooklyn?

    Your writing always amuses me and makes me feel like you’re standing here saying all of this. Hmm. This may be a clue to your expressive reflections–uninterrupted monologues explosive with questions to make us sit up.

    • jenny July 9, 2010 at 11:59 am #

      Lynda, you mentioned sweeping, and I was reminded of a moment in Fiddler on the Roof that jibes with my theme:

      Just before Tevye and family flee Anatevka (and that particular civilization is lost forever), Golda insists on returning to sweep the dirt floor of their house. Tevye laughs.

      I guess I think our global Anatevka will be around for my children and their children, but sometimes my small efforts at creating a better world feel like Golda’s last minute sweeping.

      • lyndabirde July 9, 2010 at 2:54 pm #

        yes, it’s a woman thing, a nurturer’s habit. Sylvia Plath cleaned her house and prepared food before putting her head in the oven, you know.

  5. mr. crotchety July 11, 2010 at 4:37 am #

    It (expansion) is a question of dark matter. If we (the large hadron collider, e.g) find evidence of sufficient dark matter, the universe will expand until it starts to collapse. Then you’ll have something else to worry about. Moreover, experiments like the LHC and launching space shuttles (to study climate change, e.g.) are so consumptive, they are bound to forsee and fulfill our doom simultaneously — sort of like burning a woman to see if she’s a witch.

    • jenny July 12, 2010 at 12:41 am #

      Ummm…Mr. Crotchety: I wish I could say that I nodded in sympathetic agreement at your mention of the large hadron collider, but my response was more like…huh?

      I have done my research now. I chose Wikipedia, thinking that here would be the friendliest explanation for a girl with a spotty education in the hard sciences. Here, though, is a representative sentence:

      “It is anticipated that the collider will either demonstrate or rule out the existence of the elusive Higgs boson(s), completing (or refuting) the Standard Model.”

      …the elusive Higgs boson(s)…it’s all I’ve been able to think about all day…

      Stop by any time, Monsieur Crotchety. Thanks for reading. I take it you think I should stop kvetching. Done.

      • mr. crotchety July 13, 2010 at 12:47 am #

        no. no. you do what you need to do. my comments are just graffiti.

        check out the large hadron rap on youtube

      • Andreas Kluth July 13, 2010 at 2:44 am #

        All that talk about the elusive Higgs boson reminds of a lass I once knew whose name was not quite but almost Higgs. She had a bosom. It was elusive.

      • jenny July 13, 2010 at 12:06 pm #

        Andreas: She blinded you with science….

  6. mr. crotchety July 13, 2010 at 7:46 pm #

    I think it had something to do with the size of your collider. (sorry, you walked right into that one, AK.) I think we have the elements for a new limerick.

    • jenny July 14, 2010 at 6:04 am #

      Interesting graffiti this morning.

      Mr. Crotchety, did you just promise to produce a limerick? I read it that way.

      By the way, I love the rap on youtube. It has some 6 million hits!

      Times are tough. Can’t we cash in too?

      Your limerick could be the centerpiece for a collection of literary endeavors (all genres represented) dedicated to remembrance of Higgs boson(s) past and all manner of colliders–large, small or just the standard model, which, I note, is yet to be refuted. 😉

  7. Mr. Crotchety July 14, 2010 at 5:52 pm #

    Miss Higgs filled a sweater much higher and tighter
    Than science alone could explain to a writer
    He said love is a curse
    But bosons are worse
    So his Hadron Collider grew longer and wider

    • jenny July 15, 2010 at 5:23 am #

      Ahahhahaha! A capital limerick! With corresponding effect on your nom de keyboard, I notice.

      You cannot be answered, Mr. Crotchety; but, here, let me put on a pot of coffee, shake up my can of spray paint, and see what I can contribute. I have an idea.

      • jenny July 15, 2010 at 5:47 am #

        Though his praise for Miss Higgs was effusive
        And the proof of his ardor conclusive
        Sometimes love passes by
        Leaving writers to sigh
        Over longed-for Higgs’ bosons elusive

  8. Mr. Crotchety July 16, 2010 at 12:18 pm #

    OhMG. That’s great.

  9. Andreas Kluth July 17, 2010 at 12:28 am #

    Colliding all round her were largish hadrons,
    the atomic version of virile squadrons,
    and yet on her boson
    a sign said ‘No, son,’
    for Miss Higgs quantum-lept only with matrons.

    • Mr. Crotchety July 17, 2010 at 8:01 am #

      I get it. A question of Ms. Higgs’ polarity.

    • jenny July 17, 2010 at 8:41 am #

      There’s no other explanation
      For so strange a dispensation!

  10. Andreas Kluth July 17, 2010 at 12:29 am #


  11. Richard July 17, 2010 at 2:06 am #

    You’ve heard of cyclotron CERN?
    (It raised questions of worldwide concern)
    For there Miss Higgs had had Ron.
    Her boson span round at “Hard on”,
    And raised other issues in turn.

    • jenny July 17, 2010 at 8:26 am #

      “Had had Ron” — Terrific! 🙂

  12. Richard July 17, 2010 at 2:17 am #

    I forgot to mention “Collider”
    For that we should not deride her.
    Don’t give it a miss
    Because she’s not Swiss
    It’s something she just felt inside her.

    • jenny July 17, 2010 at 8:22 am #

      Not by way of criticism, but rather as an indication that great minds think alike, I should tell you that I, too, contemplated (but resisted) the collider/inside her rhyme. I felt it was too explicit for someone of my gender profile.

      • Richard July 17, 2010 at 1:46 pm #

        What? Oh, I see. I am shocked and outraged that you should place such an interpretation on my innocent little rhyme. As great mind, you are clearly on your own.

  13. Mr. Crotchety July 17, 2010 at 7:58 am #


  14. jenny July 17, 2010 at 8:06 am #

    Let’s give credit to our Mr. Crotchety
    For proposing ideas top-notchety.
    Then wits Richard, Andreas
    strut their stuff on the dais;
    So where’s Cheri? Off playing hop-scotchety?

  15. Richard July 18, 2010 at 1:15 am #

    There was a young lady in Moscow
    Who left with a heart full of sorrow
    Now wasn’t it nice
    With a vodka and ice
    In Petersburg or Gulag Archipelago

    • jenny July 18, 2010 at 7:42 am #

      Well, Richard, OK, fair enough. I guess if I put my anxieties out there for the world to read, they are as fair a subject for limericks as any physics experiment.

      This is a real zinger.

      I suppose it’s too late to protest that the girl in Russia is the product of my fanciful imagination and that I, myself, have never ventured beyond our fields of corn and soybeans?

      • Richard July 18, 2010 at 12:02 pm #

        It never occurred to me,alas.

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