I’ve been seeing it a lot lately, the term “Western Queens.” And I don’t think that this is one of those instances where I just noticed something that’s always been there, and now I’m seeing it everywhere. No, I think this is a trend happening, that we’re in the very early stages of the creation of a buzzword. And I don’t like it.
What purpose does Western Queens serve? None. It doesn’t serve any purpose. Whenever you see it used on blogs or in conversation, it’s almost always in reference to Astoria or Long Island City. And that’s it, Western Queens. I guess it should be a little more encompassing, right? What about Sunnyside, Woodside, or Jackson Heights among others? I mean, if you look at a map of Queens, those are all definitely western neighborhoods.
I think what happened is that people who moved to Astoria and Long Island City started going around talking about how much they love Queens, how it’s such a great place to live. And then they probably ran into a friend or a coworker that grew up in Queens, but somewhere else, like Bayside, or Jamaica. And they did the whole, “Don’t you just love Queens?” thing, and after about two or three sentences of awkward conversation, it became painfully obvious that they didn’t know anything about Queens, not really, just Astoria and Long Island City. And so, determined not to make the same mistake again, they latched onto the term Western Queens. “Isn’t Western Queens great?”
I just picked up a copy of BORO magazine, it’s the free circular they give out at all of the cool coffee shops and paninierias around here. And on the cover, it just said, “LIC.” Inside, the editor-in-chief wrote his whole introduction, and he kept saying it, over and over again, Western Queens, it’s such a community, what a sense of place.
At my restaurant in midtown, we just started serving Singlecut Pilsner on tap. They make it right here in Astoria. And when the managers told the wait staff about the brewery and how to describe this particular beer, we were encouraged to read a particular script, to say something along the lines of, “It’s local, it’s from right over the bridge in Western Queens.”
Why does it bother me so much? Because I can just hear it, when you say Western Queens, what you’re really trying to say is, Cool Queens. And you really don’t even care about saying the Queens part, it’s the Cool that you’re really going after. It’s fad terminology, like when East Williamsburg was all anybody could talk about around five or so years ago, before everybody started making fun how ridiculous it was, East Williamsburg, just a clever marketing trick to get people to move to Bushwick, and now it doesn’t matter, go ahead and say Bushwick, that’s trendy as hell too.
But at least Bushwick is an actual neighborhood. Western Queens is just dumb. I’m telling you, just keep your ears open. Maybe you’ve never heard it before, but I guarantee that you will, over the course of the next year or so, one of your friends or coworkers is going to casually slip it into conversation, maybe they’ll invite you out for a drink at one of those cool beer gardens in Western Queens.
You know the New York State government actually tried to make a law a while back that would have prevented real estate agents from just making up trendy neighborhood names for random sections of housing across the city. Why? Because it’s just a cheap way to invent bogus prestige, to drive up rent prices in an already inflated market, yes, but it’s also just really lame.
Western Queens just sounds really stupid, and I’m hearing it a lot lately, and I wish that I wasn’t. But what am I going to do, right? I’m just some random guy complaining about an ever-changing city, and I guess that’s pretty lame too.