Connecticut Attorney Trashes The Bronx In Review Of Monet’s Garden At The New York Botanical Garden

Screenshot of New York Botanical Garden's Website

In a piece published in Litchfield County Times up in Connecticut, “Monet on the Hudson, A Bronx Tale“, attorney and author of the story, Deyan Ranko Brashich, spends more time dissing the Bronx than actually focusing on his review of the beautiful exhibit at the New York Botanical Garden.
The first half of the review is basically Brashich’s myopic view of the Bronx and he spares no details to paint a distorted reality of the Bronx to the point that at times it appears to take rather bigoted undertones.
Like when he refers to Arthur Avenue as, “…Bronx’ Little Italy, now in Sicilian Vespers death throes orchestrated by hard eyed Albanian immigrants, America’s newest version of the Mafia.
(No shock there since Brashich is from the former Yugoslavia where ethnic Albanians suffered ethnic cleansing with Serbs trying to drive them out of Kosovo). Then there’s a little jab where he’s talking about driving along the Sheridan and all the negative, gritty things you see including, “…up the street, they sell watermelons from the back of trucks as traffic whizzes by.
The title of the piece is as inaccurate as it gets, Monet on the Hudson? Apparently geography is not his strong point since NYBG is located on the Bronx River not the Hudson. He then  gushes on Riverdale and Fieldston with their manicured estates and they seem to be the only places worthy of praise because the rest of the borough is for the most part, “…Baghdad on the Hudson, or “Bagdad-on-the Subway”, as O. Henry calls it. But flowers do bloom in ghettos and the Bronx now boasts Monet’s sublime water lilies.
Excuse me Mr. Brashich but in O. Henry’s “What You Want“, the short story opens with the line, “Night had fallen on that great and beautiful city known as Bagdad-on-the-Subway.”
Nowhere in the story does it refer to the Bronx nor modern day Baghdad as a matter of fact but of New York City as a whole and a Baghdad of well over a century ago which he describes as an, “occidental city of romance“.
The Bronx is far from perfect. It is not paradise but it is our home and the place where many of us fought to keep our communities alive when our government, landlords and financial institutions abandoned us out of pure greed.
A better tale to tell when describing the Bronx might be how it is now a vibrant borough where the residents did what the nation and the world thought impossible: make it a place where people want to live and call home. Or that Melrose, once mostly burned out buildings and rubble strewn lots became the first and only LEED Certified Neighborhood District in the State of New York.
Perhaps Mr. Brashich should focus more on the exhibit rather than cowardly, sensationalsitic garbage which he thought his neighbors in Litchfield County Connecticut would be interested in reading.

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Ed García Conde

Ed García Conde is a life-long Bronxite who spends his time documenting the people, places, and things that make the borough a special place in the hopes of dispelling the negative stereotypes associated with The Bronx. His writings are often cited by mainstream media and is often consulted for his expertise on the borough's rich history.

  1. I am writing in response to Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.’s letter complaining that my Op-Ed piece, “Monet on the Hudson”, is “libelous and entirely unforgivable”, demanding a retraction on “behalf of the people of the Bronx”.

    Far from denigrating the Bronx, I am one of “The” Bronx’ greatest fans. I know Arthur Avenue well since I often visit and indulge myself in its pleasures. As for Jerome Avenue, well it is just Jerome Avenue with the El rumbling above. You must be blind not to see Dyke’s Lumber as you drive down the Sheridan Expressway or miss the strip joint at the exit across from the bus depot, where buses do in fact overnight. As for the water melons, over the years I have bought dozens from the back of trucks, and enjoyed each and every one of them.

    But then I could write volumes extolling the beauty and grace to be found in the Bronx. City Island is my very own Cape Cod and Mystic, Connecticut rolled into one and, on your way out, stop by the Bartow-Pell Mansion and Gardens. I whiles away afternoons at the Bronx Museum of Art, the Lehman College Art Gallery and even Wave Hill. There’s a lot more in “The” Bronx.

    I do not slander Albanians. I have spent nights in the arraignment part of the old Criminal Court Building and days on trial in Bronx Supreme defending them and other immigrants from ex-Yugoslavia. I embrace them as my country men and friends, attending weddings, baptisms and funerals. In point of fact I was best man at two Albanian weddings.

    Mr. Diaz and the guys who found me elitist and racist got me all wrong. This kid, me, was a dumb immigrant who went to PS 22 in Flushing, just across the Bronx Whitestone Bridge and lived through the terror of Junior High 16 in Corona, Queens with the Corona Dukes gang running wild. No elitist am I.

    This kid worshiped at that altar of baseball, Yankee Stadium on many an afternoon sitting in $1.25 bleachers seats. I played ball and ran cross country in Van Cortland Park. I played stick ball in the street with cars whizzing by and handball against brick garage walls. No tennis balls for me, thank you, I prefer pink spaldeens.

    While I remember the grand Concourse Plaza Hotel once had a cafe I never ate there, but I ate more pastrami sandwiches and drank more beers at the bar of the Yankee Tavern on 161st Street than you can shake a stick at. Knishes at Loeser’s hole-in-the wall Kosher Deli on 231st Street were the best, and ice cones of whatever nationality refreshing.

    Mr. Diaz finds my reference to that O. Henry’s “Bagdad on the Subway” offensive. He shouldn’t. It is praise for the very diversity that makes us, and especially me, American. I gladly agree with Mr. Diaz’ assessment of the Bronx’s progress, “You’ve come a long way, baby!”

    I do not apologize for my views since they were made by one who has
    “Da” Bronx and Queens is in his blood. I revel in the Bronx in all of its incarnations good, bad and ugly, but you got’s to call a spade a spade, but I love the Bronx, warts and all, and always will.

    Deyan Ranko Brashich