The New York Times is against Brighton Beach?

Welcome to Brighton Beach<br> Photo by Ari Kagan
Welcome to Brighton Beach
Photo by Ari Kagan

I read the disgusting story in NY Times (published on December 14) that was basically mocking & ridiculing the entire Brighton Beach community - with photos from funeral home & jokes about "Soviet exiles" who supposedly used to play backgammon games in... Siberian prisons (!!!).

The essay was written by Yelena Akhtiorskaya.
Photographs were made by Alexey Yurenev.

So, two Russian speaking immigrants decided to make fun of the great neighborhood that is described in a story as "the grumpy neighbor of Coney Island and home to a population of Soviet exiles".

What a nonsense! We are not Soviet exiles, expats or ex-Soviets. We are proud Russian speaking Americans. We love New York and raise here our children. And Brighton is not grumpy. It is welcoming, safe and unique neighborhood.

From the very beginning of this essay, the writer made clear her negative attitude toward Brighton.

"New Yorkers tend to discover Brighton Beach by accident. They set off for Coney Island, but through train mishaps or sheer excitement at the first sight of the sea, they get off at the wrong stop and are confronted with its grumpy next-door neighbor instead. If they do make it to Coney Island, they might stroll down the shore, until the sea turns to vodka and the newspapers turn Cyrillic. Regardless of how they get there, they seem to peregrinate in a fog, for which they can hardly be blamed: In Brighton Beach, questions are deeply frowned upon, then ignored..."

B is for Brighton Beach
"B is for Brighton Beach" -
great book/alphabet by Michael Salita

The writer did not notice here a concert hall at Master Theater and Larry Savinkin Street named after late President of 9/11 Family Group, large Brighton Menorah and Brighton Ballet, popular travel agency New Tours & Shostakovich School of Arts, Music & Dance, book stores, working parents with children. Instead, she wrote about vodka, homeless people, Russian mafia, old people as "frozen time capsules" & women in fur coats.

How do you like the following description:

"...ex-Soviets in the metropolitan area, most of whom do not actually reside in Brighton Beach but look down on it as a backwater dump where those who failed to move forward got stuck".

Brighton Beach is decorated for a holiday season  One of the Brighton photos by Alexey Yerenev
Brighton Beach is decorated
for a holiday season.
Photo by Ari Kagan
One of the Brighton photos
by Alexey Yurenev
from the New York Times

Such a biased story is totally unacceptable for a daily paper that promotes respect for immigrants.

I am proud to live among so many talented people at beautiful & friendly Brighton Beach!

Watch my video appeal to New York Times demanding the apology.



Ari Kagan
Democratic District Leader, 45 Assembly District
Brighton Beach resident