A brief note on the lost world of Italian-American radicalism.
I walked by this sign last week in the window of a liquor store on Metropolitan Avenue in the Brooklyn area historically known as Italian Williamsburg. The sign was too easy a target for derision and dismissal: the communist hammer and sickle in a neon advertisement for Russian vodka beneath the name of the neighborhood that is ground zero for hipsterism’s ironic pastiche, commoditization of style, consumption of subcultural cool, and hypergentrification. Yet for me, the sign announced yet another example of the rewriting of social history that epitomizes gentrification practices with the established trope of bohemian colonization of the postindustrial city and the erasure of earlier histories.
Not much else is known about these two groups. The buildings where they were housed were razed in the construction of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway after World War II.