From the NY Times - In Queens: A Melting Pot, and a Closed Book:
...I lived for six years in developing nations, and upon my return to the States, I sorely missed those exotic environments. I figured the best place to find similar places was in the borough that claims more languages spoken and more passports possessed than any county in the world. Queens, I hoped, would be the ultimate consolation prize for a grieving former expatriate.
Over the next 18 months, I learned a humbling lesson. The underworlds of Queens are so authentic that they are impossible to discover, at least for a white American like me. The only authentic experiences I had were acquired as I sat alone in half-empty ethnic restaurants.
I should have realized early on that I was destined for outsider status.
When befriending locals proved difficult, I invited my Manhattan-based friends to explore Queens. Only three friends made the trip, and none of them came a second time.
Nightlife was downright depressing. Bars along Roosevelt Avenue were packed with Latino laborers who send currency back home via the dozens of money-transfer businesses along the drag. Each night, rows of men could be found draped over the bars, passed out. The only women I saw were the baristas. Almost all apparently were in the country illegally, hence afraid to talk to me.
I'm sorry you didn't find our vibrant diversity as exciting as borough hall and the Queens press make it out to be. Thank you for shattering the myth that we all hold hands and dance in circles here. This is an instant classic. As an astute commenter on another blog pointed out:
"This article brings out into the open the sad reality that all the different groups in Queens basically get along because they simply co-exist, keep to themselves, and don’t socially interact with each other. This is the modern day norm in the borough - we actually DON’T want to deal with each other (and this especially goes for the most recent arrivals, as was exposed in the article). There was much more interaction in traditional Queens communities in the past, when everyone had a stake in seeing the place where they lived improve. That type of neighborly-ness is vanishing and being replaced with absentee landlords and folks who don’t care because they’ll soon be moving on."