I already Slogged on Monday morning about New York Times writer Andrea Elliott's five-part story about Dasani, an 11-year-old homeless girl in gentrifying New York.

Sponsored
THE MYSTERY OF IRMA VEP – A Penny Dreadful, playing Feb. 8-26 at Intiman Theatre
Laugh till it hurts at this outrageous camp comedy the NYTimes calls “Wickedly funny!”

But at that point, I'd only read part one. All five together are pretty astounding. Add to that the videos, PDFs of reports on shelter conditions, and all the Internet discussions, and the story is generally sticking around like a nightmare that won't shake off. Which in this case I take to be a good thing.

If you only read one story before the end of 2013, please make it this one.

I especially love the way Elliott's approach—tight focus on Dasani herself—cuts off at the knees criticisms of Dasani's parents for having too many children, being on drugs, et cetera.

Because Dasani is the focus of the story. She exists. This is her life. This is what she's up against. This is who is coming of age.

Now what?

The piece is also a stunning damnation not just of gentrification, but of the way the conditions on either side of the gentrification process have become so extreme: artisanal absolutely everything versus dead babies and sexual assault and rats. It's not just Brooklyn; when Dasani's family moves shelters into Harlem, it's the same stark difference all over again.

At 9:26 p.m., Chanel and her children board the last van just before it pulls away. An hour later, the van approaches their new residence.

They are in Harlem.

Of the 152 shelters where Dasani’s family could have landed, they have somehow wound up at a six-story brick building on West 145th Street.

It feels different here. The block is awash in streetlights and teeming with pedestrians. There are fewer trees. But in other ways, Harlem is like Fort Greene. Nearby is a new bistro called Mountain Bird that offers a foie gras soup and a shrimp-bisque mac and cheese.

Remind anyone of anywhere around here?