Sunday, May 15 . . . It rained all morning and there was a 60 percent chance of rain throughout the day. I would not be deterred—this had been on my calendar for months, plus I needed a respite of the kind only BayFest could deliver. So I made the trip (and it stayed dry).

En route to BayFest 2011 . . .

Someone threw out a record collection (under the overpass)

Emmons Ave., Sheepshead Bay

"J-Pop sensation Reni Mimura came to the U.S. to Share LOVE and JOY!”

“The Xylopholks play novelty ragtime music of the ‘20s dressed in fuzzy animal costumes.”

“The Shots & Friends: Rock ‘n’ roll bagpipe band”

“3:15 pm: FDNY Marine Unit Fireboat Demonstration”

The band played the Marine Corps theme as the hoses gushed

A taste of nature, at nearby Plumb Beach

Grassy knoll beside the highway, past the crab house parking lot

SLIDESHOW – Brooklyn by the Sea (Flickr)


Patinas of Decay (Spring Comes to Brooklyn)

Rhythm is the basis of life, not steady forward progress. The forces of creation, destruction, and preservation have a whirling, dynamic interaction.


Writing on the wall . . . ?

A late April stroll through Red Hook confirms that spring is nearing full bloom. The streets are alive with revelations . . . Sun-dappled and shadow-drenched, patinas of decay adorn the landscape in varied patterns. The decay seems less a manifestation of rot within than a veneer signaling the growth below; not a state of ruination, but a state of becoming—the surface giving way to sprouting vitality.

The roots of a small tree, like convoluted tentacles, burrow under a factory gate . . . The grit from a crumbling window ledge melds with buds from tree branches lodged in the grating above . . . Shrubbery grows along warehouse fences, interwoven with chain link openings . . . And ivy, supple, wondrous ivy—the way it snakes all over and throughout and between everything natural and man-made . . . Vegetation growing among the built world’s detritus heightens the sense of nature’s rebirth—a fresh, underlying force come to light, engulfing the sullied environment (when given a chance).

Home is where the heart is

A sunbeam shines through the latticework of a crane boom draped over the highway—a glittering symbol of the horizon/the future/growth. Jackhammers ring in the distance; destroying in order to create, pummeling the old to make way for the new.

In architecture and landscape design, it is now de rigueur to incorporate vestiges of the past into brand new projects. Often these elements are inoperative or “distressed," decayed if you will; used for adornment (a nod to history, a wink to the cognoscenti).

In the scrap business/recycling in general, old, nonfunctioning objects are transformed and reintegrated into the new landscape. In the existence of every such object, though, between its demise and rebirth, there is a singular moment. It occurs at the scrap yard, in a state of transition. In that moment the object, once a uniform piece off an assembly line, is like nothing else—the way it rusts, the gouges and the dents. It is unique, like a snowflake, a metallic snowflake.

Vegetation growing among the built world’s detritus heightens the sense of nature’s rebirth.

Majestic Decay

Unique to Brooklyn, especially Red Hook, the decay is up front—not behind a sunny fa├žade (a la suburbia). This rawness induces a more probing truth—authentic, inviting, a spur to wonderment.  That’s the allure of Red Hook, in essence.


Ikea in Red Hook: Once Was . . . (Street Art from the Construction Site)

Vestiges: A yellow bollard, from the shipyard that once stood at the site, peeks out from the fence

Former site of Lilly’s Bar

Before Swedish Modern arrives: Brooklyn Decrepit fills the void

Foundation Rising: Birth of a Big Box

Home is where the art is

What good are old walls for?

Related Post: Ikea in Red Hook: Globalization Comes to Brooklyn


Transit Limbo: Car Service Waiting Rooms

I need a car . . . “Five minutes”
no matter what
it is always five minutes

The car service thrives on door-to-door business. The walk-in passenger is like a stepchild, tolerated but never coddled.

The moment you take a seat in a car service waiting room, you enter transit limbo—hovering between stasis and mobility.

The occasional attempt to enliven the space, by adding plants or pictures, is well-intentioned but wrong. It yields the opposite effect. In this setting art and nature sadly remind you of the world outside, driving home the truism that waiting is the hardest part.

If you’re lucky, though, during your time in limbo you might see a few Greek drivers playing backgammon in a way that’s so loud and animated as to change your view of what you had always thought was a tedious game. Or maybe you’ll get to hear the strains of Arab music filtering in from a sleek Town Car parked outside, as the Jewish owner of the car service proudly shows you the Muslim prayer room in the back of the office.

At any rate, it’s never long until your car pulls up and sets you in motion, toward your destination, which if you’re really lucky, is back where you started: home.

One of the Most Dangerous Jobs in New York: Gypsy Cab Driver

SLIDESHOW – Castles of Limbo: Car Service Waiting Rooms (Flickr)


One Day Near Calvary Cemetery

A man came off the footbridge near Calvary Cemetery and was standing next to the Long Island Expressway. Someone there who saw him said he was disoriented. Cars were flying by and the noise was deafening. He kept muttering something about “Triangle Fifty Four” and going to see his cousin, who lived near there.

He had been discharged from a mental hospital the day before and was going to talk to his cousin about staying with him temporarily.

His cousin said he never showed up. His wallet was found on a grassy knoll beside the highway.