Coney Island Avenue (4/19/08, Saturday)
The avenue’s squalor and tackiness abuts the greenery, Victorian charms, and near-rustic placidity of Kensington/Flatbush/Ditmas Park. In this juxtaposition one sees the epitome of Brooklyn’s profound resilience and allure—the Glorious Mesh: naked commerce cum residential life . . . A stretch of miles with no building higher than four stories and nary a chain store in sight, family/homespun businesses wall to wall. (In another time this would not be remarkable, but today it stands as one of Brooklyn’s distinguishing features vis a vis America at large.) . . . Wind-blown streamers sizzle in the used car lots . . . muezzin’s call to prayer . . . further down, Midwood section of the avenue, every place shuttered for the Sabbath.
Union Street Bridge (4/20/08, Sunday)
Every loose shingle, every paint-chipped building ledge or grating— Patinas of decay: oh to see it all, every time, with the faculty of complete, virtuosic sensitivity and awareness. Or, like now, brimming with imperfect humanity and entrenched cognitive/sensory flaws: to notice something different each time I pass—the wonder of the details, the pleasures of discovery . . . The textures of ruin lead me to muse on the process of sensitization and the feeling of power that comes from growing sharper, more attuned vs. the oblivion/inattention of all the times before (evidence of obtuseness/desensitization). Knowledge and proficiency; wonder and oblivion—a cause for celebration and despair (simultaneously).
Bennett’s, Ft. Hamilton Parkway (4/22/08, Tuesday)
The Mets are playing a rare weekday afternoon game and I ask the bartender to turn it on, for I find a solitary drink in a bar while watching baseball a rare pleasure. Johnny the bartender busts my chops (and everyone else’s, he tells me). He’s a real wag, funny, roughly personable in that Brooklyn way, with his steel gray, pompadour-like helmet hair. “This is one of the top five bars in all of Brooklyn,” I chirp, to which he pours me another shot of bourbon (I didn’t need that) . . . Jukebox: “Oh oh oh it’s magic”; Mungo Jerry, “In the Summertime” [someone turns it up]; “Ring of Fire” . . . A Steve Buscemi lookalike at the other end of the bar is getting the business from Johnny, as is the only woman in the bar, who’s glued to a cell phone . . . “She would give asprin a headache . . . she’s got the minutes ‘cause boy she can talk . . . shut—da—fuck—up!”