Spring Fever (The Brooklyn Streets are Calling to Me)

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!”


Brooklyn Army Terminal

During the Second World War, the Brooklyn Army Terminal processed about 85 percent of U.S. supplies and troops for the war effort and employed 10,000 civilians. In the 1980s, the Brooklyn Army Terminal was converted by the City of New York to a rental facility for industrial and commercial businesses.

Source: Wikipedia

“Elvis took a troop train from Memphis to the Brooklyn Army Terminal [where] he and other inductees would ship out to Germany, where Elvis spent most of his Army career for the next two years.”

Source: Forgotten New York