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.

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