Saturday, May 29, 2010

I haven't exactly been barrelling along with learning Brooklyn Ferry, but I am well into the third (long) stanza, and know the lines to that point pretty well. So I'm over a fifth of the way through. The lines are beautiful to speak, but hardly easy to learn, because they're long & somewhat irregular. There's also so much repetition, so much swooping back to river, sunset & crowd, that it's easy to drift into the wrong place in the text. It's really quite cool though, to sit on the subway, or walk on Broadway, watching the crowds, with Walt's words stored inside your head, knowing that he wrote them for the here and now moment, just for you,& you too, that 150 years is bridged in an instant.

Chelsea, Dusk

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Go Away, Please

Red Hook is teeming with weekend visitors these days .... too many, too many. Walking back from Carroll Gardens to the Slope this morning, I passed a chubby real estate agent promising a young couple that Gowanus was all set to be "the next French Riviera". Seemed a bit extreme, even in realtor-speak.


Thursday, May 20, 2010


I've always liked the plaster Madonna in the front yard of this run-down frame on Eleventh Street between Sixth & Seventh, but it was only today that I noticed the much smaller religious figures hanging out inside the house itself, several of them peering through the transom, and one (J.C.?) keeping a low profile at the side of a window on the first floor. The house has been empty for some time now, with only this forlorn little crew standing vigil.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Crossing Brooklyn Ferry

A couple of days ago I decided to try and memorize Crossing Brooklyn Ferry. It's 145 lines long, and so far I'm pretty good up to line twenty or so. This project may be doomed to failure (how on earth will I store 145 lines in my brain?), but it's a shocking and intimate experience to step inside the voice of the poem, far more intense than a mere reading of it could be.

Briarwood/Van Wyck

Now that I've started breaking up my commute, to pop up, meerkat like, mid-journey, I decided it was time to actually see what it was like above ground on my F-line trip through Queens. I know all the Manhattan & Brooklyn stops, & am all too familiar with the rat infested Sutphin Boulevard stop*, but I knew none of the other Queens stations I pass through, except for the bustling Roosevelt Ave. stop. So, first things first, today was the turn of Briarwood/Van Wyck. This turned out to be a real downer. You get out of the station to a bland, stretch of concrete, with Queens Boulevard & the Van Wyck roaring beside you. The architecture is grim, the sad stretch of storefronts across the boulevard unenticing, and the general atmosphere totally forbidding to the would-be pedestrian. Robert Moses land, in extremis. I stayed outside for about a minute and a half, and then scurried back underground. The only interesting thing about the stop itself is that it contains a Transit Authority police station. But peering through a window, the officers looked pretty tired and bored, with perhaps the only business on the horizon a late afternoon donut run.
*Actually the Sutphin Boulevard stop isn't so bad. The rats on the platform are never pleasant, but its proximity to the Queens courthouses gives it a slightly Dickensian air. Always a curious assortment of travellers on the platform, always a lawyer in a cheap suit, always a faint whiff of a shabby secret or two.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

14th Courtyard

What about this cobbled yard? You'd feel you were in quite another time if you looked out of your window at this everyday.