Archive for March, 2008

Psalm 23

Posted in Uncategorized on March 28, 2008 by wally426

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 28-03-2008  Brooklyn, NY

I lay in my bed Wednesday evening unable to get the murder on Carroll street out of my head.  I wondered what the house looked like. How many steps did the killer descend to get into the basement? Were there still blood stains on the concrete floors leading into the apartment? Was the victim able to speak his last words after his throat was slit? Did the scream come out as a whisper as the air escaped through his trachea? Was his ghost still lurking behind the basement window, still pleading for help that would never come? As I’ve always been curious about the macabre and mysterious unknowns of death, I decided to hop out of bed and take a walk to the crime scene. With hoodie up and head down, I walked past the old burnt out cars between third and fourth avenue, past the stumbling hookers and old Irish bar patrons, and finally traversed the lonely bridge over the Gowanus canal to 326 Carroll street. A light wind whipped through the buildings making the ribbons of police tape crackle and pop, aside from that there was just marvelous silence. I stood there for awhile, my head going numb to the fact that just a few hours earlier, something awful had happened here. The concrete was still wet from where the cops had washed the blood out of the hallway, leaving an odd peach tinge across the stones. After snapping a few quick shots, I took off towards home. My hunger for knowledge had been satisfied. On the way back over the old rusty bridge, someone had spray painted the word ‘kill’ three times on a wall. It served as another eerie reminder that this place had seen the seeds of murder sewn time and time again.

FUBAR

Posted in Uncategorized on March 26, 2008 by wally426

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26-03-2008  Brooklyn, NY

 The long trudge at work continues. The hours wane. The sounds of pushed keys, shuffled papers and distant shouts float constantly around the room. Florescent lights drown out the sun and collectively highlight a thousand years of blemishes. Everyone around me is in a rush to get their work out of the way, they’re flooded. However, I remain Moses in a dry seabed, surrounded by towering waters waiting to crash down. One would usually consider my work situation bleak and unappealing. However, I was notified last week that a new group needed some assistance on their end, and I willingly obliged to move over and help.

With this new spot comes a few extra perks: A cubicle to hang my pictures and retain some privacy, a new set of faces to look at on a daily basis, and most importantly a chance to let out the creative side that has been severely malnourished the past three years in product control. While I loved the long hours crunching numbers and co-mingling with the traders, the time has come to embark on a new trail in the deep dark wood known as finance. With this spot, I’ll be able to edit all of the quarterly earnings statements by the firm’s CFO, help put together the annual report, and send out snippets to the press. It will be a completely different animal, but one that’ll be wholeheartedly welcomed on my end.

Yesterday morning, I was woken up by an unusual volume of sirens outside my window. After checking the papers, it turns out some guy was stabbed to death a few blocks down on Carroll street. A neighbor found the door to basement knocked open and a man lying in a pool of blood on the floor. Aside from the fact that the guy was murdered, it was even more unnerving that the motive wasn’t personal. It was a stark reminder that the world I’d returned to wasn’t the same as the tree-lined red-roofed blocks of Flushing. Even though hipsters walk lazily along Bedford Avenue and Midwestern cosmo-drinking socialites flood the sidewalks of Flatbush, this is still Brooklyn. The character might be slowly draining from the borough, but the lowly street urchins and hoods from decades past still lurk in its darker corners. They show themselves from time to time… When the economy starts to slip into the red. When the confidence of the city’s implants begins to rise. When the necks of the destitute are squeezed. When the risk of slitting a throat doesn’t outweigh the reward of a few pieces of jewelry. When caring means nothing but feeding a habit or putting food on the table, that’s when they’ll come out from under the cracks in the sidewalk. Before I moved in, there were warnings that muggings, robberies and rapes were slowly on the rise, even in broad daylight. That was the Brooklyn I remember. Maybe that danger has always persisted, and I’ve just been living a sheltered life out in the Queens burbs? As crazy as it may sound, an environment like that brings character back to the table. When all is said and done, the implants from Michigan will run when the recession hits. They’ll run back to their own quiet tree-lined red-roofed blocks, where the things they knew growing up are all around them. They’ll go back home. Those who grew up in the city (and those who’ve felt like they always belonged here) don’t fear that type of change, it’s almost invited. They’ve all weathered the 80’s and early 90’s, the crack viles scattered along the crumbling sidewalks, the nights walking home with their eyes glued to the ground, the burnt out blocks and boarded-up windows, the red-lined nickle bags sold in the back of bodegas, the 25 cent peep shows lining 42nd street, the transvestite hookers of the meatpacking district, the syringes strewn on the beaches… It’s all part of our collective memory, a grittiness that comes back with a knot in the stomach and a lifted chin, just like riding a bike. We have no place to go but here, our home, our crumbling rebuilt palace, our cored apple, our lost city.  

Parquet Renaissance

Posted in Uncategorized on March 18, 2008 by wally426

18-03-2008  Brooklyn, NY

As I exit 130 8th Avenue, Angel the doorman greets me on the way out, ‘have a good time!!’. His voice bounces off the gritty brownstone surfaces across the street. Running up 8th avenue, I see the Brooklynites trudging home with heads to the ground, their long overcoats billowing in the wind. The run begins toward Prospect Park, a monstrous creation of city planners Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux in the late 19th century. The two previously laid out the plans for Central park, which coincidentally buried most of the funding for their new endeavor. After putting their creation together, most of the attractions were forgotten through the years and New York’s third largest park went largely by the wayside. Those who know Prospect well have a strong love for its gradually crumbling facades.

The blue lights of Grand Army Plaza blend perfectly with the darkening night sky, a scene so perfect it seems fake. Entering the park, my legs seem to be non-existent as I float past silhouettes on the track. Even though we’ve been apart for almost thirteen years, the park seems to welcome me back, its trees serving as open arms stretching in craggy matrices through the moonlight. The first half of the run is all downhill, and what a breeze it is! I pass the long meadow and the backside of the Litchfield Villa. The bandshell looms in the distance where old voices from summertime concerts can still be heard across the rolling hills. When I was a child, my teacher told us to pick a tree to keep company for the year. We had to visit it once a week, name it, make coal rubbings of the bark, introduce it to friends and collect its leaves through the seasons (Only in Brooklyn and Vermont could a teacher get away with this). I chose a huge majestic oak named ‘Charlie’. He was there by the side of the path waiting (as usual) as I ran past. His thick old branches seemed to pick up, like the tail of a dog patiently waiting for his master to come home. I run past the trail that leads to the old Quaker cemetery. Its cold slate tombstones have heard the roar of British muskets, the footsteps of Victorian couples strolling the musty trails, the crack of Duke Snider’s bat echoing from Ebbets field, the constant wailing sirens during the crown heights riots, and the firework’s boom of past new years celebrations. Their memory is as timeless as the bones that rest beneath them. The enormous lake comprises the next leg of the run. Swans slip in and out of cattails that line the shoreline, gliding along as specs of grey light on a black canvas. They silently pick through the Styrofoam cups and wet moss as the chilly waters caress their underbellies. After rounding the lake, the run is more than halfway done. I brace myself for the inevitable incline, but only a trickling uphill slant lies ahead of me. The gradual incline turns into a quarter-mile long mountain that streches to the summit of mount Prospect. I huff and puff my way back into the plaza, lungs grasping for air between the stitches that now rack my diaphragm. The seemingly easy run had turned into a nightmare of shallow breaths and profuse sweating. Angel greets me with a quizzical look as I enter the building, ‘what the heck happened to you, Weel?’ 

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My lost city

Posted in Uncategorized on March 5, 2008 by wally426

05-03-2008  New York, NY

Snow had fallen overnight, creating a pristine blanket over the concrete metropolis. You could hear something that was quite elusive in this city, silence. The distant sound of a bird chirping and the gentle thumping of huge snowflakes coming to rest on the rusty tin roofs was all that remained. Even cars are muted by the ivory swath, the sound of their wheels churning sound like the blades of a helicopter far off in the distance.

As nice as the first snowfall is, the scene in Times Square after work becomes a black nightmare. I walk towards eighth avenue, away from the throng of tourists sliding in the frozen muck. After stopping at a light, I notice a young girl standing next to me. Cigarette smoke curls around her lips, tracing the outline of her nose before fading into the yellow glow of the streetlamp. Her eyes sink into cavernous sockets, revealing a wet glint as headlights pass by. She seems young, but has that weathered look of a hard drinker. Has her youthful innocence passed as quickly as the lights across her sunken eyelids? The cars on eighth avenue form an endless parade, streaking past in a blur, spraying those who walk into the street with a fetid mixture of oil, dirt and slush.

 What happened to the beauty I’d witnessed this morning? How quickly that seemingly warm white blanket had been pulled back to reveal the darkness of this lost city. I fled north to the park to see if that wintry splendor could somehow be recaptured. There, along the gilded paths near the old carousel, a magnificent scene unfolded before my eyes. Through the contrast of old gnarly trees that were scattered around central park, I saw the brilliant lights of Manhattan. They hovered above the treeline creating a celestial orange aura that made the snow-covered hills look like an enormous tangerine sorbet slick. The people walked their dogs over the ancient Victorian bridges, their black silhouettes gently cascading over the vast expanse. For a brief moment, the city took on a form that I’d seen earlier in the day. Much like the people that live within its borders, New York is a writhing chameleon that constantly changes and adapts to its environment. What a wonderful experience it is seeing these extremes on a daily basis.