Greenpoint Photos Du Jour: Art Lovers Special

184 Russell Street August 30 2015 cropped

Every time I walk by a construction site (which is pretty much every day I leave the apartment nowadays) I wonder how the neighbors must deal with it. This is especially true of sites which strike me as being, how shall we say, sub-par from a professional stand-point. Well, this property (which bore the vestiges of a Stop Work Order which appears to have been lifted) piqued my interest so I went in for a closer look. I’m glad I did!

Construction fence cum art gallery nys

A neighbor has elected to use this opportunity to create an open air art gallery! The curator seems to have a taste for landscapes, but as you can see black velvet genre (a bullfighting scene, no less) abstraction are also represented. But it does not end there.

Art exhibition on Russell Street detail

No sir, there’s more! Note the still life of a Harpoon ale bottle. However, without argument the following was the show-stopper…

Vampire clown with black cat cropped nys

I call this one “Vampire Clown with Black Cat”. What it lacks in “technique” it more than makes up with subject matter and, um,  feeling. Sweet dreams, Garden Spotters!

The Word On The Street: Mixed Signals

Dekalb Avenue 1 nys

Dekalb Avenue 2 nys

From Dekalb Avenue.

A New York Shitty Photo Essay: Edward’s Gift

The Queens Way600

Be it ever so humble600

Borden Avenue Bridge

To Infinity 600

Adrift 600

Today, upon awakening to another beautiful day, I threw on a sundress, my comfiest flip flops and went for a walk around the industrial hinterlands of Long Island City. This may not be everyone’s idea of how to spend a Sunday morning— but I think we have established I am not “everyone”. What’s more, I wanted to head back to the Thomson Avenue Bridge to get a better shot of the missive which graces this post. It also graces the beginning of this one:

Spread Love The Queens Way

After my mission was accomplished and on a lark I decided to swing by the Hunters Point and Borden Avenue Bridges. I am a bit of a geek that way. It was near the latter— the former premises of Goldfingers, to be specific— I met a gentleman who was kind enough to give me a present. These:


They should revive if you get them in water quickly enough. I got them (pointing) over there. I picked the nicest ones.


Exactly how these feral flora found their way to the sidewalk in front of a shuttered strip club is anyone’s guess. The same goes for why this fellow elected to give me a pair of them. Nonetheless, it was a cute gesture so I thanked him and continued my shutter-bugging. My activity caught his interest.


Me (to my curious compadre): Not only is this place closed, but by the NYPD no less. Impressive.
Flower Bearer: This is the kind of place where unusual things can happen.
Me: I can only imagine.

He then asked me if he could join me on my walk as he was headed to the subway (so as to go home). I thought about this for a minute and answered:

Sure, why not?

This may fly in the face of what we are told is “common sense” but the fact of the matter is I like talking to strangers. He then admonished me:

I like to make people more comfortable with me being around. That is why I gave you the flowers. I “smoke” if you know what I mean. I hope that doesn’t bother you.

I am not 100% sure what you mean, but whatever. Fine.

I replied. So off we went— and soon enough it was ascertained exactly what he meant.

If I am walking with you, guys are more likely to leave me alone.

And then he proceeded to show me exactly how he surreptitiously smokes marijuana in public. I will not divulge this chap’s “trade secret”. Suffice it to simply say he is quite proud of it. Nonetheless— being the gentleman that he is— he offered his handiwork to me. I demurred:

No thanks, I was sort of born medicated.

He found this amusing, gave an impish grin and noted:

I have a motorcycle. I have been all over. I have probably smoked grass on every street of this city.

I stopped, laughed and said:

We all have to have something to aspire to.

He laughed at this and, with the ice being broken, began to tell me his story. I got the ball rolling as follows:

Where are you from? You have an accent.

Southern Germany

He replied.

Me: AH! I was going to say Poland— I live in Greenpoint. My landlords are Polish— but I was close!
My new friend: My landlord is Greek. He’s quite a character. He drives a tow truck.
Me: I have had a Greek landlord. I think I’ll with my present one thank you very much!

I stop to take a photo of this…

Time Well Spent 600

and explain to my travelling companion:

I like to take photos of things people write on walls.

He asked if I was a photographer. I said:

No, not really.

He then proceeded to tell me he started taking photos as a child in Germany. His first camera was a Brownie. Still, he gained a passion for photography after immigrating to the United States after his daughter was born. He took photos of her first frolick on the beach at Coney Island. At first she was scared, he explains, but eventually she got into the swing of things with gusto. After that, he was hooked.

I have thousands of photos on my computer at home.

He said.

Ha! So do I!

I replied. We laughed. Spying some rough terrain ahead, I tell him I am going to walk around it via the street.

He noted that said obstacle smelled very nice. I asked him if, since he clearly enjoyed the smell so much, if I could take his portrait. He agreed on the condition I take a portrait of him using his cell phone as well. A deal was struck!

Edward 1 600

Onward we went. I stopped to capture this…

Death Is Free 600

and afterward he continued to tell me his story.

I immigrated to the United States in 1959. I was born in a forced labor camp in Germany. My grandparents were Polish. They and my mother lived in Warsaw. She was taken to a labor camp with me in her belly! I never knew my father. He died during the Warsaw Uprising. My mother did not learn this until six years after the fact from the Red Cross. She later remarried and so I got a half brother.

Me: So I was not exactly wrong when I guessed you were Polish!

(Nodding to affirmative) Germany was a pretty open place after a war. Men would openly approach women and the other way around. A lot of my friends got heavily into sex. They got crazy.

Me: Well, I can imagine people were simply relieved the war was over. A little craziness is understandable.

Some of them never came out of it. I got a little crazy too but went on to marry and have a family. I could never understand that.

Me: I honestly do not know what to tell you.

He then showed me photos of his mother, brother and childhood photos of himself on his “clam shell” phone. After the war his mother got work in Brussels as a housekeeper for a banker who wore a top hat and “tails”. He went to a Polish school and became fluent in not only German, but French and Polish as well) . He finished hs “presentation” with a photo of himself as a young man donning his army uniform. He was quite fond of it— and I can understand why!

I got divorced in the 1980’s. My wife was too strict, I guess. She was Polish. Still, I have a pension and grandchildren so I am happy!

Me (laughing): Yes, it has been my observation that Polish women can be that way. I think it is a generational thing. Those who remember the privation of the war and afterward (Communism). I cannot say I blame them. It’s understandable.

My new friend then asked if we could sit down for a bit. I gladly obliged him.

Edward 2 600

I am going to grab me some water.

He said.

Edward 4 600 2


It’s vodka!!!

(in a speaking voice, laughing)

I got this water at Flushing Meadows Park! I went there on my bike, then up to Astoria and back to Mount Vernon. I do not know if I like this city very much. It’s so crowded. It makes me uncomfortable.

Me: But isn’t that kind of the appeal? Being uncomfortable? I grew up in a part of the country where you had to hop into a car to simply buy groceries. Everyone had their own private houses with their own private yards. They didn’t know who their neighbors were— and probably didn’t want to know. Yes, this city can seem like an “anthill” but at least here folks can and do talk to each other. We’re talking to each other right now. You strike me as being happy.

Edward 3 6002

I am 69 years old. I am old. I may very well die soon. I do not know. Who knows? I donate blood and take my thyroid pills. I am sorry I do not have my teeth in today. I left them at home. I am trying to get them to fit right.

Me: No worries, this is Sunday— and I don’t care! That said, does anyone ever really “know”?

My grandchildren make me happy. My daughter was born with a hole in her heart. Right after she was born they conducted surgery on her to fix it. She was strong. So strong she later gave me a pair of twins for grandchildren!

Me: That’s great. Well, I have to get going It was nice meeting you?

(extending his hand)

Edward. And your name is?

Heather. It was a pleasure taking a walk with you, Edward!

And so on our separate ways we went. Me to the Pulaski and back to Greenpoint; Edward to the 7 train so as to start his journey back to Mount Vernon.  When I got home I promptly placed Edward’s gift in a vase. This did not go unnoticed by the Mister.

yellow roses

Nice flowers.

He said. To wit I replied:

I made new a friend while out walking today.

The Mister: Animal, vegetable or mineral?

A 69 year old gentleman who was born in a forced labor camp in Germany. I met him outside a shuttered strip club.

I replied. Taking this in stride (The Mister has come to understand a LONG time ago that I don’t make this shit up. In fact, the more outlandish the “story” may seem, the more likely it is true.) pointed out:

Yellow roses mean friendship.

I had honestly forgotten this.

I love this town. This one’s for you, Edward!

New York Shitty Day Ender: Breaking Bread, Greenpoint Style

As I complete the preparations for my “Turkey Day” feast— chile rellenos, rice, beans and salsa— I wanted to take a moment to personally thank any and all who volunteered today at the Church of the Ascension’s Thanksgiving dinner. Perhaps I even met one or two of you in passing? Who knows. In any case I hope all of you, gentle readers— be they volunteers or otherwise, have had as enjoyable evening I did— and maybe made a new friend or two? I certainly did. Which is why I am writing this post.

Since things were rather slow, I elected to bus tables. As I did I overheard two older women discussing the current music selection over their meal. More specifically: who authored the aria which they both agreed was quite beautiful. One of these music lovers I recognized immediately: she has a rather unique “look” of which I am quite fond. For starters, she sports a Mamie Eisenhower-esque hairdo (wig?) which is occasionally topped with a tiara. I suspect many of the Greenpointers reading this tome know of whom I am writing. She is often seen sleeping on our streets and bus shelters. I am not certain if she is “homeless” in the purest, traditional sense. What’s more, it doesn’t really matter. As you will see.

As I was busing her table, she and her companion thanked me for the lovely meal. I told her that I was only on hand to help clean and the real people to thank were Pastor Merz (the organizer of this event), John Ricco (whose Grandma Rose’s kitchen was pressed into service) and the many volunteers who worked day and night cooking to make it happen. She then inquired as to whether or not yours truly was going to take some turkey home to eat. I said “no” and added that after I completed my tasks I was going to go home and prepare my own meal. She was surprised by this. So I clarified:

I am a vegetarian. However, my husband is not. Since I do not permit him to cook certain types of meat (including turkey) in our apartment, I will fill a container with dark meat and drumsticks for his gustatory pleasure. I will make a “husband bag”!

She was pleased by this and offered:

My father was a vegetarian.


I, curiosity piqued, inquired.

Yes. But my mother wasn’t. Still, she married him anyway.

I found this to be very amusing and I told her so. She continued:

One time my mother cooked a whole chicken for him. He refused to eat it, so she threw it out the window.

All three of us laughed at this— and I recalled a similar such incident from my own life. In the spirit of good will and camaraderie, I decided to recount it for my new friends’ edification.

The first year my now husband and I lived together I bought a cake for his birthday. He told me I bought the “wrong” cake. He said he liked German chocolate cake.

I started.

Is he German?

She asked.


I answered— and continued my story:

That’s when I opened our living room window and held the cake outside of it. I told him one of three things could happen:

1. He could refuse to eat the cake and I’ll throw it out the window.

2. He could refuse to eat the cake and I’ll leave it on the stoop for someone else to eat.

3. He could eat the cake.

“What did he do?” she asked.

He ate the cake.

This was met with peals of laughter by my two new friends. There are a number of lessons to be learned from this story. Since it is Thanksgiving, I will stick to the two most relevant ones:

  • If you are married to a vegetarian, do not cook him (or her) a chicken— or turkey.
  • Greenpointers— be we newbies or “old timers”, “housed” or otherwise— have a lot more in common than you think!

The next time I see these ladies while knocking around the Garden Spot, I am going to say “Hi” and strike up a conversation with them. They are now my friends. Thanksgiving, as I understand it, is about breaking bread and sharing with our fellow man (or in this case: women). For yours truly this indeed came to pass today— provided of course one looks at the above tale from a certain point of view: we shared stories about breaking bread (be it sweetbreads a la chicken or just plain sweet as in cake). The exchanging of anecdotes about foodstuffs being jettisoned out of windows. If this is not an honest-to-god Greenpoint Thanksgiving, I do not know what is.

New York Shitty Day Starter: Help Wanted For Thanksgiving

November 18, 2011 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic, Love Thy Neighbor 

Hi Greenpoint Blogs, (Greenpointers and myself — Ed. Note)

Could you spread the word for us?

Ascension Church is hosting a free Thanksgiving meal from 12-6 pm.  We expect 150-250 people to come eat, and we need help prepping, serving and cleaning!  We’d love to get more Greenpointers involved in service at the Ascension Food Pantry, which runs a weekly soup service.

The Thanksgiving meal takes place Thursday, 12-6 pm at Ascension Hall, 122 Java Street.  Volunteers are also encouraged to eat!

Tuesday and Wednesday will be prep and cook days at Grandma Rose’s Pizza, 457 Graham Avenue between Meeker Ave & Richardson St ( The hot food will be transported by hearse to Ascension on Thanksgiving morning.  Yup.

WE NEED HANDS — not only on the day, but also prepping the food. It’s a great way for people to serve, even if they are leaving town.

Monday 11/21 7-10p [chop/prep]
Tuesday 11/22 10-6 [chop w Carmelo] or 6-9p [butter-massage los turkeys]
Wednesday 11/23 10-10p [misc prep and cook] or 6-10p [set up at Ascension]
Thursday 11/24 10-8p [carve, serve, and clean at Ascension — 3 hour increments]

Any and all vollies should contact Kathleen at greenpointfoodpantry (at) gmail (dot) com. Speaking as a vegetarian, methinks I’ll forgo the free vittles and “butter-massage” and volunteer for clean-up. Anyone care to join me?

A New York Shitty Exclusive: The Poo Corner Project

Earlier this month I shared the good news of a smart phone-sized (and curiously Kings County-shaped) pile of poo gracing the intersection of India and West Street (as seen at left in its replete fly-infested Greenpoint glory). I did so at the prompting of a tipster we’ll call “C”. She wrote:

I’m now naming India St between Franklin/West “poop alley”….someone either is pooping, has a huge dog, or cow on that street…theres like 50 loads.

I implored you, gentle readers, as to whom— or what— was responsible for these behemoth pieces of ordnance:

Does anyone amongst you, gentle readers, know who— or perhaps more appropriately what— is responsible for this? I’m intrigued.

I have received some very interesting leads as a result. One seems especially promising. It was with the person from whom I received this tip that I had a most interesting discussion. It basically went as follows:

1. Why does this person see fit to inflict these salvos of shit on his/her neighbors?
2. (following point #1) Does he/she think his/her neighbors simply do not notice? Given the rather foul perfume which permeates one’s nose upon reaching 32 India Street (the eastern perimeter of what I have since dubbed “Poo Corner”) I find this rather implausible.
3. (following points #1 and #2) Or does he/she not care?

I wanted— no, make that NEEDED— to know the answers to these questions. Thus I summoned my inner urban anthropologist/behaviorist to help me find an answer and in so doing the “Poo Corner Project” was born. Its basic principles/premises are as follows:

1. I am going to assume the party (parties?) responsible are under assumption that no one is troubled by these turds.
2. To correct this erroneous notion, I will circle and assign a number to each and every pile of poop I find in this area.
3. Each and every new mountain of merde henceforth will be circled, assigned a number and dated as to when I discover it.
4. Points #2 and #3 not only serve as some means of tracking the scat, but also to make it clear to their poopitrators that these annotations are not some random series of scribblings. I can assure you, this being Greenpoint, such a clarification is necessary.
5. All the previous points are predicated on the hope/expectation of observing how these errant dog owners will respond. Will they feel a sense of shame or persevere in their rather UN-neighborly behavior?

Thus far the results are rather compelling, if puzzling. Let’s review my preliminary findings as documented on November 12, 2011.


1. Fourteen “loads” were found.
2. The woman pushing the stroller in the background of #7 inquired as to what I was doing. I explained my project to her. She voiced her approval and added she once accidentally mired said stroller in one of these gargantuan dog bombs.
3. Upon recognizing that what I had on my hands (underfoot) was an archipelago of poop, I decided to roll with this concept regarding the rather impressive #10.

I call this piece “Booty” (for obvious reasons). Now let’s jump forward to November 14, 2011.

I observed in addition to unbagged poop someone has seen fit to bag— and yet dump— their dog’s poo in this area. I gave this an “A” for effort but “F” for follow-through.

Why would someone go to the trouble of bagging and not throwing this away in a garbage can?

I asked myself. Over and over.

I missed this somewhat weather-worn specimen. I assigned it a number but refrained from dating it.

Number 18 was discovered. Note its placement next to #11. And most curiously…

forty-eight hours later turd #13 has gone MIA. Once again, I asked myself:


November 15, 2011

Upon encountering two more “gift bags” of discarded doggie goodness I decided to ask the obvious question of its author:


In a similar (if reverse-psychologically motivated) move, I inquired as to the whereabouts of #13.

And lastly we have #19, as noted today November 15, 2011.


1. In terms of unbagged turdage, the growth rate stays at 0%.
However, it should be noted the gross rate has gone up significantly with #19 replacing #13.
Bagged turdage is, however, growing steadily.
4. Chalk needs to be left so as to facilitate a dialogue with these ne’er doo wells moving forward. No worries: it has been purchased.

To be continued…

The Word On The Street, Part II: Mercy

From Meserole Street.

From The New York Shitty Inbox, Part I: Repurposing

September 29, 2011 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic, Love Thy Neighbor 

A chap named Sal writes (of the above photographs):

I was going to lock my bike up earlier this morning. About 8:30ish. And I noticed “Enids” restaurant using the bike racks on the corner of Manhattan and Driggs as their own personal drying rack for their dirty floor mats. The wet mats were draped over peoples bikes.