Cinco de Mayo (e)Special
Like any upstanding red-blooded American, my husband and I went out last night and dined on Mexican food. I had been invited to an art opening this particular evening, but there is no way I am going to listen to some (andro-american) artist pontificate about gifs when my time can be spent celebrating the overthrow of tyrants by guzzling sangria and eating beans. I have my priorities. They may not be good ones, but they are priorities nonetheless.
On our walk down to Cafe Mexicano II, I got an eyeful (and noseful) of Greenpoint goodness…
The person disposing of said mattress was not only kind enough to advise potential dumpster divers of this item’s latent defects, but also employed a “Jolly Roger” to drive the point home. I like pirates. Kudos.
You could see this from a couple blocks away… and you could smell it from twenty feet away. In case you are wondering, it smells exactly like it looks: BAD.
As I was taking pictures of this choice piece of ‘street art’, a local working-class Joe came up and told me the story behind it. This mess was made by the Department of Sanitation and he has been calling 311 for a couple of days requesting that it the D.O.S. pick it up. Let’s go over the previous one more time in case you missed it: this man is calling the city to request that the Department of Sanitation clean up the garbage they dumped in front of his house.
I feel for this guy. Not only does he live two blocks downwind from the smoldering Greenpoint Market Terminal, but now he has a rotten pile of tomatoes in front of his house. That really sucks.
Looks like I found another work by the Greenpoint dog doo sign-maker (and if you are reading this PLEASE contact me). The arrow is a nice touch; it clears up any ambiguity as to which “asshole” this order (?) is directed to. In a city of eight million+ people (many of whom answer to the moniker “asshole”) such clarifications are necessary.
Having more or less completed today’s Greenpoint (s)hit parade, I’d like to close with this image (from the women’s bathroom at McCarren Park) and an essay…
There are a number of people (family mostly) who wonder why the hell I want to live in New York City. Many more people (who reside in New York City) are perplexed as to why I like living in Greenpoint. I ask myself both of the previous questions on occasion— and fortunately when the specter of doubt darkens my soul, I come across something (like the above gem) which brings everything into focus.
I grew up in the ‘burbs. For those of you not in the know, the suburbs are not the restful pastures of refuge they purport to be. No sir; under the veneer of neighborhood associations, SUVs, and each tract home struggling to assert its individuality, lies dark neurosis and rage. This neurosis manifests itself in the maniacal pursuit of perfection and pointing out the shortcomings of others. There is no better example of this phenomenon than the inordinate attention and time dedicated to proper lawn care. I will illustrate this point with the following two anecdotes from my coming of age in Richardson, Texas.
Newton’s Third Law, Suburban Style: for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction
It was a hot summer afternoon and my father was preening our front yard bereft of sunblock while drinking beer. From the sanctity of my air-conditioned and storm-windowed bedroom I watched the following unfold:
Two dogs cantering down the block towards our house. “Dog #1” (who is roughly 20 feet ahead of “Dog #2”) parked his ass in front of our mailbox (which my father had saw fit to paint like the then West German flag which is odd given that his surname is of Polish/Lithuanian derivation) and took a dump. My dad noticed this and started cursing. This sight was only made more amusing by the fact that I cannot hear a single fucking word he is saying.
Take any Sylvester Stallone, Steven Seagal, or Jean Claude van Damme movie from the 1980’s and watch it without sound; they’re funny as hell. Once you remove plot and dialogue, the only thing left is an angry white male with veins pulsating on his beet-red temples shaking his fist and yelling. Over and over.
While my father bellowed profanity, “Dog #2” rebounded and ate the butt dumplins’ dispensed by “Dog #1”. After reassessing the situation, my dad (perplexed, but a lot less angry) went back about his work.
Not in my neighborhood: Newtonian Backwash
In any given subdivision that panders tract homes to the (diminishing) middle-class, you will find a trailer park graduate: a family whose financial means have enabled them to leave the trailer park, but the ‘trailer park’ has clearly NOT left them. My neighborhood was no exception. My father developed an unhealthy fixation OBSESSION with a house literally on the opposite end of the development from our own. The offenses committed by the homeowner in question are as follows:
- The house was painted with the exact same colors used by “What-A-Burger”: aqua blue, BRIGHT orange and beige. It was pretty fucking ugly, but at least they were maintaining the paint job and allowing it to crack and peel.
- The garden beds on their front lawn were cordoned off with beer bottles. Old tires were used as planters.
- Their front lawn had (*gasp*) weeds. Lots of ’em.
For approximately six months my father drove by this house each and every time we went out to get groceries, shop, eat, etc. And each and every time, coming and going, my father saw fit to rant about this house for my mother’s and my own edification.
My mother (being the subtle operator she is) started ‘volunteering’ to drive us to and from the grocery store, mall, etc. This was no small sacrifice, as my father is also a verbose ‘backseat driver’. Mysteriously enough, my mother always saw fit to take a less circuitous and controversial route from and to our house. Eventually my father caught on to her ruse and requested that she drive his ‘old’ route. My mother refused. My father pushed, got an earful, and neither my father nor my mother ever drove by that house again.
That’s what life is like in the ‘burbs my friends and it’s time to wrap this up…
Greenpoint is neither praised for inviting lawns nor pleasing aesthetics. There are virtually no front yards here and most that can be found employ old tires, bathtubs, or toilets as lawn ornaments. The buildings here are usually sheathed in vinyl siding.
The primary virtue of Greenpoint is that she is forthright with her ugliness. I like this. There is no race to perfection here: ‘good enough’ carries the day. And ‘good enough’ is exactly what it implies: a simplified, occasionally ugly, but effective solution to a complex problem.
This concept gives one more free time for other pursuits. Sure, this time might be devoted to getting shitfaced, making art, creating a blog about dog shit or other marginally productive activities, but any of the previous avocations are harmless when compared to getting worked into a black rage over (a lack of) lawn maintenance or your neighbor’s ugly-ass house. And while I like the public bathrooms I patronize to have amenities such as running water, toilet paper and paper towels, I distrust any neighborhood whose public bathrooms have bar soap and does not to tether its garbage can to the sink with heavy chains. This is a sure sign of conformity and an overall lack of creativity/mischief in the community at large.
UPDATE 5/18/06: I was patronizing the McCarren Park ladie’s room when I found this:
As you can imagine, I was pretty alarmed by this development. However, my anxieties were assuaged when I discovered:
- how difficult using the only operational spigot is when both hands are lathered with soap
- no paper towels