LAST GASP: (Literally)

July 14, 2009 by
Filed under: Greenpoint Magic 


Earlier today I relayed more deets via the Greenpoint grapevine regarding the suicide at 141 Dupont Street. Lest I have not made it clear already I think this man’s suicide is a sad testament as to what happens when older residents feel like (and are treated like) strangers in their own neighborhood. I— and undoubtedly most, if not all the people reading this—  have a “network” of friends to fall back on when life slips us a Mickey. This man didn’t. Or worse yet: he didn’t feel he had a shoulder to cry on. He should have had many.

The most endearing quality of Greenpoint is not its scenery, transportation options (pick your poison: the G train, B43 or B61 bus), affordable housing (there is none) or restaurants. It’s the people. While I still very much consider Greenpoint to be a community walls are being built. They are invisible but very existent nonetheless. Us versus them. We are all to some degree or another guilty of this. I can only hope moving forward we all will take some time to give an ear (pull out the earbuds), lend little heart to our fellow Greenpointers and be better neighbors.

What this man felt before he chose to end his own life will never be known. I can only relay what I have been told. Which brings me to this:

…i guess he was found with a bag over his head and a noose, and had been there for some time. a few of us on the block had noticed a stench about a month ago, but put it down to rats or it just being greenpoint

I’ll admit the Garden Spot of the Universe has been particularly malodorous of late. But enough so to merit equating the smell of a decomposing body to “creek reek”?!? That’s bad. “How bad”, you ask?

The following (from 838 Manhattan Avenue) should give you some indication.


Passerby (laughing her ass off and pointing excitedly to her friends):

Someone is finally doing something about the smell! (laughter) It’s gotten so bad they’re actually doing something about it. (more laughter)

It’s that bad. And, as one Brownstoner commenter, DitmasSnark, so sagely opined (regarding ‘Stoner’s the Viridian offering one bedrooms rentals for mere $2,200 a month):

“I guess some people will pay extra to be within 6 blocks of the G train.” Not to mention three blocks from the sewage treatment plant.

’Tis an ill wind that blows nobody any good.

CORRECTION: that’s 2 (short) blocks from the sewage treatment plant. I live in that ill wind. The collection ponds are at Provost, Green, Huron, India Streets. Just follow your nose.

How can having a doorman, fountain, rooftop cabanas counteract a neighborhood that smells like a well worn jock strap or dead body? Much less pay $2,200 for the experience? I guess what P.T. Barnum was (reputed to say) is true: there’s a sucker born every minute.

Miss Heather


10 Comments on LAST GASP: (Literally)

  1. d on Tue, 14th Jul 2009 10:18 pm
  2. I’m glad to see others going WTF at the Viridian’s insane rental prices. Just for fun I went on CL and searched for “Greenpoint loft” and a lot of those come up (Viridian, other condos) and there is nothing usually under $2100 – most are way more. With unemployment rampant and the economy still struggling, it’s like they’re living in some sort of real estate Bizzarro world. Disgusting.

  3. missheather on Tue, 14th Jul 2009 10:44 pm
  4. Hope (greed) springs eternal!

  5. AMOJA on Wed, 15th Jul 2009 6:54 am
  6. How about these choice quotes from one of the marketing managers, er, commenters? My comments emphasized:

    “i just passed this place and thought i’d like to live here.” Really? Was it the poor construction quality or the high prices that did it for you?

    “i really like this nabe. the 3 bd is very appealing to families…there’s the excellent Greenpoint Y for preschool and summer camp programs (and, also it’s a Y with swimming, classes, etc…). A 1,267sq.ft. three-bedroom? Do you expect to fit furniture in this space? I’ve been looking at 1,000sq.ft. one-bedrooms lately, and I would never call them huge. Also, you have a fitness center on site…and a pool…why go to the Y? The only good thing about the Greenpoint Y is that it’s crazy cheap.

    “…the full on mcGolrick park is close by, which is lovely and was featured in about a zillion shows and movies in the last year. McGolrick Park is over a mile away! What about McCarren? It’s quite a bit closer. I guess they don’t film enough movies there.

    “…in the neighborhood in general, there’s tons of small fruit and vegetable stands and butchers, drug stores, banks, etc.. Tons of fruit and vegetable stands? Really? There are a few south of Greenpoint Ave, but I can think of only one North of the street. The commenter must have visited during the filming of The Bounty when they converted the imploding deli into a scenic fruit stand.

    “i think it’s a great location…it’s very convenient for people going to midtown to get the 7…also, a quick walk or ride over the pulaski bridge and you have access to all the shops and restaurants on Vernon Blvd in LIC and the piers and the playground on the water.I live closer to the Pulaski Bridge than the Viridian sits, and I walk over the bridge twice every day, and I hate it. You will not get to the 7-train in fewer than 15 minutes by foot from the Viridian. You will not hang out in LIC unless you’re meeting someone there. Ps

    “re the price – well time will tell. our building is seeing rents in the $4K range for 2 bedrooms.” You must live in a desirable area of Manhattan. Or you’re getting ripped off.

  7. xdx on Wed, 15th Jul 2009 8:42 am
  8. if you think that is bad, my landlord has taken her rent stabilized building off the roles, well she did that 2 years ago, and now wants 2500 for an apartment i pay 1300 for. to my surprise she is finding fools to rent it out for that much, not putting any work into the places except fresh paint.

    in a letter sent out to tenants by her daughter, we were informed how lucky we were to have such a big place , so close to the g and bus lines. (this letter was directed at tenants with over 10 years in the building) and how she will have to raise all the units to “market value” in the coming year.

    i will miss greenpoint,( i will be moving to ridgewood) but to be honest the greed and changes going on here will just make the area become a faceless soulless place.

  9. Tony From Kent Street on Wed, 15th Jul 2009 8:49 am
  10. Good post, Miss Heather. One thing I have learned is that there are a lot of old, mean-looking people in the neighborhood. But they’re not mean, give them a smile or a hello and that Iron-curtain mask breaks into a grand ole smile. Being laid off helps you notice the neighborhood you live in a lot more and I’ve met some very old and very interesting people in the hood lately. You’d be surprised how happy an old granny can get from a hipster taking off the iPod and saying hello.

    As far as the smell goes, I am really surprised that it’s still a problem. I quit cigarettes in March (and going strong) with the fear that my sense of taste & smell would increase again, but I haven’t smelled the poop plant in at least a year and have lived both on Kent Street and now I live in what I call Greenpoint Heights, which is actually closer to the nesting eggs, but I don’t get that fresh German countryside smell at all. Call me lucky, in that aspect at least.

    PS, the incense is just a way to attract you towards the perfume knock-offs that they are selling on a table outside that freaky Alaskan tanning salon.

  11. rowan on Wed, 15th Jul 2009 3:11 pm
  12. i’m going to add my two cents of agreement to Tony’s comment. after walking down my block for almost two years, past the scariest looking older man (with a very tiny balding dog), I started saying hello. because, really, anyone who cradles their dog like a baby is not going to be that scary. and fellow animal lovers can always find something to talk about. i’m glad i did: it’s nice to swap stories about pets and the weather. i’ll have to find out his name (he calls me Miss Connecticut) and properly introduce myself soon.

  13. red_kira on Wed, 15th Jul 2009 4:40 pm
  14. Thank you. This is touching and marvelous. For me, one of the high points of living in Greenpoint was all of the great old Polish and Eastern European folks who lived in the neighborhood. I felt like I was a visitor in their land, not the other way around. How sad that things are changing the way it sounds like they are.

  15. marypmcg on Wed, 15th Jul 2009 8:28 pm
  16. I greatly appreciate your sentiments about the people in Greenpoint. I don’t fancy myself part of the hipster elite (though I’m sure I’m more of a hipster than I would like to admit, and I’m sure most folks who pass me on the street dismiss me as one), and I’m not a native Brooklynite, and I’m not a foreigner. So I don’t know where I belong in the “Us” v “Them” dynamic exactly. All I know is this is the first place I’ve lived in New York where I felt like I had a neighborhood, and only people can make you feel that way. Yes, there is some divisive culture here, but there’s still a lot of friendliness to go around if we look for it and exude it from ourselves. I’ve made an effort recently to try just saying hi to people I see on a daily basis and asking their names and introducing myself. It’s simple. It’s a way to treat people like humans. And once you establish a few of those relationships, your everyday routines become more enjoyable.

    One of my favorite neighborly sightings was yesterday morning. A girl jogged down my block and high-fived an elderly man who was leaning on his post as she ran by. It appeared that these two did not know each other except that she probably runs past this man every day, and they took just a few moments to acknowledge each other, and a friendly ritual was born. And I bet that high-five is one of the best parts of her morning run.

  17. calyercooze on Thu, 16th Jul 2009 1:22 pm
  18. xdx, I realize you probably don’t want to stay in a building where the landlord wants you out, but it is completely illegal to raise the rents in a stabilized building without doing “capital improvements,” whereby then you can charge 1/40th of the costs of the improvements. Paint does not count, as that is also required by law. You can’t just take a building off the stabilization rolls.

    You can check out your rights via the Brooklyn DHCR offices, and file a complaint against your landlord if you want to stay. They’d also have to pay you any overcharged back rent.

    I only know this because I have the same situation at my building; however, my landlord keeps my rent reasonable in return for us doing all the repairs. We get along, I get a cheap apartment with a backyard, and we all live happily together. (Maybe we’d be happier if my rent was brought down to its actual legal limit of around $700 for a 2-bdrm, but I’m okay with paying a little more so she feels like she’s getting over on me, and so do I!)

  19. meredawgcritic on Thu, 30th Jul 2009 12:48 pm
  20. I have lived in Greenpoint for four years now, and I love it. Hearing about this man taking his own life on Dupont is very disturbing. I actually work from home for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, so to have this happen in my backyard literally hits home for me. I also had no idea until I received this link in my Google alerts!

    Thank you for opening-up a discussion about this topic. Suicide is always brushed under the rug in our society, and so it is important that we continue to speak about depression and suicide so the shame, guilt, and secretiveness surrounding them begin to disappear. This is not my job, but me talking…I promise!


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