Taken by John Fullard.
Taken by Robert S. Photography.
Filed under: 11211, 11249, Culture War, Stuff The Makes Heather Sad, Williamsburg, Williamsburg Brooklyn
Today I had the pleasure of showing a buddy of mine, Lisanne, around northern Brooklandia. She’s been quite busy of late kicking ass in her community (“Gowanus”); was kind enough to take me on a tour of her community and I wanted to return the favor. I felt perhaps a walk around Williamsburg would be an interesting juxtaposition to what her community faces. Above all, I wanted to show her what I consider to be one of the supreme grotesques when to comes to developer/community organization “partnerships”. I speak of none other than the Southside
I have yet to articulate in words how much this thing enrages me. Maybe I’ll get it right this time. I suppose we’ll find out soon enough.
To preface, a little information about myself:
- I am not of Native American descent. I am not a spokesperson for the Native American community. However…
- my forbears (on my mother’s side) came from Texas. Well, if you want to get “picky” they lived in Texas before Texas was “Texas”. They were European immigrants and they immigrated to Mexico.
- They were not “wealthy” people. They lived alongside and in (relative*) harmony with Native Americans and Latinos (NOTE: I am reticent to use the term ‘Mexicans” because back in the day my forebears would also qualify as such. See point #2).
- When one is living on the “frontier”, “poor” and as such bereft the amenities we have in this modern age he/she does not have the luxury of being racist— and I assure you racism is a “luxury”. Instead, you pulled together as many collective resources as you could as a community. My grandmother and great aunt had (as they put it) a “Comanche woman” (“political correctness” as we know it was/is a mite bit too much to ask from two women born in 1909 and 1911 respectively) from a neighboring plot of land/”ranch” as a babysitter on occasion. They had fond memories of her.
- When there was a “feud”, as great aunt put it, between this “Comanche” family and another family (non-native American, I recall) they sided with the Comanches. Like I said: racism is a luxury.
I am not Native American. However— and in large part due to my grandmother and her sister— I have been exposed Native Amercian history and culture since pretty much day one. And that’s why this
teepee tipi pisses me off so goddamn much.
After I took this photo a 20-something fellow, the “fire setter”, clad in overalls, bandanna and a straw hat approached me.
Are you Miss Heather of New York Shitty?
I answered to the affirmative. He responded as follows:
I’m Ryan, I used to work for GWAPP. We’ve met before.
Instead of tendering my condolences (I am capable of restraint when I want to be) I asked:
What are you doing?
We’re going to have a barbecue.
He replied and added:
We’re using wood because lighter fluid is bad!
“Oh I know” I replied and added:
Please tell that to my neighbors.** They just LOVE lighter fluid. They can’t barbecue for shit. They’d be excellent arsonists if they wanted to be.
Laughter, albeit of the uncomfortable/awkward variety, followed. “Ryan” went about his business and we went in.
Upon seeing this pair of New Balance sneakers outside the “tipi” my companion and I burst into fits of cynical laughter. She noted “NBs” are the footwear of choice among “progressives”.
No shoes are allowed in the tipi.
But apparently the “tipi” has an open door policy for smart phones.
I do not recall Native Americans having iphones. Hell, I do not recall reading— ANYWHERE— about the Native Americans who once called this land their home having
teepees tipis. This is because they didn’t. Teepees were used by nomadic tribes— generally on the great plains. Teepees were made of buffalo hide. Brooklyn did not have “nomadic tribes” (or buffalo for that matter). There was no need to travel long distances: everything they needed was here.
My travelling companion, Lisanne, put it (more or less— paraphrasing here) very well:
Don’t they see the irony of having a teepee in a neighborhood where a lot of residents (many of whom are Latino and probably “Mestizo”— Ed. Note.) are being forced out?
No they don’t— and that is the problem.
Straight up: If you are going to appropriate Native American culture (which you probably shouldn’t do in the first place), at least make it contextually/historically relevant. New York City is not lacking in Native American history. So why I ask, once again, do we have this teepee? I am guessing it is a “nod” to Native American culture.
The problem with this teepee is— however well intended it may be— is the wrong Native American culture. By erecting this you are doing our predecessors here— and probably giving youths the notion that teepees did in fact exist here— a serious disservice. In fact I’d go so far to say one poorly placed teepee in Williamsburg is actually worse than no acknowledgement of Native American presence at all. Wrong information is worse than no information.
This could have, should have been an opportunity to educate people— newcomers and old timers, young and old— about the Native Americans who once lived here. Instead we have a hang-out wherein one can peruse one’s iphone. No lighter fluid, New Balances or Nikes allowed.
Rather sad, yes?
*For example, one time my grandmother and great aunt’s mother placed pies on a window sill to cool. The “Indians” stole them. My great aunt found her mother’s tristesse quite hilarious.
**Who also, thankfully rarely, host drum circles.
Filed under: 11105, Astoria, Astoria Queens, Stuff That Makes Miss Heather Happy, Urban Fur
As I stated previously, the Mister and I are taking a staycation. and No staycation would be complete without a visit to Jolson’s Fine Wines & Spirits. He, so as to acquire some grappa and raki. I, so as to visit my favorite brick shit house of a cat: Chupi.
He even got up close and personal for the camera!
Here’s a profile shot.
This yawn shot came out rather hilarious. Eventually Chupi’s aide de camp, Bagheera, graced us with his presence.
The make a pretty awesome team, don’t they?
Taken August 30, 2014.
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic, Street Furniture
From Dobbin Street.
Filed under: 11211, 11249, Street Art, Stuff That Makes Miss Heather Happy, The Word On The Street, Williamsburg, Williamsburg Brooklyn
Taken August 30, 2014.
Filed under: 11211, 11222, Culture War, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic, The Natives Are Getting Restless, The Word On The Street, Williamsburg, Williamsburg Brooklyn
North 10 Street, 11211
Dobbin Street, 11222
Taken August 30, 2014.
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic, Urban Artifact
As spotted today around noon. Who doesn’t love him/her some rice and beans? I do— and obviously someone else does because these vittles were gone when I walked by later at 5:30 pm. Another Greenpoint mystery! For those of you who may be wondering, I have seen a great many foodstuff “stored” in this call box over the years. It is an ad hoc pantry/storage area of sorts. By far the best was a can, bereft of label, which had question makes drawn all over it with Sharpie marker. On the top someone saw fit to write:
The Mystery Can!
Taken August 30, 2014.