A Greenpoint Grandma Speaks

March 12, 2007 by
Filed under: Greenpoint Magic 

Greenpoint Grandma

Contrary to what my mother will tell you, I can control my mouth. When the occasion arises, I can/will refrain from using the ‘colorful’ language that is so near and dear to my little heart. It simply doesn’t happen very often— I do live in Greenpoint, after all.

Even so, sometimes my old-fashioned southern sensibilities color my interactions with/perceptions of others, especially the elderly. I was reminded of this last week when I happened upon one of the most delightful senior citizens I have ever met in my life. In hindsight, I wish I had asked begged this woman to adopt me.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

After a long, meandering walk I was headed home. When I reached 110 Green Street, I spied a little wisp of a woman (push cart in tow) staring at the destruction, mouth agape. I initiated a conversation.

Me: Nice, huh? That site is slated for 130 condo units. ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY UNITS.

Gran (shaking head in disgust): Where are they going to park all those cars?

Me: I don’t know and I do not think they care. I suspect one or both of those sites on Huron Street will be used for parking, not that it will help much. Magic Johnson just poured twelve million dollars into this monstrousity.

Gran: Yeah, I know. I read that in the paper yesterday.

Me: I still can’t get over it. We’re talking SIX STORIES of building. It’s going to dwarf everything on this block. It’s insane.

Gran: You know, there was a time when only three or four story buildings were allowed here. See that building over there (pointing at 158 Green Street, a five story building)? That guy probably had a hell of a time getting permission to build it.

Me: Yup.

Gran: See that bath house over there? That was built in 1903. My mother took me there once when I was a child. I am 80 years old you know, I was born in 1927.

Me: Really? You don’t look a day past 20.

Gran (giggling, punches me in the arm): Get out of here!

Having broken the ice, this sweet-looking little old lady (wearing a knit hat with a big floppy flower on it) told me a little bit about herself. She must have dropped at least two F-bombs in the process. I didn’t keep count.

Gran: I live on McGuinness Boulevard. I have lived here my entire life. Raised my children here. I really love this neighborhood, don’t you?

Me: You bet. I suppose I am newcomer, but I really love Greenpoint. I consider it my home.

Gran: There was once a time when you knew everybody here. It isn’t like that anymore. (pointing to her cart) Every day I get my lean-to and walk the neighborhood. Metropolitan Avenue and Grand Street, you know where that is?

Me: Yes.

Gran: Everyday I walk to there and back. It’s getting to where I can barely recognize this neighborhood anymore. People don’t talk to each other either…

Me: Nor do they care to. I have noticed this particularly of late. I live by a bar. For about a year I had to call the police and file noise complaints because they were blaring music at 2, 3 4:00 o’clock in the morning. It was ridiculous. If they want to do that shit they should take it to Manhattan. People live here— people with families.

Gran (nods in agreement): I raised seven children here. It was hard. I wasn’t happy with living on my husband’s salary, so you know what I did? I got a job. I worked the midnight shift at Merchant’s Bank. I rode the subway to and from work at first. But after being followed by a man at Court Square late one night, I started driving to work instead. I told my husband about being followed and he told me “Betty, I am going to teach you how to drive a car”. And I learned. I drove until about ten years ago. That’s when I sold my car. I was 70 then, you know.

Me: (nodding)

Gran: It’s hard raising children nowadays. It is simply not worth it. My youngest daughter is going to St. Francis right now, it’s expensive. College isn’t affordable anymore, these kids have to take out loans… I used to give money to all sorts of charities, you know, to feed hungry children, the homeless, etc., but I don’t anymore. If man doesn’t want to work so he can feed his kids, he should keep his goddamn dick in his pants!

Me: What about the woman? I mean, it DOES take two people to make a baby.

Gran: If the man is the boss, does she really have much choice? Of course not. I blame the man. You said you were married —is your husband the boss?

Me: No, my husband is not the boss. I am the boss.

Gran: (giggling maniacally)

Me: Can I take your picture?

Gran (chuckling, waving me away): OH NOOOOO!

Me: Well, I thought I would ask. In any case, I really like your hat.

Gran: I made it myself. When the weather is bad I stay home and knit hats. I made seven in one week recently. I make the hats and then give them to friends and family. One time a friend told me that I should sell them, but if I did that it would become work and I wouldn’t enjoy it so much.

Me: I got ya.

This was when we parted ways. We said our respective “Nice to meet yous” and “Goodbyes”. I love my new Greenpoint grandma— even if I cannot remember her name.

Miss Heather

Still credit: “Ma Boggs” from the movie Every Which Way but Loose. After searching for a decent image of her on the ‘Internets’ I broke down, popped my copy of this cinematic masterpiece in the VCR and made my own (admittedly SHITTY) still.

My time spent ‘Googling’ was not wasted, though. When trolling Amazon (where you can get this movie and its sequel, Every Which Way You Can, for $21.00!) I came across the following user comment:

I’m currently taking a Clint Eastwood course at UT Austin, and we recently watched this movie.

And its a bit confusing. I’m not sure what to make of this fun, wacky, and somewhat random movie. Eastwood himself seems to strive and always aims for ambiguity in his work. And it shows here.

There were a lot of dumb ass critics in the 60’s and 70’s that liked to bash Eastwood and used the popular buzzword of fascist and labeled him as such. So in response, Eastwood was very particular about what he did afterward and would do things that contradict (in the eyes of critics) his previous work or characters. This of course confused critics and ultimately forced them to look at his work again and see that they were being dumb ass idiots and were just going along with the popular liberal clap trap at the time.

So we have this movie, in which Eastwood is this hillbilly mechanic and competent street fighter and his adventures with his orangutan (not a monkey Afsheen, they have 12 ribs like us). And its this almost really weird PG comedy. It has these sort of random plots and events that are kind of incorporated into the story and well, not really sure how I can best put it into words, but its just fun. It shows that Eastwood can do this wacky road, comedy.

But it has some surprisingly dramatic moments as well. The audience is well aware of the Sandra Locke’s characters true intentions before Eastwood’s Philo. And when he does figure it out, its pretty brutal. And I really bought into that emotional confrontation and Philo’s reaction. And then Eastwood throws a fight, and in some ways its bleak. But in other ways it isn’t. Philo I think found a little bit about himself and learned who his true friends are, people like Clyde and Orville, and Orville’s girl Echo(a young Beverly D’Angelo).

The character of Tank Murdoch I believe is meant as an allegory to Clint Eastwood and his celebrity status, his celebrity and his star persona. Philo wants to challenge Murdoch and beat him. Murdoch is a guy who everyone knows and has this huge reputation. And then Philo sees Murdoch who’s really pretty sad. His friends turn on him and aren’t real friends, and he realizes he doesn’t want to be Tank Murdoch. And he doesn’t want other people gunning for him. So at the end of the movie, it almost feels like it was Eastwood REJECTING his own star persona and choosing to stay in obscurity with his friends. Makes me wonder how Eastwood truly feels about his celebrity status.

Um, I think dude has put WAY too much thought into this review. I do not know what disturbs me more: the fact that he doesn’t “get” this movie or that it is being used as college course material. If a man has not learned how to conduct himself in front of woman by the time he reaches college, e.g.;

We’re gonna meet a real lady now Clyde, so no spittin’, pissin’, fartin’, or pickin’ your ass.

…the case is probably hopeless.

And come to think of it, it’s pretty ironic that this movie is being shown to college students, as “Philo Beddoe” exacts some seriously hilarious revenge on an ‘uppity’ college student who rebuffs his advances.


2 Comments on A Greenpoint Grandma Speaks

  1. mother-in-law on Mon, 12th Mar 2007 9:07 am
  2. Finally signed up so I could blog on your site. Having a “shitty” “bummy” “feel sorry for myself day”. Your story about “grandma” made my day.

  3. missheather on Mon, 12th Mar 2007 9:13 am
  4. I realize that you didn’t teach him this, but I really wish your son would refrain from spitting, farting and picking his ass. He’s been doing all the previous a lot lately. It’s gross.

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