Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Another Long Walk

"my favorite thing is to go where i've never been."
-diane arbus

Last summer I went on a walk. Originally, it was my intention to walk from the apartment building I lived in at the time to another building, one that I almost lived in. The reason I didn't end up living in this building is because the roof was caving in, as we discovered on the day we signed the lease. It was very rainy that day and there was water cascading down the staircase when my almost-roommates entered the building. (We never spoke to one another again after the debacle was resolved.) I decided to take a walk over there to reflect on the whole episode, maybe take some pictures and file them away for a future piece of writing.

It took me about twenty minutes to walk to the building. I found, to my disappointment, that the sight of the building did not rouse any significant emotion in me. I took some photographs and it all felt completely perfunctory, completely arbitrary. It was very hot that day, but it was dry heat, and the wind was hot, too, and it felt good. I didn't want to go home. I wanted to see more than this building, to which I never managed to attach myself in any significant way. I decided to keep walking and to keep taking pictures. The possibility of me getting lost was real because I did not have an iPhone back then and plus my sense of direction is not always so good. But, I suppose one's sense of adventure sometimes prevails over one's sense of direction.

I walked all the way from Wilson avenue to Bedford avenue. All told, it took me about three hours, what with stopping to take pictures and also to drink a beer at Bodega. I wasn't entirely sure that I knew the way, but I found the way. It was all very significant for me, but even now I'm not entirely sure why. Maybe it was the thrill of finally fully realizing where I was and how to get to where I wanted to go. One half of it was based on what I knew, the other on intuition. Whatever, it's the subject for another post. What I want to talk about in THIS post is my latest long walk.

On saturday I woke up X-TREMELY hungover and for some reason I thought it would be a great idea to get a giant iced coffee and a Double Cheeseburger from McDonald's for breakfast (???????????). After that I watched several hours of Arrested Development on Netflix, and then I decided to take a nap. After my nap, I was like, "okay, this is getting ridiculous." I wanted to take a walk, but I didn't want to go on the same walk I'd gone on last summer. I wanted to walk somewhere I'd never walked before. I decided to walk to where Newtown Creek begins (ends?) in Bushwick. I packed up my camera and my smokes and began my journey from my new home in Ridgewood. HIT IT:

This is in Ridgewood, somewhere on Cypress Avenue. It has occured to me that I should be taking notes as to exactly where I shot all of these things. Anyway, I wanted to get a better angle on this tasteful garden decoration but I heard somebody open the door and I got scared and ran away.

Still in Ridgewood. 

Super kewl sign for a bar that is no more. I wish somebody could reopen it and restore the sign but that would equal more white people which would equal shittier rent so oh well.

(*not actually johnson avenue)

Eventually Cypress Avenue turned into Johnson Avenue. The tree-lined street gave way to a vast corridor of lofts and warehouses. I've never extensively walked down Johnson Avenue before. Crossing the street was stressing me out because there are like, huge trucks everywhere:

Well, these trucks are parked. But you get the idea: THEY'RE EVERYWHERE and they can't wait to to try to RUN YOU OVER.

I like graffiti on trucks because it's the closest thing to subway art that we'll ever see in this city right now. Having said this, I must admit that I am not a huge enthusiast of street art. However, whenever I'm walking around with my camera I always feel that I can't NOT take pictures of it when i see it. 

After traipsing down Johnson, I had to make a left on Varick Street, which smelled like unholy garbage. It was very desolate. I decided that it might be a good idea to take my headphones off, despite the fact that I was walking around in broad daylight. Perhaps a bit overly cautious, but whatever. Anyway, it would be a while before I actually saw newtown creek. Until I hit Metropolitan Avenue, the entire left side of the street was a "no trespassing" zone. The Department of Sanitation had a monopoly on that shit.

Walking down Varick was not so interesting. Not much to be seen besides sanitation vehicles, mostly-empty parking lots, and a bunch of industrial-looking buildings that obscured the view of the creek. These were the only two things of immediate interest on Varick Street:


Nothin' like some indoor furniture parked all up in an outdoor setting. I support this.


It scared the shit out of me. I had just finished taking the preceding picture when I turned around to go on my way. As it turned out, there was a rat sitting directly in my path. I almost screamed (I hate them so much), but then I realized it was dead and instead of screaming I was just like, "oh my god!" I did what any sane human being does when confronted with a dead animal: I took a thousand pictures of it. I kept having to inch closer to the rat to get a better shot. Some guy drove by on his bike and probably thought I was a psycho. Even though the rat was dead I was still afraid of it.  Every time a car drove by the flies went crazy. Look how bloated that thing is! Gross. I think it was a boy rat.

Anyway, I walked and walked and walked and walked and I began to think that I was in the wrong place and would never see Newtown Creek. But then I reached Metropolitan Avenue.

BOOM. There it was. I was kind of disappointed to find that the Gowanus Canal is way smellier. Whatever. North Brooklyn wins in so many more ways.

Newtown Creek: not much to see in the end. I was not even very psyched about possibly becoming radioactive because I probably already am, having dated a dude who lives in Gowanus. Radioactivity: OVER. LAME. Next!

Speaking of next... what was next? I was "helluv" hungry. I decided that the only thing that could save me was a Mother's burger. But first...

Haha. Just kidding! Can you imagine!?*

(*Contrary to what the above statement may imply, the author admits to having been to pumps and enjoying herself kinda sorta a lot-a.)


On my way to Mother's I saw a potted plant on top of a minivan.

A mechanic wanted to be a photo star.

And I found out who to call whenever I need A REAL GOOD PLUMBER.

I was simply famished by the time I got to Mother's! I ordered a veggie burger and a Mexican Coke. I applauded myself for not ordering beer. When I was sufficiently sated, I thought about how I'd get home. The thought of riding the subway sounded repulsive to me. The previous day was so rainy and it was too beautiful outside to possibly go underground. Even though I knew my feet/legs would hurt by the end, I decided to walk back to Ridgewood.

So, I walked all the way home, all along that path. Metropolitan to Humboldt to Grand to Bushwick to Siegel to Bogart to Flushing to Wyckoff. I like walking down Siegel Street because I like to pretend I'm in another state. Sometimes it makes me feel like I'm in Indiana.

(*this is from last year's long walk)

The last thing of interest I came upon was a Harley Davidson rally at Cobra Club:

Why didn't I go inside!? I vow to never overlook another Bushwick Harley Davidson rally EVER AGAIN, cross my heart and hope to die.

And then I turned onto St. Nicholas and walked the rest of the way home.

I always feel the need to close out any piece of nonfiction writing with some big lesson about life, but the only thing I have to say about all of this is that WALKING IS AWESOME and that you should walk as long and as far as you possibly can whenever you can. Walk someplace you have never been before! It will be worth it, even if the only interesting thing you happen upon is a rat carcass. You can get some real good thinking done on a long walk, don't you know.

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