How it all works.

I'm trolling New York City collecting maps from flyers, government reports, informational brochures and such with the notion that all these maps will all somehow join together to create a complete map of NYC. The maps have to exist in real life- no downloads and cannot be rescaled or cut to fit.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Greatest Chinese Menu Map Ever!

Roxbury, Queens.

Dear Michael,
I'm very drunk. I walked down a very long road in Brooklyn called Flatbush Avenue. I started on Cortelyou Rd and ended up in The Rockaways. I saw a great many things- Haitian ghetto, the Target store, Jewish suburbia, pastel polo shirts segueing into 9-11 T-shirts, a golf course, grassy wetlands to the beach, a long bridge over to Rockaway and turned right to a private community called Roxbury. I saw a party from the bridge and thirsty from my travels I went there. The hospitality, grudging and suspicious at first improved after laying low for a while amongst the middle aged, middle class republican firefighters, I told one man (Henry) about my 8 mile odyssey to their party. Not that I've anything against these people, I just get nervous surrounded by 200 of them. I believe only my accent saved me from being kicked off their private beach.

Nevertheless I made many new friends at this party who I will never see again. When I told a trio of drunk older residents I was looking for maps they only half jokingly made me promise that I wasn't a terrorist bent on destroying their community. Ha ha. I promised. Many of them are the descendants of the people who originally founded the town a hundred years ago. You can't just move in to this place, you have to be invited. Nice.

The occasion was the 100 year anniversary of the Roxbury Volunteer Fire Department and a band played music, free Budweiser. I think it is beautiful that there is room in New York City for a community of right wing, middle aged reactionaries. It was like being in Colorado Springs again- all those 9-11 T-shirts covering beer bellies, orange skin and baggy arms. Just beautiful.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

St Nicholas Ave/ Washington Heights

St Nicholas Ave is a truly grand and majestic strip of real estate which my fairly grand neighborhood of Ditmas Park look like the ewok village. Past, present and future home of well to do Black people, nice parks, great real estate all the way to the meeting of Broadway at 160th St where the architecture humbles to basic tenements, the population is mainly Spanish speaking (Dominican) and the zoning changes from quite strictly residential to a lively jumble of shitty restaurants, discount stores and cell phone stores. I got a great map from an old people's home though.About the shitty restaurants- I tried to order a gyro at a pizza place, probably my first mistake and after waiting over ten minutes for it I left in a huff. I don't want to eat the gyro it takes ten minutes to make. After several more aborted attempts to have teenagers feed me fast food I stumbled delirious into a time warp. A hokey old fashioned Cuban eatery presided over by a hale old woman as her very elderly husband? dozed in front of the TV, intermittently woken by the sound of his own name attached to the junctions of her monologue.
It was still a bone dry piece of Cuban sandwich I received but at $4 including seat, who's complaining?
A lively place in the daytime, I have it on good authority that it rocks at night. Indeed it has a reputation for being the most violent and crime ridden part of Manhattan but reports may be exaggerated. It's a long old fucker of a road starting at 110th St and ending at 193rd St. I never did get to the end of it.
...and unlike in much of the rest of Manhattan where you have the smell of someone else's lunch blown through a vent at you while walking down the street, Washington Heights's wide and airy streets blow no fumes from the trough at you. I found it to be one of the more livable parts of Manhattan.

Except I did stumble into another dimension trying to find my way home- a wee mixed white/ mixed enclave carved out of Washington Heights at 181st St which calls itself Hudson Heights. It even had a wine store that sold only wine- no liquor! Also a sushi place that wasn't part of a Chinese restaurant- a true gauge of fanciness. People looked at me funny here as I trolled for maps where they mostly ignored me in Washington Heights proper. I saw a great map in a locked building, I wanted to break the window but that would have been silly, wouldn't it?