The fearful neighborhood consists of two elements- the residential and the industrial, both of which are delightful to me. I like nothing better than tearing around the filthy, dusty streets on my tricycle scraping past roaring lorries, 16 wheelers and dump trucks and always have. Past the abattoirs, bag factories and junkyards where hard men graft, doing things as a child I had no comprehension of and as an adult have only little more understanding. The feeling of excitement and trepidation is the same as when I was a kid, the feeling that even on the public street I am a trespasser. I am unknown and unwanted. The alien landscape and the steel buildings, their function unknown and arcane, the men issuing out…anyway, I get my kicks elsewhere nowadays. But still, it is a reminder that New Yorkers actually make something tangible although on closer inspection the buildings appear to consist of distribution facilities for things that were made elsewhere. Except for the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant which processes some genuine homegrown Brooklyn Product. The treatment plant is really in Greenpoint where the photo was taken but the industrial district here runs along both sides of the Newtown Creek filling in parts of Maspeth, Greenpoint and East Williamsburg. You can ride your tricycle around it all and see such sights.
The Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant opens its doors to the public during Open House New York weekend http://www.ohny.org/. Is well worth a visit to this and many other fascinating locations normally closed to the public.
East Williamsburg starts properly in my definition on the other side of the Brooklyn- Queens Expressway, stretches east to the Queens border, south to Flushing Avenue and west to Broadway although many residents, landlords and real estate moguls are calling anything outside of Williamsburg East Williamsburg. The artists are calling East Williamsburg Bushwick when Bushwick is a dreary, violent neighborhood a little further out along on the L line. Anyway. I got there at 2 in the afternoon when East Williamsburg was just getting out of bed, wiping the sleep from its eyes and just about to go out for brunch. It was suffering from a massive hangover and what with the incredible selection of bars available, who could blame it- King’s County, The Wreck Room, Harefield Rd, The Legion, Barcade, Huckleberry mmmmm blagh.
The food situation has taken longer to arrive. Time was that Life Café was the height of eating round my way, its dreary renditions of its uninspired menu a sorrowful way to begin a Sunday. Roberta’s arrived a little while ago for fancy, tasty pizza, head cheese and pig cheeks pasta and I met a man, Philip, I think who opened a Japanese place called Momo. He good people= food good too? Behind Roberta’s there was some delicious daytime drinking going on. Big crowd.
Art. Fucking Art. There’s lots of fucking art here too, a lot of it in the street art vein and when it’s not headed down the road of pedoporn rococo decadence is sometimes surprisingly good. To avoid the hit and miss, far flung nature of the scene, go to Bushwick Open Studios, the bulk of which occurs in East Williamsburg.
Anyway, my day. I went to a poor rained-on little fundraising flea market for St Francis of Paola church which is fated to close forever. I brought them a little bit closer to their goal buying $4 of cds in the midst of which I discovered that Deer Tick were a great band. http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=151050758262947. Further on I discovered a pile of really nice buildings in the midst of this dirge which after some research I found out to be an old hospital, I didn’t take any pictures of it figuring that someone else already did, with a better camera. And they did! And they got in, too! http://gothamist.com/2010/10/27/creepy_old_abandoned_greenpoint_hos.php#photo-1
And then I took some pictures of the creek and there was a man learning to ride a big motorbike there. I stumbled upon the open studio for the International Studio and Curatorial Program http://www.iscp-nyc.org/index.php?id=27 where I drank mimosas and talked to no one at all, I’m afraid. The quality of work was good, it seemed. I didn’t care, they had a map. The first map all day. A map and free booze. And grapes.
If anybody knows this part of the world it is because of Pumps, The Titty Bar. The International Studio and Curatorial Program is across the road from Pumps, a dreary, yet dynamic place, as far as remember. From long ago.
So there it is, the factories, a thousand great bars, several great restaurants, a simmering art scene what else? Nice Italian delis, a leftover from the previous wave of immigration (special mention San Giglio festival http://www.giglio-usa.org/Brooklyn_Mt_Carmel.htm ). What else? Oh yeah, the Puerto Ricans and Dominicans who make up the bulk of the natives. I nearly forgot, get drunk in a hipster joint and eat breakfast in a Spanish joint. It’s not even slumming it.