Homage to crud
On my way to Sackett St. between Bond and the Gowanus Canal, I may have passed a dozen construction sites, where luxury housing is slated to fill any and every crevice of my hyper-gentrifying neighborhood, Cobble Hill. Gowanus, too, is now home to luxury “waterfront” properties situated on the Canal, which is, never mind, a highly polluted, odiferous Superfund site. The block I was mapping is a piece of pre-gentrified Brooklyn that will no doubt soon be another astronomically expensive enclave, after all there are some large empty lots on this block that simply cannot survive the low interest, cheap money that is fueling the latest frenzy of development.
There was evidence of impending change – a surveyor was there, and a construction site sign that warned visitors not to enter. Nothing was actually getting built, and the block was quiet, save for a few stragglers like myself. I felt like I was documenting some last remains of industry, poverty, detritus, vandalism, and even art.
I was touched by the deconstructed air conditioners that had been slaughtered for their copper, the residue of a meal, a puddle of broken glass, cracked sidewalks, patched cobblestone, a shredded plastic bag, graffiti (even a pathetic “Trump” stencil), and all the crud that left traces of transient activity – a few Bud Lights, an abandoned work glove, a no parking sign for a film shoot called “Cyclops” that I’m guessing was a flop. The block reminds me of the kinds of decayed places I sought out in my teens to kick around and smoke cigarettes or get high. I will miss this block when it becomes sanitized by the encroaching money, eager to smooth out its edges and discard the trash.
Joan Grossman, Feb. 28, 2017