Log in

No account? Create an account
entries friends calendar profile Metphistopheles Previous Previous Next Next
It's good to be the Kings. - Blather. Rants. Repeat.
A Møøse once bit my sister ...
It's good to be the Kings.
I found my grandmother's house in Brooklyn this morning.

It's only a model, or in this case an online rendition- and I think I remember the address so vividly because it was on one of her garbage cans that wound up at our house after she went Nursing Home.  I remember very little else about her, even though she lived the longest of my grandparents, but I do remember visiting her in that house in the 1960s.  About all I remember about it is that it was dark- fitting, because that was a dark time for the whole City of New York and for Brooklyn in particular. The beloved Dodgers had left within still-painful memory, much of the middle-class population had joined them in the exodus, and Brooklyn had become the thing of bad Welcome Back Kotter jokes.

Now, it's the opposite- only the jokes are of the overentitled urban-homesteading hipsters with their goatees and free-range chickens.  You're probably sick of me using them myself.  Yet there's still a whole borough of many dimensions there- one even Wegmans believes in enough to make it its first inroad into the actual city- but my feet have touched my 50-percent native soil exactly twice in the almost 50 years since Grandma moved to Queens (and eventually to a can of ashes in my parents' upstairs).

One was a class trip in high school to the Brooklyn Academy of Music. I forget what was on offer. The other was in law school, to file some papers for a local attorney who was a family friend.  And that's it. Despite annual pilgramages to Queens and almost as many to Manhattan, Kings County was fuggehdaboudit to me.

Until now.


I first noticed driving through the southern edge of Brooklyn as I came up from Maryland/NJ last week and came over the Verrazano. (While you're on it, that thing looks like something right out of an Eve Ensler play, btw;) The Belt Parkway, one of Robert Moses's many clusterfucks of urban planning, turns into the Southern State Parkway of my youth (and the route to my destination last Monday), but this time I really noticed things on either side of it.  To my right, actual parkland, and water- being enjoyed by people, not just cars passing by! To the left, dense residential structures- many forgettable, many newer ones with ocean views wretchedly excessive, but plenty of old-school charm and, somewhere in there I'm sure, a onetime little kid who's now 83 but knew my grandmother once.

Also somewhere in there, right on the Queens line near JFK, was this place, which I'd first read about a month or so ago. And within that area was "The Hole," an even stranger pocket of millionaire resistance:

Although most New Yorkers haven’t been there, the Hole hides in plain sight. Many pass it on the way to John F. Kennedy International Airport, on a bleak road above which jets wheeze in their final descent toward the runways along Jamaica Bay. Behind a tatty curtain of trees and weeds, there is a strange depression in the land, as if a sinkhole had opened here on the desultory border between Brooklyn and Queens. It looks less like a New York neighborhood than an Arkansas village, only with housing projects on the horizon instead of the Ozark Mountains. Welcome to the Hole.

It all sounds fascinating. Nothing like the yuppies of Park Slope or the Islanders and Jay-Z's of Atlantic Yards.  And I have the better part of a day a week from Friday, in between court and baseball, where I'm feeling a pull to check it all out.

Welcome back, Ray.
Leave a comment