This is an underpass. It’s on 167th St in the Bronx and runs under the Grand Concourse. We lived in a block of 6-storey red-brick apartment buildings a few blocks away and this was where we shopped. It really hasn’t changed much since I lived there back in the early 60’s. Deep discount shops, fast food, bars, second run movie houses – chain link fences, barbed wire, guard dogs, alarms. Not a very nice place to gow up to be honest – but I didn’t really know that then.
My movie theatre was there – The Kent Theatre – full of dreams and all the other places in the world. My pizza joint, where the jukebox had the Beatles and Herman’s Hermits and The Supremes and my Chinese Restaurant with real Chinese people – all of which totally directed me to exactly where I am now. Fortunately, I left when I was 7-going-on-8 and didn’t go back until November last year – so I didn’t notice all the drugs and related violence also going on there.
But back to this tunnel… you can see that the sidewalks have been sealed off and there is no pedestrian access. Not so 50 years ago, when my mother would give me a dollar to walk up to her favourite bakery on the other side of the Concourse to buy her favourite cake. It was a six block walk to get to the other side, 4 of them in the underpass. Dark, filthy, smelt of urine and and vomit and rotting food. Sometimes I had to walk around a sleeping drunk or bum (back before they were renamed homeless). I was terrified of everyone coming toward me or coming up behind me. Frightened of the rats and the cars careening past and of losing the money or dropping the cake… I walked tough, with clenched fists, totally ready to take on anyone that messed with me. No one ever did…
I’ve walked through a few tunnels in my life that later proved to be metaphorical and utterly transforming… This was the first.
What I got up to last night. Possibly the loudest show I’ve ever been to, but I got some amazing shots of the band. Ace Frehley isn’t all that much of a showman, but guitarist Ritchie Scarlett stole the show.
We stayed in Bushwick in an Air BnB flat that was rather nice and possibly the cleanest accommodation I have ever stayed at. Bushwick is one of those emerging neighbourhoods, so it’s got some cool places, but also a lot of stodgy old places. And great restaurants but more boring dives. Unfair to compare it to Williamsburg, except that I keep hearing it’s the new Williamsburg. Maybe in ten years. And that’s fine.
First thing I noticed was the subway station. Dekalb Avenue. Bog standard, run of the mill, out of a movie set subway station.
And the people down there, waiting for trains, I suppose they’re your bog standard people.
Funny how the Bedford one is so cool, you can feel the buzzy energy… and just a few stops down the line… oh well…
So I didn’t take many photos ‘of’ Bushwick, but I took some photos ‘in’ Bushwick. Like these:
Just a great sense of urgency here…
I thought this was a sacrilegious Madonna -until I went to process the photo and saw it wasn’t one at all…
And, yes, everything is art now – the beer on the wall
And also the wall
And the tabletops
And the slightly crazy lady taking these photos…
Wandered into Little Italy a few weeks ago. It’s a bit of the same as it’s ever been and a lot like it never was, except maybe in movies and TV and what we expect of it. Part history, part fantasy. We had a brilliant cannoli at Cafe Roma though, along with an exquisite piece of Italian cheesecake, which might be the most important thing.
The streets are narrow and cluttered with cars and people and lights and banners waving in the air, trying to grab your attention. Despite the cold winter day, vendors and restaurateurs beckoned as the aromas of a few thousand years of tradition wafted by. Classic restaurants, straight out of 1952, or maybe Goodfellas or The Sopranos: This guy was determined that we were going to eat here… no discussion! Would you say no to him? Really?
While I enjoy al fresco dining, there was snow on the ground! This old place probably hosted a speakeasy back in the day.
This guy with the accordion however, as enchanting as could be! Did not notice the creepy dude peeking out over his right shoulder until I got home, though. And who could resist Umberto’s Clam House??? Or the charm of statues of Native Americans guarding the entrance to the cigar shop? And of course, it wouldn’t be complete without a slightly menacing corner, with a couple of slightly unsavoury characters strolling by.
But despite the sentiment, Little Italy has all but disappeared, mostly gobbled up by Chinatown and SoHo and areas that have just stopped being Little Italy and become something else.
Kinda sad, kinda just how it is. Kinda weird being old enough that history is not something relegated to old books and movies. I remember how it used to be and see how it is now. And it’s not that I think it should be any different than it is – I just marvel at what has changed.
And if Little Italy is transformed, then I suppose I am too…
I’ve been beating myself up lately for neglecting this blog… sigh… the reality is I’ve been doing so much travel and making so many pictures, I’ve really not had the time to develop or share them. Just got back from the US on Saturday. There’s over a thousand photos to process…
Let’s start with a Fabulous Snowy Day in Williamsburg! We rented an Air BnB apartment on Berry St and waited for the world to happen. The World did not disappoint!!!
It’s kind of sad that the smokers are really the only ones out there savouring the moment. Everyone else was in a rush to get somewhere out of it.
Looking down the street.
And up the street!
And just not going to be going anywhere, really… Better get back inside where it’s warm. (And I mean warm! Why are all New York apartments so bloody hot???)
I just love Williamsburg :-)
I doubt it will ever reopen. It’s just a matter of time until Utopia is condemned and then torn down. Someone will come along and put up a Walmart…
Visited the famed Highline Park in Manhattan last month – end of autumn, all the wild flowers gone to seed. A wee bit desolate. Snapped these two shots of milkweed – and a bunch of other stuff… but haven’t got to them yet. Had to share these…