Saturday, May 24, 2008

Brooklyn-Queens, Non-Express

Jared and I headed along the BQE today then crossed over the Pulaski Bridge into Queens, riding its shoulders past Laguardia and to Flushing Meadows. Home to many geese and at least one turtle, the park reminded me of La Carolina in Quito, maybe because of the shape of the clouds...or because of the ratio of soccered dirt and grass to trees and lakes. Incidentally, the lakes are not lakes but pieces of the Flushing River. Like so many inconvenient things - hills, baseball fields, black people - the river fell victim to Robert Moses in the 1930s, though before that it had already been bitten into by Gatsby's "Valley of Ashes," a landfill operated by the Brooklyn Ash Removal Company. Now the river runs beneath the soccer fields and the Long Island Expressway, which makes ten times the ocean sounds of the little old BQE. New York's vascular system is a marvel to equal the destruction that made it possible.

Before we rode into the park, we stopped off at Willet's Point. If the the gods of grease and mechanics created a paradise, this clanking barrio would be it. With roads scarcely navigable by 4x4s, potholes that formed little lakes, and shoulder-to-shoulder autobody repair shops uniformly selling, from bright facades, engine parts ("enjin" in some cases), glass, tires, and other vehicular bric-a-brac, this frontierland was mesmerizing, like a piece of urban Mexico slapped down in northern Queens. Everyone got a kick out of us picking our way over the corrugated concrete roadway: Jared's mountain bike stood him in considerably better stead than my skinny ten-speed. Then it was off to the park, followed by a roll through leafy Forest Hills, Middle Village, and industrial Maspeth, with a stop-off at a Polish bakery on 61st Street and Grand Avenue for a bit of sugar. Three hours and the city made endless again, and a little more known.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Do you know about the Bloomberg Administration's plan to gentrify Willet's Point? I kid you not. How do we feel about the chronic change that is NYC?