"Dear reader, you must see Myrtle Avenue before you die, if only to realize how far into the future Dante saw.” --Henry Miller
From Myrtle to Myrtle (from the JMZ stop to the L stop of the same name), I took a walk along Myrtle Avenue in Bushwick. It's a walk that takes place mostly in the shadow of the elevated tracks (though not the lost Myrtle El), green and peeling, dripping dirty waters. In the air is the smell of fried chicken and the sounds of salsa music.
At the start, a mechanic's lot is filled with vintage cars painted in pastel colors, gutted and waiting to be tricked out.
In empty lots, signs promise the coming of luxury houses sprung up before backdrops of impossible mountains, and chickens run free, pecking among the garbage. Nearby, the unluckier chickens wait in cages to be lifted by their feet for slaughter, flap their dusty wings in the death-stench poultry house.
There are important messages in the signage, life lessons to remember. Sam the Glazier exhorts, "Don't hold your new windows up with sticks." And a faded girl on a faded sign speaks the deep truth, "Happiness is having your own driver's license."
Along the way, detour onto Knickerbocker for discount shopping and street food--like empanadas stuffed, folded, forked, and fried while you wait. At a folding table a man demonstrates his chrome cleaning product. And the turtle women are here! They used to sell those sad green turtles on Broadway and 8th, near NYU, then they vanished. But here they are, calling out, "Turtle, turtle, turtle."
Which rhymes with Myrtle. Which is a great name for an avenue, reminding me of an aunt I never had.
See all my Myrtle Avenue pics here