Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Myrtle Avenue

"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


Anonymous said...

That area is so sad and depressing. A wasteland for the poor. I doubt you'll ever have to worry about gentrification purifying that area. Unless of course, the economy and the lack of yunnie-generated taxes push these poor people into even more depressed, poorer areas making room for future developers.

Anonymous said...

those cars sitting there waiting to be "tricked out" have been sitting there for years. No one cares about anything in that neighborhood, not even cars as nice as those

Anonymous said...

People used to say the very same thing about Avenue B. There is no place proximate to the city that cannot be gentrified.

In the 1970s urban living was not popularly appealing. If - and I doubt this will happen because of the cost of gas - non-urban living becomes attractive once again, cities will once again decay. There is never stasis.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, I'd say there's already significant gentrification in the area, especially compared to how it used to be.

It was half-vacant five years ago. Now there's very little vacant space, tons of renovations, and a fair amount of new construction.

As the pics indicate, there's still lots of crap in the area, but the photographer is not taking random pics of the area.

Anonymous said...

yes it is a little sad but its not that depressing, there is a lot culture here and people are genuie. There is a thriving art scene and according to retail experts (if there are such a thing) bushwick is the next up and coming neighborhood. So please stay away so I can enjoy my cheap rent and eat.

Jeremiah Moss said...

anon 12:16, sorry to say i'll be posting more about bushwick this week. (my walk was long.) i hope your rent isn't adversely affected. maybe the economic downturn will force back the already rising tide from bedford ave.

Brit In Brooklyn said...

Hi J!

This is a call for entries for the video montage of photoblogger’s work, to be projected at the May 7th Blogfest event in Dumbo. This is a great way to share and see your work on a big scale, and the entry criteria is pretty simple.

Deadline for entries is April 12th.

More info here: