Wednesday, September 3, 2014

If a Tree Falls...

A tree has fallen in Greenwich Village, thanks to vibrations from nearby construction. One resident has written and posted an obituary--and a bit of gentrification satire--on flyers around the neighborhood:

Locust Tree, a raggedy yet comforting fixture of Greenwich Village over the last several decades, died on Tuesday, August 12, keeling over in his home, a tree pit in front of a tenement building. He was believed to have been in his late forties.

Tree left his native southeast some time in the late 1960s, borne aloft upon the era’s winds of change. “I was a sissy little seed that didn’t fit in in my goddam pod, let alone Marietta, Georgia,” he was fond of telling local residents. A gleefully uninhibited presence, he found welcoming soil on West 11th Street, where he germinated, grew tall, and agreeably steadied tottering drag queens in the midnight hour, shaded infants on hot summer days, and tolerated being urinated upon by neighborhood dogs.

The Village was a welcoming place for a spindly, misfit plant of the pea family Fabaceae in those days. Yet it was rougher-edged, too, and the sapling Tree narrowly missed being obliterated by the 1970 explosion that leveled a townhouse on Tree’s block, the result of a botched bomb-building operation by members of the radical Weather Underground Organization. Still, Tree reveled in his proximity to such cauldrons of artistic ferment as the art-house Quad Cinema and the Mercer Arts Center, home to avant-garde theater productions and such proto-punk bands as the New York Dolls. Tree was regularly brushed up against by colorful passersby including Johnny Thunders, Patti Smith, Alan Vega, William S. Burroughs, Rip Torn, and Viveca Lindfors.

As the Village gentrified, Tree took deeper root as an emblem of a wilder, hairier, more libertine era. But in recent weeks, he was having trouble staying upright, his system weakened by the steady vibrations and unceasing clang of municipal and private “improvement” works on the street.

The future plans for the tree pit where Tree lived remain unclear, though one developer, Watervliet Partners LLC, has proposed “an innovative multi-tier shrubbery concept informed by the Village’s history and prestige.” Under this proposal, the new plant’s shade would be reserved largely for a dues-paying private membership, though a small section, closer to the curb, would be made available to the public.


Anonymous said...


RIP, Locust Tree.

Anonymous said...

Someone has too much time on their hands. While I understand the idea, they really should put that energy into fighting greater evils that are destroying NYC.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:28 -

More than anything, this eulogy brings to mind a sense of meditation/reflection, as do all proper eulogies, written for those who were truly loved. I'm sure the author is well-versed in the importance of the fight for NYC's cultural welfare, otherwise he/she wouldn't have taken the time to do this. Time for meditation/reflection is crucial even in the busiest of environments - as such, I think this is a treasure, and evocative of why we're fighting in the first place.