November 12, 2008
Bushwick Field Journal
Knickerbocker and Suydam
For a few hours before dawn, the streets are clean and quiet. The city’s sanitation workers have made their rounds, and their work waits to be tarnished by the first wave of commuters. Occasionally, the low rumble of a bus engine disrupts the calm.
The sky glows in the moments before sunrise. A car backfires at the curb then sits rumbling in a cloud of its own exhaust. Over the roofs of apartment buidlings the solitary cry of a rooster can be heard.
Maria Hernandez Park
An hour before midday, a street vendor emerges to prepare his offerings. As he waits for the lunch rush he makes a thorough inventory of his stock.
Wyckoff and Starr
With the morning rush over, a small café resumes its role as clubhouse and library for a group of slow drinking regulars. The arrhythmic chatter of a keyboard and a barista’s demo tape playing over the café speakers challenge the rapt concentration of its scholarly denizens.
214 Starr Street
A group of middle-aged men take turns sliding beneath the body of a 1983 Ford Econoline Van. A few more vehicles straddle the curb awaiting inspection. A group of pedestrians slow as the approach the obstruction then cross the street before continuing their conversation.
Wilson and Dekalb
The gilt lettering in the window advertises a host of publication services, but the general appearance of the space within is not that of a thriving business. Drifts of yellowing paper litter every imaginable surface. After repeated observation it is not clear whether the storefront has been abandoned or is merely under the direction of an unorthodox businessman.
150 Starr Street
A pair of young men catch their breath after a pickup game. It is understood to passers by that their domain extends to the curb. As the evening wears on, uninitiated pedestrians attempting to traverse Starr Street may find themselves intruding on a sprawling, open-air living room.
Myrtle and Broadway
In the shadow of the JMZ a young man enjoys an early dinner. As he waits for dessert he reads the account of a doomed polar expedition and savors his decaffeinated coffee.
Starr and Knickerbocker
With a light rain falling outside, a few customers take the opportunity to make a full inventory of the video store’s selection. Each box offers a glimpse of the possible direction their evening might take.
In the glow of a flat screen television the owner of a new restaurant flips through the day’s paper. At the door, his nephew smokes and waits for the nights first customer.
164 Starr Street
The Bushwick Bomberos, trucks 124 and 58, make their biweekly trip to Maria Hernandez Park West. Passers by stand in a rough semicircle watching the lights play against the buildings before moving on. It is a false alarm.
Suydam and Irving
A solitary ice cream truck makes a last circuit of the park, drawing a small group of after dinner customers before disappearing for the night.
Myrtle and Gates
The last Manhattan bound M train rattles over the storefronts and past second story windows on its way westward. The sound of glass breaking, and the barking of a dog disrupt the silence that follows. Somewhere nearby a car alarm begins its vigilant refrain.
In the glow of a television screen, the proprietor of Luxury Limo waits for the bars to close. A thermos of coffee shares desk space with an old rotary telephone.
247 Suydam Street
By the light of a desk lamp a young man works on a small drawing. In the next room his wife makes revisions on her laptop. At the corner a few drunken voices compete with one another to be heard.