5th Ave, South Park Slope and 7th Ave., Park Slope
Here’s the best thing about these little gems: I found them both on the same day. Also note the carolers in the background of the first photo. I suspect that casual observers will like the first photo best; a bike in wrapping paper is undeniably festive. But the second find is full of nuance that perhaps only New Yorkers will fully appreciate.
The second photo begs so many questions:
- Is this for real? As in, did someone actually lock up their tree stand so it wouldn’t be stolen while they ran errands?
- Did it originally contain a tree? There is a tiny tree stump that you can barely make out in this photo. Locked bikes with parts missing (I call them cannibalized bikes, although clearly other bikes aren’t doing the damage) are a common site in New York. A bike without a front wheel, a bike without handlebars, only handlebars. That’s how this reads to me: A cannibalized Christmas tree.
- If this is a joke, who is the genius who understood all of the above and installed this little piece of art?
A couple months ago, I realized why Brooklyn is the perfect city for us, even though Jeff and I want very different things from our community.
I grew up in the country with hardly a neighbor in site. I wanted kids to play with, I wanted to live on Sesame Street, I wanted to borrow milk from a neighbor, I wanted to know what a block party was.
Jeff grew up in a small town where everyone knew his business. Jeff has the same name as his dad and everyone knows his dad. Everyone knows Jeff. The woman who cut his hair when he was 5 assumed without asking that she was invited to our wedding, because why wouldn’t she be? She had known him all his life.
I want a community; Jeff wants to be anonymous. Brooklyn offers both.
In honor of my desire to remember warmer times, I thought I would share a few photos from last summer’s block party, which was even more amazing than the year before. The city closed the street and everyone dragged their tables, chairs, grills and kiddie pools out onto the pavement. A band played, a man let me add my hot dogs to his grill and we got to know a few of our neighbors a little better. Then, our nice Scottish neighbor Chris (AKA Flambeaux), marched down the hill breathing fire.
Welcome to Brooklyn, where you have to breath fire to stand out from the crowd, but you don’t have to cook your own hotdogs.
This is our street as seen from Battle Hill inside Green-Wood Cemetery. We are extremely lucky to have a place of such great beauty surrounding our block on two sides. And, no, it isn’t creepy – not at all. We think of it as a giant park, albeit one that doesn’t allow dogs, which means we don’t walk there nearly as often as we would like to. The cemetery’s diverse collection of trees (roughly 8,000 of them) put on an amazing show in the fall, so this year we resolved to spend more time enjoying them, and they reciprocated by holding their color for a whopping eight weeks or so.
You have to understand that the cemetery is really a multi-use facility, and it has a long history of serving the living as well as the dead. They have an app for god’s sake. The wealthy families who built mausoleums more than a century ago used them as weekend getaways. Never mind that the building would one day hold their corpses, the view over the East River must have been amazing. I admire that kind of practicality, and I hope that when we take photos like the ones below, we are honoring them in some way. But maybe that’s a stretch.