Considering that is snowed last week, the 90 degree weather seems rather a shock to the system. Not unusual for summer, some summers we endure weeks of such heat in the coastal states on the Atlantic, but this blast of hot moist air comes on the heals of our populace returning en mass to their storage bins in order to remove the Christmas Critters sweaters from their careful folds and neat stacks and pull them on to sit out the remainder of a very chilly May. If the period of warm after a frost is Indian Summer, does the arctic weather than follows the thaw an Indian Winter?
Whatever the cause of the new season, Snowmmer I call it, the blankets and comforters, the coats and aforementioned sweaters are now returned to their resting place until next season, which may occur at any time and for any reason apparently since our cosmic rhythms are no longer as ordered as the classical models suggested which is going to ruin a great many physics theorem that placed nature as following such-and-such a rule according to something predictable – the movements of classically composed music – and now she strums her harp, that Mother Nature, and produces microtonal free-style ballads all hopped up on energy drinks and poppers she bought in the sex shop. The news and the weather is said to travel together, but now I think we see that weather can move faster than news, especially if it packs 250 mile an hour winds.
The hipsters of Bushwickistan have switched entirely to iced coffee now that Snowmmer is here. The open studio weekend brings in hundreds of visitors and the already gentrifying former factory buildings cum-wasteland-cum-race riot- cum Far East Williamsburg Brooklyn. Artists have for some time been entering the area, most fleeing persecution by other artists who can better afford studio space for twice what it is worth or weekly rent increases. The Trustifarians (trust-fund kids) simply snap up spaces that look like mini-versions of the loft from the teevee show Friends or some art space in a former asbestos packaging factory where they can continue to doodle and dabble and doink about with clay, gauche, crayolas, aureolas, and snu. It seems Williamsburg has fallen to nannies and camel-hair jackets and three hundred dollar haircuts that make one appear one just got up after crashing on a friend’s sharkskin couch and the humidity from the hot tub in the pent house apartment overlooking McAuther Park has touseled it just so.
“Billabong a bing bang atta-atta boy!” the Bushwickistan hipster would say, because of course hipsters use a thick and secret slang. “Yo, I mean nomnomnom, fad it gangem style?” And of course to go to Roberta’s or Love Cafe or Moistwoods for brunch. It seems that the area of refuge artists escaping the artists are now being pushed out by those artists they had left behind in the colonies of Williamsburg, Greenpoint and Bushwikistan is turning over fast to another playground of fifteen dollar drinks made out of combining small batch Portland whiskey and mulled bayberries and a sprig of rosemary that was bruised by being slapped twice by the bartender on his wrist and nuvo-cuisine of little birds on big plates with coco sauce and shaved rice husks served by an actress model with a blue ink tattoo of Milk and Cheese across her slender but ample breasts and cooked by celebrities chiefs tweaked out on cat tranquilizers.
Not that this meal doesn’t sound good. And if you have a tattoo of Milk and Cheese anywhere, do send me a picture. However, a simple afternoon of a few drinks can cost over an hundred dollars (US) and the average meal at North East Kingdom (a farm to table restaurant that was one of the only places in the area for at least five years) is well over twenty dollars (US) so consider that and the rent for your crappy room in a former factory building the locals refer to as “lofts” is somewhere about eight hundred or more (plus utilities), the possibility to spend more than you take in is roughly 150% in the neighborhood. Not that you won’t have a good time. Score bonus “life experience” points you can trade in for… nothing that comes to mind but life experience is seen by many as well worth the costs associated with leaving the house for a simple small iced coffee ($2.50 at Wyckoff Starr Cafe, a small space that is still fun) then you realize your stomach needs something in it for the coffee so you pop into a Mexican dinner for an chorizo and huevos sandwich ($3.50), and on the way out you bump into a friend who invites you to join him at another friend’s bar where he is tending, you have a few drinks, maybe a shot or three, two of which were bought by your friend the bartender ($20 including tip), but a few other friends have joined you and one says “hey let’s grab something to eat over at the Hockey Puck Lounge,” and off you all go to dinner and a plate of meatballs is $10 with tax, tips, and tolls, but then there is a jelly shot, a few more beers ($40), and you should go home but right now you’re feeling pretty good, so off you rush to a film at another friends loft ($2.50 subway ride), where he is taking donations for his creating artisan drinks and hosting the informal event ($20) and then quite tired, worn out, exhausted an drained, ready to die in bed, you jump on the train ($2.50) and assume the position on the couch or bed or whatever pallet you sleep on of oily rags and cum-stained bedding and realize that you’ve spent about 100 bucks… and it’s just Tuesday.
The heat rolls over the neighborhood and all the air conditioners are cranking. The Mexican grocery stores have their awnings drawn in an attempt to shield the obscene amounts of guavas they have stacked up, each one looking like an swollen and yellow breast just aching to be touched and caressed. The hipsters who lived here long ago lived in a neighborhood of those types of stores, houses filled with people who remembered working in the spaces you now crouch and squat in as you make your dumb art. The loft where this blogger [may or may not live] was built out over ten years ago by a group of friends who had moved to Gotham from somewhere in the desert south west like Lugar Donde el Gato va Mierda or San Oneofthem and came to Gotham in order to find opportunity. I remember visiting the space with one of them before it was built out, the machines that knitted all manner of Christmas Critter sweaters and scarves had just been hauled out, the floors above and below still hummed with machinery as did the buildings nearby. The lot next to the building was empty, the building there having burned down long before and this allowed a view of the skyline of Gotham. The friends threw huge raging parties, hosted bands and theater performances, did installations and photo-shoots, and in time the floors above and below were cleared of machines, the undocumented and documented workers were ushered out allowing for more groups of different friend lineages to move in. A group of designers took up shop upstairs and fabricated things from beer cozies to fire breathing dragons and light up snow men. They worked all night and day and at the height of their design firm’s success they splurged and did what any sensible business would do, they bought a pet monkey. Downstairs the kids were a little more hardscrabble, they build a skate ramp and in the basement an eccentric woman lived who was said to be a) fugly b) a lawyer c) available for sex at the cost of asking her about her knowledge of flower arrangement and willing to provide oral d) all of the above.
The parties on the roof were right out of some playbook about how to cast a loft party, how to set up the situation and make it look “authentic.” The neighborhood was still too scared of the police, to locked away in their apartments behind so many bars they may as well be in jail, too willing to put up with anything that wasn’t a gang war that they’d never call the cops to bust up the party. The bands played all night, there was art hanging on the walls, films playing, drinks flowing to whoever had a few bucks. Then, the factories next to the building were closed, sold off, the workers turned away, and these spaces were renovated in to higher-end lofts, that is small spaces with high ceilings but the term “loft” sells more square footage than saying “cramped and ugly studio apartment with high ceilings” The parties continued, but the noise complaints came in around 2AM and the police would come up to shut down the PA system. As time went by, the neighborhood again changed, more apartments were turned over from rent control to open housing, then the police would come around 2AM to shut down the entire party. Then it was pushed back to around 1AM. At the last huge party the police came with several vans and shut the party down before midnight. It was a frightening few moments when the police swarmed into the halls and fanned out in all directions, party-goers fleeing as best they could and under the watchful eye of a flax of officers waiting by their vans. After this there was less incentive to have parties, and the building was unable to hold out but had now to conform… change its bad ways… grow up and start a family as all of the original loft members have done some time ago and those of us who remain are like characters out of Withnail and I as we stagger about and wonder what happened to our generation. The designers upstairs went bankrupt and fled to whence they came. The space is now rented by a few bearded boys from Portland. The skate-ramp exists but that space has also changed over several times and the current crew down there seem to sneak in and out and once in a great while there is a birthday party or some typical gathering sans art and bands. The basement apartment alleged whore lawyer had skipped town long ago and this dreary space with squat windows and seeping water is home of whoever can’t afford to life upstairs and is willing to battle the rats and cold for a chance to live in a former factory of cracking cement and bricks blooming mold was perhaps built in a week some seventy years prior and perhaps was intended to last only a few business cycles and not intended and then to collapse and not to offer any form of comfort to der verkers who toiled there, let alone those of us living there.
The past three years has seen a change in the area, an increase in the number of trendy bars, chic restaurants, and kewl cafes. All of them fine establishments as long as one doesn’t live on artist’s wages. Several more seem to be in the works and now the main avenue bustles with traffic on a weekend when not too long ago the crowd was limited to two places in the neighborhood or traveling closer to the city for fun. The former residents of the loft would clean the roof by tossing off whatever clutter had accumulated there, like couches, BBQs and other large items to splatter on the sidewalk below. Today, even tossing a cigarette butt would result in injury as well as a quick call to either 311 or 911 in order to dispatch the police and arrest the offender. The murmur of the crowd seems only poised to grow, the housing market to become tighter, and those artists who fled the Williamsburgazation of Williamsburg will now have to find higher ground, seek shelter out further and further until they’re living and playing in the weed patches out by the airport and every few months those currently lurking in the loft whisper rumors about the building being for sale or rent increases or maybe what happened to Tony and Marsha, their coming home and finding a huge padlock on their door and notices exclaiming this or that fine for entry to the now condemned building, will happen here and that we will all be kicked out. For the meantime, it hasn’t happened. We are safe to roast in the summer and freeze in the winter since no one can afford to use the central heating system, and anyway, it does’t work to do anything but blast heat at Josh’s room’s wall and cause all manner of noise and dust bunnies to fly.
The heat beats the city into quietude. The loft is silent except for the dripping of something in one of the bathrooms. The black mold grows on the ceiling here and there. Long cracks mark where the structure is crumbling and some of these cracks ooze strange black liquids. The boys upstairs are better and containing their home brewed beer but once in a while they miss up with their wort temperature or otherwise let a pitch in spill out and over the floor to then drip on us, which in turn drips on Laura below us, which along with whatever we have spilled or Laura and her crew spills then seeps into the basement for the kids down there to enjoy. But they’re old enough to know what they were signing up for when they moved in, but we did feel a little sorry for them at the last rainicane and they had several inches of water-like fluid covering their floor. When it rains especially hard some of us look to each other and ask “I wonder how they’re making out down there” or “wow, times like these I really am glad I don’t live down there” in the same way that I imagine soldiers dug in felt about the platoon on scout when they heard a far off fire fight.
Snowmertime in the city, and the living is becoming less easy in Bushwickistan. Perhaps it is time to move farther out along with the artist refugees. Maybe this means moving further towards the airport and other badlands, perhaps this means leave Gotham entirely. But then I’d miss out on the infused frogs legs vodka shots and balsamic bathed nopal with crusty juniper twig toast served by a girl with two degrees in wallpaper design and fabric arts and who works 10 hour days in order to afford her share of a loft, perhaps even one of the rooms in the basement, the one where all our juices leak into…
Editor’s Note: Several updates to posts have been made in order to make a more enjoyable reading experience however it appears that the iDevice used was not actually making these changes, thereby not improving the reading and perhaps losing quite a few mirthful additions and clever turns that are difficult to recreate considering how the editor’s mind works.
Please be patient with further changes. And thank you.
Snowmertime and the Living is Easy