Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Burden at Rockaway (the beach streets)


What remains of the rockaways is measured in inches but felt in miles. Perhaps as the city returns more and more to light each day, we will consider the rockaways less and less.

But in the spirit of sustaining the recent call to action, I hereby submit my little referendum, my catologue of images to remind you of the efforts that will continue on throughout the impending winter. As we shop for gifts and decorate the newly furnished lawnspaces, and as we cook the turkeys and count down the new year with a sigh of relief that the worst of this mess is cleaned, they will still be cleaning up the rockaways.

I will preface my most recent images with a short collection of old ones, taken back in february of this year.

while I hate sound ominous, I have to say that it never crossed my mind while taking these pictures that none of the things featured in the entire series taken that day would still exist in 9 months. The first pic is of a brand new housing development. they are now indistinguishable from the piles and planks of wood that scatter the beaches.

Here is what remains of the boardwalk... 

Hereis what remains of the streets...

Do not pause here by these photographs of dismay and take in only the dismay. Note the quality of the light. Inspect the churches that illuminate the darknesses. You will find more smiles in these rooms than frowns, more jokes being cracked than horror stories, you will feel the only frenzy is of shared compassion and well wishings. If only that warmth could light up a stove, or heat the remaining shells of houses. But, sadly, as in a jungle, when night falls, its darkness calls predators toward opportunistic prowling, and the volunteers must disappear with the sun. The uncertainty gets very real, and the fear hangs like a thick fog. The night falls hard. The bulldozers cease their dozing, and the sounds of mild crashing waves and police sirens plume through the air in short gusts. Nothing but scuffling feet are heard in the empty sidewalk's distance. And yet beyond it all, the glow on the horizon is a resurrected manhattan who'se people are busy trying to get busy.

 St. Camillus church, Beach 100st was our station. the beach itself had crawled into every useful corner, haunting the building like a tranquil demon. Gas-powered generators buzzed and moaned on the frigid muddy curbs. Dozens of bundled volunteers prodded away at the heaps of donated care packages, ripping them to shreds, then organizing them into neatly portioned isles and departments, like some  medieval costco. Wandering residents bumbled in slow droves circling the room, and then to each table sifting carefully with tired eyes, and in polite gestures shuffling back out into the cold stranded street taking only what could be carried over hunched shoulders, down the road, back into the eerie hum of bulldozers in the distance.

there are years to be built here in the rockaways but in weeks. There is electricity to be yearned for, and the warmth of family and neighbors to be held closer and closer. If you're in new york, please find your heart and feet in the rockaways, and this year may it not just be only at the brightest summer noon.    

Thursday, November 1, 2012


During the storm:

scenes from the east river 10/29/12 AM as the winds
became laughably intense. within my first 5 minutes
at the pier, people began leaving as the feeling 
of danger became  more real. 


10/30/12 RED HOOK:
red hook ppl lined up outside flooded buildings
scratching their heads, unsure of what order of steps 
to take. most were carrying soggy boxes to curbs
others hooked their car batteries to converters to 
power suction hoses, commencing the drainage. 
power lines snapped and brief startling explosions
sent people in spells back toward their entrances. 

the smoke pouring out from the backside of
the brooklyn battery tunnel was accompanied 
by an unusual brew of odors. 

everyone began pumping out the water from 
under their homes and restaurants.

the gasoline puddles reminded me of the old days.
so did the wiffle ball

people observed in a state of aimless confusion.


DUMBO seems a time capsule for an era of industrial elegance.
cobblestoned roads with ancient trolly tracks embedded into them
like fossils. These normally charming streets beloved by artistans
sat caked in excrement and a colorful variety of filth. 

flooded art gallery/studio

10/30/12 CONEY ISLAND U.S.A 

in the wake of hurricane Sandy, most of coney island
is an unsafe mess. with no electricity, and with most of 
new yorks relief crews spread thin, its a slow
trek out from under the putrid muck. 

happy halloween coney island. 
you're still standing! 

used to be a driveway, 
now its a slurry of nasty crap
and dead rats. 

the beach overwhelms the boardwalk

jack and laura are walking on the street
which is now a beach.

burnt out SUV

drowned rat

the ocean picked these cars up and put them down far away from where they
were parked. some cars were even on top of each others, or even resting
on benches. sadly, with salt water in their engine blocks and gas tanks
none of them are likely to ever be driven again.

10/31/12 MANHATTAN

manhattan creeps back into life. Still without power, things need to move forward
or the whole world is doomed. 

Case and point: a lack of power isnt going to stop laura from trick or
treating, here at church and chambers st. 

just outside world trade center there are no signs left of the wave
of terror that swept through not 48 hrs ago. 
Now the only terror is on the faces of bystanders who're shocked
to remember that it is still haloween and yes, some people
are still wearing costumes. 

despite the urge to remain festive on halloween, the truth is still oppresively obvious that
the city is in absolute peril. the shock is not as much a clear realization of the power of
mother nature, but rather, shock and awe that mother nature would be cruel enough
to do this to new york of all places. 

The Hugh Carey tunnel is fucked for god knows how long.