There is a junk store a few doors down from my house. Actually it isn’t even a store; it is just an alley with a tarp stretched over it and a chicken wire gate in front to protect the merchandise, which is mostly old furniture and baby things.
There used to be a guard dog chained to the gate. His name was Roscoe. I detest dogs, for the most part, but Roscoe wasn’t bad. He was beautiful. A pit bull with a pink muzzle and fur that was mostly white but had a faint orange hue. Roscoe was ferocious; terrifying, the streetlamp was out on his side of the street and at night he would hurl himself against the fence if you so much as looked in his direction, let alone walk past him.
New York City’s skyline should be familiar to most readers, a vertical city, slender shafts of steel and glass erupting from a jostling street culture, with an occasional verdant hamlet lurking in its shadows, courtesy of Jane Jacobs and Frederick Law Olmsted. At its core the city is a ferocious machine, churning through money and real estate. But at its periphery in places like Ridgewood, New York City remains riddled with shelters, and slightly strange.
Snarfing pizza bones, nursing my sick Maine Coon who is less wooly and of more pleasant disposition than the above specimen. Even when he has a thermometer crammed inside one of his most sensitive spots. And he had to have his nailed trimmed which means he can’t hold his own against the other two. I’ll add a couple of short prose forms exercises when I have a moment.
BUSINESS IMPROVEMENT DISTRICT – Myrtle Ave.
Not every nexus needs glamour but where Myrtle and Wycoff Avenues meet there is – of a seedy sort. Where the M- and L-lines cross, where Ridgewood, Queens slopes down to meet Bushwick, Brooklyn, lies the densest concentration of beauty supply stores in New York City. Here, for the discerning consumer of polyvinyl wigs or discount hair dyes, is a bonanza of buying opportunity; but for the rank amateur choking on fragrant ketone contrails, these are a rare opportunity to spot postmodern potions shorn of marketing magic. Row after row, they reduce to bare bottles stacked on stamped steel.
Reasonable prices diluted through volume. Cash accepted gladly. Cards keyed reluctantly in on a gooey pad, the line behind chitters and taps booted toes.
North. Transverse. Traverse, bags of swag rustle and crinkle. What had been predominantly white semaphore extends bluing, vanishing in a blurred dot of cars, people and buying opportunity. Primary colors appear. Discount department stores become big box banks; taco stands become Taco Bell; bodegas become 7-11s; Food Dimensions, A&P; arm-linked families of Puerto Ricans give way to jostling Italian teens who seem threatening until they clamber into cars, leased, but luxury marquees all the same.
A triangle square; benches for resting, inset, a World War I memorial hemmed in by fluttering flags (billings, not battle colors). Christmas lights coil around railings, cycles streak by, Teutonic surnames carved on columnar base, symbolic squad teeters on top, its perimeter observed by crenulated balconies; the gothic script stamped but fading on the apartment awnings below.
Then up, past Pizza Hut, and the porn store, to another transverse, Freshpond Road, marking the end of the BID, the beginning of Maspeth and a hypotenuse back to the beginning of Myrtle.
~JAMES MCGIRK (Group II)