jolie laide

jolie laide

I started this when I lived in Brooklyn and struggled for grace in a city that grants moments of beauty and ugliness breathtakingly close to one another. Now I live in a place where things are a different kind of ugly and the beauty is pedestrian. I struggle with that.


I am still haunted by something I saw on Friday afternoon. I don't think I know how to conjure up more horror than the phrase "public hospital in Bushwick." But that's where I was. There was the working girl berating the security guard when she found out she was at the wrong entrance and would have to continue to WALK on those stiletto heeled red latex over-the-knee boots. The bathroom stalls with no locks or handles even though I was in the "teaching and learning" seminar wings. The elevator where pushing 1 takes me to the empty echoing basement and every sense in me says danger.

To get there I had to walk two blocks from the subway. Two blocks that were undergoing road construction work and were covered with refuse. Tangles of security fencing, scattered hills of lumber, buckets of bolts, animal carcasses, piles of garbage. No one cares about this, it has all clearly been there for days if not weeks. All the hospital staff have to walk past every day, and no one has made a call. No one has taken responsibility, no one has tried. The abject sense of degradation, of no one gives a shit is so palpable and I am so horrified.


Blogger remue-menage said...

horror - detritus - decay - fear

all part of the wayward raw energy of the city, I suspect

surely this public hospital does what good it can with extremely limited resources

I'm reminded of the late Jane Jacobs ideas about the life of cities and what keeps cities vital. I hope that the rising price of gasoline will lead to a whole new way of negotiating our lives, will result in a flocking back to urban centers and a revival in city living

6:35 AM  
Blogger ttractor said...

I have done a lot of community education, and spent a lot of time in Bushwick, East New York, Brownsville. I know that a couple of blocks away things are bustling, people are engaged, it's not a wealthy neighborhood but it's thriving.

These two blocks reminded me of the crack heads I used to see a decade ago, jittering shells, smoked out husks, absolute dispair. They were everywhere in my neighborhood, but people just walked past them because they felt powerless or horrified or numb.

(You said the magic words. Jane Jacobs changed my life)

8:54 AM  

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