Friday, February 3, 2012

Gowanus

{And Some Thoughts on Kudzu, Pie and The Speculative Real Estate Market}









I'm listening to a story on All Things Considered about how we're all gunna get overtaken and devoured alive by kudzu as climate change fosters rapid kudzuan northern expansion. And the whole time I'm listening I'm thinking, yeah, Audie Cornish, I bet somewhere behind your measured tone and journalistic integrity there's a delightfully evil side of you that hopes midtown Manhattan ends up looking something like this.

Which might not be far from the truth- it was nearly 60 degrees on Wednesday. In February. In New York. The upside is that it's great weather for trespassing and treasure hunts, so the other day P. made a little recon map (a Marine's land nav habits die hard) and we took a stroll together down the hill to explore the Gowanus Canal, which is the best kept secret in Brooklyn as far as I'm concerned. By outward appearances, Gowanus looks like the industrial toxic waste site version of what might remain if you bombed Amsterdam and then let the set designers for The Road do their thing. But in a super charming let's-pretend-it's-the-Industrial Revolution, who-cares-if-its-a-Superfund-site kinda way. You'll just have to believe me on this one, guys: Gowanus is the cat's pajamas.

It's also home to Four & Twenty Blackbirds, the rockingest little pie shop this side of the East River. The thought of a Brooklyn hipster pie shop, in general, makes me want to stab myself in the eye with a tarnished-just-so vintage plated fork, but I promise you, it's not an ironic kinda pie shop, it's just a downright fetching, sincere, lovely little old-fashioned F*CKING DELICIOUS kinda pie shop. Realz good hot chocolate with homemade whipped cream, too. Totally worth a visit if you're in that neck of the woods. (Thanks Jen Causey for the swell recommendation. That girl knows the best spots.)

Have a good weekend, humans. I seem to have the flu and will therefore spend the weekend with my nose firmly planted in Swamplandia! and ignore the five-pound door-stopper I'm supposed to be reading for my aesthetic theory class (do we have any Walter Benjamin scholars in the house? The Arcades Project? Anyone?). See you Monday. And if you have any Gowanus treasures you want to share, spill it, sista.

19 comments:

  1. i honestly think you are one of the most interesting people i've ever come across. and i mean that in a very good way. :)

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  2. Oh heavens, Brit, thank you for such a compliment, but I'm sure you'd be vastly disappointed if you met me in person. Blog life has a way of making real life seem much, much sparklier;)

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  3. PIE. I've been watching Twin Peaks for the first time (I know, I know, so lame of me) and I'm DESPERATE for a good cherry pie. Not to be found anywhere round these parts. Which, I think, has just given me this weekend's baking project...

    And your book recommendations! I'm going to have to stop reading these cause I'm on a spending hiatus while I'm not earning any dough, and these American authors are notoriously difficult to find in my local public library. Though with all this additional free time I can try harder to charm the librarians into getting me my swag. Maybe by taking them baked goods. ;)

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  4. Walter Benjamin!!! Yes! Go for it, that man's prose is like a vortex. I swear once you're in it you won't want to ever stop, and will have to take regular breathers for air/tea/food. He's one of my favourites - esp. On the Concept of History - beside Kierkegard and Appiah and de Montaigne. Nerd alert.

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  5. Oh, re my thoughts on Mr Eugenides' latest, I buried 'em here. I just don't think I was in the right place in my life to be sympathetically attuned to his characters, but his writing was beautiful, and drew me in regardless.

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  6. Those polka dot trucks are awesome.

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  7. I never imagined that the site of cement mixers would make me gasp with delight...

    Gowanus Canal looks and sounds like an amazing place to explore. The fact that it houses a non-ironic hipster-ish kick ass pie joint just makes it that much better.

    I hope you kick that flu soon!

    xo
    cortnie

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  8. I love that bit about the pie shop. such truth. this one sound enchanting though, thanks for sharing.

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  9. Wassup Benjamin!!?!? I read Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction in grad school. Kind of loved it--I was studying international relations, not art-- but in French grad school, they are awesome and let you take one elective per semester OUTSIDE YOUR FIELD. How cool is that? Anyway, love the blog--I'm a recent convert and can't remember now how I discovered it, but it's great.

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  10. You should check out the Gowanus Canal Conservancy! They had a nursery in the nyc road salt storage lot next to the canal last time I visited. And (!) Benjamin's The Storyteller is short and so great.

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  11. i know i said it already, but i hope you feel better soon! being sick sucks, especially when there are assignments involved. :(

    seeing your shots of the gowanus canal really brings back memories of stomping around abandoned stuff with a camera, and just taking photos for the hell of it. i really miss that, so hopefully the next time we're in nyc that'll be something we can actually remedy. that and my need for some warby parkers. heh.

    enjoy swamplandia! it looks amazing.

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  12. Benjamin...yup read some in first year as an art history major...in some alternate life I had. Also these abandoned places bring back wonderful memories from my vandal days. I think I will have to make a post about that soonish, yet another alternate life.

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  13. go to the bell house for a concert, a bourbon, or a few minutes in the photo booth. but may i say that i think the salted caramel pie at 4 and 20 blackbirds is the crown jewel of g-town.

    ps: your feminism post was so timely for me. last week marked a year of living with my beloved boyfriend and though i am oft hesitant to give myself credit where credit is due, i have learned more than could fill several volumes of critical theory about men, being in a relationship, compromise, and living life with a partner -- something i never imagined required real, sustained effort, practice, and the occasional door slam.

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  14. Just finished Swamplandia! myself. A disturbing, yet ultimately hopeful story - good flu reading. Feel better soon.

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  15. currently trying to force myself to finish "the work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction" because i didn't read it the first five times it was assigned to me. but i just can't. sigh.

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  16. Benjamin: a beast, no doubt, but a fascinating one!

    Plus, part of the whole thing with the flâneur is the new interaction with a city that comes by way of a leisurely stroll, amble, or jaunt. The Benj, he's calling to you.

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  17. Ooh! We must go here when the weather gets non-weirdly warm: http://www.gowanusnursery.com/

    These are the ladies whose stern glances forced Colin to walk his bike, with swallowtail egg bearing fennel in the basket...

    xooooooox

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  18. Swamplandia with the flu...I'd be careful with that combo--could be hallucinOgenic

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  19. I have a jewelry studio and teach classes in Gowanus. It's a great place to work and hang out. If you go again, check out:
    The Bloomfield School [thebloomfieldschool.com] - art and jewelry classes
    Halyards [barhalyards.com] - fun bar with games and great cocktails
    Cut Brooklyn [cutbrooklyn.com] - handmade knives and knife skills classes
    Two Moon [twomoonbklyn.com] - delicious bakery/cafe/gallery

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