Monday, October 3, 2016

Welcome Back from Queens

Riding to Queens yesterday, I found myself thinking of the old seventies show “Welcome Back Kotter” and its old opening theme, depicting a Brooklyn in transition.

Welcome Back
Welcome back, your dreams were your ticket out
Welcome back, to that same old place that you laughed about
Well the names have all changed since you hung around
But those dreams have remained and they've turned around
Who'd have thought they'd lead ya
(Who'd have thought they'd lead ya)
Back here where we need ya
(Back here where we need ya)
Yeah we tease him a lot 'cause we got him on the spot
Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back, welcome back
Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back

A college professor here in Brooklyn, I frequently think of myself as the old Gabe Kaplan character, navigating the complicated lives of students as they make their way through this landscape of austerity and flux, walking halls in crumbling public accommodations.  My students are very much like Gabe's - smiling and joking, aspiring and distracting, evading and tenacious and ever persevering. This is their world. They just want to find a place in it.

Returning from California nine years ago, I walk the streets of our campus, wondering what Brooklyn is really about, what it could mean, what it is becoming.
"Save Bushwick," reads a sign along the waterfront, as open spaces are closed off.
The Admirals Row buildings of the Navy Yard is gone.  Williamsburg is rezoned, with lots of people out on the streets, graffiti and new buildings.  The ageless image of the waterfront in transition.
I always feel lost in Queens, ready to turn around as soon as I get there.  But countless friends have made their way through here.  Yet, few remain.
Friends come and go in New York.
So I ride home back through the even transitioning Brooklyn, relieved when Roosevelt becomes Greenpoint again as I cross Ocean Boulevard.  I snap to take  a few photos of the messages on the wall, always glad to passing the waterfront on my way back home.

I always took pictures of the old row of buildings along Admiral's Row.  Here are some of the last from an essay in Curbed, featuring the stately buildings in all their disrepair, as nature took them over.


No comments:

Post a Comment