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murphblog: Friday, June 27, 2008

Before there was a Starbucks on every corner of New York City there were laundromats and hardware stores and Greek diners and liquor stores and Irish bars. My new neighborhood doesn't have a Starbucks (yet) but it doesn't seem to have many of the other necessities either. There are, instead, several places to have my hair braided if I ever get that drunk and lots of West Indian takeouts.

But it was my day off and my dirty clothes were starting to ferment in the heat so off I went in search of a lundromat that wouldn't wash the white t-shirts with the black socks and fold everything so I won't have to go out and buy and iron. The one I used back in civilization (Avenue D in the East Village) was a miracle of compression techniques that turned my bulky bag of soiled undies into a clean little cube wrapped in cellophane even if they weren't they looked clean. They even took the time to match all my socks, which are all black but of different species that I find difficult to tell apart in the morning and there's nothing so irritating as finding you have mismatched socks when you have to stand at work all day.

There was nothing on Bedford or Franklin that wasn't small, dark and filled with machines with names my grandmother would have recognized. Women chatted while they did their wash and their children played and I'm sure they would have welcomed me in to join but as a gift to myself on turning fifty I vowed to never do my own laundry, at least in public, so I trudged on.

Nostrand Avenue in the other direction had what I was looking for -- a nearly suburban spead of washingmachines and a counter to drop off my bag. Nostrand also has Jamaican restaurants and fish places that are appealing and a guy hacking open fruit (the big round green one) on the sidewalk so maybe, after all, I won't starve.

The recent work of Olafur Eliasson has disappointed me with it's textbook phenomenology but I have to say the Waterfalls have brought me back into his camp. They are absolutely thrilling and give a picture of what New York City should be even in this age of Bloomberg. Viewing two of them from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade this afternoon then the other two while walking along the riverfront park in DUMBO I thought they not only should be permanent but that, in a way, they've always been there and I just didn't see them before, my eyes weren't open. There is also the added advantage that now I, a non-driver, know which bridge is the Brooklyn (the one with the waterfall) and which is the Manhattan.

Thankfully, I missed the Christo Gates in Central Park. To me it was just a bad design idea that, like so many of the luxury buildings going up here these days, was given the go-ahead by the Bloomberg administration. Eliasson's Waterfalls are something else. They make the city more of what it is, more Walt Whitman, while The Gates took away one of our playgrounds for a corporate party.

As for this building (677 Lincoln Place) the stove still isn't hooked up and the freezer makes ice but the rest of the refrigerator doesn't work; the front door doesn't lock and neither does the mailbox, which is stuffed with former tenant's mail (what happened to them?). I feel like a squatter except I'm paying rent. But the room is nice and doesn't get too hot since I bought a window fan and put up sheets I swiped from Camp Laguardia for curtains. But I will have to contact the managing agent, Carlette, to see about making this a more hapitable building. But that will wait until next week. This would make a good place for visiting artists.