I’ve been reading Fools Crow by James Welch on the subway, and his descriptions of Montana just after the Civil War and the lives of the Blackfeet there completely transport me from my commute in the steel and concrete metropolis. I adore James Welch’s writing; his Riding the Earthboy 40 is one of my absolute favorite books of poetry. Its winter imagery doesn’t make it much of a summer book, though. Although I would much prefer to read about snowdrifts than, say, a trip down the boiling hot Congo, when I’m trying not to suffocate from humidity. Wow, apparently Welch’s Winter in the Blood is being made into a movie. I’m curious how a book about a nameless narrator struggling through the haze of his life will transfer onto film.
This past week had a lot of meetings, but I found time to meet with a friend for dinner in Greenpoint at a Polish restaurant where you can bring your own bottle of wine. On the weekend, I went up to Astoria in Queens to take care of a friend’s cat (lovely Lucille, shown above), and also do some exploring in the neighborhood.
I started by walking to Astoria Park, a new place for me. It’s right on the East River, with bridges at each of its ends. One of these is the Hell Gate Bridge (seen above), which has to be the most European-looking bridge in New York City. Unfortunately, or fortunately I guess, it is not an entrance to the netherworld. It was named for the Hell Gate tidal strait of the East River it passes over, which has caused hundreds of ships to sink. Fun wikipedia fact: the Hell Gate Bridge was used as inspiration for the Sydney Harbour Bridge in Australia.
The other bridge looming over Astoria Park is the Triboro Bridge, which connects Queens to Manhattan and the Bronx. It might be cool to walk over some time, but I wasn’t ambitious that day and just spent some time reading instead.
I then walked down to the Socrates Sculpture Park, which you may remember from my last post. I spent more time there on this visit (doing more reading, there’s kind of a pattern to my life that involves going places and reading about other places). Since 1986, it’s been an outdoor exhibition space for contemporary sculpture. Like Astoria Park, it is also on the East River and has views of Roosevelt Island and Manhattan. Before that, it had been an abandoned landfill, so it’s awesome that now people are able to stroll for free among cool art. There were people doing yoga, playing with dogs, suntanning, and staring intently at some of the more modern sculptures.
I was fond of the uprooted tree sculpture (seen above), where the roots were pipes. There’s also an old sunken barge that you can see from the park, which I was into. I wish I had gone up to these places during a winter storm, although as long as I take a James Welch book with me, the snow will always follow.