In the area we will move to––the apartment with the koi fish in the meditation garden, remember?––there is a community garden that I love. It is called the Plaza Culturale and, until Hurricane Sandy raised havoc, it was home to a chorus line of languid willow trees, all bowing together before the audience of passersby. They are slowly returning all these months later, nervous but stoic.
However I barely acknowledged their absence. Another more colorful and manmade troupe upstages them for me every time. These guys:They throng the railings of the garden blocking the view of the willows in the most joyful display of oneupmanship you’ll ever see. They enjoyed the period of the willows’ displacement because it meant more spotlight for them. Leering into the sky, mugging and hamming it up for all of Alphabet City, Detergent Bottle Man, Mrs Watering Can and all their motley entourage.
Created in 1976, at a time when junkies and and crack vials littered these streets, the garden containing this celebration of found objects represents a true turnaround. Then it was just a city lot piled high with trash and rubble, in an abandoned and feared area associated with arson and drugs until local visionaries claimed it. The 80s came and while Iggy Pop and Debbie Harry were roaming these streets by night, the garden’s founders had to go head to head in court battles with developers to prevent them building on the site. Anti-Establishment artists and activists piled into the area leading to clashes with police until the 90s brought Mayor Giuliani in to clean up the Downtown area. The 00s brought sidewalk tables and jazz clubs and investment bankers swinging briefcases and wearing polished tan Italian shoes as they passed the aging punks and crusties that still slept on the park benches.
And then along came me.
Anyone considering housewarming gifts, Marni makes me feel right at home… My novel set in the international fashion industry is now available. You can buy Silk for the Feed Dogs here