Hey Drinky, I took the train to Beverley Road! Well actually, I biked there, but the idea’s the same. Although I don’t know, maybe the train would have added something to the experience. Biking there allowed me to stay orientated. I knew where I was going, and where I was, relative to the rest of Brooklyn. There’s something about taking a tunnel underground and then coming out somewhere else entirely that can really shock you into the feeling of a place. I guess I missed that. And now that I think about it, it seems that emotion would be entirely fitting with an area like Prospect Park South – a neighborhood intentionally created as a break, a retreat, from the matrix that surrounds it.
But what am I, complaining? This place is awesome. Its motto is “rus in urbe,” or “country in the city.” That’s right, it has a motto. You might also find it called, “the Heart of Victorian Brooklyn.” All right again; I’m down with that kind of thing. Prospect Park South was laid out by developer Dean Alvord a few years before the 20th century, right around the time Brooklyn incorporated with NYC. As its motto implies, the idea was to provide a more stately – and frankly more expensive – alternative to the row house concept prevalent throughout most of the borough. Alvord applied strict restrictions in the development of each lot. Every house built had to be free-standing and exceed 3,500 square feet in dimension. All utilities were underground, trees were planted every 20 feet, and a grass median had to separate the sidewalk from the curb. What it led to was houses like this.
So it’s a suburb. But it’s a suburb from a time when suburbs were a radical idea, a new out-line and design for living. Prospect Park South was so successful that it become one of the blueprints for modern suburbs in general. Is that a good thing or is it bad? Do we have to hate suburbs intrinsically, or can we just hate the kind that show no regard for aesthetic and the human spirit? Because here you ride around and just say “whoa,” over and over again. Each house has its own style – imagining which one you’d want to live in actually takes some thought. Your relation to the world would differ, depending on which of these windows you were quietly peeking out from. It makes you wonder: how many ways are there to approach reality, how many moods?
What I guess I’m asking is, could you write a novel about the difference between looking out of different windows? Between looking out that window at 10am on a January day as opposed to this one at 8pm in August? What type of mood is going to bubble up inside you? And are these moods really different moods, or do they all add up to one mood, which is the world? I mean, it’s October again. I’ve been here before. I’m as lost as ever. But it’s not the same. Our emotions too can have an equinox and solstice. It’s only that they happen a lot quicker. I’m sad again, no wait, I’m happy! Or am I just confused? Or is this all very simple? Well here’s one thing I don’t regret: pretty much all of it. Okay? We’ve got that settled? Let’s go and do this thing again.
(Originally posted Oct. 2nd, 2009 on Takethehandle.com)