Friday, October 30, 2015

Three weeks in New York: 3. Brooklyn / Down by the river/ and Brooklyn Bridge / Green Wood Cemetery / Williamsburg


There was first the ferry boat moving softly from the Jersey shore at dawn- the moment crystallized into my first symbol of New York.

Well, this isnt the ferryboat coming from New Jersey, More likely it's coming from Governor's Island, and it isn't dawn, but about noon. But surely any excuse justifies quoting Fitzgerald: does any writer better capture the feeling of arrival in New York? Let's have a bit more: here he is again, in The Great Gatsby:

I began to like New York, the racy, adventurous feel of it at night and the satisfaction that the constant flicker of men and women and machines gives to the restless eye. I like to walk up Fifth Avenue and pick out romantic women from the crowd and imagine that in a few minutes I was going to enter their lives, and no one would ever know or disapprove. Sometimes, in my mind, I followed them to their apartments on the corners of hidden streets, and they turned and smiled back at me before they faded through a door into warm darkness. At the enchanted metropolitan twilight I felt a haunting loneliness sometimes, and felt it in others—poor young clerks who loitered in front of windows waiting until it was time for a solitary restaurant dinner—young clerks in the dusk, wasting the most poignant moments of night and life.

Green Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, a view, oil on card, 16 x 18 cm

This, above, is one of those that I feel has the necesary je ne sai quois, to make it stand out from the rest- a certain liveliness that suggests the pleasure of its making. It was indeed pleasant sitting there on the hill in the cemetery, which is extremely well maintained. One is greeted by a very friendly guide.  But the views were less dramatic than Id hoped.  And then the rain..

The picture (below) seems to me, to suffer from a certain lazy Japoinaiserie:

View of the East River from Williamsburg, Kent Street, oil on card, 18 x 15 cm

Quite what is this factory on the other side of the East River from Williamsburg?:

View of the East River from Williamsburg, Kent Street -detail

There are fine places to eat there, and it isn't too costly. You feel at home. I did an interior and a couple of pictures of the river but only one came out well. The wind blew like hell.


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