The meeting of renovation, refuse, and reflexivity is as historically common an event in Lower Manhattan as the hailing of a taxi cab. The condition pictured above simply would not do in most cities, the open façade looking out over not much at all. In Manhattan, however, while we enjoy our fried halloumi or the like over brunch, I sense that this kind of juxtaposition is tolerated because we always have each other to look at.
It was odd to see a condemned building on an avenue in Chelsea. My usual expectation in Manhattan below 42nd Street and west of 1st Avenue is that any condemned properties have been resolved into new buildings already, that the remaining sites for development are not-condemned and look more or less fine. But there it was, in an expensive and still-fashionable stretch of Manhattan, awaiting a neighboring evacuation of some kind, fated for all to see to be reborn, no doubt, under the ever-rising star of contemporary luxury.
My wife and I were on our way home from Manhattan in a taxi. As we headed south on the West Side Highway, a group of 15 or so adolescent boys on bicycles swarmed our cab and its neighboring vehicles.
Though they posed no specific threat, their efforts were aggressive and their riding flamboyant: wheelies, hops, weaves in and out of traffic, up onto the bike paths and back onto the street. At some point a few of them made to grab hold of car doors or mirrors to hitch a ride 1. I was photographing the group as much as possible but between their agility and the limited view from the backseat of our taxi, I didn’t seem to be having much luck.
And then suddenly, this boy appeared, swooping in from our left, reaching out to grab my door but missing, surprised, by the look of things, to see my camera right there in the window.
Is skeeching a regional term for this sort of thing? In the 70s and 80s in western New York, this was primarily a winter activity in which the skeecher would hang onto an unsuspecting bumper and be pulled along the snowy/icy/slushy street in the mode of waterskiing.↩