Or how I learned to stop worrying and love the Bronx

7 09 2010

I recently read a  not-too-positive article about the Bronx. It focused on a lack of jobs, poor population growth, and little commercial development.

I couldn’t help but get defensive. I mean, it’s like with the kids I work with. They can say that their mom is a crazy bitch. When their friend says, “Yeah, I didn’t agree with her locking you out of the house at 2 am,” it’s on. Not unlike Donkey Kong.

So yes, we have more than our fair share of unemployment, violence, and poverty. But the Bronx also has a lot to offer (besides that baseball team that just won’t go away, even when their stadium has been torn down.) It is interesting, historic, quirky, and beautiful, with a strong sense of community despite everything.

Most people have images like this come to mind when asked to think of the Bronx.

Rundown infrastructure, graffiti…

Tall, ugly buildings, a little more graffiti…

Empty lots…good thing they sprung for that “No Trespassing” sign. I don’t think I’m the only one just dying to scale that fence, tangle with the barbed wire, and have a good old-fashioned picnic.

Some might be unfortunate enough to have this memory to dredge up.

We’ve all felt the need for a pedicure spring up suddenly while waiting for the subway. Am I right, ladies?

But the Bronx has a lot more to offer. Some that people expect…

This place is awesome. Free on Wednesdays, and right in the middle of the borough. It’s always fun to walk by, and imagine that at any second, some rhinos are going to come charging through the fence.

We’ve got more community gardens than you can shake a stick at, if shaking sticks is your thing.

The beach is nice, but there is no better way to cool off on a 100 degree day. We’re nothing if not resourceful.

In the mood to relive “Toy Story?” Or just feel like wasting some quarters while trying to grab a stuffed pink unicorn? These things are all over the sidewalks, in front of corner stores. I think it really adds something to the neighborhood.

We’ve also got some of the best signs and advertisements I’ve found anywhere.

Boost that butt!

Speaking of butts, Beyonce is apparently hard up enough to lend her image to an independent hair salon.

I’m glad that they included the photo of the crayons. It helps.

Thank goodness. I’m so tired of those filthy, adults only laudromats.

We’ve also got some great architecture.

Just ignore the satellite dishes.

If you have to deal with the Department of Education, it might as well be in a building that looks like a wedding cake.

We’ve got nature.

Yes, Bronx River, we see you hiding behind that fence.

And someone is always watching over you.

My Size Barbies in the window. Redefining creepy since 1995.

Cultural diversity.

Our Little Italy can kick your Little Italy’s ass.

And if this social work thing doesn’t work out, there are always plenty of career opportunities.

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9 responses

7 09 2010
nechakogal

Great blog post. I’ve been looking for the beauty in industrial waste myself. I will be sharing this in upcoming months.

Your post perfectly synchronized with my reading of on Michel de Certau (http://bit.ly/3OVEN1): “the ambiguity that subverted from within the Spanish colonizers’ “success” in imposing their own culture on the indigenous Indians is well known. Submissive, and even consenting to their subjection, the Indians nevertheless often made of the rituals, representations, and laws imposed on them something quite different from what their conquerors had in mind; they subverted them not by rejecting or altering them, but by using them with respect to ends and references foreign to the system they had no choice but to accept. They were other within the very colonization that outwardly assimilated them; their use of the dominant social order deflected its power, which they lacked the means to challenge; they escaped it without leaving it. The strength of their difference lay in procedures of “consumption.””

More please.

7 09 2010
socialjerk

Thank you so much for this great, thoughtful reply. I really appreciate it. Keep looking for the beauty, it’s definitely there. I am working on more, so thanks for the encouragement!

7 09 2010
Clarita

Love this piece, and love the pics….makes me warm and fuzzy

7 09 2010
socialjerk

Thanks, Clarita! For once I was going for warm and fuzzy :)

11 09 2010
Jennifer

Nice pictures! You really have an eye for the interesting and ironic. Is that wedding cake building really the Dept of Education? they actually paid money for that weird design?!!

11 09 2010
socialjerk

Thank you! The DOE is in that building, as are a lot of other city agencies. Not sure who paid for the design…though it does make for an easy landmark!

16 09 2010
Melissa

Having worked in the Bronx for the past 4 years I thoroughly enjoyed a different perspective than the one I had everyday from the 6 train Hunts Point stop to my school. The Bronx does have some great things to offer. Particularly the Little Italy part. I do not recommend the Free Zoo Wednesdays as it becomes a bit overcrowded with school field trips, but instead say Pay the Money honey and enjoy it on a Monday.
I have been to the Wedding Cake building…and only wish the people that worked inside were as pleasant as that life-size Ken and Barbie you portrayed. Hilarious by the way…..

17 09 2010
socialjerk

I’m a big fan of the zoo in the winter. It’s pretty deserted, so you get that one on one time with the giraffes that we’re all looking for. And the Wedding Cake hospitality definitely leaves something to be desired. One day I will get through their metal detector on the first try. Thanks for reading!

17 09 2010
ashamelessagitator

Hamilton, Ontario also has a bad rep. Those from Toronto always chirp us for wanting/trying to be like them. Hamilton is a hidden gem. I might just steal your idea and post some pictures of it’s quirkly beauty :)

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