Behind the Scenes of:
A BIRDHOUSE IN BROOKLYN
On the pavement at the intersection of Lexington and 97th Street, Lucy saw her first De La Vega. A simple chalk drawing of a small fish hopping from its bowl, neatly labeled: Become your dream. The Upper East Side’s version of tagging seemed pretty tame compared with Williamsburg’s more brazen graffiti that grew along walls like a psychedelic rash. Further up the street was another signed aphorism: During peaceful moments watch for danger.
Lucy gauged her surroundings: downtown were streets of sober elegance defined by urbane brownstones and avenues of high-end retail; to the north, public housing—the projects—that marked Harlem. Across the avenue, the Burrito Deli abutting an open-air parking lot. Spanish Harlem.
Along 97th Street from Park Avenue little American flags stuck into fallow planters on buildings pockmarked with age were similar to the snippets of patriotism that sprouted from Williamsburg windowsills immediately after 9/11. High rises reappeared on the south side of the street. Peaked shrubs behind chain-link fence topped with loops of menacing razor wire. To the north, railroad tracks shot out from undercover, running through Harlem like a scar.