Scenes Of Queens: The Van Wyck Garbageway

This scene takes place on the Jamaica/South Richmond Hill border on the east service road of the Van Wyck Expressway.

Queens Chronicle

Illegal trash piles have been growing in South Ozone Park, and with them, residents’ frustration.

Aracelia Cook of the 149th Street South Ozone Park Civic Association recently documented several of the chronic illegal dumping spots in the neighborhood, where 311 complaints haven’t stopped trash from piling up for three weeks.

“You have rats out there, raccoons out there, rodents — all these things. And that’s not to talk about the smell,” Cook told the Chronicle on Friday.

Cook reached out to the Chronicle after trying to work with the Department of Sanitation. There were two areas of concern for her — one at a residential intersection, and another along the Van Wyck Expressway service road in between Rockaway Boulevard and Conduit Avenue.

At the residential location, on the southeast side of 146th Street and Rockaway Boulevard, a large trash pile containing tires and crates sat on the sidewalk as of last Friday.

A 311 log from July 7 shows that a complaint had been “investigated and addressed,” but the trash remained there for weeks after, Cook said.

The mess at that intersection has been a chronic problem for months. Google street views from November 2020 captured a similarly sized heap sitting on the intersection.

After the Chronicle reached out to Sanitation, the agency cleaned it up over the weekend, but by Monday afternoon Cook said more trash had already begun to pile up again.

That is an understatement. Behold, like the cherry blossoms at the Bronx Botanical Garden, every week detritus is in full bloom in the dirty Southside Queens…

Someone couldn’t find a place to discard these windshields, but I can understand the logic leaving them on the street. In due time, cars will roll over them and the glass will be grounded naturally into the asphalt.

That’s how ecology works around here. Follow the science.

The Van Wyck Garbageway also comes with amenities like this cushy living room set, providing a break for curious immersion tourists.

Which makes the sight of daily traffic commutes and the occasional illegal dirtbike and ATV caravan evoke a feeling of trainspotting.

Remember to hold your nose.

Here are the ruins of a basement studio apartment.

This is a shitty way to honor the memory of Jaki Byrad, who was a seminal and influential jazz musician who played with Charlie Mingus and many other iconic jazz legends. What’s evident is that this exhibition of crass pollution and city indifference is a sad allegory for his career as a composer and solo artist and ultimately how he tragically died.

As a leader, Byard recorded a string of albums for the Prestige label during the 1960s. Some of these albums included Richard Davis on bass and Alan Dawson on drums, a trio combination described by critic Gary Giddins as “the most commanding rhythm section of the ’60s, excepting the Hancock-Carter-Williams trio in Miles Davis’s band”, although it existed only for recordings. One such album was Jaki Byard with Strings!, a sextet recording that featured Byard’s composing and arranging: on “Cat’s Cradle Conference Rag”, each of five musicians “play five standards based on similar harmonies simultaneously”.A further example of Byard’s sometimes unusual approach to composition is the title track from Out Front!, which he created by thinking of fellow pianist Herbie Nichols’ touch at the keyboard. Popularity with jazz critics did not translate into wider success: a Washington Post review of his final Prestige album, from 1969, remarked that it was by “a man who has been largely ignored outside the inner circles”. Giddins also commented in the 1970s on the lack of attention that Byard had received, and stated that the pianist’s recordings from 1960 to 1972 “are dazzling in scope, and for his ability to make the most of limited situations”. Following his time with Prestige, Byard had more solo performances, in part because of his affection for musical partners he had become close to but who had then died.

Byard died in his home in Hollis, Queens, New York City, of a gunshot wound on February 11, 1999. He was shot once in the head. The police reported that Byard’s family, with whom he shared the house, last saw him at 6 pm, that he was killed around 10 pm, that there “were no signs of robbery, forced entry or a struggle”, and that no weapon was found. The death was soon declared to be a homicide, but the circumstances surrounding it have not been determined, and the case remains unsolved.

Let this show that street re-naming is the original virtue signalling.

The Garbageway concludes at Atlantic Avenue, bordering Richmond Hill and Jamaica and the majestic high speed rail pillar of the JFK express train, buoyed by circle of discarded clothing and shopping carts…

Oh wait, this isn’t discarded and not ordinary garbage. People live over here and that’s all what they have left to their names. It’s unsightly and probably smells like hell, but it’s 100 times safer than being forced to live in one of Mayor de Blasio’s and Stephen Banks congregate decrepit, health hazard and crime ridden homeless shelters.

This is only just a segment of the Van Wyck Garbageway, but as the Queens Chronicle noted above it’s the most recognizable for frustrated residents and recidivist litterbugs. It might get cleaned up eventually, but garbage will continue to re-materialize as long as the grass keeps growing and the earth keeps spinning on it’s axis and as long as Southside Queens streets continue to be the city’s linear dumpsters.

So it goes..

 

The Van Sicklen Horror

Jamaica, Queens, New York

NY Post

A human skull was found outside a Queens home Monday morning, police said.

The remains were located in front of 108-16 Pine Grove St. in Jamaica around 9:30 a.m., police said.

The city’s medical examiner responded and determined that the remains were human and had no sign of trauma, police sources said.

There were no further details immediately available.

It’s not everyday the NYPD reports a skull lying on the sidewalk in a residential area. But in the obviously click bait generating article (which is not even truncated here and the Post used a google map crop for the lede photo), the home the NY Post is referring is an abandoned zombie house that was cited for a full vacate by the Department of Buildings back in 2019 after a fire and from the looks of it, it might have been abandoned even longer before that incident.

So might as well provide some further details the NYPD couldn’t provide (or wouldn’t).

Let’s enhance…

Looks like there’s a vacate order and other documents taped inside the door. There was also a summons left by the Dept of Sanitation taped to the fence.

Conspicuously absent from this scene of the grisly discovery was the NYPD themselves. If watching TV cop shows in the last 3 decades taught me, is that usually after a crime scene investigation when a dead body or human remains were found, there’s usually a thorough clearing of any detritus and collecting of any DNA in the area. It’s like they found the skull, surely on a tip, saw this mess and said fuck it and split, and lets only tell one news outlet about the macabre find.

You didn’t need to be Gil Grisson,or Bunk and McNulty to figure out how the skull was discovered though. Garbage bags were lying on the grass by the front entrance. It’s highly possible a dog sniffed around and discovered while some person was taking it for a walk. They were oddly shaped too as if other body parts were jammed in them and they look more like they’ve been lying there for months on end. Plus discarded clothes were found underneath a truck that seemed to belong to the NYC Department of Transportation.

Other discarded items were found outside and inside of the property, like this loveseat and a pair of red sneakers.

 

More unsightly trash was lying around the other side of the house at the 109 Ave. entrance. Along with police crime scene tape that was used the day before crumpled on top of the stinking pile, giving the appearance the cops didn’t want to bother discarding their accessories when they were done and took the opportunity to dump their shit here because it’s already a hellscape.

Although every window is boarded up, there are signs of easy access to the house for squatters. But if there was any difficulty getting in, the camper in the backyard would make a convenient substitute for shelter.

 

Perusing the D.O.B. files, not much is known about the prior or even current owner of this blighted property, but this home is steeped in Queens history. It was built and owned nearly a century ago by Abraham Van Sicklen, whose father was a New York supreme court justice who also owned a famous mansion in Jamaica and grandson of a renowned farmer in Brooklyn (nearby the train station that bears their name, sans the k).

http://vital.queenslibrary.org/vital/access/services/Download/aql:8325/THUMBNAIL_LARGE?view=true

Another thing steeped in Queens history is how the city’s landmarks and preservation office doesn’t take the borough seriously leading many houses of historic significance being abandoned and left to rot in perpetuity, particularly and notoriously in Jamaica, where critical mass foreclosures still grip the area and heinous blight like this is taken for granted by district officials, community boards, cynical residents and most recently by the NYPD.

Just like the NY Post blurb story and like the trees and weeds engulfing the property, this old house will continued to be overlooked and waste away, obscured and enabled by city indifference and negligence.

 

Update: A tip from my related blog Queens Crap  found out the owner is a elderly woman in her 90’s.  Another tip from that blog’s comment thread by Paul Graziano says the house is a lot older than what the city records said and is actually 170 years old. Safe to say that this might be as close to the 9th wonder of the world being that its still erect after a fire and negligence.

Queens Black Lives Matter Mural Doesn’t Matter Anymore

Jamaica, Queens, New York

In a few weeks, New York City (and other American cities) will be recognizing the one year anniversary of the extrajudicial murder of George Floyd committed by Officer Derek Chauvin and also the start of the Black Lives Matter mass protest demonstrations that followed it.

Which brings up Mayor de Blasio’s feeble recognition of that momentous tragedy and other preventable deaths at the hands of overzealous police based on the race of the victims. Inspired by Mayor Muriel Browser, who ordered a mural of the movement’s universal political slogan on a street in Washington D.C, the Blaz decided to sextuple down on Browser’s tribute and painted 6 murals on the 5 boroughs. The one placed on the world’s borough of Queens was on Jamaica Avenue in Jamaica, right in front of the landmark Rufus King house and park.

I happened to witness it being painted last summer in July as volunteers put the finishing touches on it.

 

The mural covered both sides of the two way street and spanned about 2 blocks. Although not as elaborate as the BLM mural on Fulton St. in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn; he people did a great job painting it, although this would have been better if the city repaved the street with new asphalt before they did it. But The Blaz might have been in a rush that he didn’t bother, make that didn’t want to bother getting the permits to paint the slogan on the street.

Sadly, the mural that is supposed to be a tribute to civil rights and in memoriam of Black lives cut down by wanton aggressive policing, is no more.

All that’s left of the world renowned civil rights slogan is faint traces of the words “lives” and “matter” on the lane going eastward. The word Black is wholly vanished. Wonder when de Blasio and the Department of Transformation Transportation suddenly decided the Black Lives Matter on Jamaica Ave. pretty much didn’t matter anymore and decided not to maintain it like the more elaborate and huger mural on Fulton St. in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn.

What’s especially odd is that there hasn’t been much agitation about it all, considering the various efforts the Blaz made last year in his vain efforts to preserve the BLM mural he spitefully had painted in front of Trump Tower on 5th Avenue (even though he already painted a mural in Harlem) after it was vandalized with gallons of paint every week last summer and in one final act of destructive activism, covered with tar being dumped by a pick up truck. But it looks like that one is going to meet the same fate of the vanishing one in Queens, going by the stains still remaining and paint fading on the street mural.

It’s clear that the Jamaica Ave. mural didn’t get the same protection as the Brooklyn and Midtown Manhattan ones, the latter two benefiting from the presence of steel barricades, leading to traffic getting diverted away from the murals. While the one in Jamaica looks as if the avenue was never shut down to traffic on the day after the painting was completed, plus how this strip on Jamaica Ave., right by a city park no less, obviously was never considered to be part of the city’s open streets program.

But this mural, as well as the others in the other four boroughs, was never about the message and the movement of Black Lives Matter, it was only about optics. The Blaz exploited BLM to mural wash away his idiotic policy decisions during last years protests; from his idiotic and unenforceable 8 p.m. curfew, his NYPD’s violent maltreatment of protesters and anyone that happened to be near them, whether journalists or essential workers and his appalling insouciance of his NYPD’s abuse of authority and trampling of first amendment rights to publicly assemble which consequently led to charges of human rights violations and an investigation by A.G. Letitia James condemning the NYPD’s gross mishandling of the protests, leading to an overhaul of disciplinary measures for rogue officers.

Although a fresh coat of paint can absolve this, it might be better to let the digression and neglect of the Jamaica Ave. BLM mural serve as an example of what happens when movements get politicallyy co-opted by virtue signalling opportunists like the Blaz as he winds down his last months as Mayor of New York City. The mural’s current state should serve as a condemnation symbol of his, his bureaucracy and elected district officials fleeting memories. This mural signifies nothing, and that’s all that should remain as it’s eradication continues under the wheels of daily traffic.