Friday 12 May 2023

Friday Photo #41

According to Ol' Blue Eyes, New York is the city that never sleeps and that's a pretty accurate description, for the most part at least. Sunday morning, however, is when the Big Apple turns over, pulls the cover over its head and has a bit of a lie-in. From my very first trip to New York in 1992, right through to my last in late 2010, I'd be up and out of the apartment early on Sunday mornings in an effort to hit as many flea markets as possible. The fleas popped up ad-hoc on vacant lots, in crumbling garage basements and murky alleys all over the city and were crammed to the gills with the kind of tat I loved to pore through at car-boot sales back in the UK at the time. They were also home to some of the New Yorkiest New York characters I've ever encountered - outrageously loud, breathtakingly brusque and hugely entertaining to this outsider. The streets may have been quiet, but the fleas were always noisy and heaving with bleary eyed, caffeine fuelled punters.

My favourite fleas gradually disappeared on my visits throughout the noughties, with skyscrapers sprouting from the vacant lots, crumbling garages being demolished and murky alleys gentrified beyond recognition. On my return to New York a few weeks ago after a gap of 13 years, I discovered only a couple of neat, tidy, organised fleas in operation, which leaned far more towards being vintage markets, with prices to match. The hustle, the bustle, the tat and the characters all gone. I took a pass.

Instead, while the Apple stretched and yawned, I spent a couple of hours wandering the still Sunday morning streets. Photo opportunities are a lot easier to grab when the sidewalks are empty and the roads are free of gridlocked, honking traffic. Here for example is a Con Edison stack I stumbled across on the corner of Church and Duane in Tribeca, work abandoned for the weekend and steam billowing into the chill morning air.


C said...

What a great description of that NY you used to know; I can imagine the parts you describe so vividly (my one time there decades ago was too brief and structured for any flea market foraging, sadly). Fab photo and I'm liking the tune too.
Do you still have any unusual little items you bought from those fleas?

John Medd said...

Great photo, TS. Any plans to go back?

Ernie Goggins said...

I'm off to NYC in September for the first time in about 10 years in September. I will see if I can track down this view.

Rol said...

Never been to New York, but it's always been a city that's held a great fascination for me. That said, I reckon I should have visited 20 years ago... I doubt it would appeal as much today. No city does...

The Swede said...

C: I didn't actually buy an awful lot back in the day, a few books perhaps, but I loved to rummage and browse. The fleas back then were a bit like 1970s/80s Camden Market, full of furniture and household goods to die for, but impractical for getting back to the UK!

John: My cousin and her husband have a magnificent bottle of rye bourbon in their cupboard with my name on it. It's comfortably the best I've ever tasted and they hate the stuff (it was an unwanted gift), so I guess I have to go back and finish it!

Ernie: Excellent, I hope you have a fantastic time. Last time I went 13 years ago you could still pick up CDs for just a few cents in second hand stores, though these days they seem to start at around $5. Many places have $1 or $2 LP bins out on the street though and they were my downfall! I didn't spend much in the grand scheme of things, but came home weighed down with vinyl!

Rol: There's no denying that a certain amount of character has been knocked out of the place over the years by demolition, development and gentrification, but many cool neighbourhoods still survive.

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