I was looking forward to the 90-degree heat. Maybe I should have tamped that enthusiasm. I had no idea where I might want to go, where to spend part of the day. Listlessly I checked on the Little Free Library and the Community Refrigerator on 29th Street. The LFL was empty, the fridge contained a couple of deflated-looking green peppers. That’s more than I’ve seen in that fridge for a while now. It seems to be pretty popular with the residents of the homeless shelter nearby. In fact, I saw a couple of those folks ahead of me, and they appeared to have taken some items from the frisge. Their use of it has, at times, made me feel like an asshole for just “checking in.” The only thing I can remember ever taking from it was a small bag of sliced apples. There might have been over 100 of those little bags at that time.
I passed through the Queens Plaza subway station, finding that the one remaining payphone/TTY is now gone. It was still present last week, when I found that the other payphone TTY, the one behind the turnstile, was gone. For some reason they left the TTY signs hanging over the empty space where the payphone/TTY used to be. I wonder if that is possibly some kind of ADA violation. Offhand I can think of only one other nearly-intact outdoor payphone in Astoria.
I took an elevator upstairs to Jackson Avenue, where I walked toward what I still call the Citi Building even though I know it is not called that anymore. I got close to the Supreme Court building, which I’ve never entered. I have not been called for jury duty in probably 15 years. The last one, if I remember correctly, would have been in Brooklyn, and it would have had something to do with organized crime and the mafia. This announcement, with the caveat that you were free to leave if mobsters made you nervous, led to the prompt departure of about 85% of the potential jurors. I stayed but was later rejected for no explained reason.
I found an unlabeled Little Free Library by the courthouse. It had no Charter number or identifying information to confirm it was a LFF but I later found it on the map. So it’s legit. I didn’t find a rogue Little Free Library. This one was stuffed with interesting stuff. Salman Rushdie, Norman Mailer, etc. Quite a find, really.
I got a G train with no destination in mind. The G always seems to go somewhere interesting. I only went a few stops, to Lorimer/Metropolitan, where I decided my day’s journey would be though some of the Maspeth Industrial Zone. It’s a hellscape place for pedestrians during the week but on Sunday it was fine. During the week you get monster trucks barreling past with impunity. As a human on the sidewalk you are just a toothpick.
It was during the journey through this area that hear started getting to me. There is essentially nothing there for food or hydration, and my water was running low. I could feel the heat. I was getting dizzy, I think my voice was slurring or sounding off, and a couple of times it seemed I could have simply fallen to the ground. Heat can be scary but it’s really a fright when you do not know it’s getting to you. I was aware, at least, and knew to at least find shade.
On Grand Avenue I took a left on 47th Street, to revisit what a potential girlfriend and I named the Astoria-to-Bushwick connection, or shortcut. The area feels like private property, like an industrial park. But it’s all city streets and open to the public. Some of the street signs were spectaculatly mangled. I reported them to 311 but I doubt they’ll ever fix them. These signs, given their locations, are probably not going to be considered important enough.
SInce the last time I passed through someone set up picnic tables and a small dock at the little piece of waterfront next to the DSNY Garage. It was cute. That’s my idea of a fun place for a date but I don’t think I’d find many takers who agree.
These paths ultimately lead to 56th Road, where I found my favorite telephone exchange name sightings ever, three in a row showing the INdependence eXchange. 56th Road is also where huge trucks and RVs stay parked for months and even years.
Under the Kosciuszko was something curious. A giant banner with a photo of a bicyclist and the words “WE KNOW WHO YOU ARE”. I have no idea what that was about but maybe I’ll find a way to find out. The bicyclist in the picture must have been doing something illegal but what? Maybe it was some kind of warning to all bicyclists? I don’t know…
Heat really started to eat me on Laurel Hill Boulevard, as I walked alongside Calvary Cemetery. The trek over that loop-de-loop pedestrian/bike ramp seemed like a long, somber march. The mid point of that ramp has one of the most interesting views to Old Calvary. It looks like the skyscrapers of Manhattan are a continuance of the graves.
The ramp lets you out at Woodside… or is it Sunnyside? Take your pick for that particular spot under the BQE. All I cared about was finding a place to get a Gatorade. This area was not hospitable to that. More walking, walking, walking…
In the end everything is fine. But I know I might have come pretty close to a bad situation. I got on an air conditioned 7 train, which was a start back to normal body temperature. All is well but I should be more careful about planning these strambles when I know it’s going to hit 90.