I loved the Viaduct, a fact that is documented by acres of elegies, eulogies and shrines made in its honor. As one of its passionate defenders, I mourned when it came down for the as-yet unproven benefits of a “park” and an “underground tunnel.” The viaduct’s mood range was immense. Beneath its clumsy mastodon pillars one could wallow in the dank smells and charcoal smears of pure grime. Above, given a tenth of a gallon of gas and any class of car, a million dollar view rolled out from sea to shining sea and a white-capped mountain. It was our last glimpse of The View, as contrasted with our current life with an ever-diminishing View Corridor. We now see the world beyond the city in slivers, something blue or gray and moving slowly as atmosphere does, sliced against a block-long bank of windows that only reflect the sky and will never be it.
All that said, what a difference in perspective 10 years and a pandemic: Never again will I write eulogies to graffiti in the same way. Now that random scrawls are inescapable and cover every inch of our city with relentless self-regard I just want the power of a large hose filled with bleach and the god-powers of erasure. This shift in perspective hit me with bracing clarity as I stumbled into the Waterfront Park Construction project on a gray Sunday morning. With no hall monitors present, no generators, no growling excavators or men in hard hats shouting at me to leave or show my permit I had freedom to walk during Sunday matins like a slow monk observing, shooting, revising, studying every angle of scaffold and ramp and the lyric possibilities of fresh concrete. [Read more…]