This is a mid-90′s Dodge Caravan Rallye. I don’t expect you would enter this into any sort of race or “rally” but we must look to another definition to provide deeper meaning. “Rally” also means to come together for a common purpose. In this case you and your family or your experimental noise rock band could come together for the common purpose of getting from A to B in a pink ass Caravan with a rooftop carrier that at one point had a little snail as its official logo. Feel free to laugh, cry or both.
Obviously someone parked this Chevy van on this quiet block of Box Street in Greenpoint and decided to spend the night. There’s a wolf blanket for curtains. See detail below. This is almost equivalent to the Chris Farley‘s Matt Foley character “…living in a van down by the river!”
The East River is a stone’s throw away as well as Newtown Creek which was the site of one of the worst oil spills in the US at the time with somewhere between 17 to 30 million gallons of oil spilling into the water.
A few notable people born or raised in Greenpoint are Mae West, Pat Benatar, Mickey Rooney and one Willie Sutton who according to urban legend said that he robbed banks “because that’s where the money is.” He denies ever saying this.
One of the great things about walking around the city taking photographs is the small details that you see at the street level. You miss things if you cruise past them on a bike or in a car. I’ve walked all over Brooklyn and Queens looking at buildings and cars but sometimes I’m much more impressed by a struggling weed or flower growing out of a tiny crack in the pavement. However this same weed growing in my postage stamp garden irritates the living hell out of me. I want to destroy it. It’s nature’s way of saying, “Fuck you.” But the flowers are saying, “I love you Christopher.” There’s one rampant invasive plant called Japanese knotweed that can completely take over a yard if not kept under control yet I’ve seen it growing as an ornamental plant in a huge botanical garden in Helsinki. The cold winters there keep it in check but in my Brooklyn backyard that bamboo-like plant will grow up your leg if you aren’t watching. One man’s invasive species is another man’s ornamental plant. Which leads me to graffiti…
I like some forms of graffiti and street art like throw-ups, wildstyles, stickers, Banksy‘s stencil art and Invader‘s tile creations but I usually don’t go for murals and tags. One particular artist’s work keeps showing up under my feet, literally. His name is Paul Richard. He does works in mixed media but I like his portraits of gentlemen on sidewalks using a dripping paint technique that is not too far removed from Jackson Pollock or your morning pancake syrup masterpieces. On the sidewalk right behind this 1969 Dodge Sweptline D100 pickup truck is one such portrait. See street view shot. I love their simplicity and I often mistake them for spilled paint which is exactly what they are. Click on his name above the link above and search for the Works on Paper. So what have we learned today. Push and pull. Rejection and embrace. Love and hate. Art and accident. Form and function. You can’t always get what you want but if you try sometime you just might find you get what you need. Satisfaction.
I think this Chevy van once had a life as a Bell Telephone utility vehicle but now it’s being used by a hip Williamsburg resident. I watched and waited as he parked in this spot. I knew I had a good shot but the oncoming traffic was tricky even on this slow morning. I carefully stepped into the street and made my shot. Maybe I should start wearing an orange safety vest like Bill Cunnningham. I came across this same van before in Greenpoint, Brooklyn near where they built the set of HBO‘s Boardwalk Empire but it lacked this nice brick background. I often pass up nice looking cars because the surroundings aren’t quite right. Note: Bell also used Corvair Rampsides and Ford Econolines. See below.
This setting has everything I could possibly want in my photographs. There is absolutely nothing missing except for maybe a piece or two of plywood.
It’s not hard to see what I’m talking about: the color of the car, the wood background, and the two-tone asphalt. And you thought I was just about old, cool cars. This Volkswagen Jetta works just fine.
If you peek just over the top of the car and above the ant, the text of the graffiti on the wall seems a bit confusing. But if you’ve read The Manufacture Of Non-Bleeding Maraschino Cherries by Jillian Ciaccia then you’ll know that it’s a part of the sentence, “The fruit, mostly neutral in color, plump and limbless is easily harvested with an extended reach.”
*If you know the name of the “ant” street artist please contact me.