Day seventeen: Sunset Park and Greenwood Cemetery

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While wandering about Sunset Park yesterday, I pondered the life cycles of urban architecture- romantically: buildings in a state of decay.  So seductive are these voices of layered history in one standing structure. Thousands of broken windows, rainbows of peeling paint, crab grass reclaiming its rightful space. Somehow avoiding the wrecking ball unlike other less useful buildings, although not quite relevant enough for repair.

Plenty of modern semi-trailer trucks with freight to disseminate shook the pavement below, but the rail bars in every direction became my path of exploration in Industry City. Some, partially paved, led straight into walls of warehouses, parking lots, and fences. A few seemed to still be revered, although only one tiny train passed me.

The pollution bothers me a bit upon returning, so after a few hours of exhaust I treated myself to exploring the paths of Greenwood Cemetery to acquire dried leaves and flowers for my map. Shortly before heading back to California in March, I discovered these 478 acres in the middle of Brooklyn. That day, with only two hours to explore before closing time, I set out to find the gravestone of the most meaningful artist to me on the map they provided. It was poorly designed and I read it incorrectly in my excitement. Visiting the wrong lot and not wanting to be locked in, I vowed to return in the spring.

Yesterday, armed with this knowledge, I walked up and down the paths from the Fifth avenue gate toward Fort Hamilton. Through vibrant shades of spring green, I saw ancient gravestones- bricks laid to never be demolished.

Upon finding the headstone of Jean-Michel Basquiat, I sat for a while to think about what I knew of his life and his art. Ultimately, I found a bit of new peace with my own. Satiation is a point of discontent for me at many moments, especially during the creation of this Brooklyn map because of the sheer size of the borough. I reminded myself that along the way to progress, it will be tiny triumphs that keep me moving.

Reaching the Fort Hamilton gate at about five pm, I was greeted by a sign saying it closed at four. With not nearly enough time to make it back to the original gate, I resigned to wait for a patrolman to pass and let me out. Carlos arrived shortly before dark. Climbing into his SUV, he smiled at my ignorance. On the roads back to Fifth ave, he shared with me a bit of the history he’s learned about the land over the years. Every day, at least one person is accidentally locked in at Greenwood Cemetery.

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