Yesterday, I studied the typography of signs in a few cafes along my walk, the most interesting of which was Peter Pan Donut and Pastry Shoppe on Manhattan Avenue in Greenpoint. This area is mainly Polish, hipster, and retired, as was the clientele of my dear Peter Pan. I don’t eat either of the items on the menu, so I settled paper cup of coffee at the bar that from above is probably shaped like a backward “g”. Donuts shops have a strange ability to preserve other eras. Peter Pan is a time portal. Same as all of the other patrons, the large older gentleman next to me and I did not speak to one another and instead focused on observing the darling and busy Polish girls serving donuts in oversized green and coral dresses.
I don’t agree that time is a lie.
Walking east from Manhattan Avenue on Greenpoint, the neighborhood transitions from residential to industrial- with much of the land occupied by the wastewater treatment plant. At some point, there was one tiny house among a forest of warehouses. It seemed only possible for one bedroom within but perhaps there were secret rooms underground. Written on the door was, “Orlowski Leonick.”
Ignorantly, for most of the day I imagined Orlowski Leonick as some sort of Russian sorcerer. Elaborating upon this story in my mind, Orlowski refuses to take money from the man to build their warehouses and factories, wishing to stay in the same home his great grandfather built after entering Ellis Island. He probably has long white hairs growing from both his nostrils and ears, and his eyebrows are unruly but as intentional as bird nests. I imagine he dresses like a sailor in a navy blue stocking cap. All blue.
According to the records of Ellis Island, these are of course, two last names. 633 Russian Orlowskis are listed. Only one person with the surname of Leonick entered, and also one Leonich.
Next time, I’ll knock.
Toward the end, I became obsessed with photographing the filaments of plastic bags flowing in the wind attached to the barbed wire around most lots. One strand of wire pried lose while I was shooting nearby and I nearly shat myself as I heard it. Thankfully it was still attached on both sides around that point and did not fly off and lodge itself into my person.