Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Dumpster Karma

Once upon a time, 15th Street between 7th and 8th Avenues was a long, dark, desolate place where you could clandestinely strip a stolen car or dump an illegal load or two of garbage in peace without fear of feeling the local constable's night stick on the back of your head.
Less than a decade ago you could still find on this mixed-use block of 15th Street an auto repair shop, a paper bag wholesaler, a few parking lots, and a commercial bakery specializing in traditional Mexican sugar frosted breads and buns. When these businesses closed for the evening and their gates came down, instantly there were plenty of dark deserted corners for shit to happen.

The Wheel of Life is missing its hubcap.

It certainly was an interesting process, watching an abandoned automobile decompose over time. You might not even notice it at first. A car parked a little up on the sidewalk, maybe even left facing in the wrong direction of traffic. One tire missing, axle propped up on a plastic milk crate or a cinder block salvaged from the big pile of contractor's debris dumped on the sly some time the night before.

However, a few days go by, and now it's hard not to notice the broken front windshield, drivers side door missing, and the hood left open with various wires hanging up and over the front fender. By the time a week has passed you begin to wonder what would actually be left behind, apparently of no resale value.
Picked clean, the carcass would accidentally catch fire, spontaneously combust, so to speak. In the days to follow the burnt out wreck would eventually reincarnate itself as a neighborhood dumpster for locals to pack full of any and all kinds of garbage. Finally, overfilled and bursting at the seams, a white number drawn with crayon on its only fender, the car would sit, and sit, until Sanitation eventually found some time to tow it away.

The Monster of Impermanence.

These days you don't see cars getting stripped any more in the South South Slope although plenty of them still seem to disappear on a regular basis. You don't see the blatant dumping of DIY construction debris either. That's why I was surprised the other day to see this contractor guy back his dusty blue Chevy van up against this empty dumpster parked on the street in front of the future site of the Armory Plaza and unload. The empty dumpster came from the fenced in site, having been moved just hours before in order to make way for the delivery of additional construction equipment. In no time his van was empty and the dumpster was full. He even took the time to sweep out the back. The more things change the more they stay the same.

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