Best antidote to the burgeoning Bushwick arts scene (2008)

Ralphy's Towing

You've seen it happening in other people's neighborhoods, and now it's happening in yours: ill-conceived art thoughtlessly hung in some shoddy, poorly lighted ex-industrial space, bearing price tags that are highlarious in that witless grad-school way typical of the overprivileged and intoxicated. Note the suffocating air of vainglory . . . the joyless careerism . . . the inevitable "experimental" music ensemble wanking away in the corner. But as you wander home from, say, the Morgan Avenue L-train stop—past the cheerfully overpriced gourmet deli, the dormlike coffee/video emporium, and the power lines draped with cartoonish, fake gang trophies—stop and savor the industrial parking lot that may or may not be called Ralphy's Towing. Until recently, this dark corner of Bushwick—sited directly opposite the Boars Head factory's loading docks—was a couple of sagging buildings. But the hand of gentrification will not be stilled, and today an ever-changing exhibition of gorgeous heavy-construction equipment and commercial vehicles graces the gravel lot, snugly bound by a sturdy chain-link fence. Oh, the CAT mini–dump trucks! Ah, that luminous yellow Yanmar whatever-it-is! And those stouthearted Macks! Holding sway over all is a once-grand, larger-than-lifesize fiberglass Santa—his eyes atwinkle in the flashing green safety lights, his beneficent smile locked forever in the rictus of progress, his peeling bag laden with toys that will never be delivered.


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