"Washington Park's full of people. Just like the Seurat painting, minus the class status and pointillism."

Washington Park Knox Street Mall 2017 spring

Over at Longreads, Elisa Albert makes her way around the Lark Street / Washington Park neighborhood in spring and has some complicated feelings about this place. A clip:

PEOPLE LIVE HERE, I occasionally scream at cars going too fast. Call it a hobby. There's a pedestrian-right-of-way at the entrance to the park from Hudson Ave. It boasts a three-foot-high fluorescent yellow sign that is more often than not lying on its side. Last year I wrote to the Mayor and the city engineer and our councilman and neighborhood association president, got 50 friends and neighbors to co-sign.
Could we please get some speed bumps around the park? (No, because emergency vehicles would be hindered.) Could we please increase signage? (They'd take this into careful consideration.) Could we please get a ton of reflective road-signs installed? (Maybe!) Could we reduce the speed limit in the park? (Maybe!)
I'm so glad you've chosen to raise your family here, said the Mayor in her response.
Nothing's changed. A state worker advises me to resend the same letter twice a week in perpetuity. This I have not done. I should. I will.
If I'm in a pissy mood and people are blowing through that crosswalk, I sometimes holler YOU HAVE TO STOP! Sometimes I even shake my fist.
If I especially don't want to sit at my desk and work, I'll occasionally just saunter slowly back and forth across that crosswalk for a good 10 or 15 minutes, making every. Single. Vehicle. Stop. That's right, fuckheads, the world ain't your highway.
Once I screamed YOU HAVE TO FUCKING STOP at a black BMW. I hadn't done my meditation practice that day.
I enjoy my ineffective brand of urban-renewal activism.

Gotta say we've had a moment or two like that as well.

See also: The accompanying Seurat / Albany mashup illustration that accompanies the essay.

Comments

Yelling expletives at strangers only serves to make this woman look like a lunatic.

Take that energy and channel it into something positive. You'll feel better and achieve great results.

man, i sure do love being treated with contempt by washouts from larger cities!

I too think the obscenities are needless in your post. I understand your contempt for rude people, but.... come on willya' with the foul language.

I'm always confused by the fact that there is no way to stroll around Washington Park without having to cross a road with cars. The closest thing is the loop around the lake, but it dumps you behind the lake house which always has maintenance/ construction vehicles around.

Well she sounds like fun.

So I guess everywhere in California is utopia with no cars moving to fast, no chatty people, no homeless people that occasionally cause trouble. And I assume all of the lakes are the correct size to be called a lake. Poor Albany even has to inflate the size of it's bodies of water.

But the real question is what about this cult? How have I missed this interesting item.

Seriously, the commenters are more concerned about the language than cars hitting people!? People here really do surprise me sometimes.

While this issue may be low on the priority scale as far as things Albany needs to work on, it's still an issue and one that big cities are tackling head on as NYC is looking at banning cars from Central Park altogether. Maybe we should ban everything that isn't an emergency vehicle from Washington Park and be done with it.

I ride my bike through everyday and people do drive it like a race track. I've had a few close calls myself.

@LDP

Certainly folks care about safety, there's just more productive ways to get things done.

Get the police to start a ticketing task force. Nothing slows people down more than the threat of a ticket and the city could certainly use some extra $ in their coffers.

LDP it's a long piece about a lot more than driving in the park.

This is the intentional community she is referring to: https://www.bruderhof.com/en/where-we-are/united-states/parkview

The writer dislikes how unfashionable Albany is. No, it's not Beverly Hills or Brooklyn or San Francisco. Albany is pretty authentic, full of real people, living lives that often go unmentioned in the literary world she would seem to prefer to inhabit.

She now lives in William Kennedy's hometown, which has more in common with Charles Bukowski's Los Angeles than the LA of her childhood. What would Bukowski have made of her Persian ice cream man?

I thought giving a voice to people who think Albany is a bumpkin town with no potential was the Times Union's job?

... Well, that was depressing...

I think you guys missed the point... this is a love letter. She loves Albany for what it is, and accepts its sometimes banality as a feature, not a bug. Read the whole thing, not the excerpt.

I also 100% read this as a love letter to Albany. It's interesting how wildly divergent the responses to it have been!

I read the whole essay. In no way did I interpret that as a love letter to Albany. Is there such a thing as a disdain letter?

Interesting to compare this view of Albany with the one she wrote called 'Currency' in the anthology 'Goodbye to All That'. Albany is the best place on earth. By definition. It ain't where you're from, it's where you're at.

Ombré /??mbre?/ (literally "shaded" in French) is the gradual blending of one color hue to another, usually moving tints and shades from light to dark. It has become a popular feature for hair coloring, nail art, and even baking, in addition to its uses in home decorating and graphic design.

How did I not know this?

I recall being in Brooklyn one weekend a few year ago, and all of the roads inside Prospect Park were closed. It was fantastic and not just a one time thing. Every weekend! If they can do it, why can't we? Wash Park locals survive the closings for an occational festival and not-so-occational road race, so why not every weekend?

When you like near the park, and crossing a park road is the only option to get IN the park - or any road for that matter - and you have your kid's hand in yours - people's refusal to drive the speed limit or obey the very basic traffic laws we all must follow COULD KILL ME.

So yea, pardon me because yes, obscenity is needed. Stopping at crosswalks is taught to everyone. It's on the exam. It's on signs. It's a condition of a license that the operator will follow traffic laws. DUH. But people do no do it. Because they are shitty.

It's OK for people to drive through crosswalks with a shrug, but the obscene response wilts your precious ears?!

Right on, Elisa. Right on.

It's time to stop being polite about dangerous drivers.

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