Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Red Hook Matter -- An Alternate Explanation, Involving an Evil Spirit of Darkness

"What the hell is happening in Red Hook?" New York Magazine asks. About a year ago, this hard-to-reach part of Brooklyn was booming, a Fairway grocery store had just opened, and there was a "new pretty face" every day.

But for all the crazy hype, the neighborhood now seems to be going in reverse, says NYM. The Pioneer bar has shut down. So has the bistro 360 and, just recently, the Hook. Buildings put on the market for $2.5 million have stayed empty and unsold. In August the Post ran a story headlined "Call It ‘Dead’ Hook."

"What if gentrification isn’t self-sustaining after all?" NYM asks. And what if that's a good thing?

But what if there's an alternate explanation, involving Red Hook's "evil spirit of darkness and squalor?"

H.P. Lovecraft, in his "The Horror at Red Hook," wrote the following about Red Hook in 1925:

"Red Hook is a maze of hybrid squalor near the ancient waterfront opposite Governor's Island, with dirty highways climbing the hill from the wharves to that higher ground where the decayed lengths of Clinton and Court Streets lead off toward the Borough Hall ...

"
It is always the same ... the evil spirit of darkness and squalor broods on amongst the mongrels in the old brick houses, and prowling bands still parade on unknown errands past windows where lights and twisted faces unaccountably appear and disappear. Age-old horror is a hydra with a thousand heads, and the cults of darkness are rooted in blasphemies deeper than the well of Democritus, The soul of the beast is omnipresent and triumphant, and Red Hook's legions of blear-eyed, pockmarked youths still chant and curse and howl as they file from abyss to abyss, none knows whence or whither, pushed on by blind laws of biology which they may never understand..."

This leads us to wonder: maybe Red Hook is not the best place to attempt gentrification. Maybe best leave it alone ...

UPDATE: "The death of Red Hook is highly exaggerated," says Dennis Holt of the Brooklyn Eagle. While major landowner Greg O'Connell is perhaps slowing down the gentrification process, "
eventually there will be a second cruise line terminal, the city will get its act together on waterfront development, and a hotel will appear within walking distance of those terminals," says Holt.

Photo by MK Metz

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Things haven't changed. Red Hook's legions of blear-eyed, pockmarked youths still chant and curse and howl as they file from abyss to abyss.

Anonymous said...

i think he meant south of Union St when he said red hook, fyi. and he was an incredible racist.

bj said...

He was totally wacko but the imagery is brilliant. Of course there's no horror in Red Hook. Just sometimes, at night, strange shadows flit across some of the old warehouses. Nothing really. And the mysterious old Asian lady that stares in the window of Su-Su's Yum Yum late at night. If you look her in the eye she turns abruptly away. But other than that, nothing. Really.

Anonymous said...

su-sus yum-yum is in Brooklyn Heights, not Red Hook

Anonymous said...

Hasn't been in Brooklyn Heights for years. Moved long ago.