LENS

April 6, 2010

The Batcave, Gowanus, Brooklyn – April 4th, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — wally426 @ 1:05 am

A few weeks ago, my friend Anthony and I decided to explore an old power station for the now defunct Brooklyn Rapid Transit. After it had been retired as a powerhouse, squatters took over and made it their home. For years, they lived amidst the ruins of the old station, eventually nicknaming it The Batcave for the bats that supposedly lived in its bowels. At the beginning, it was an organized community of people who lived by a code of conduct – no violence or hard drugs were tolerated. Eventually that code vanished. Drug use became rampant and at least one man was killed after being thrown from the roof. 

During the real estate boom, a private developer decided to knock down the old beast and put up a “Village” of condos along the banks of the polluted Gowanus canal. All of the squatters were evicted in one day. Funds must have dried up, because nothing was ever built on the site. The Batcave remained there, standing alone along the canal’s banks, crumbling more with each passing day. The ghosts of its past waiting to be engaged. 

We figured out a way to get by the fences, but had no clue how we’d get into the place. We looked and looked, probing every brick in its base, to no avail. Ready to give up, we had one more door to try. With a nudge, it opened to reveal a place that would haunt us for a long time. The must slowly cleared, and we listened to the creaks and drips of the decaying hulk. After some moments of trepidation, we entered the Batcave…

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… and the voice came alive

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We turned garbage to gold, then took the moonlight and wrapped it in cold lettuce leaves. Hold the sesame sauce.

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Making the best

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Some mornings you wake up and the sweat overtakes you, it curls into your ears and makes your eyes seethe with rivulets of flaming napalm. Yours fists clench through the skin, and lips purse tight to warn the tongue of what’s in store with the coming sunlight. Keep telling yourself she’ll be back…

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Her room always felt warm

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Veins spread wide to reveal a world of self, past the tendon and crumbling masses of muscle, and through the brain’s lighthouse

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Her humor was endless, even after the autumn leaves covered the fetid waters of the canal.

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Wasted talent, only in the eye of the beheader, wielding guillotines of judgement and hypocrisy.

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The place where all cares die, where fires breathe the bones, where only the walls speak of memory

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Even our fights were poetic

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Our portals are miniature, but carry along for great distances. They glide along the concrete seas, reeking of burning molasses and nicotine ash. They’ll carry us to another shore, where memories die, where pain is as dead as the courtyard’s arsenic grasses

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Pushing off into the blue horizon, her bottom lip drooped. The left digits always twitched a bit, sliding along keys of white cloth

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This can’t be happening 

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Her back reflected the light, a bony sheet of glass that seemed to carry through the darkness. The little hairs on her cheek would rise when our eyes met.

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Don’t tell me what to do

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They rise, but are finite in nature. We transcend the physical, through a hazy clarity so endless. Above the clouds we can see, a burst of light so faded, it covers the gulls with glistening balls of pewter and ore

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Buffy McBuffster, the twisted piece duster

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Change you can believe in

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Nooks and crannies galore, though none Sandman adores, kings of oiled shores, pillaging our pores

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We didn’t even have time to pack, all I felt was the hard report from wood on bone. Her hair was still between my fingers when they pried me off the mattress.

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I told her not to

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Nieto scratched at that floor all night until his fingernails peeled up. Until this day, we still don’t know what he was looking for

 

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Dad never believed in ghosts, said they were too easy to run away from

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I should have closed her eyes when I found her

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She was at her best in the afternoon, carefully crafting the pieces of glass into an explosion of light. At a certain time in the day, the sun would bounce perfectly on it and shed a thousand shafts along the ceiling. Our heads were numb, floating through yellow lakes of butter along rocks of peppercorn. As much as we tried, the light escaped our soggy hands. We both knew what would eventually happen.

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Beautiful endeavors make these walls speak. Slathered in a gravy so filled with life, no needle could pierce its shell. Our goal is simple – to create a breath of color so strong, it blows the darkness into oblivion, creeping back into the Gowanus, beneath the layers of curling sludge, never to return

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Stop fighting it, just let go 

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The last bulb went out last night, so we’ll work through the darkness and keep pushing. The black is inviting, as would be a warm puddle of mud after a summer rain along the canal’s banks

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The place has a million eyes, looking at you from all angles, biting at the back of your neck, spitting rusty shards into the pit of your stomach.

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All this beauty, gone with her kiss

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Nieto fell in slow motion, arms at his sides and head pointed like a missile, hurtling towards the infected Earth below. He knew what was coming. His body hissed all the way down, then hit with a terrible crumple of cloth and bone. The blood trickling from his eye made me wonder… what was the last thing he saw? Was it the heaping scrapyards on 4th street blurred with velocity? The glow of red bricks bathing in the afternoon sun? Hugh’s hand and blackened upper canines, dripping with vengeance? He looked peaceful laying there in the reeds, as if someone had finally smiled upon him.

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She lay in my arms until the gloaming approached, her hair the consistency of fresh pasta. When the mist cleared, her scent came out, a hundred dead roses dusted with burnt notebook paper

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A strong hand must have held fast to this place, locking each piece of the iron enigma together. How has a hand’s satisfactory work come to be this shadowplace? Its fingers caress the cracking brick, remembering a time where beams of golden light lived within

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The game of hide-and-seek the ego got ugly fast. Id was super in a jiffy. They all clashed in a pool of sharp memories, and bled through the cement into a field of brown

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Fumes burned our noses

Touched up from the right distance

Awash with color 

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The sun’s breaks could never take over completely. Long lost warmth came back for a whole millenium, covering the dark recesses with a hope we’d all thought had abandoned us. Soon the walls would burn

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My only place of solace after the fever left

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It reminded me of so much: The hungry rat’s mouth as it devoured my left pinkie, the rancid hole on Vamp’s right thigh, a blistering august sunset over the scrapyards

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We could hardly believe the noise. It seemed to rise and reverberate, a huge wave of sound that nearly took out the fire. Through the gaping abyss, the yellowed city sky faded to black, and with it an endless carpet of pinpricked velvet

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The door opened to reveal two of them. Green monsters of warmth and deception, capped ignorance making us all blind.

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She peeked over the counter ever so gently, the blood had dried in a cracked line on her neck. That small vein on her temple pulsed, yellow with pleasure. Small slits in her eyes smiled. We layed down on the floor, our hands locked, staring at the moonlight through a hole in the roof.

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Suddenly it wasn’t fun anymore, things started to slip, like oiled banana peels on varnished wood

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Sunlight coursed through the concrete cracks, as nature slowly reclaimed its toxic prize

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10 Comments »

  1. WOW! When you told me about this, I knew the pics would be interesting, but never did I imagine this. Really amazing Billy. Great pics, great story, great quotes. This is a book in the making!

    Comment by Mitch — April 6, 2010 @ 11:55 am

  2. The age of urban exploration has begun, brother. Glad you enjoyed it!

    Comment by wally426 — April 6, 2010 @ 12:52 pm

  3. My dear Billy,
    I am speechless.
    I love you,
    Aunt Margie
    (age: 81)

    Comment by Aunt Margie — April 8, 2010 @ 5:28 pm

  4. I have no words…you have an eye that captures the beauty in the most disturbing views and gave a voice to the most silent and lonely place I’ve ever seen.

    Comment by Coscia — April 11, 2010 @ 7:07 pm

  5. Dear Billy, you suck, but your pictures don’t.

    Comment by Vic — April 16, 2010 @ 7:46 pm

  6. Great stuff man! love the story and the images. Can you please contact me or send me your email?

    charleslebrigand@gmail.com

    Thanks

    Comment by Carlito Brigante — August 11, 2010 @ 9:10 pm

  7. Hauntingly beautiful pictures. Your quotes furthermore sent chills down my back!

    Comment by Farah S. — March 7, 2012 @ 5:50 pm

  8. I lived and tagged here, happy to see so many pictures in one place.

    Comment by Mike Fasano — June 1, 2012 @ 2:23 am

  9. Theres no place like home…

    Comment by Zachary — December 7, 2012 @ 3:37 am

  10. beautiful pictures. damn. are the quotes between shots tags from the space?

    Comment by Hannah — February 7, 2013 @ 5:41 am


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