Greenpoint, October, 2015

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Break out the Vodka and Caviar!

Dig that Olivetti!
Well, now that we've solved the BQE repair/replacement crisis, it remains only to name the new bridge. BQE Bypass is a bit utilitarian for such a grand (and grandiose) project. And we've used up Revolutionary War-era Polish Generals with mustards named after them. How about a poet?

The Joseph Brodsky Bridge has a nice ring to it. And it's appropriate. After his forced emigration from the Soviet Union in 1972, Brodsky lived for many years and died (in 1996 at 55) in an apartment in Brooklyn Heights (splitting his time between New York and Mount Holyoke, Mass.). How would the poet, sentenced to five years of hard labor for "social parasitism," feel about a bridge modeled on one in Siberia? Well, Brodsky did his 18 months of hard labor in arctic Archangelsk. More importantly, he had a great Slavic sense of irony, so I think he'd be just fine with it.

Witness, "Admonition," a poem from 1987:

when you shudder at how infinitesimally small you are,
remember: space that appears to need nothing does
crave, as a matter of fact, an outside gaze,
a criterion of emptiness—of its depth and scope.
And it's only you who can do the job.

Yes, I think Brodsky Bridge would suit him well.

It's a shame that A Room and a Half, the brilliant and moving film about Brodsky by Russian director and animator Andrey Khrzhanovsky is not available on DVD in the States. In it, Khrzhanovsky mashes up Brodsky's memoirs of his early life in Saint Petersburg with animations of Brodsky's drawings, many of the beloved family cat. You can at least enjoy a few minutes of the trailer here.

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