Greenpoint, October, 2015

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Fish Stories, Part II

Which borough has the most bathtub madonnas per capita? The Research Bureau is still crunching the numbers, but Staten Island is a strong contender. I was photographing a beautiful selection at Santacroce Nursery and Garden Center on Richmond Ave. when one of the employees (and likely one of the family) came out to ask me what I was doing. "Just taking some pictures. Is that OK?" "Depends on what for." Was I outed as a heretic? "I like the way they look." True enough. To deflect any more religion-bashing suspicions, I asked him about the old-fashioned seafood store sign on the front of the building.

"It was a pet."

"A pet lobster?"


"When was that?"

"Twenty years ago. More."

I left without thinking to ask what it's name was.

(The poet Gerard de Nerval was reputed to take his pet lobster out for walks on a leash. Why a lobster? he would be asked. "Because he's quiet. And he knows the secrets of the deep.")


  1. I thought the first part of de Nerval's remark was "Because he DOES NOT BARK ..."

  2. And the beauty of it is, those fenced-in bathtub madonnas show no signs of inter-madonna jealousy. (Brings back the sempiternal Catholic school pre-scholastic dispute, can the Madonna ever have been a real girl, if in truth she Never Actually Did It?)

    And you know, though alas I come bearing no reciprocal bathtub madonna gifts, I am able to offer (special holiday discount, totally free of charge before the first fireworks explode), a shy and modest bathtub Joseph, too discreet and chaste of heart despite his possible (likely?) furtive nocturnal bed-of-straw-itchy-where-can't-dare-scratchy carnal preconceptions to even turn and cast his gentle eyes upon the humongous and undoubtedly super shapely (though WHAT shape exactly??) object-of-obscure-desire bathtub madonna concealed beneath the no-color tarp behind him, near you, on Hyland Boulevard, Staten Island.

  3. Now what next, it appears the shy and modest bathtub Joe has somehow conceived (!!) a plan of his own, and done a neat half-gainer back into the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. How on earth can that have happened?

    Let's give him one more try, to see if maybe just maybe he can't behave for at least a moment like a proper neat, clean, problem-free ceramic object.

  4. TC - Joe in the Hylan Blvd manger came through loud and wacky. The Thoreau quote frames your photo essay on SI beautifully. HDT's Atlantic coast is much changed, not least by Sandy, though one does still feel far from the city.