Reservations In The Sky: THE ROCKAWAYS…


This drop is in part an answer to my friend Gordon Gartrelle from Respectable Negroes. Respect…

I don’t think we fully understand how our economic system has conditioned us to becoming insensitive to the needs of others. We are all lust and desire as creatures now. All greed all the time. We didn’t get this way overnight though. It took us about fifty years to completely ruin our economy, our promise to future generations and our comittment to the elderly. We did it through the demonization of socialism. We did it through the dismantling of our nation’s manufacturing infrastructure.

We hold up capitalism as the ideal of freedom, but true capitalism eventually leads to one person holding all of the chips. That is the natural progression of the animal. From mergers to acquisitions to one day Disney owning everyone’s social security number. You can’t tell me that generations of celebrating opulence has not imbued Americans with a false sense of privilege and entitlement.


Rockaway peninsula comes to mind right now. Several of the Blacks that were incarcerated with me a few weeks back were from Arverne in Rockaway. The Rockaway community was a secluded wealthy area until Robert Moses constructed two bridges from Brooklyn and Queens that accessed the outer piece of Long Island. Before these bridges were built there was only one remote entry onto the Rockaways through Belle Harbor in Nassau County. Because shipping and manufacturing facilities were still viable in that portion of New York City Robert Moses also constructed public housing so the workers could access their jobs more easily.

I don’t blame Moses for the poverty that would envelope most public housing developments. That was a function of landlords and factory owners being capitalists and relocating their businesses where the profits could be maximized. Unemployment and drugs were the toxic ingredients to the decline of public housing. Arverne and Edgemere are particularly blighted areas because their construction in the early 1960s was the final salvo of public money for residential development. Acres and acres of tracts in the Rockaways are just humongous empty lots overlooking the vast expanse of the Atlantic Ocean.

To the north of the Rockaway inlet is Jamaica Bay and the John F. Kennedy International Airport where Rockaway residents can have a daily view of people going someplace else on a jet plane. People stuck on Rockaway are going nowhere fast as if they were also jet propelled.


Global Supremacy Daily aka NYTimes: In Faded Beach Community Seeking Rebirth, Projects and Luxury Homes Meet

Capitalism tells the condo owners across the street that more police will be deployed to quell the savage unrest (and stabilize your investment, er, neighborhood). How do you go from abject poverty into a million dollar home across the street? Capitalism used to separate the haves and the have-nots with some railroad tracks or at least a highway. Now you can cross to the next sidewalk to be in full view of what you can not touch. Don’t tell me about personal responsibility today when that isn’t the modus operandi of CitiBank or AIG executives. Why must the savages then subscribe to such nobility?

If this is all these people will ever have then I suppose we should at least make it look presentable in case the neighbors from across the street come over for Thanksgiving dinner. You know, the whole settlers/natives kumbaya romantic conceit that capitalism told you.


The floors and walls have been cleaned and scrubbed. The hallways have an institutional antiseptic feel to them. Are you in a hospital, a psych ward, a prison or someone’s home? The correct answer would be all of the above. When the final grandmother is evicted from these halls we can tear down this reminder of blight and poverty. Capitalism doesn’t need these landmarks.


Blaxberry out…

8 Responses to “Reservations In The Sky: THE ROCKAWAYS…”

  1. chris says:

    Kind of ghoulish that the cleanest housing project on Earf would be at the expense of its residents who would be happy to get that fried food-and-quarter-water brand of ammonia de-encrusted from their lives.

    There’s a sick part of me that always wishes the worst upon those so unhappy with NYC housing choices that they choose to gentrify, and therefore inconvenience, the very people who were cast out into the penitentiary-lite perdition of your Canarsie’s and Red Hook’s and etc. Its like “You can’t even let me endure my poverty in relative peace without building a Jimmy Jazz and a Connecticut Muffin down the block and getting task force on the block 24/7?”

  2. I appreciate this, but you’re preaching to the choir, Dallas.

    I am aware of the way that our formal institutions unfairly disadvantage entire communities of people and promote greed.

    We’ve actually been sitting on a comparison between poor thugs and wealthy, legit thugs, and it’s everything you mention: sense of entitlement, callousness, selfishness, anything for money attitude, etc.

    My only point is that human beings, no matter how fucked up their circumstances, are still responsible for destroying others’ lives. If we say that they aren’t responsible, then we are saying they are not fully human. I find that view deeply offensive.

    By the way, “White does it too” is not a compelling defense.

  3. jaislayer says:

    Does the police station in Far Rock still got the fence built around for protection and do they still have those bright azz spot lights? I have never seen a police station with a big azz fence around it.

  4. Welcome back, DP– much to say but just two things now… 1) My old man is from Arverne (before it was torn down) and 2) my paternal grandparents lived across the street from Hammel Houses in the Dayton Towers.

    Any Queens or even Rockaway heads remember a general store there called L.H. Martin? Ghost of Playland stand up also!

    To this day when I go out to Rockapulco I hit Beach 88th like it’s home.

  5. infamous says:

    ^ Do you mean C.H. Martin, by chance?

    If so, they’re still going strong, and can be found in many ghettos from Jamaica to Newark!

    great drop btw, DP.

  6. Infamous, that has to be it– thanks for the reminding me. It was in the ghetto strip mall that’s still there facing Rockaway Beach Blvd on the front, Holland Ave on back. There’s another .99 cent store there now but C.H. Martin must have bailed out in the years between my grandparents passing and my return to the Rock.

    I rep BK to the fullest but in terms of historical weirdness and social/political decay, Rockaway is #1, or equal to the South Bronx. There might be a parallel too between Co-Op City in the BX and Dayton Towers in Rockaway but it’s not exact either since Rockaway has these layers and wild disjunctions while Co-Op City is just out there, newly born like a funhouse Xanadu or something.

  7. the_dallas says:

    There are some parallels too since the private/public partnerships that built those communities has dissolved also. The Michell-Lama years in NYC were dramatic for especially hi-rise developments. It is really hard to compare Co-Op City to anything else in NYC, even Rochdale Village. Co-Op’s height and scale are ominously sprawling. There are simply too many people living on top of one another.

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