Our heedless and destructive acts enter into the vast cycles of the earth and in time return to bring hazard to ourselves.
These two neighboring playgrounds, along with the public school across the street, are named in honor of the conservationist Rachel Carson — "a trained scientist with a poet's wonder" — and her groundbreaking 1962 work Silent Spring.
Man is a part of nature, and his war against nature is inevitably a war against himself.
Kane's Diner. The menu, which is mostly what you would expect from a classic diner, makes a bold claim about the potency of the food: "The Miracle of the World ----- Your Body ----- Healthy, Economical & Rejuvenation of Your Sex Life". If miraculous rejuvenation is what you're after, you may want to consider ordering the 16-ounce "Viagra" steak with three eggs.
Here's a better-lit look at Flushing's Pied-a-mer mural, painted on a roll-down gate at an auto repair garage.
My usual practice, after taking a photo like this with no identifying information, is to snap a quick shot of something nearby with a business name/street name/address to help me figure out where I took the photo in case my phone got the location wrong.
In this instance, the brainless shot I took next captured the awning over a door to the garage, just to the left of the mural. I didn't process what I was looking at when I snapped the picture, but it later struck me as odd when I was sitting at my computer, reviewing the day's photos: the awning says "Rodolfo Valentin" in fancy lettering that feels quite out of place at an auto shop.
Rodolfo Valentin — that name sounded familiar to me. It turns out I was thinking of Rudolph Valentino, but there is a well-known South American hairdresser in New York named Rodolfo Valentin, a specialist in wigs and extensions whom New York magazine described as "Argentina’s answer to Fabio". He looks like this. (If you need more, you can watch his 2012 New Yorker of the Week interview with NY1.)
But could that Rodolfo Valentin possibly be the same one whose name is on the garage awning? What could a high-end Manhattan hair stylist have to do with a grimy repair shop in Queens?
Hoping to make sense of all this, I figured I'd search the internet for some connection between Mr. Valentin and the garage's address. When I checked the awning for the building number, however, I realized something was off. The number on the awning is 694, but buildings in Queens have dashes in their addresses. The actual address of the garage, for example, appears to be 41-10 Fuller Place.
A search for "rodolfo valentin 694" revealed that there was, for a number of years, a Rodolfo Valentin salon located at... 694 Madison Avenue, on the Upper East Side. And if you visit that address in Street View, you'll see that the salon's signage featured the same cursive font that we find on the awning here at the garage.
There was even a period around 2010-2011 when the salon's color scheme matched the awning. (You may notice that the sign above the door during this era gave an address of 696, not 694. While the entrance to the salon was at 694 Madison Avenue, the salon itself occupied the connected second floors of both the 694 and 696 buidings.)
But there's no photographic evidence I could find of an awning in place at the salon. All the Street View photos through the years just show a flat sign above the door. (The salon that previously occupied the space did have an awning, however.)
It would seem, then, that the awning either was never actually installed at the salon or was used for a relatively short period of time and went unseen by the Street View car. Whatever the case, we're still left wondering how the thing ended up here in Flushing.
Let's now take a Street View visit to the repair shop. Glancing around, you'll see that the garage stands among a cluster of other blue-collar businesses in an area I described in a previous post as "a hotbed of Queens chrome". When I looked back at that post, I noticed something: the Queens chrome shop pictured in the post advertises that it also makes signs and awnings. Using Street View, I was then able to find a few other awning-makers within a block or two of the garage.
So here's a theory. Back in 2009 or 2010, during the process of relocating from 1020 Madison Avenue to 694 Madison, Rodolfo's salon contacted one of the businesses near the garage and ordered an awning to replace the one used by the previous tenant. But for one reason or another (Rodolfo decided he preferred an uncovered entrance, there was some dispute over quality or payment), the salon never took possession of the awning.
Meanwhile, the owner of the garage wanted somewhere to smoke a cigarette when it was raining outside. A sign shop around the corner, which gets its trucks serviced at the garage, had this extra awning that some prettyboy Madison Avenue hairsmith didn't want, and so a deal was struck. And now we have a Rodolfo Valentin-branded smoke shelter outside a grease monkey's cinderblock shanty in this obscure corner of Flushing.
The odd little house at 132-49½ 41st Avenue, which sits directly behind a larger brick building and backs up to the Long Island Rail Road's Port Washington Branch (you can see the platforms of the line's Flushing-Main Street station in the background above), is accessible only via a narrow walkway from 41st Avenue.
The house was concealed from the view of passersby for the vast majority of its life, until the two houses that stood to its east — on what is now the empty lot pictured above — were demolished in 2012 or 2013.
UPDATE: The aforementioned empty lot is empty no longer. A Street View image from October 2017 shows a new six-story apartment building nearing completion on the site, making 132-49½ invisible from the street once again.
This awning was erected not by The Hand of God, but by a different barbershop that was previously located here. The white strip with "THE HAND OF GOD" printed on it in red is simply a decal stuck on top of the earlier establishment's name.
Employing a sophisticated technique that involved standing in front of the awning and staring at it for an exceedingly long time, I was eventually able to make out the name of the original barbershop. While the photo above doesn't appear to reveal much, the image can be manipulated to at least partially expose the former name lurking beneath the current one: Headbangaz.
It's always sad to learn of a death among the rankz of the city'z barberz, but the Bible reminds us that just as the hand of God giveth, The Hand of God taketh away.