Tag Archives: Greenwood Cemetery

The Return of Physical Graffiti! August 2015

21 Aug
 August 21, 2015
Back in 2010, I published the post you’ll read below. Don’t worry, it’s short and I’ve edited it down just a bit. At the time, it was one of the little mysteries that seem to take a hold of you for a brief time, then just fades away as other things come and go. That’s life. And while the story was very interesting to me at the time, it was fleeting. But now it’s back. Here’s the original post, which I called Physical Graffiti since back then I had a strange habit of naming posts after Led Zeppelin albums. (See In Through The Out Door for another example.) And afterwards, read the major update at the end.
From June 28, 2010

I am not a fan of graffiti. Call it spray can art, freedom of expression, whatever, if you spray it on private property it is defacement and a crime.

I’ve also seen strange tags and mottos. This is one I’ve seen in at least three places in Brooklyn: “I NEVER WIPE!” or simply “NEVER WIPE!”

Is the “artist” making a statement about his strange bathroom habits? Are we being encouraged to follow suit? Your guess is as good as mine. But it beats the “I STILL KILL” I’ve seen around Staten Island.

Here is the first one I noticed:


Greenwood Cemetery

It is sprayed on a wall alongside a bus depot across from Greenwood Cemetery. I have no idea how long it has been there but it feels like forever. I drive past it a few times each week and I can’t remember not seeing it. It is in a slightly odd location and cannot be missed as you drive down as the road does a bit of a zigzag and at one point the tag is right in front of you.

Bay Parkway

This is much more recent, within I’d guess the last year and a half. Unlike the previous one, this one includes the “I.” Does he work from a big stencil and the letter didn’t fit on the other wall? There is an identical tag on the other side of the lot, but without the arrows.

Avenue P (1)

Avenue P (2)

These two pictures were taken on the same block within fifteen feet of each other. As you can see, one is older and defaced. Did the artist do the second one after seeing how bad the first one looked? That brings up an interesting question- does this guy check up on his work?  Does he replace work that has been damaged or defaced? Notice that one has the “I” and the other, presumably older one, does not. Is the “I” a recent addition? Also notice that these both lack the exclamation point.

If anyone has spotted any other “I NEVER WIPE” graffiti, please let me know.



And we’re back to 2015. Most of that graffiti faded away. The ones on Ave. P were painted over. The ones on the blue wall were destroyed when the wall was eventually taken down. A medical plaza stands there now. And the one near Greenwood Cemetery was covered by many layers of new graffiti, the most recent one being the Wu Tang Clan symbol. But just the other day, it was back. Never Wipe has struck again!


It’s back in the same place! Reclaiming its territory, I guess. And I have no doubt it is the same person responsible. Look at how precise the lettering is, identical to the older ones. But my favorite part? It has been upgraded. Never Wipe 5.0!

I don’t know if I missed 2.0., 3.0., and 4.0. but I am going to keep my eyes open for more Never Wipe graffiti.

The Return of Never Wipe! That would make a better blog title than The Return of Physical Graffiti but I’m stuck with it.




A New York Minute (7)

19 Dec

December 19, 2011

Welcome to your New York Minute.

While I do ride the subway everyday, I don’t usually take the F train. But on this particular day I was meeting a friend after work and she lives right by the F station so there I was. The F train isn’t one of the cleaner subway rides but is one of the more visible. For much of its run the F line is elevated and it is hard to miss, for reasons I’ll soon explain.

I am willing to bet that most of you know this train line, actually, I bet most of you know one little piece of it as it figures into a scene in one of my favorite movies. No, no Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. My favorite movie is Goodfellas.

Towards the end of the film, mobster Henry Hill was caught by the feds and Jimmy the Gent, played by an amazing Robert DeNiro, was getting ready to whack him. Henry’s wife Karen had gotten a call from Jimmy and went to see him in one of his warehouses. They talked a little and Jimmy offered to give Karen some swag dresses. All she had to do was walk down the block and into a sketchy warehouse. Karen got cold feet, thinking that Jimmy was going to whack her – I love all this mob talk- and jumped in her car and zoomed off. That whole scene was filmed right by the Gowanus canal under the F train. You can’t miss it, the girders and beams of the elevated line frame the whole outdoor part of the scene. In fact, the warehouse is right below the Smith/9th Street station. Since Goodfellas is on the AFI Top 100 list I am willing to bet you’ve seen it.

One interesting note is at that point, if you are riding the train, you are on the highest point of anywhere on the NYC transit system. The Smith/9th Street station rises 87 ½ feet over the city. Opened in 1933, there was actually shipping on the Gowanus canal and the train line had to be that tall to let the ships pass below. If you’ve seen the Gowanus today, the idea of major commerce on that clogged piece of water seems ridiculous, but things have changed quite a bit in the last century.

You can get a really nice view of South Brooklyn and lower Manhattan from this part of the subway (and yes, we still call it the subway even when it is high in the air) but don’t try to visit that station just yet- it is being renovated until 2012, and knowing how NYC operates, probably the year after that.

But if you are interested in getting high- I mean height, hop off the train and go over the historic Greenwood Cemetery, right   near Park Slope. Many notable people are buried there; from Abner Doubleday, the man  who invented baseball, to more Southern Civil War generals than you expect this far north. It is a sprawling place, over 478 acres, and if you want to find the highest point above sea level in Brooklyn, this is it.

Battle Hill is found inside Greenwood Cemeteryand it was the sight of a major battle of the Civil War, part of the Battle of Long Island. You don’t hear much about it outside of history books but this was a big one. To commemorate it, a statue of the goddess Minerva was built there and from that height it has a direct line of sight to the Statue of Liberty, to whom it’s raised hand seems to be waving.

I could go on and on  about Greenwood Cemetery, and with some authority, since I graduated from Greenwood Cemetery.

I’ll pause to let that sink in. I graduated from a cemetery.Greenwoodruns a series of tours and some years back, in one of the hottest summers I can remember, I spent a series of three weekends tramping over the hills taking a guided tour of the place that culminated in a graduation ceremony and yes, I got a certificate at the end. So take your Wharton School of Business MBA and your Harvard diploma, who needs them? I am a proud alumnus of Greenwood Cemetery.

And as a proud alumnus, I have to tell you about the parakeets. Those of you who have never seen them may not believe this given the cold climate, but Brooklyn boasts a thriving population of wild parrots. One major colony nests in the main arches of the cemetery, and another lives at Brooklyn College, from which I also graduated. I think those parakeets are following me. And even though those are their main grounds, the colorful birds can often be seen- and especially heard- in many parts of Brooklyn.

The accepted story is that in the 1960’s, a shipment of the birds escaped from their containers at Idlewild airport and made their way to the cemetery, where their descendants still live today. No one at the time expected them to live through their first New York winter, but we New Yorkers are a hearty breed.

Idlewild is the original name of Kennedy Airport, and if you saw Goodfellas you’d know that, bringing us back full circle.

This has been your New York Minute with a Robert DeNiro cameo.

An audio version of this legend first appeared just last week in the amazing FlashPulp website. Check them out for awesomeness and goodies!

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