seen @ Red Hook Flicks @ Valentino Pier, Red Hook, Brooklyn, NY
Red Hook, like many a Brooklyn neighborhood before it, is currently in the slow process of gentrification, but in this case, the process puzzles me a bit for one simple, but vital reason: it feels cut off from the rest of Brooklyn. In a literal sense, it is: one has to cross the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway to get there. However, it's also relatively far from the nearest subway.
There are buses, of course. There are always buses. But in 2010, bus service was reduced all over the city as a result of budget restrictions (brought about by Albany stealing money from the MTA to balance its own books), and Red Hook was one of the neighborhoods that got hit hardest. The F and G trains just barely skirt the outer reaches of the neighborhood, but wouldn't you know it - the "closest" station is currently closed for massive repairs!
So perhaps it's no surprise that I never go out to Red Hook. Still, there's supposedly a "scene" going on there there, or so the Wall Street Journal tells me. For instance, for several years, Red Hook has held a free outdoor movie festival, and this year I figured it was high time I checked it out.
From what I saw, Red Hook is still very much factories and warehouses lined up against what my bike map refers to as the Buttermilk Channel. There's very little in the way of recent development, like what we've seen in Williamsburg. The buildings are old, and many have a history to them that you can see. In addition to the obligatory bodegas, pizza joints and laundromats, one can see some upscale restaurants, a boutique or two, a community garden, a winery, even a big supermarket - and, of course, there's an Ikea. Again, though, it's not like Williamsburg yet (and hopefully it never will be, but that's another post).
The waterfront is nice, though. Valentino Pier, where the movies are held, gives you a perfect view of the Statue of Liberty, and murals adorn the sides of buildings surrounding the pier. In addition, there's a section further down where one can see ancient streetcars lined up on what used to be rail tracks. There's a little museum here too, but I don't think it was open when I was there. Look for photos I took along the waterfront on the WSW Facebook page within the coming days.
The crowd that gathered to see Zombieland was largish, but in a relatively comfortable way. It's not like Brooklyn Bridge Park, where you're overwhelmed by a sea of humanity. Here, the crowd felt big, but I had a bit more elbow room. In my case, though, my spot was in the very front, to the left side of the screen, and not anywhere in the middle. I arrived a couple of hours early (as per my rules on attending outdoor movies), but in this case, I was too early. The screen wasn't even set up yet!
As for the movie itself, it was awesome. Why did I pass on Zombieland when it came out? While I still believe no zombie movie can ever top Peter Jackson's Dead Alive for sheer over-the-top madness, this was a lot of fun and had its fair share of gore as well. (It also made me realize that as much as I love The Walking Dead, there's simply not enough humor in it.) And do I even need to mention how thrilled I was to see that the main character's nickname was "Columbus," as in Ohio, as in where he's trying to get to? Too bad it didn't survive the zombie apocalypse, though.
So while Red Hook still doesn't strike me as a neighborhood I'd go out of my way to hang out in, it's nice to know that it's got some life to it.