bleeps & bloops


One Year Too Late for Broken Angel
May 6, 2008, 4:51 pm
Filed under: Art, Politics | Tags: , , ,

It’s time for a new post. It’s been a very long time but I have been busy. It’s quite unlike me. I typically lead the type of life where I sit down and consider what I am going to focus on next but I haven’t had the privilege of that choice lately. And blogging just doesn’t rank up there on the List of Things That Are Very Important. But it loomed, oh it loomed and it said, fucking write an article, geez. So here I am, though I have to thank the immense downtime I’ve had at my freelance job for the opportunity to just write whatever I want and get paid for it. Yeah!

They haven’t had many projects for me to work on lately- it’s just been sporadic edits to sites I’ve worked on in the past few weeks so I’ve been working on art projects, educating myself on various things, downloading music, writing to people etc.

One thing that I researched a whole bunch today is this house down the street from my apartment. I am not sure how my immense interest in it came about or how I stumbled upon it on the web – I guess it’s one of those mystical internet-journey-experiences that we now enjoy as future-bots of the 21st century.

But in any case, I live down the street from this very interesting building that I have heard called Broken Angel.

It’s painted on the door next to a cute little mailbox slot.

The building is lodged in a corner where two roads converge near a Salvation Army and is surrounded by houses. It’s been covered in scaffolding since I first saw it when I moved to the neighborhood last year. I assumed it had been a squat due to the interesting architectural additions and the painting on the door. Perhaps it lasted for a few years and was recently busted. And now it’s being torn down? Or in the process of being torn down?

Thanks to my online research I’ve discovered there’s a lot more to Broken Angel than meets the eye, and there was literally a lot more to Broken Angel- like a huge spire that was 40 ft high and numerous other Gaudí-like additions built by a couple who lived there legally for over 30 years.

The first online treasure I stumbled across was Christopher Wood’s Flickr account. He’s the son of Arthur and Cynthia Wood, the couple who built Broken Angel and raised Christopher within it’s walls.

Through this incredible collection of 285 photos I was able to see the wonder that was the original Broken Angel house and how life might have been inside it. It was filled with cats, dusty dolls and mummified rodents. And really cool paintings. Not to mention Arthur and Cindy Wood themselves- people I would really like to have gotten to know. Here’s a photo of Broken Angel before it’s demise.

And Arthur and Cindy Wood. And the cats.

They bought the building in 1979 and inhabited it until it caught fire on October 10, 2006. After the fire was extinguished by the Fire Dept., the New York City Department of Buildings caught wif of the structure and condemned it, kicking Arthur (75 yrs old) and Cindy (65 yrs old) out and arresting them when they refused to vacate.

“On March 12th the city of New York unceremoniously dismissed Arthur and
Cynthia Wood’s Case against the city calling for damages resulting from an illegal arrest and seizure of residence.

On October 18, 2006 the department of Buildings of New York city seized the home of Arthur and Cynthia Wood,without a legal court order, claiming that it was an unsafe structure. The Woods were denied any chance to challenge these claims. They were informed by the city that since they owned a property they were to be denied access to any part of the city’s shelter system. Subsequently they were forced to spend the majority of the winter in a broken down VW van. Even the Red Cross was instructed to deny them shelter.”

– Christopher Woods, Flickr

After a legal battle (that can be read about in depth in The Brownstoner blog) the Woods sold part of the property to a developer and it is now doomed to the dark condo underworld. As far as I could tell, it was either condos or demolition of the entire building. Deciding to save some of the structure and hopefully some space for themselves, they chose condos and the ability to receive monetary reimbursement for the property. My guess is that they had to act fast and did what they could. The whole thing is so sad, and it angers me to read so many Brooklyn blogs where yuppies trash these unique homes and call for the sterilization of Brooklyn. “Eyesores” they are called. Fucking incredible.

They applaud the DOB for vacating a “hazardous home.” But the DOB doesn’t seem to be too interested in the hazardous homes that slum-lords rent for inflated prices to families in working-poor neighborhoods. These houses go unrepaired purposefully to squeeze out tenants so that rents can be raised. But you don’t read complaints about that on Curbed or Brownstoner.

Thanks to Christopher Wood’s Flickr account for the photos featured in this blog.

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2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

hey lark! you might already know this, but i’m pretty sure that house was featured in “dave chapelle’s block party”. that movie is great for many reaons, but the feature on that house is up there in the top 3. jasmine

Comment by Jasmine

Hi check out are kickstater project

Comment by Christopher wood




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