I was excited to get such a ride. The taxi in front of me told her that he didn't know how to get there, most likely a blatant lie, and I'm not sure why he wouldn't want such a trip. She came dressed in soccer clothes (football, to the rest of the world), and she wanted to go to Randall's Island.
"Do you know how to get to the East Fields on Randall's Island?" She asked.
And as I feel I have an almost spiritual connection with Randall's Island, I told her that while I've never heard of the eastern fields, I was positive I'd be able to find it. She told me that when I get to the island she'd be able to direct me from that point.
It is impossible for me to write about Randall's Island without delving deep, as it is profoundly connected to me. I feel it has and still does direct me to this day- in order to keep this post more concise I have a few more paragraphs, and a few more pictures at my other blog that I don't devote enough of my time to.
She directed me turn by turn, through roads that were still in mid-consturction, to a set of soccer fields that were nothing but piles of dirt amongst dormant bulldozers when I was last there. However on this day, they were full of Upper East Siders in their high quality nylon jerseys, and short shorts, high socks, and swoosh shin guards. She got out, and a guy stepped inside, and paid via credit card, only tipping 1 dollar. One dollar is usually a decent tip, but a trip to the south end of the islands took as much time as it would've to go to LaGuardia Airport with a smaller fare. All he did by tipping was cover for the 5% that I had to pay for that ride. Typical brand new yuppies. And what always hurts the worst, they invade the spaces that mean the most to me.
This is where I dropped her off. To my left the chain link fence closed off the best part of the island, where East River meets the dirt. I used to take my car down to the river for a moment of peaceful reflection. It was the only place I knew where I could drive up to a park bench and sit upon it while cold breezes found their way to the Island, the little waves would meet the rough soil and the small rocks, and the car would be parked right beside it all. It was beautiful, it was like a Volkswagen advertisement. One captivating solitary moment with the car and nature, in between the two largest populated boroughs in the City.
And to my right all the new fields were taken up by the jerseys. I made the U-turn in one of the parking spots and took all my shots as I slowly came back to Manhattan. It was all bringing a tear to my eye. All the fields were in different spaces, and what used to be low and middle-class athletes had now become the highest-class Upper East Siders.
The foot bridge connecting the Island to the Upper East Side is lowered much more often than it was back when this corner of the island was a vast wasteland.
I hope the reader understands that I am very happy that the island has been updated and better maintained for recreational activities. But I am upset because it was fine as it was, there already were soccer fields, baseball fields, and a track and field facility, But the city sold it's citizens out by receiving money from it's richest citizens in exchange for their exclusive use. These public parks were contracted out from 2007 through the next 30 years, as fields for private schools to use as their own, in the same hours when the public schools need them too. See sources at page 1, and page 2
Around here I remember taking the road to the right where there was a playground, it had no fences. In the dark of night the playground would take me by surprise every time. Through the windshield would appear the jungle gym, I'd hook around it and drive over the alphabet on the pavement, A then B, then C, etceteras. But, there is no road (road/footpath) to the right anymore, it is all dirt waiting for the high income make-over.
Fresh curb lines and landscape attempts are new, but the north Island and the mid swamp in between north and south are mostly unchanged. Just so we're clear, Randall's Island can be referred to as either one or two Island's, both are correct. There is a swamp land in the middle. The top is actually Randall's, and the bottom Island is called Ward's. Some of the swampland got filled in I believe during Robert Moses' rain over the Island(s) when he built the TriBorough Bridge, recently re-named the RFK.
Above- To the left on the other side of the bridge is the psychiatric complex, where I recently had one of my memorable fares to. I write about that particular ride about halfway into the post-> Between The rays of Sunshine
Below- I'm sure this was used in a shoe advertisement or something. It's another one of my favorite places to have a zen experience, thankfully this is unchanged.
Under the Amtrak line
<and circa 2000