I started a Tumblr blog: Astoria Ugly.
I’ve lived in Astoria since 1998. It’s the only place I’ve lived in New York City, and probably the only place I ever will live. I love it here.
Actually, I kind of dig the painted-on bricks. And I’ve gotten a lot more relaxed about new buildings. I thought of starting Astoria Ugly a few years ago, and at that point, it was going to be a takedown of all the things that were going wrong with the neighborhood.
Now I just think of Pistilli as the architectural equivalent of an Idaho neo-Nazi: total jerk, but free speech and all that. Astoria’s lax building codes are like the first amendment for construction.
Of course I admire a handsome block of brownstones and stately old trees. I’m not immune to pretty. But I’m also sick of this fetishization of Brooklyn, and of people saying, straight to my face, “Ugh, Queens! How can you live there? It’s so ugly!”
No duh. But there are other reasons to live in a place. I love the hodgepodge because it reflects what’s great about Queens, and the whole city. I moved to Astoria because I didn’t want to be a gentrifier. I just wanted to be one person in a heaving mass of people, from everywhere, because that’s what New York City represents for me.
I love my Astoria Ugly, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.