Sitting on the couch covered in daughters, watching “Dora the Explorer,” drinking coffee, listening to the sound of the rain outside, and I’m reminded of a weird obsession I stumbled into last year. I don’t remember that much from last summer, when all of the playgrounds were closed - the big event of every day was when we ventured out from our apartment, made a big U around the subway and walked up to the Albemarle Mews. We lived on Albemarle on the east edge of the Q train line, which runs in a trench that is below-grade but not covered south of Church Avenue, and the Mews - a very beautiful tree-shaded street of mansions with a wide median running down the length of the street - started immediately on the west side of the trench. In the late 19th century when they moved the train below grade they built a pedestrian bridge connecting Albemarle on both sides; it was torn down in the 80s literally because the rich people on the mansion side didn’t want poor people living in the apartment buildings on the east side to be able to easily access the Mews.
So because of that we had to take a ten minute detour to basically cross the street. But we would walk up to the Mews and go to the grassy median, covered in flowers and trees. There was one tree, the furthest east one, where the trunk split into 4 different trunks maybe two feet off of the ground; Eee named this Tree Castle and she would spend a long time every morning crouching inside, asking me to “ring the doorbell” (bend a small twig growing off of the trunk). The other trees on the median were Tree Castle’s family.
Other than this we didn’t get out very much, and we had very little to do. Now that things are somewhat open again and I still struggle to fill the day with these kids I can’t believe we survived it. We watched a LOT of TV; Eee got really into a TV show called Jake & The Neverland Pirates, about three pirate kids living in Neverland and fighting a now-very-comical Captain Hook. This show became a weird obsession for me, not because it was GOOD - it's a kid's show, it's fine! - but because of Sharkey and Bones.
Sharkey and Bones were the two henchmen of Captain Hook - I guess the sub-henchmen of Mr. Smee - one short and fat, one tall and thin, who always managed to screw up Captain Hook's dastardly deeds in a comical manner. The thing that got me about these guys is that at the end of every episode there was a short live-action music vide where two men dressed as the characters performed some pirate-themed song while dancing, intercut with shots from the show. These actors, as it turned out, were actually the two main members of Seattle's pre-eminent Pirate Rock band, one of whom was a working actor and voiceover artist and one of whom was a web programmer for the city. They had been doing this goofy project for a decade or so and one day someone writing a kid's pirate show googled "pirate rock" to find music to listen to while writing. They popped up and the writer got really into them, and the next thing you know they're not only appearing in the show as characters and in live action AND going on a promotional tour of Disney stores but they're also composing all of the music for the show.
The show is on for four seasons. It ends, and the guys go back to being a workng actor and a web developer in Seattle. I imagine there was a possibility of going on to score more kid's television and they just decided not to.
This story is not like written up anywhere, not in this form - it's pieced together from the wikipedia entry and googling around reading articles about these guys and actually finding some personal blogs from them. This is what I mean by micro-obsessions, for like a solid month I would not stop telling people about Sharkey and Bones and this completely random by chance experience they had. As someone who is not always ecstatic about my job, the idea that I'd get a phone call some day and be told, hey, do you want to just out of the blue become a composer for children's TV is like a wild fantasy.
I started writing this this morning just intending it to be about Sharkey and Bones, but giving the context of last spring made me really think about our old neighborhood (we moved in October 2020 when our lease ended, as the owners of the condo we were renting were selling it). I like a lot of things about where we are now but our old area definitely felt like more of a community in some ways - although I'm trying to interrogate if I feel that way because we lived there before the pandemic and had more of a chance to get to know people in the neighborhood vs. me feeling that way because there were more young white parents and my internalized racism is keeping me from feeling familiarity towards some of my new neighbors. It's probably a bit of both! But because we moved in a pandemic and missed out on the lsat 8 months of our time there I don't think I ever properly mourned leaving. We were only there for two years but the majority of Eee's intellectual development happened there, and I really miss those mornings in the Mews, even if it was an unnecessary hike to get there.
Information about the Albemarle Road Pedestrian Bridge comes from Flatbush Gardener, a long-running local blog that I feel like is a great example of combining a particular theme (in this case gardening with local plants) with more personal reflections:
Forgotten Flatbush: The Albemarle Road Pedestrian Bridge
as well as this from Custom NYC Tours
Victorian Flatbush, Brooklyn