We crawled up out of the R Train stop at 36th Street in Astoria, Queens, to be greeted by cool air, weak sunshine, and industrial park emptiness. A tumbleweed could have blown by, had we not been in Queens, or it could have been a setting for an old black and white WWII movie, except for the Queens part.
"This doesn't feel so good," said my FIT student, with a rare display of survival instinct.
It was eerie, and there was no sign for the Museum of the Moving Image
, but I had an address. "We have to find 35th Ave., and straight ahead of us was 37th Ave., so it's either that way further down into that abyss or 36th St. picks up on the other side of this, this monolith, and we have to find a way around it."
"I vote that 36th St. starts here and there's only one way to go," the eldest decided.
Because a blind vote seemed as solid a choice as any, abyss it was. Besides, the deadness was probably only because it was a Sunday. Mid-week, the place was likely to be loaded up with commerce and trucks and fast moving cars without mufflers and taxis trying to beat some jam on some airport-link highway. So we shuffled, my old self, my poshy college girl, my pretty 'n brilliant exchange student ward, and the seven year old. "I'll have to die, you understand, if there is a problem," I sighed in resignation, as a pit bull terrier tried to jump over his chain link encasement. "That's the game plan; I'll take the hit, you guys run for help. Or blackberry someone. No run, then blackberry." I imagined the jaws of that beast around my throat and a lot of blood. Yes, it's good to have a contingency plan, especially when you don't have enough sense to come in out of the rain or stay out of a deserted, body-dumping kind of hood.
But as we walked 36th St. and crossed 36th Ave. so obviously going in the right direction, the area seemed to go from black and white to color. People were building this up into living space, with a hip looking restaurant, condos in what was some old government building with columns, and an expansive 50's type diner that pulled in lots of local folks. And there it was, right on the corner: one of the coolest, hands-on museums I have ever been to, where we learned about how moving pictures were discovered, how television works (which still makes me insane thinking about how fast the image information travels), sound editing, and special effects. There was also plenty of movie and tv memorabelia. I loaded up the camera with tons of stock images. We did not participate in any demonstrations or sit through any of the kids or adult movies that were airing that day, but we could have.
As we walked back down lonely 36th St. towards the subway entrance, again past the troubled terrier, the seven-year-old said between hops and skips, "This has been the best day."