I have never lived in Rockaway full-time, but I’ve had a conflicted relationship with it since sometime in 1998, when I first found out there was a surfing beach in New York City. Back then, the offshore sewage pipes were much closer to the coastline; when the waves closed out, you could smell the methane-laced air on top of the water.
Last September, I was standing on the Rockaway sandbank—a sort of artificial dune that has become the replacement for the boardwalk—and laughing with a friend about his appearance on the Daily News website just days after Hurricane Sandy. In the picture, he stood wearing a “Defend Rockway” sweatshirt while holding a bow and arrow. It was taken at night, and his body was lit by headlights, giving the image a sort of low-budget horror movie feel.
I keep thinking about this video I want to make in Rockaway. A car shot, at night, with the camera mounted to the roof just above the driver’s side-view. It would be a single take down the Rockaway Freeway at night. The freeway, a Robert Moses project that was never finished, has the feel of something interrupted. Running underneath the elevated A train on both sides of the roadway, pale concrete supports reach high above, forming an endless line of columns—like a cathedral hallway for cars.
—Roe Ethridge, New York, 2014