We’d cop 40s from the mafia front on Smith and Union (the one on the corner, not the bodega next to the pizza joint—they’d just laugh at our fakes and tell us to try across the street) and run down President till we hit the water. “Take the F to Carroll and walk to the river,” we’d tell anyone who came late, “it’s the big warehouse with the black netting. Duck the fence and come to the roof.”
Sometimes, especially later, when security got tight, kids would pussy out right in front of the building. Just mumble some excuse and turn around, walk back to the train, after trekking all the way to the edge of Red Hook.
By the end, I couldn’t really blame them. The construction guys strung lights through the place, put the barbed wire on the inside of the scaffolding and booby-trapped the stairs with wood planks. Once the crew made it to the roof, everyone was bloody, shirts were ripped, faces streaked with sweat and dirt. That was near the end of our time at the Warehouse, though. The beginning was beautiful.
Back in 2008 there was just a big hole in the fencing between 160 Imlay and her sister warehouse, so we’d walk right in through the front door. Sometimes 40 heads would pack on that roof, a bunch of 16-year-old kids drunk off their asses chucking empty beer bottles at the trucks in the yard behind the building, setting off their alarms like dominoes, throwing fire extinguishers down the shaft ways and tagging shit on the walls. We’d tape wine bottles to our hands and climb 30 feet of rusted ladder to the top of the old water tower, do some whippets and dig the view. Once, a kid fell off. Shattered his humorous. Came back the next week to paint his name on a crucifix-shaped wall-panel.
One night, we didn’t leave. The couples paired off on the lower floors, their asses bare on the cold cement, while everyone else was left to stare at the skyline and the harvest moon. By dawn our speakers only played static and our retinas burned from the sunrise and lack of sleep and squinting at Queens in the distance.
It’s being turned into condos now, the Warehouse. I can’t pretend I don’t miss it. But I’ll always have the satisfaction of knowing, even once they’ve converted the place into a big glass luxury tower, that someone’s paying who knows how many millions to live in a penthouse I used to piss in. No shit it’s a nice view, asshole—but I used to dig it for free.