New York Stories

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The 26th Street Flea

There was a flea market that assembled itself outside the gates of Pratt Institute in Brooklyn some Sundays.  The trouble was, it only convened on “some Sundays,” it was unreliable.  It didn’t matter much anyways, I and my art student friends were usually broke; and the stuff they offered wasn’t worth much.  It was all new stuff, and to me that really was worthless.  I figured flea markets should only sell old stuff.

This flea had come a long way from the early days a century before when upholstered furniture for sale had to (by law) be brought outside the city limits of Paris, to stop the infestation and spread of fleas.  The only thing I remember buying at the Pratt Gate was a red pillow with little pineapples all over it.  My girlfriend Isabelle bought a matching one.

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18 Arhans, and Others like It

My friend Susan has been a vegan for decades.  She’s invested a lot of time finding the healthiest, tastiest vegan cuisine in New York.  When I was in the City, sometimes I’d come along for the sampling of cuisine, sometimes not.

Knowing about my burgeoning interest in Buddhist Meditation, she brought me along one day in 2004 during one of my mad-dash visits to New York from the Pacific Northwest.  She said there was a place I had to try, that it was run by a Buddhist Nun.

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Requiem for Two Boots

Twenty years ago tonight I had my last drink ever at my favorite watering hole and hangout, Two Boots Restaurant and Bar in Brooklyn.  I was there (as if I ever needed an excuse) to attend the screening, the World Premiere, if you will, of a 90 minute long silent movie comedy called “The Schenectady Massacre.”  It was based on a real historic event, a 17th Century massacre at a fort in upstate New York.  It had been filmed on location back in February.

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Find Yourself

I love being tracked.  I know people nowadays have concerns about the NSA snooping into their business and whatnot; civil liberties: blah blah blah; but I just look at all that as a sign that somebody somewhere cares.  It’s comforting to me.  I realize this attitude may come about as a result of negligent parenting, but I try not to dwell on the whos or whys too much.

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Hey New York, Quit Changing So Fast!

I haven’t lived in New York since 1999.  But I’m still a New Yorker, there’s no doubt about that!  It’s like being a Marine, once one; always one.  But I’ll admit something here, I’ve lost track.  And for that I’m very concerned.  I haven’t been there for years now and it’s changed so much, and well….. what will I do?!

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When It Began

The Replacements got together and played a gig last night (Aug. 24, 2013) in Toronto.  It was the first time they’d performed together since July of 1991, and for me, though I was not there, it was as if the Beatles got back together.  I never thought it’d happen.  I’m not the only one who thought that, rabid ‘Mats fans all over thought the day would never come.  Why do we people who love the Replacements give such a shit?

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Water Towers

IMG_5317

New York’s typically mundane wooden water towers are actually among the most beautiful things in the world (no, c’mon, hear me out now!).  Their ubiquity tells a story of tradition and longevity that stretches back over a century. In fact, their very existence is crucial to the needs of Metropolitan residents.  Please indulge me while I both share a little history and present my case (through pictures) that New York’s water towers are wonderful little works of art.

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The Post-Drunkalogue: part 2

THIS PICKS UP RIGHT FROM PART 1

August 1st arrived and I arrived at Penn Station.  It smelled like retired piss.  God I’d missed this place.  It was noisy and there was so much to look at you couldn’t focus on any one thing.  Luckily I’d stayed in touch with my friend Beau and he let me stay with him in the South Slope for a few days, until after the wedding, where I’d then get to housesit for my brother and his fiancé (Luis and Kathleen, or L & K) while they were in Bora Bora for their honeymoon.  They were balls-busy with plans but made time for me a few times before the 6th, their appointed day.

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The Post-Drunkalogue: part 1

I’ve come to believe (mostly through observation) that just about everyone comes to a place in their lives where they do what’s called “taking stock.”  That time for me was in May of 1994, where, like a postwar resident of Berlin, I emerged from my (virtual) bunker and said, “what….the….fuck?!”  But unlike the urban German of another May in 1945, I knew that in my case all the damage was literally self-inflicted.  You could say I’d bombed myself back to the “Stoned Age.”

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Thank You. For Whatever Comes.

I ran upstairs because I’d heard the fight was already over.  As part of my ongoing effort to get my friend James into sports I had jotted this down on a post-it before I hit the project-concrete stairs of our dorm room at Willoughby:

“Tyson knocked him out in 93 seconds!  93!”

OK it was really 91.  But I’d been listening to WFAN and they were apparently pretty excited about it too.  I made it the 6 floors up (not trusting the “hellavator”) and stuck the note to James’ door, under the 804 number.  None of us had TVs except for Lewis Greene and Myra Rivera, and he only let us watch Redskins games (including the Super Bowl); and unfortunately this didn’t happen often because we all lived in Brooklyn.

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Swagger

Logan's Run from Memories of Hollywood

Like a fledgling sea turtle released too soon into the wild, at age nineteen I inserted myself into the swift moving currents of diverse humanity in 1980’s New York.  Of course at the time I didn’t know this one critical fact – I had been the recipient of inadequate preparation.

Existing in a world quite far from this self-awareness, I thought I was more like Private Hudson in “Aliens,” the ‘original badass,’ strutting and showing off his hardware.  It was New York after all, and I was hyper, I slept little because there was so much to do but I had no idea where to begin.  My actual training for all this consisted of living as a reluctant mama’s boy in a rundown Art Deco building in Miami Beach, Florida.

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The Creatures

I really liked those early shifts at Perelandra Natural Foods; especially the ones in the summer when the Yanks had a home afternoon game.  I’d get up early, still dark out; and wait on the Avenue J platform for the D train, making its way from a deserted Coney Island (it being only 5am).  Depending on the time of year I could easily see the Big Dipper from the northeast side platform.  Whatever the time of year I’d look up and try to identify stars and the occasional planet.

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Crazy Eddie

“Oh crap, Alan’s at the door, gimme a minute here hang on,” I said as I rushed away from our front door and its fisheye peep hole.    I knew we had to air the room out, our building’s owner Alan was at the door, and I was already in trouble with the friggin’ guy.   I stubbed out my joint and hurriedly opened my bedroom window.

“Wait, hold on, Eddie, you know you can’t be here.”  I said.

“What do you want me to do, jump out?  Looks like I’m already screwed anyway, what else am I gonna do?”  Eddie replied.  He was always a nervous and paranoid guy; now he was also drunk and high and his personal nemesis had arrived at our door – excuse me, my door.  Eddie didn’t belong here at 164 Prospect Park West.

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New York at Night

I take the subway late at night, everything on and working, at this hour it’s just for me.  Get on at Atlantic Avenue, get off at 33rd and Lex, climb out of the underground, lights are on but the shutters are down.  I’m smiling, I can’t get rid of this smile. No people, I love it, there are no people.  I’m attracted to these places that are empty.  It’s all mine!

It’s 1am Wednesday morning; I grab a Voice (it’s free, everything that matters at 1am is free), slowly read it while walking.  I look at things I don’t get a chance to look at during the day, when there are so many people hurrying me along, caught up like a two by four in a sudden torrent.  Now I can take my time and look, a livery cab passes me, then a yellow, and then another yellow.

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The Anchor Of Nostalgia

Marilyn Monroe died almost exactly five years before I was born (and exactly fifty years before this writing). Living as she did before my era, I, of course never met her, and in fact have only ever met one person who ever knew her.   But more importantly, for the purposes of this story, she died about 20 years before my nostalgia and longing for the past gained its own sentience.

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