28 New York Moments
1. I was crossing 10th street on a green light, walking north on 1st Ave. First car at the light drifted into the crosswalk, rolling into me. I punched the hood and told the driver to wake up; she was literally asleep.
2. One night in the fall of 2004 I got thrown out of two bars -- Happy Endings and Mars Bar -- for no reason. They were the only times I've ever gotten thrown out of anywhere.
3. Lost my wallet on New Year's Eve at the Scrap Bar. It got returned to the bartender with everything still in it.
4. My ex-girlfriend's apartment burned down so she temporarily shacked up with friends-of-friends on 8th Avenue near MSG. I went there to see her once. The apartment had a living room that looked more like a waiting room -- magazines on a coffee table, little else. The kitchen had no food, just a credit card swiper. The bedrooms held no personal items, just bowls of condoms on the night stands. The place was immaculate. An immaculate whorehouse.
5. I walked out of the subway into Herald Square one morning. The news stand on the corner was smashed to smithereens and surrounded by yellow police tape. I went into the building where I worked and asked what had happened. Turns out a man had jumped from a high window and impacted on the kiosk.
6. A guy started screaming at me on the train -- "I hope you die of AIDS!!", he bellowed, and threatened to kill me just in case. His eyes were burning. His friends held him back but they wanted to kick my ass, too. As they dragged him off the train at the next stop he threw his beer at me.
7. Walking home with my girlfriend in '98, a block away from my building. Drunk macho man across the street starts yelling "faggot", etc. I suggested that maybe he was the faggot -- after all, I was with a girl and he was with some dude. He comes running after us, foaming at the mouth. His buddy tries to restrain him and advises us "run, he'll kill you". We didn't run, but still got to my place just in time; the door closed in his twisted, screaming face and he pounded on the glass like an enraged gorilla.
8. I had one of my Halloween parties, this one at an apt I was subletting on 9th and C. Some unsavory -- and uninvited -- thug-types showed up and started casing the joint. My friends and I politely asked the two gentlemen to leave and they got hostile. After some gnashing of teeth, they grudgingly left. Then they shattered the building's front door.
9. Lost my license in a cab one night. A few weeks later it was returned to me in the mail.
10. This junkie used to stand at the corner of Metropolitan and Union and ask for change "to get a cup of coffee". One day I took her up on it and bought her a coffee at the diner. It wasn't what she really wanted, of course, but she always liked me after that.
11. Met some strangers on the street late one night and invited them up to my place. We danced til 8am.
12. Waiting at the light to cross the street to my apartment, holding a just-purchased can of beer in brown bag. Cop car driving by stops abruptly, window goes down. "Is that open?" comes out. "No", I answer, and show them the sealed beverage. Cops drive off. There clearly wasn't much happening on a Saturday night in BKLN.
13. I'm crossing the street in Alphabet City one night in November. Police car idling at the light, cop rolls down window, yells at me, "hey, Halloween was last week!" I prayed that a crane might fall on the car and crush the pigs.
14. I'm crossing Marcy street and a car drives in front of me. Windows come down and a chorus of synchronized voices, male and female, ushers forth in my direction: "FREEAK!"
15. My band played CBGB. This girl I knew had come to see the show from far away. At the end of the night I found her collapsed on the floor of the ladies room; someone had roofied her. She spent the night in the hospital.
16. I passed Fred Schneider from the B-52s in the street on Halloween night. I turned and said "love you, Fred!" He looked back and smiled.
17. My band played a pretentious new nightclub down on the Bowery. The club had installed bathroom attendants, so I pissed on the dressing room floor. Twice.
18. I met Tony Bennett on 57th Street in December of '96 and he took his glove off before shaking my hand.
19. My friend and I were standing on the corner of 14th and 2nd one late-night. A jolly looking middle-aged man approaches and asks if he can buy us dinner -- and then have us piss on him.
20. This nice old guy in my building died. After they removed his body, the landlord sent some men over to throw his belongings out on the curb and get the apartment ready for the next tenant.
21. I saw a rat come out of a hole in the wall in the L train station one quiet night. It started gnawing furiously on one of those ancient pieces of chewing gum you see on the subway platforms all the time -- completely black and trampled flat. That gum looked like a dull piece of obsidian but the rat was really into it.
22. A rat chewed through my roomate's wall and into his room. After residing there for a few days (and pulling an entire loaf of bread behind the radiator, where it feasted privately), the beast finally scaled the curtain and jumped through an opening at the top of the window. Somehow it got itself into an opening in the eaves and escaped back into the building.
23. Electricity blew out in my apartment so I descended into the murky basement to flip the breaker back. A rat scowled at me from atop the fuse box, its long tail draped over the switches. I think it was the same rat that jumped out of the window.
24. I was illegally subletting an apartment in the East Village. When the landlords got wind of this, they not only evicted me, but tried to sue me for $10,000. I packed quickly and left in the middle of the night.
25. Standing on an uptown train, wearing my Slayer shirt and listening to music on the earphones. Just over the music, I hear some kind of ruckus behind me and notice other passengers looking in that direction, then at me, then back again. I turn to see what it is.
An insane looking man with burning eyes is staring at me and screaming the lyrics to Slayer's "Angel Of Death". I turn back and ignore him. He continues at the top of his voice:
"Auschwitz, the meaning of pain, the way that I want you to die/slow death, immense decay, showers that cleanse you of your life/forced in like cattle you run, stripped of your life's worth/human mice, for the angel of death..."
...and so on. He did the whole song.
After this morbid, lunatic recitation, the guy finally approaches me. I take the earphones off and he queries, "hey man, you going to the Bon Jovi show?"
26. Loudly jabbering schizophrenic man on the 1 train gets into heated exchange with another passenger. In the middle of an incoherent screed, he spins around and punches yours truly right in the nose.
27. Massive, city-wide blackout in summer of 2003, so we walked over the Williamsburg bridge from the Lower East Side, bought warm beer at the deli and spent the night up on my roof. The hot streets were full of candles and laughter.
28. Standing on 6th and B with an iced coffee in summer of '98. Some Latino kids hanging out, talking trash in front of the deli by all the fresh fruit and flowers. A young girl walks up to the group -- she's maybe 15 and shows a slightly protuberant abdomen. One of the group sez, "girl, you pregnant again?"
"Yeah", first girl sighs.
Nonchalantly: "this guy from the Bronx"
Conversation resumes to earlier topic, as if this little exchange were nothing more than talking about the weather.