I walked the Earth again today. I saw civilizations many, humanity in all its splendour. I reopened the wounds that trouble my feet. It was good. As you know, I am currently a sofa burden. So in the morning I woke early after three hours sleep and walked thirty blocks to see a lady about some apartments, only to be told that Manhattan apartments are not for the likes of me, but for "Wall Street types", and that my lack of social security number, US credit history, etc., would prevent "pretty much all landlords" from renting me a place in which to dwell and make noises. Also, the places I’d come to look at were “unsuitable”, then “gone”.
How rude, I thought, dejected, and dragged my carcass back, and had a nap.
So I had a wee siesta, then I got myself up and I showered and clothed and set out. I had a number of places to see, mostly in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and a map I'd peeped on the internet indicated I had merely to walk across the Williamsburg Bridge, pretty close to where I'm staying, which is Bleecker Street, Lower East Side Manhattan.
The bridge was a lot bigger than it looked on the map. When I got to the other side of it, an hour had passed, and I was almost late for my first appointment. I found myself amid a crossroads of sorts, nearly getting run over by intense traffic. A nice young man sold me a frozen bottle of water for a dollar.
I haven’t many of those left. But the sun beat down hard, and my small white “Brum Peace Run 1986” T that Tim gave me six years ago, that his old man wore in the actual race, was soaked through.
I miss Tim.
And it turned out to have been the wrong bridge. It was Brooklyn Bridge. How I didn't notice that initially is beyond me. I am a right turnip sometimes.
Brooklyn looks just like the New York in rap songs and The Warriors. It is brown and dirty and run down covered in graffiti. I love it.
I was on the end of the wrong bridge, and like I said late, so I made my way across Brooklyn to Williamsbourg, and when I got to the agency it was as shabby and gross as those in Hackney. A great sweating man was rude to me, and said without a social security number, or a US credit history, I could “forgeddaboudit”. So I walked a few miles to an open house, that was dirty and cramped, and owned by a creepy squat Italian gangster guy in a dirty white vest, and then another hour to another place, that was less dirty, and less cramped, but essentially dirty and cramped. And also owned by the same guy, who appeared in the doorway as I turned to leave, and spooked me the fuck out. “Ah, you,” he frowned. “You want to make noise. It is a pity.”
I wandered a while to my next stop, and arrived early, so I whiled away the time until my appointment reading a Hate comic on a patch of grass by a road. I was pretty content there, reading my comic, watching the Spaniards wander by.
And so the next house, small, cramped, gross cooker, and the next, small cramped, gross shower. Now it was eight o clock, and I was tired, limping, and heartbroken by the squalor of the places I'd been checking. But there was one more place to check, a place a lady earlier had told me was in a “bad area… not for you.” Also, it was a good three quarters of an hour journey from where I was.
But I had a good feeling, burning somewhere at the bottom of my aching belly. I got directions off of a nice old Spanish guy and heading East, uphill, for Park Avenue. ,br> I felt like Cain in King Fu, although I never saw Cain in Kung Fu, and doubt very much my spelling. But I felt like that, as I wandered the earth, clock upon block, corner, hill, through these communities the people out on the street, on their porches, nodding, smiling. Tipping their caps. For a while it was the like Hackney – black, white, yellow, brown, poor, dusty, abandoned shopping trolleys, litter, fried chicken shops, offies. And then it was not.
Suddenly, the buildings were taller, and the streets became deserted. I felt a little shift in time and space. In the distance people dotted, and grew taller as I drew closer. ,br> And all of a sudden, I was in a little village, where everybody, and I mean everybody, was a Super Jew. Like, a real, hardcore. Super-Jew Are they called Hacidic Jews? I am not sure. Anyone out there that can educate my sorry ass on this elegant culture, please do, I only know little bits, like they’re not supposed to use electricity on Sundays.
Anyway. There they were. Hats tall, coats long and black, curls swinging out from under the brims of those big black hats. Tiny ones ran about playing in the gutters, little curls sprouting above ears that framed little skullcaps. riding tiny bikes, gurgling and giggling in the gutters. Teens with patchy fluffy beards gawked along awkwardly. Men of age and distinction with grand grey beards strutted elegantly, confident in poise and pose. Those old Super Jews are amazing. And the women, assembled on corners, with identikit calf length skirts and light blue shirts, nice big hair, no makeup. In every shop, on every doorstep, all the same. Some eyed me strangely, some smiled, as I ambled along, swinging my carrier bag, singing a jolly song I made up on the spot.
The movie set shifted, and the people thinned out, until there were but a few. And then none. Up front I saw a bus stop, at which stood a great big black lady. We smiled at each other, and said hello.
And then, just as quick, another shift, another leap. The litter became more colourful. The buildings shorter, redder. And all of a sudden, everybody was black, and I was in the projects of those old records, standing outside Marcy Houses. Little kids worse doo rags and baseball caps, and rode tiny bikes and giggled and gurgled in the gutter. Teens preened and strutted, and young women assembled on corners, while old men sat on benches, laughing and cursing and swigging booze.
A short walk later, I came to my destination. I was met outside by a beaming, twenty something Super Jew, who’d got out of the awkward phase, and looked confident and good in his garb. He took mer inside, and we made small talk about the transparent efforts of those “in charge” to scare the shit out of New Yorkers this week.
We went upstairs.
And the place was wonderful. I think I gasped. Huge, bright, tall ceilings, clean. A door opened, and led out onto a private roof terrace, overlooking the neighbourhood – a playground full of laughing children. Tress. Broken houses. It was perfect.
I was very happy on my way home. I hope I can live there.