Mean Streets: Gurley Walks Manhattan, Part Deux

Living in exile on Roosevelt Island with my fiancée and kitty for the past two years, I’m feeling awkward, fat

Living in exile on Roosevelt Island with my fiancée and kitty for the past two years, I’m feeling awkward, fat as a house, not up for human interaction, but it’s a nice day to walk Manhattan’s East Side, landscape of my bittersweet youth. I’ve been smoking White Widow in effort to wean myself off whiskey. Paranoid delusions strong! On the way to the tram I stop off at Roosevelt Island branch of the New York Public Library. I must have looked like Munch’s The Scream to that librarian just now.

Nice tram ride across East River. Dangerous intersection here—you think the cars coming off the bridge are going down Second Ave. then they’re heading right at ya. Was that person’s head elongated or am I twisted? No, heads are definitely looking funny today.

Soon after we moved here from Kansas City, Mom took me to that McDonald’s, trying to reassure my nervous 9-year-old self that things were no different here. It felt good, familiar, burgers tasted the same! As we walked out, a bum had his meat in his paw, urinating in the street.

Lexington Ave. from 57th to 61st is flat out dehumanizing these days. Body Shop. Banana Republic. The Container Store. Diesel. No Fiorucci, no head shop where I bought the “Disco Sucks” button—it’s a sandwich wrap place now. Worse than being in a North Korean jail. Joyless expressions everywhere.

Have an affection for 62nd between Third Avenue and Lex, even though was I mugged here twice. Bully asked where I went to school and said, “Gimme all your money or I’m going to fuck you up.” I ran and he murmured, “Pussy.” The other time, two inner-city youths showed me what looked to be a cap gun but said it was real and I believed it, I was 9, I’d never been kidnapped before. They led me up the street, continued to terrorize me outside a grocery store that’s not here anymore. Nice black lady saw me trembling and hollered, “Now why don’t you leave him alone!” and they took off laughing. A lady in a fur coat offered to walk me home, the youths were about 30 feet away and one pointed cap gun at me and yelled, “I’m going to blow your head off, motherfucker!” then the cap gun went pop as I buried my head into the lady’s furry bosom. This was three weeks after I moved here from Kansas.

For years I would look at the clock inside that dry cleaner’s; now the clock is gone and looks like the place is shuttering. Skateboarding and eclairs over there, snowball fight over there. One of us accidentally hit a woman, stuff flew out of her purse, and while we were helping her pick it up, she said, “You. Little. Dicks!” And tried to grab us.

There used to be a Discomat over there where I got Beatles albums and that Shaun Cassidy one with “Hey Deanie.” I liked the Kinks, too. First concert I ever saw. The guy I was with jumped onstage, danced with Ray Davies, got dragged away. Didn’t see him again for 20 years.

There’s a Wachovia bank. Feel deflated. Charles Schwab’s not as bad. More American sounding.

Penis keeps poking through hole in my boxers, need to adjust.

Sixty-second and Park. Went to school down there. Learned how to count to six in Danish and Chinese. Played one of the Beatles during a graduation event. Right before we hit the stage one of my little pals told me that I looked the least like a Beatle of the four of us. Affected my mojo during lip synch to “I Want To Hold You Hand.”

In Vitamin Shoppe, just asked for help finding a non-citrusy immune system booster. Girl did a two-minute search, got down on her knees, bent over and finally found some raspberry stuff. Box was too big, so I said I’d come back later. She gave me a look like: What are you kidding me? Is this what you do, is this your thing, you go around and have hot Asian girls do stuff for you and then say, “Oh, never mind?”

 Sixty-seventh and Lex: Spent Halloween 1980 up in that building. Mom had scored tickets to the Dead at Radio City, backstage passes, too. I was semi-into the Dead, but wanted to go trick-or-treating instead. Prevailing memory: later that night filling up a garbage bag full of various liquids and matter and hurling it down at a cab. Mom and her boyfriend ended up hanging out with Jerry Garcia and the boys. Biggest regret in life. Didn’t learn to seize the day for another 28 years. But I kept that backstage pass, stuck it on my wall at Kent School, and some hockey chimp from Rhode Island or some other latent homosexual jock swiped it. This other upperclassman named Colin (a.k.a. “Stiffy”), who’s now a lawyer in California, stole my friend Bruce’s sweet stereo. Not too late to give it back, Stiffy. Pretty sure you got that name cause you got caught masturbating, dolphin in hand.

Hey lady—if your awning says 765 Park, but it’s technically between Park and Lex, not firmly on Park Avenue, does that really count as Park Avenue? I think not. Oh look, there’s 740 Park. What a joke. Suckers. Always thought 720 was better. There’s the Asia Society. Saw some Eskimos dancing in there in ’91. 

Mean Streets: Gurley Walks Manhattan, Part Deux