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One of the many stories of The City. rings a bell. Thanks for the link.
Another City, another story:
Mid morning, I get dropped off at the hotel, sign in and change to civvies. I am determined to spend my last day in Thailand exploring Bangkok and did I ever!
Outside a gang of samlor guys all quote the same outrageous prices, all except one who undercuts them. However, that includes a side trip to the PX, he has a long shopping list? I wander off down the block to a regular taxi stand.
eeJAA, that's what it sounds like ... never could figure out how to write his name ... eeJAA sees me coming, we bond at first sight and he insists on taking me On the Town: Buddhas, shrines, temples, hidden gardens, night life, the works ...
Somewhere in there is the Snake Farm .... you've got to see this he said ... with pits of writhing snakes just like in a horror movie.
They want to take a picture of me posing in front of a backdrop. With a snake, a boa? Turns out I have to pay them for a Polaroid instead of them paying me. OK I say and am instructed to kneel just this way and hold my right hand out just that way.
Here come two men hauling a huge boa constrictor, one in front and one at the tail end. They proceed to drape a ton of snake around my shoulders.
I can't even.
The guy in front gently places the head of the snake in the palm of my hand.
Ok, got it.
They take the load off my shoulder. No sooner do they have it off me than the snake voids. You'd be amazed how much a well-fed boa produces. The two hurry off with the beast before it refuels with another tourist.
You were lucky says the photographer while looking for someone to clean the mess.
I wish I still had that Polaroid, can't find it anywhere. I think one of my exes took off with it. In any case, the below is actually a good facsimile of what it looked like. Except the snake was larger and of course I do have better looking hands.
"Hey, you're that actor! you're that jackson guy on tv aren't you?" I usually just wave and smile, hiding behind my shades. It's always a different name she comes up with.
She is very enthusiastic, habitually runs up to passing strangers, grabs their hands and compliments them on their jeans or on the dress someone is wearing. Her husband smiles as they walk hand in hand when she's in her Lolita outfit or when she glides down the center of the street fair in a simple wedding dress.
At one point I made the mistake of acknowledging that I did indeed act in a play sometime in the past. Today she comes running with her hands outstretched: "Are you working?" I wave at her and get rescued by a passing group of grade schoolers on an outing. She loves kids, her husband barely manages to restrain her from grabbing one of them.
I'm thinking pork chops tonight but at the neighborhood market another EVR, Lotta, is getting things together for her August in the Catskills as she has done for the past 20, 30 years I am sure. She has taken all the pork chops and is busy separating them into individual baggies in front of the cashier.
People try not the stare. I'm not sure about her sexuality but she's a tall lady, proper hose, sensible heels and fur even now in this heat. Something went terribly wrong with her face many years ago, I'm guessing at a botched plastic surgery, mostly hidden by hats with varying lengths of veils.
I get two split chicken breasts and pass the money over the mound of chops.
"Why don't they wrap these individually, she says, they used to! I freeze them. Perhaps this young man will help? ... Oh, he's gone already."
The young man is out the door and makes it home, safe.
It watched a few minutes of a championship on tv the other day and rate it just above Cornhole? It's not for me but I can relate to neighbors complaining about the constant whop whop, whop whop! much like the noise level around my old haunts.
It was the time of Living Dead roaming the neighborhood, waiting for the iceman who announced his arrival by shouting DON'T DO IT! DON'T DO IT! up and down the street, making sure everyone knew where he was at. During the crack epidemic in the 80's the patrons, Residents, of the men's shelter on the block were a constant source of irritation. First it was the slap slap, slap slap of handball against a neighbor's wall which he did manage to get stopped. Then they came with boom boxes in the yard, there was a sigh of relief when that was no longer allowed. Now about the guys playing dominos during hot summer nights? Please don't slam the tiles? Midnight: click, click, click click echoes down the block.
One EVR stood on the corner getting ready for his Klingon role. Several times a minute he would slap his forehead, hard, SLAP, bouncing off the walls. Once I saw him up close with a thick callus on his forehead. He definitely was ready to be an extra on Star Trek but I think he lasted only one season on the street.
When a bar opened downstairs we knew it was time to relocate.
"Hello dear," she says when she sees me on the street as if she really knew me, and smiles at me in her theater after announcing the plays. We've been neighbors since the beginnings of La Mama, I watched her hair turn from black to the mop of gray she has now.
She is being lionized in today's New York Times. Speaking From the Capital of the Global East Village, traces her career from the time a half century ago when she was about to be arrested for prostitution after complaints about white men visiting a Negress. The men turned out to be actors dropping in for rehearsals at her theater.
Ellen Stewart and her La Mama have been fostering new playwrights and difficult productions all these years and continues adding to a long glorious list of names she helped along the way: Sam Shepard, Harold Pinter, Lanford Wilson, Eugène Ionesco, Philip Glass, Robert Wilson, Jerzy Grotowski, Jean-Claude Van Italie, Joseph Chaikin.
I think the case can be made that there wouldn't be today's East Village if she hadn't been here to start it.
The Asian Pub didn't last long after this visit, torn down for a tall luxury building.
There we were sucking on our introductory peppery edamame, watching the patio around us filled with a lively young crowd including one obvious newcomer who popped a pod into his mouth and chewed the whole inedible thing instead of pressing out individual beans and chucking the skin, all the while assuring his date it tasted good. Neither one of them touched the baby soybeans thereafter.
The food has improved a bit at the Asian Pub since our last visit, either the Ukrainian chef got fired or he picked up some subtle Asian flavoring tips. The mussel broth showed more depth, fried oysters were crispy and fresh, the flavorful chicken dumplings sported a delicate wrapping unlike the heavy dough I remembered from earlier visits and a serving of Korean beef with a side of kimchee showed character, all much helped along by a carafe of fruity house red.
An actor played, overplayed, emoted, the part of our waitperson, passing by every 5 minutes to inquire as to our well being, visibly disappointed when we didn't order decorated drinks to go with our wine like most of the crowd, but he finally won us over when he didn't disappear as we finished dinner and promptly brought our bill.
we'll be back sometime I'm sure ...
This has nothing to do with trains, really, other than it came up today on my trot across town from the East Village to the West Side by the river where I take a break and contemplate New Jersey on the far shore. In the many years I've been doing this much has changed, there were no skyscrapers there, no apartment towers reaching into the river, no Hudson River Park on the New York side, only rusting hulks of abandoned trans-Atlantic steamship berths. Looking south there used to be two tall towers not that long ago.
Lost tourists leaf through their guides, is there a train, a subway station somewhere? I point east, up Christopher, past the Path Station (that's not a subway it goes to New Jersey) up on Sheridan Square is a Number 1 Train stop. Where do you want to go?
I point south to the tall building with the green pyramid on the top. That's American Express. The towers were across the road there, double the height. I reach up to indicate the height.
It's a pleasant walk.
They thank me, Somehow saying 'Enjoy' didn't seem right so I just waved at them as they head south and I head east, up Christopher past the Number 1 Train , back to the East Village and on to Alphabet City and the supermarket on Avenue A, hunting for tonight's dinner.
Lamb Shoulder Blades, Rice Pilaf, Mesclin Salad and fresh tomatoes picked this morning in New Jersey. Miguel Mendoza Malbec Reserva MMM 2003, lucious. ++
jello chocolate pudding
The Annual Art Fruit Exhibit at the Metro