1982 and music from NYC. How it might relate nowadays while writing about something that'll do me good?
Advertised to be about 'meanings and messages'. List eight songs. Welcome to a self-imposed commission without any idea and a direction.
Last weekend got typing on documenting life about the old and much forgotten, Lower East Side. Alphabet City, Avenues A, B, C, and D. Thought might be of interest and surprise. Had a nostalgia fest. and 'get down on it, get down on it...'
Binned in retrospect and a shocking dislike. The only reason not to again and here is a deadline and publish come-what.
Two considerations for contemplation:
The power of song and the struggle.
Debate and battles about gentrification.
New York 1981 to '84 carried a particular and unusual, atmosphere and presence. All concentrated in a small area of Manhatten, somewhere outsiders were hesitant to tread. The Lower East Side was off the tourist maps. Daytime and some edging on to St Marks/8th Street. At night, not considered sensible.
Not quite the Bronx and Harlem and full-on no-go but wild enough.
Gagging to go, got one Snuky Tate to take me wondering on 125th Street. Some up there looked surprised. One or two laughed with concern. Warned me off such venturing. Talking, middle of the day. My chaperone is the one in the pic. All defiant and moody. Before he took a dive in '84 during hard times and got ravaged by drugs.
Another time, again '81 or '82. A french fella and I did the annual Brooklyn street festival. All afternoon walked one way, the light began to fade, so back we went for the subway. The walking towards crowds started parting as we went through. Giggling and ribbing us, with calls to "watch out". Took ages. Believe it or not, we started guessing how long it would be before we'd see another whitey? Lights down, New Yorkers know to be in a 'safe area'.
Three words toward capturing the mood and landscape:
Yup, DANGEROUS (got to go first). Impossible to pace about and not feel the overwhelming drama. Like a rush of hot air off an airplane into the tropics. Never not. Always big enough to put one and all in their place. Titles and status didn't count for much. It was an equalizer and leveler. Wasn't even about inside–anywhere, not compared to endless walking about.
Lived on 7th, a couple of doors past Ave B. Taxi's wouldn't always take the fare and get me home. Police stayed out, all except in the run-up to political elections. No one went east to Ave. C and D, or 14 blocks therein. One and only reason would be to join the steady flow in and out. Into blocks and designated doors for a peephole and wraps of coke ($5) and dope ($10).
Lots of abandoned buildings interspersed with Peurto Rican families and no choice but to live in a drug market. Up and out in the open, with B between 7th and 4th the busiest, with dozens of dealers seeking to catch new arrivals. Accompaniment to a door/shop. Lookouts, and if the cops made one of their irregular appearances, all scooted off like cockroaches in the light.
Newbies chancing the cheapest rents and risk were seen as pioneers.
ACCESSIBLE: Boxcar, three adjoining room flat, $260 a month. Wages and work $5 an hour. Breakfast for 35c, at say Leshkos on A7 — as seen in the pic. below.
First job was behind the counter at a diner called Binibon on 2nd Ave. With one other, a short-order cook. Started on a Friday and the all-night 'graveyard' shift. A tragic term considering what had happened, same shift, the week before.
No one told me but after some hours, it came out. I'd replaced the owner's son in law to be, who was murdered on the previous Firday around 5am. Made the news because Norman Mailer had championed the killer's release. Reminisce to remember the dark side.
ABSENCE: Of near on all and any posh types. Few outsiders except on weekends and a young Jersey crowd drove in and bumped up the traffic.
[Better stop and close this comment-size of a post. Drumming on about how NY was difficult and dramatic. Yeah, looked a movie but it was hard and could be distressing. On a read through and edit/gone all sad. Not sure why but am.]
Something like; 'Last night a D.J. saved my life'. Describes a degree of literal reality. Words to sing and of utmost importance in moderating the fears and phobias. Lifting me on. DTrain/Keep On and so many others — did that. Voices of reassurance.
Not saying, isn't a common experience. On about checking my current diet and input? That positive and intentional upbuilding, contend comes through unambiguous language. Not feeling the struggles of life so much, suppose it matters less. As for me... need music to help.
Realising all over again, how much we grow our appetites and our state of mind. How far is it about; Hear what's said and through ongoing emotional responses, shape up... or pull down? Our mental wellness somewhat realigning, with whatever gets told.
Not any old how and admit being put-off with new–agey talk–ourselves–into theories. Get up and yap into a mirror. Not that, more about a combo with music and in intense regularity. The NY advantage was it came blasting from the streets and shops, cabs and what have you, all sharing a single, out-now, playlist. Easy to soak in.
Without which, can't imagine how else could have carried on in such a spot, being so young.
Message: Find words and beats that can inspire, charge up, impart hope and stir up the best going forward. Can't now listen to DTrain and does it. Get food elsewhere but my reckoning is the need for a whole lot more.
Typed and now trashed it.
Better press Publish prompto, or it'll be another duck of an innings. At least batting. Made it on. Repeating myself about NY, having done it more than enough elsewhere.
No Plant a Seed, too flummoxed. Oh well, little by little. At least get: words are power and we are... what we eat.