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2004-08-11 - 4:53 p.m.

As the rumor goes, back in the seventies and sixties, you could smoke in college classrooms so long as you brought an ashtray. (Lungs? Fuck ‘em. New Linoleum floors? Now wait a minute.) I can’t help but picture a large collection of scruffy, loosely dressed individuals in berets and beards, hot boxing a small, enclosed, all-ready musty environment to the point that it has a smog level on par with Los Angeles in spring time. Before them, a philosophy teacher with a Sartre-esque holder gripping his Lucky Strikes, or a political science professor chawing down on a Cohiba. Despite my desire to have free reign over my self-destructive habits, I can’t think of a bigger distraction than a Psychology Ph. D., trying to do his best FDR impression, dangling a lovely phallic symbol from his lips. Freud would be ecstatic. His female students might not.

These days both college students and New Yorker’s have been booted out into Bloomburg’s Lounge. For those not familiar with the term, this means ‘the fucking street.’ Well enough in the summer, when this provides those of verging on agoraphobia with the smallest smidgen of sun, but when trying to light up in a snowstorm, you kinda, sorta feel like fire bombing City Hall.

(As that last sentence will give me a big red marker thanks to the Patriot Act, let me just say…Hi FBI? Wazzup?! Say hello to your friend CIA for me!)

Thankfully, a regularly deserted staircase offers solace to those who need a little dose of nicotine without, say, drenching themselves in a flash flood rainstorm, destined to wash three or four stockbrokers into the sound.

It’s not exactly the most plush of all locations, a single steel window, imbedded in rotting brick, with a view of, you guessed it, rotting brick. If you stand at the right angle, the brink from our building and brick from the next mesh into an odd M. C. Escher sketch. Still, if you lean out a bit you can see the rooftops of a couple shorter buildings, each of them oddly occupied by various forms of wildlife. Only yesterday I caught a cat, slinking around the ledges next door, doing her best impression of Haley Berry. She chased down and eventually snacked on the only dragonfly I’ve seen since I moved to the city. It is always slightly embarrassing to find you have a bit of mustard on your upper lip, but try getting a dragon fly wing stuck in your whiskers. That little show had me leaning on the sill for three whole cigarettes.

Just to the right you can see the parking lot attendants playing bumper cars with Porches and well-waxed Lincon Town Cars. Handymen either repair or steal satellite TV off the dishes wobbling just below. An angry man with a hose cleans off the multitudes of cigarettes, lighters, packs and strangely, an empty condom wrapper off the awning below the window.

It’s certainly not a polished and glistening view on the human experience, (i.e. no new linoleum.) but considering the common view of midtown, with its towering monoliths, inviting bistros and well-dressed peddlers, it’s nice to see, and nice to know the real dealings behind the façade…even it is dirty and possibly carcinogenic.

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