2007-08-27 - 9:23 a.m.
Kent Avenue runs the entire span of the shore in northwest Brooklyn. Well, it nearly does. Kent doesn't actually touch water. Each of its cross street runs a piddling half a block past Kent quickly running out of room. At the end of each of those nubs is a cordoned off pier or a seaside factory, now left derelict. Save Domino. Sugar cane and brewery lane have given way to warehouses converted into trendy lofts for upstart bands to occupy and annoy. Industrial heating units the size of sputnik suffer beside base lines reminiscent of ‘Radiohead’s early work.’ At least that’s how their myspace page would describe it.
I’d probably rather have gone to the jetty down Manhattan Avenue. I actually asked once, in a fit of dimness I can only blame on the lingering glaze of a long work day, why a street in Brooklyn was named after its rival borough. The aging polish woman blinked. She leaned out past me and pointed down the street. Sure enough, there was Manhattan perched and sat, looking down. If you follow Manhattan Ave. to rainbow’s end, there waits some failed attempt at a riverside terrace. The cement tiles just kind of stop, and the flimsiest of netted fences keep the wanderer from tumbling into the East River. Sure you have to dodge a couple obstacles, and the workers in the nearby building might raise an eyebrow or two - maybe even more if they had them available - but it’s a lonely corner at night. And there’s something to be said for some quiet alone time with the Manhattan skyline. You can get cozy. Spoon a bit. Whatever the mood dictates.
It’s an odd feeling in the city. Being cozy. It almost feels wrong. As if you’re denying the spirit of the thing. A tiny little miniscule rebellion in the face of better thought. Like having a television hooked up in your ice-cream truck, idling on the corner, while the summer school lets out, waiting to find out the score of the Mets game. (Bedford and Lorimer.)
It’s more in line with the stream to go to the end of Grand Avenue, where I ended up. An odd city sponsored park by the shore, where someone’s erected a freestanding smokestack straight up from the ground, which of course, commemorates...something. Probably another lost factory where people toiled and a few odd men made a nice pile to spend tinkering on a burgeoning fleet of model T’s, a scant ninety years back. There must be a plaque somewhere, but I’ve never bothered to look. You walk past it. You go to the shore. Someone planted a single lone bench there, and then a craggy mouth of disjointed rocks spit out in odd directions. Maybe two have flat ground enough to sit comfortably. The rest, well, they will pose a time consuming quandary, that generally ends with ass cheeks akimbo.
I’ve got myself semi-balanced on lefty, with my legs crooked at odd angles, holding my frame aloft. Cigarette in one hand, and a copy of Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas in the other. When I open it, there are four different bookmarks in it. Only one of them is mine, and it takes a second, each time I start to flip pages, to remember which one it is. Someone in the book’s past had issues with dog-earring.
There are kids everywhere on the rocks. Not the knee-gnawing type, but the teenagers and college-types that become ‘kids’ after you get your first job with medical. I couldn’t see what they were drinking, or what they were smoking, but they seemed rather pleased with themselves.
Their own tiny little miniscule rebellion in the face of far better thought. Far better thought would have brought them somewhere enclosed. Somewhere that wasn’t, technically, a public park. Somewhere where a foursome of extremely bored cops wouldn’t roll up, carrying magnum sized flashlights.
I sat on the floor while they read. Reading passages from Hunter’s “American Dream” instead of the Bible, like we would the next day. My stomach came to around three, and I even jumped into the fray, intoning Mr. Duke and the Simoan’s attempt to bust into a Debbie Reynold’s concert. Whatever odd drug logic they might have used to invent their odd stories and excuses, it was the kind of bullshit even computer salesmen have to regard with absolute awe.
A rather massive rebellion in the face of even their own logic.
The groom was rather straight faced, waiting for his cue. He weaved from foot to foot fighting off the dull ache mounting in thinly soled shoes. One day, I’ll have to ask him what all those bookmarks were for; what bits of garbled logic he wanted to remember.
I only came into the area by Grand St, by the lookout point, to find a place that serves coffee after eight o’clock, and wouldn’t begrudge me for ordering just that. Apparently a harder find than I originally thought. My local coffee house gave itself over to an odd, eerily happy cadre of Christians that put the fear of Something into me around eight, and the local diner worked with such rapid pace, that a lay-about, sitting around and typing on his weathered little laptop, would be considered an affront to the revered deities of turnover.
Wandering on the back of Jeanette, my brand new scooter, I found myself circling out in a spiral from the homestead, sneaking peeks in through windows, looking for that rare java-joint that knows no curfew. Areas I barely knew, just outside of my field of vision. Given, a thirty minute walk from home really isn’t too much for me, but habit can keep you from wandering. Once you’ve suddenly got those tires rolling beneath you, though, the first thing you want to break is habit.
One night, I found a cafe that turns bar when the night sets. They keep the leftover iced coffee from the day underneath the bar in a jug. A plastic update of the kind of jug grizzled cartoon southerners would play along side washboard and banjo. My neighbors at the bar speak French. Only French. In a neighborhood not normally known for its hospitality. Two blocks from being under the Williamsburg bridge. They play jenga at the bar, and deconstruct the concept of pornography with a fine tooth comb. One free refill into my first evening, and begin to conspire my return with laptop on my back.
I meant to go right over there, start typing, write a treatise, after a quick inhale off the fragrant East River, but then the cops came. They shook down the kids, and I got all antsy.
Word is the boys in blue have something of a quota to fill when it comes to the two wheelers. They really don’t seem to need much of a reason to stop you. Same way it is in a college town if you dare to drive on a Friday night while under the influence of twenty five or fewer years. I didn’t want to put Jeanette through that.
I had a good book and half a pack of cigarettes. I’d wait it out.
They checked the kid’s ID’s. Smelled containers. There was a good ten minutes spent scrutinizing everything the youngins had brought along. I’m not sure what they found. No one was taken in, but they were hustled off their perch with all expidience. The revolution will be breathalized.
One group done for, the cops made their way towards me. The pages of the book folded over my thumb. I’d just finished reading how Hunter and Doctor Gonzo had sat wide-eyed from mescaline at a conference of police officers come to learn about the growing “Drug Culture.” At that moment, I suddenly remembered the scooter keys hanging off my jeans, and began imagining the grilling they might have to put me through, just because. As the flashlights turned my way, I tensed for no real reason.
I turned and looked into the oncoming torrent of light spewing from their hands. All I could make out was an outline.
“Hello.” I had to say something.
The first passed, without slowing. He just nodded. Then the second had his light on me. There was no way to see his eyes, but I felt them on me.
“Hi,” I said.
His step stuttered a moment. I waited. Then, from the darkness...
“Yo, what up, G?”
I read a chapter more. Mr. Duke got directions to the American Dream from a line cook at a drive through restaurant. Of course, it had burned down by the time they got there.
Jeanette and I went to the cafe, where me and my laptop burned down its smidgin of battery, in a bar I should never have found, where I shouldn’t be spending money, and I probably shouldn’t be eavesdropping.
A tiny little miniscule...something. So tiny, it’s terribly safe.
Doctor Gonzo would be disappointed.
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