A summer’s evening and the wind was warm. I was sitting outside of Central Park, not too far from a bookstore that ripped apart my dreams, which was par for the course. Besides, this is part of the path I’ve chosen. This is how things go sometimes. Some days are favorable. Others, well, not so much.
I had my way though. I had one of those dirty water dogs from the hot dog cart with mustard, ketchup and sauerkraut. I could hear the sounds of the City. I could feel the wind in my hair. For some reason, 57th Street looked different to me that day. Maybe the world looked different or perhaps this was only a new chapter and there I was again, back to the beginning of something new.
Man, I love this City. I love the romance of both the good and the bad. I love the memories and the subway dreams and hopes to be more than what I was. I swear, there are literally millions of people around here. Everyone has their own story. Everyone has their own tragedies and victories. They have theirs and I have mine.
It’s amazing to me. All of this.
There was so much for me to see and learn. There were so many things that I never knew. And still, I’m learning. Even now as I put this out there for the universe to handle; there is more in store for me. I know there is.
I look back and think about the crazy remedies that I thought would help me. I think about all the placebos we believed in. Perhaps not medically, but more so personally. Whether it was money or the right job or the right car; I think about all the so-called cures that were supposed to make my life better but rich or poor, wherever you go, there you are. There is no hiding from this.
No matter where I’ve been in my life and no matter what I’ve gone through, I’ve sat on different benches throughout my City. And somehow, she knew. She understood. She accepted me, faults and all because after all, we are all faulted.
The city knows this. She knows about my secrets. In fact, she let me bury them in places like Avenue C, which is much different now than back then.
You see everything here in New York City. You see everything on the trains and the shuttles. I used to see every kind of person there is on the shuttle. I was there at least twice a day to go between Grand Central and Times Square. I saw the beggars. I saw the junkies and the drunks. I saw the angry and the racist who in fairness were racist in all directions. I say this because after all, ignorance comes in all shapes, sizes and colors. I saw the so-called gifted and the poor and then of course, I saw the unknown, the faceless and the unassuming ones that you never saw coming.
I’ve seen street performers with unbelievable talents. I’ve seen fights on the subway and fights on the street. In fact, as a young man, I remember the first time I ever saw a street walker. She walked by with the longest legs I had ever seen. She was dressed obviously to tempt someone into a back alley romance for about $20. But she was real too.
I’m sure she had a story. I’m sure all the street girls had stories but there was no way for me or them to tell it. Besides, would anyone even listen (or care)? You see people out on the street and it’s impossible not to wonder if this is who they thought they would be. Is this who I thought I would be? Are you who you thought you would be?
I don’t think anyone ever really knows who they will be when they grow up. I’m not sure I know what I’ll be when I grow up. Or, if I grow up. Maybe I don’t want to grow up yet. Of course, I laugh as I say this because I am 48 years-old. I’m not too far away from 49 and the age of 50 seems like it’s not too far from me.
But wait, I digress.
I was thinking about a summer’s evening by Central Park. I remember watching the horse and buggies driving by. I remember the smells in the air, the hot dog stand nearby and carts that sold the roasted nuts. I was searching for something then, which is the same as I am still searching for something now.
I have always been looking for an answer. And I’m tired of the bullshit remedies. I am done with the social placebos. I’m through with hoping a door will open for me. Besides, maybe it’s time I build my own door. Maybe it’s time I make my own window, so that pass or fail, at least I gave it a shot.
I remember sitting by the park after a meeting I had with someone at a bookstore. I remember being ripped apart about my talent (or lack thereof).
Basically, I was told to hang it up, that I was never going to make it, that no matter what I do, no one is going to care or be interested in anything I write. I was told to take a class. I was told to find another hobby.
Is that what art is?
I thought this was me bleeding in different colors. I thought this was me giving a view into the different things I’ve seen. I thought this was me detailing the different deaths I’ve lived through, which is only part of life.
I thought I was writing about my scars. I thought I was writing about my hopes and dreams. I thought I was detailing the downtown nights by the No-Tell Motels where the tranny hookers worked near 14th Street and made their moves by The Meat-Packing District. And me, I was down there one night, doing my best De Niro impersonation to impress a date that didn’t go so well. My world was about to change and I had no idea what that meant.
I remember sitting in a little playhouse. I was watching a showcase of different skits. All of them were like different portholes that viewed into different lives. And I had an idea. I still have this idea too. I’ve had these ideas, which I have been nurturing since childhood.
Art is not a hobby. At least, not to me. Everything I put down, whether you like it or not or whether the world receives me or not, everything I write is true.
I can say this, I have stood in rooms with both the wealthiest and the poorest in my City. More and more, I learn that yes, it’s true. Sometimes the first is last and the last is first.
Sometimes, not everything is as it seems. Success is relative and I suppose so is wealth. Art is relative too. And subjective. Art is anything we believe it is. But a hobby?
No, this is not my hobby. This thing I have is something I’ve been working on for a very long time. I’ve been working at this for as long as I can remember.
I want to perfect this the same as our society perfects our sicknesses. I want to perfect this the same as I’ve perfected my own sickness so that maybe this way, I can heal.
Maybe I can get this off my chest. Maybe I can be me and bleed in color. Maybe this is my way to tell the typo clerks and the grammar police to fuck off. Maybe this is my way of telling the critics to go fuck themselves and that it’s better if they use a moist towel. Maybe I can rise above and forget about the petty little judgments. Maybe someone will like this. And maybe someone won’t but that’s okay. My City accepts these entries with open arms. She’ll take me in no matter where I go.
Have you ever danced outside of Lincoln Center in the summertime. My friend Phil and his wife Mona Lisa used to do this. Ah, but that was pre-pandemic and before Covid changed the world. Now all Phil and his wife have are dreams and memories. And so do I.
The City is no hobby.
Neither am I.
And neither is this.