Boho's Lament

or

Mental Projectile Vomiting Is Not “Politically Correct”

July 27, 2012


“Give me your tired, your poor,
your huddled masses, yearning to be free.
The wretched refuse…………..”
Wait…. We are that “wretched refuse;”
We’re the outcasts, the freaks,
the faggots, the tattooed rockers,
the weirdos, nerds, and techno-geeks,
from all those puckered-ass towns,
in the middle of America,
where we were ridiculed,
bullied, and beat up!

We came here, downtown,
to “The Village,”
refugees and immigrants
from that other “America,”
seeking refuge,
to be free to let out the crazy creative inside.
What happened?
When did we submit to “politically correct”?
We’re downtown.
This was "The Village;”
home of “Bohemia”, “free thought”!


We let Guilianni and Bloomberg
sucker us into becoming part of
“The Great Manhattan Theme Park!”


Is anything here left to experience for real?
Washington Square Park
has been cleaned up and made pristine,
and Tompkins Square Park
is a playground for kids and dogs.

They don’t want you there, anymore, drinking and smoking weed!
The East Village has been “gentrified” so be careful, behave yourself.

Little Italy?
Mean Street? Gangsters? Bookies?  Social Clubs, Mafia? … gone.
Nothing left but a couple of tourist trap restaurants
and some fake festivals….. swallowed up whole by Chinatown.


Times Square is
Madame Toussout’s Wax Museum,
The Lion King, and “I love NY” T-shirts.
The Flea Circus is gone.
The $1.00 hot dogs and midnight movies are gone.
The religious soapbox crazies and Harlem hustlers are gone.
The sleazy jerk off peeps are gone,
dive bars, “tranny” hookers, and “loose joints”… all gone!


Where do we get the provender,
for new stories, new adventures?
Manhattan was always scary,
but it was real, and it was exciting.
It fed the veins of generations of art junkies.


The Village? …. just another stop
on the Grey Line bus tour now.
We’ve all become
background extras and “atmosphere”
for the daily deluge of tour busses,
TV and film crews.
They invade over our neighborhood,
“packaging” our environment,
hoping to add some “local color” and excitement,
to their bland, “made for middle-America”
TV shows and films.
“Art”?  It’s video junk food,
made for those same assholes and bullies,
we thought we left behind
in Shit City America.


Now we’re safely contained
and declawed like zoo animals.
They gawk at us as they drive by
on their double decker busses;
Or we enter their homes
locked up and caged,
as “background”
on a wide screen, High Def  TV.


Our silent submission,
has given them permission,
to look at us
and feel superior again.


A local Village bookstore,
hosts poetry readings,
where readers are requested,
to not speak five specific
four-letter words,
because they may offend paying customers,
whose children shout out these same words
every day
on their Christian and Orthodox school buses.
Didn’t George Carlin win that fight for us
a long time ago?


This is the fuckin’ Village!
If you don’t like it,
go back to Yonkers, or Oyster Bay,
where your smiling, genteel neighbors
whisper those very same words
about you,
behind your back.


What happened to:
hang out, drink cheap wine and talk “art”;
stumbling out of The White Horse at 2am,
smelling the wino piss and garbage
on hot August sidewalks,
wanting desperately
to follow in the literary footsteps of
O’Neil, Thomas, Kerouac, Ginsburg, Feiffer,
Silverstein, Dylan, Mailer, Hamill,
Cummings, Corso, Shepherd, Ferlinghetti,
and all the other immigrant gypsies
who painted portraits in words,
of an America we wanted to live in?


I want to write poems
on a midnight fire escape
under moonlight;
make fast intense love
in a dark tenement doorway,
while a “Loisaida” fighting cock,
heralds the sunrise;
I want to sing the song of my life,
to the world,
with a guitar,
on a park bench;
I want to get wild, get crazy,
get high, get creative,
get arrested, make art,
feel alive!

Hey!  Maybe we should all
just dress up like Beatniks and Hippies,
take pictures with the tourists,
and be done with it!
Welcome to “The I Love NY Theme Park!”

........................................................................

My Reel Life

Jan 2, 2010

My emotional life

seems to exist only onstage.

I’m a voyeur

in my actual life.

I experience

the most intense feelings

when relating my experiences

onstage.

 

I used to believe

that becoming an actor

would let me

merge these two worlds

and carry over emotional feelings

from the stage to my life

but

the drug like high

of magnified onstage emotion

seems to be the only time

I feel real.

 

While studying “acting”

I learned that I could experience

the lives I really wanted to live……

if only for short periods of time.

I can actually be

the sensitive, caring guy,

I always try to be in my real life,

but seem incapable of expressing.

 

I can be the cowboy

in the John Ford western

that I know I truly am inside.

 

A visit to Monument Valley

was like a homecoming for me.

I belong there on a horse,

in a cavalry uniform,

fighting the Indians

of my childhood westerns.

 

I feel and live these moments

of fabricated reality

in film, theatre, and onstage

and they’re emotionally

more satisfying to me

than my actual life;

even though I have a life,

most “normal” people would envy.

 

Why can’t these

incredible, exciting, and unique  experiences in my life

touch me as deeply

as manufactured theatrical ones?

 

Others seem to enjoy

my life stories,

yet I remain

an observer in my own reality;

disconnected as though

watching it all on TV.

Is this a writer’s curse?

 

What do you make of a man

who’s achieved

what most would consider

a full, rich, successful, life,

but yet,

requires retelling it onstage

to make the feelings become

real?

 

Where are the tears,

laughter, and love

for the blessings and beauty  

in my everyday life?

I’ve sold pieces

of my ass and my soul

to get the life I have,

yet seem incapable

of fully experiencing it,

except in retelling it onstage.

 

Does reality ever set in?

 

How sad for me

that at my age,

I still expect

a magic carpet ride?


..........................................................

Reality Check

July 14, 2012​​

My futile attempts

at rearranging the universe,

to suit my perceptionof perfection,

only serve to accentuate

the flawed realityin which I exist.

The world fumbles along

oblivious to my feeble attempts

at control,

yet words continue to tumbleforth from my lips and my pen,

as though trying to maintain the illusion

that I am somehow relevant.

I’m nothing but a loud, flashing,bright, bolt of lightning,

illuminating a storm filled sky,

for a very brief moment in time,

disappearing quickly,and lost to memory forever

by the next brilliant flash.

​.........................................................

This Face

September 26, 2014

No matter who I think I am,

no matter who I pretend to be,

no matter who I fantasize I am,

no matter who I now think

I would like to be,

the truth lies apparent:

 

This life I’ve chosen,

this life I’ve lived,

the sins I‘ve committed,

whatever good I’ve done,

the friends I’ve I faulted,

the friends I’ve lifted,

the family I’ve betrayed,

the family I’ve honored,

the honesty I’ve offered,

the lies I’ve told,

 

the asses I’ve kissed,

the enemies I’ve fought,

the lives I’ve blessed,   

the promises I’ve broken,

the ideals I’ve upheld,

the values I abandoned,

the principals I’ve lived by,

bravery shown when least expected,

silence when protest was required,

the gods I’ve prayed to,

and the gods I’ve cursed,

the stumbles and falters,

 

The good and the evils,

are all illuminated

in the worn out vestige

of this façade

of youthful idealism,

that remains,

but lies hidden in shame,

for the me that never was,

the me I could have been,

the me I should have been.

 

I have but one remaining enemy

who challenges me daily

 

to be the me who is better

than the me I am;

My enemy,

the face in the mirror.

  

These scars, wrinkles,

and lines, bear testament

to the truth of who I’ve been,

and who I am now;

 

Each morning

a face is revealed

that is the sum of my life.

I will bear that face I’ve earned,

It’s the face I deserve.

  

   **************** 

The Losers Club

 June 27, 2014

 

I join the “Losers Club” in the summer of 1954.

Until then,

I’m this beautiful, relatively innocent, young kid:

an altar boy, honors student, and teacher’s pet,

workin’ on a scholarship to St. Joe’s Prep,

but hormones have a way

of kickin’ in and fuckin’ with you

just when things are goin’ good.

 

My dick is hard all the time,

I break out in a fury of Technicolor acne.

My face suddenly looks like a pepperoni pizza,

with small volcanos of melting cheese leaking out.

Yeah, it’s fuckin’ disgusting …. even to me.

Wet dreams, constant sexual fantasies,

and frequent masturbation are my only outlet,

until

I discover alcohol and dancing,

 

I gain a reputation

as a great “fast dancer;”

what we used to call “jitterbuggin’” back in those days.

I win every dance contest I enter,

but I can’t get a date to save my life.

 

I have no idea how to talk to women,

and the lines my friends are using,

work great for them,

but they come off sounding fake,

when I use them.

I feel like an alien.

 

I stare longingly at couples dancing

to those slow “Do Wop” love songs,

and my heart aches.

The Shirelles, Lee Andrews and The Hearts, The Platters,

The Skyliners, The Mellotones, The Cleff Tones

They make me wanna’ cry,

but that’s not an option

for a punk-ass Guinea,

in South Philly in the ‘50s.

 

I’m always feelin’ sad and lonely.

I want somebody to love me;

like in those Doo Wop songs,

but it just ain’t happening.

I’m fourteen…. What the fuck! 

This sucks!

 

My sadness simmers until it boils up as anger,

‘cause that’s something I think I can deal with.

I see the movie “The Wild One”

and identify immediately with those bandit bikers.

A “Second Hand” store provides me with

motorcycle jacket and boots that almost fit.

My hair is slicked back with Vaseline petroleum jelly,

‘cause I can’t afford the real stuff.

It melts in hot weather

and runs down my face and neck.

Trying to look dangerous ain’t workin’ for me either,

but I do succeed

in getting kicked out of Catholic school.

 

All I really want is to just fit in,

but can’t seem to figure out

how everybody else does it.

 

I watch the school “in crowd”

of Jocks, Yearbook Staff,

Prom Kings & Queens,

chicks with letter sweaters,

and cool pimple free guys

who seem to attract women

like magnets.

 

I’m forced to accept

that I’m part of that group

of pimple faced rejects,

gimps, greasers, tomboys,

chubbies, nerds, geeks,

flat chested chicks,

kids who read too much,

sissies,

and boys who suck at sports.

I’m a fuckin’ loser!

 

But . . . . in the long run,

It turns out to be a good thing;

I’m left with only whiskey, and reading,

which eventually leads to writing.

I totally immerse myself in books

and discover,

that feeling weird,  excluded, and rejected

has produced some really good writers.

WOW! 

 

I bury myself in Kerouac

and the other “Beat” writers.

I leave home at seventeen, 

to join the Beat pilgrimage “on the road,”

in search of “self-discovery and the meaning of life.”

It turns out to be a hell of a long ride

on a damn bumpy road.

Ten years later, in 1969,

that road leads me to “The Promised Land,” New York City

I'm home. 

 

Looking back on it all,

It had to happen just that way,

for me to become

what I was meant to be all along:

a downtown writer/performer.

 

We're mostly "Losers Club" alumni down here,

and I fit in just fine.

Toure buses take those old Frat Boys and Cheerleaders

down here to gawk at us

and we stare back

thankful that we nevere bacame

the dull eyed, bloated,

middle class, suburban robots,

they turned into.

 

Their peacock lives peaked at eighteen,

and now they resemble fat waddling pigeons.

Our fledgling days took a lot more time,

but we emerged as swans.

That's the ultimate "Revenge of The Nerds."

 

 

   ****************

 

Only Skin Deep

 June 30, 2013

You know,

sometimes you meet someone for the first time,

and you immediately form an impression,

of who you think they are,

based almost entirely on what they look like.

 

You’re thinkin’ to yourself,

“Geez, that poor bastard’s really ugly.”

or, “She’ll never get a husband with that face.”

or “Goddamn, she’s hot, I gotta’ hit on that one.”
or “Damn he’s good lookin’,

I bet he gets more ass than a toilet seat.”

or something like that.

It’s embarrassing to admit,

but I think a lot of us are guilty

of these kinds of instant judgments.

 

Something strange often happens

when I’m put in a situation where

I get to know a lot more about the person,

either as a friend or coworker.

Over a period of time,

they seem to slowly transmogrify,

into first, a more “normal” looking person,

then eventually,

into someone whose looks,

I don’t even notice or consider anymore.

 

The opposite is also sometimes true.

I’ve been closely involved with people

considered very physically beautiful or attractive,

yet as I get to know more about them,

they become less and less attractive to me,

until it actually seems,

that they’ve become physically ugly,

largely because of what I’ve perceived

as “character flaws”

or disingenuousness on their part;

One day, they’re just ugly!

 

I guess once you peel off the skin layer,

all that’s left is “the truth,”

and that’s what sometimes causes

the seemingly dramatic change

in their physical appearance.

 

So, in conclusion,

all I can say is,

that if you spend enough time around me,

I just might grow on you!

Or NOT!


...........................................................

 

“Open Mic” for The Disenfranchised

July 28, 2012

We’re the “Open Mic Gypsies,”
the “wanna’ bees,”
the “almost famous,”
the “has been famous,”
the “never gonna’ be famous.”
We’re “the next wave,”
“the new wave,
and for some of us,
“the permanent wave.”

We’ll show up
for the opening of a garage door,
if you promise us five minutes,
and a microphone.
“Open Mic” is our food, our high,
and our training wheels.

Who are we?
We’re the aging Mulberry St. “Guinea” comic,
whose jokes now mock the Guido, Sopranos,
Jersey Shore, “Wife-beater T –shirt,”
image of himself
he so carefully constructed
and played out,
for most of his life.

We’re the radical “Swarthmore Lesbo”
who chooses to protest now
without words or signs,
displaying her flawless porcelain body,
in burlesque reviews,
that ridicule our obsession
with fame and sexuality,
while titillating
male tourists’ imaginations
with the possibility
of wonders
that will never be.

We’re the English Lit PhD,
bullied by kids on his block,
for being “an Uppity Nigga,
too smart for his own good!”
relentlessly Rappin’ and Slammin’ his truths,
with no apologies, no regrets,
and in your fucking face, brother.

The second generation freckled Mick,
singing songs of rebellion and anarchy
to comrades in an Irish homeland
that only seems real now
on a drunken St. Paddy’s Day.

The Soviet ex-pats
screaming out radical political poetry,
for all the world  to know
what happened there,
and why they’re still
so goddamned angry.

We’re the skate boarding middle class “Jap” kid,
who grew up on The Beatles and rock and roll
and wants to put his own stamp on our music,
but has to run a sushi joint
until that happens.

The lapsed Catholic, ex-altar boy,
too damaged
for any real relationship,
whose poems cry out
his loss of faith,
after being irreverently probed,
as a child,
by his parish priest.

The self-educated “Beaner” busboy
studies English and writes poems,
on a park bench,
with futile dreams
of becoming a real waiter
and replacing that pretty white girl,
who smiles enticingly at him
while stealing part of
their shared tips.

We’re the Afgan war burnout
who traded bullets and IEDs
for shots of heroin and Jamison
to ease the pain,
while writing diaries
of love lost in Ohio,
and drifting off into
combat nightmares
at AA meetings.

The gifted Israeli artist,
who, unmarried, unapologetic,
and rejected by her community
for the crime of being
single and female at forty,
now blesses the locals here,
with tattoos of exquisite beauty,
and joyous songs of new love.

 

We’re the drop-out “fag” college student
from Levittown,
who didn’t fit his parent’s expectations
of who he was supposed to be,
but who fits perfectly
into a slinky lame’ cocktail gown,
and stilettos for his standup routine,
and turns “tricks” on the side,
for more money
than his father made in a month.

The Hassidic Jewboy
who dropped acid, trekked the Himalayas,
and became a Buddist monk,
spilling out saffron wrapped poems
of oneness and beauty,
to passersby
who will not listen.

We’re the pimple faced kid from the “burbs”
escaping a boring tedious life
with “Oxy” from her mom’s medicine cabinet
until she leaves home to sing her story here.

 

The NewYorRican street boy,
from Avenue B,
who graffitis his way into showings
at prominent Village Galleries,
raps his shit on open mic,
and gets to fuck
beautiful blond white girls
from Minneapolis,
which is all he ever really wanted.


We’re all here Downtown,
In “The Village,” on Open Mic.
The line in the sand is 14th Street,,
cross it, and ya’ takes yer’ chances,
Welcome to our world!

...............................................................

 The Soundtrack of My Life

                                                                                      September 2013                                                - September 2013

I’ve been very blessed.

For as long as I can remember,

my life has been accompanied by music.

Moments and memories are recorded and replayed, 

whenever a particular song connectsto a corresponding recorded memory.

 

My parents are part of “The Great Generation.”

They listen and dance to the sound of “The Big Bands.”

My childhood is filled with the music of the ‘40s,

and I know the words to every pop song, by the time I start school.

That innocent generation of pop music fans,

unwittingly has given birthto the next generation of music fanatics: Rock & Rollers.

 

At thirteen, I’m listening to the one black radio station in Philly: WPLJ.

Jocko Henderson is the DJ and he’s badass.

I hear “Work With Me Annie” for the first time,

and hear the dirty sax and feel the beat.

I like it. I want more.

 

The back-beat of the song Sha-Boom,

gets stuck in my head.

I beg my mom for $.75.

I go to Nipper’s Record Store

and buy my first R & B ’45.

 

I listen R&B on the radio but I need more.

I go to the main library in Philly

to find out more about blues music.

They have actual recordings there

from the Library of Congress

that I listen to on headphones.

I discover Leadbelly, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Louis Armstrong,

Bessie Smith, Chicago Blues, Barrel House piano, Ragtime, and Jazz.

 

“Turn off that Goddamned moulinyan music,” my dad yells

when I’m listening to Jocko in my bedroom.

Too late. The music is in me.

Every day after school,a gang of us meet in Jack’s basement.

We drink warm beer and cheap wine,

and listen to the latest hits on Jocko’s show.

 

R&B transitions to Rock & Roll.

I feel the beat inside and I know immediately,

that this is my music.

I can’t afford to buy the records I want

so I go to the local soda shop on days when the guy puts the new records in the juke box.

I beg him to sell me the old used ones.

He must see the hungry look in my eyes,

 ‘cause he sells them to me for $.25 cents each.

A young addict connects with his first “dealer.”

 

After school,

while my parents are still working,

I take long swigs of Seagram’s 7

and dance alone in the basement

to the beat of the music I love.

Little Richard is my favorite dance partner.

 

At fourteen,

I start going to Friday night YMCA dances

and watch the weekly dance contests.

Hell, I can do that shit.

I study the dancers to until I find a girl

that I think really feels the music and the beat the way I do.

I work up the courage

to ask her to be my partner in a dance contest.

She agrees.

We click, and easily win the first dance contest we enter.

 

I soon realize,

that with the right music, mostly Little Richard,

and the right partner,

I can’t lose.

 

My mind and my body enter

a kind of altered state when I’m dancing.

I’m watching myself from above.

It never feels like me dancing.

It’s the music and the beat,

that’s taken over my body,

like some mystical religious experience.

I’m in a state of ecstasy when I’m dancing

and it’s as addictive as any drug could ever be.

I’m inexhaustible and unbeatable.

I never lose a contest.

 

In the mid-sixties,

I’m still collecting R&B, Rock & Roll, and Blues music,

when I discover British rockers,

who, like me, seem obsessed with American blues music;

specifically The Rolling Stones, The Animals, Clapton,

and other Brit bands of that ilk.

 

I’m dancing, but not in contests any more.

Now it’s SoHO loft parties

with hopes of getting laid and copping drugs or free booze;

and it works for me, for a long time.

Everywhere …. there’s always the music,

and the sights and the sounds are tattooed in my memory forever. 

The Rolling Stones, James Brown, Neil Young, Tom Waits, Marvin Gaye,

The Temptations, The Four Seasons, Aretha Franklin, Janis Joplin,

Kris Kristofferson, Martha Reeves, The Four Tops….. and on and on it goes.

 

Fate offers me a job as a recording engineer,

in a studio where I develop the skills,

and begin to understand the power I now possess,

to not only control the sounds I hear,

but to enhance them to my liking.

WOW!

 

When the “Disco Era” overtakes New York City,

I don’t like the beat, or the sound; too plastic for me.

I abandon pop music for the sound of Outlaw Country Music,

whose writer/performers,

have absorbed the classic Grand Old Opry sound,

added electric, and a heavy back beat,

and moved from The Opry to the back rooms of dive bars,

where they’re embraced by a new generation of rockers:

Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Johnny Paycheck,Hank Williams Jr., David Allen Coe, and Johnny Cash.

I feel the beat and love the lyrics;

They sing of freedomand life outside the world of suits.

 

When Country goes Vegas,

it’s back to the roots of rock again,

and I’m liken’ the hard beat and sound

of the Punk and Indie bands popping up

all over the Village.

 

The rhythm, the beat,

and sound of all these influences

echo endlessly through my head,

connecting to images from my life.

My body still responds

when I hear and feel the beat of the music.

The music is in me, and is the soundtrack of my life.

 

 

       ******************************************************

 

9/11 Remembrance September 6, 2013

September 6, 2013

Like a lot of New Yorkers, I safely tucked away memories of 9/11 in a place where they wouldn’t hurt anymore.  These memories come back now like shards of broken glass projecting out of that horrible white dust cloud.  I know it’s gonna’ hurt when I start pulling them out.

I arrive in New York City in 1968.  Still basking in the glow of the enormously successful 1964 World’s Fair, Mayor John Lindsey, a regular guest on the Tonight Show, declares l that New York City is now officially “Fun City.” The Mets and the Jets are both World Champions, and the new World Trade center is almost completed.  Welcome to “Fun City.”

 

In 1971 I’m living in the West Village on Washington Place and spend a lot of time in Washington Square Park.  The twin towers are a very strong visual presence from anywhere in the park.  They’re always just THERE!

 

In the mid ‘70s, my wife and I manage to get reservations to Windows of The World, “the must-go-to restaurant” of the moment. The elevator ride to the top is strange and unique.  The food is average but the mystique and the view are incredible.  We leave carrying a tourist brochure with a header reading, “The closest some of us will ever get to heaven.”  Seems kind of ominously prophetic now.

 

In the spring of 2001 I attend a Microsoft conference near the top of tower one…… same weird elevator vibe going up. It’s snowing outside the windows, but only spring rain arrives on the ground below.

 

September 11, 2001 I report for jury duty at the Courthouse near City Hall. I arrive a bit early and sit in the park across from the courthouse with a coffee, enjoying the beautiful fall morning.  I‘m blinded by the morning sun bouncing off the face of the twin towers and slip on my Ray Ban aviators.  The air is clean, I’m feelin’ good, and it’s one of those New York moments.

 

I report in and just get seated, when I hear and feel a muffled rumbling of some kind.  I assume it’s a subway underneath the courthouse pulling through the station.  One of the jurors is listening to a small radio with an ear bud attached.  He announces that a plane crashed into the World Trade Center. 

 

Wow.  We can’t actually see the WTC from the courtroom but we’re soon overwhelmed with the sounds of sirens speeding by all around us.  It seems like moments later, that the juror announces a second plane hit the other tower.  Suddenly, the doors of the courtroom burst open, and men are shouting, “FBI… you have to leave immediately.”  The FBI building is adjacent to the courthouse and these guys quickly take charge of evacuating the courthouse and surrounding buildings.  Everyone is hustled out of the buildings and herded east, away from the towers.  Once outside, we all stare up at the towers to see what’s going on. It seems unreal.  My first thought is to go home, grab my camera, and come back to take pictures of the evacuations and rescues.

 

Police quickly channel thousands of evacuees and keep us moving swiftly uptown, via the Bowery.  Countless people are safely evacuated very quickly; an amazing accomplishment, considering what will soon be happening. 

 

My fellow juror with the radio walks ahead of me. I try to keep up so I’ll hear any new developments.  He suddenly shouts out, “The Pentagon was just bombed and it’s on fire.”  Now that scares the shit out of me.  This means we’re at war now.  But with who? The crowds walk briskly in silence, like a huge marching army, but constantly sneaking glances back at the burning Towers.

 

Back in my apartment I’m digging around for my camera, and turn on the TV just as the first tower collapses.  I can’t believe what I’m seeing.  I freeze and just stand there watching the dust cloud thunder toward the terrified people running right at the TV cameras. I won’t be going back there today.

 

The phone rings and jars me back to reality.  My wife’s friend tells me that my wife is being evacuated from Rockefeller Center where she works, and is worried because she knows I’m downtown.  She asks her to check on me.  “I’m okay… I think!”

 

Our neighborhood is in chaos.  Heavy smoke, dust, and sirens everywhere.  I close the windows, put on the air conditioner, and sit by the TV, trying to comprehend what’s happening.  It just keeps getting worse with each passing minute.  My wife arrives safely by mid-afternoon.  We both continue to stare at the TV in disbelief.

 

As a hospital employee, I need to get to work as soon as possible, but the streets are cordoned off, transportation shut down, and cars aren’t being allowed to pass.  My boss calls and says he’ll pick me up if I can get to 14th street, and be sure to have my hospital ID with me.  I walk up First Avenue to 14th to find it lined with armed military and police in full combat gear, weapons loaded, and armored vehicles everywhere.  When I explain that I work at a hospital and show my ID, they allow me to pass on to 15th street where my boss is waiting.  We encounter checkpoints all the way to 70th and York, and arrive to find our Trauma Team is being dispatched to Ground Zero, to assist with casualties. Most of the staff volunteer to stay as long as necessary, to assist in any way possible, including blood donations.  My crew all sleep in the auditorium in scrubs, wrapped in blankets. 

 

No victims or casualties ever arrive, and when that reality sinks in, a dark silence settles over everyone, as I’m sure it did in every other hospital in the city.  No one to help, no one to save, no one rescued, no one alive.  The depth of the horror begins to sink in.

For a good while, everyone and everything below 14th is isolated from the rest of the world.  No deliveries of any kind, no traffic on the streets except for police, military, and EMS vehicles. Like lots of folks downtown, my wife and I wander the neighborhood trying to make sense of what is going on.  The walls of the arch in Washington Square are filled with taped on flyers and pictures of missing WTC employees.  Through the arch, there remains a large empty hole in the downtown sky. 

 

The cyclone fence across from St. Vincent Hospital on Greenwich becomes an ad hoc memorial of cards, mementos, photos, and letters from victim’s families.  We attend vigils and mourning ceremonies daily at Union Square Park.  Like everyone else, we just need to feel that we’re doing SOMETHING, rather than feeling helpless and powerless. 

 

The rest of the country is there to support us too, dropping the age old rivalry that seems to exist between us and the rest of the America.  They support us and cry along with us.   It would be nice had it become a permanent bond, but that’s not how things work in the real world.  Eventually we all slowly work ourselves back into our daily routines and watch on TV as our president goes to war to avenge the killings.  I guess that’s supposed to make us feel better; it doesn’t.

 

Jump ahead to the spring of 2012 and on the first hot day, we turn on our air conditioner but it seems to be pumping out only warm dirty air.  It’s only a year old so, we’re not expecting a problem. We shut it down and call a friend who repairs air conditioners.  He takes it to his shop and returns it two days later saying that the entire machine was coated and clogged with dust from the tower collapses.  He said it was like wet concrete inside the air conditioner.  The memories and the gloom bubble to the surface again for a brief moment, but the sun is shining, it’s a beautiful day in the East Village, and this is just another NY story now.

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