Before I get started on my Nu Yawk story, I must direct y'all to this link, so you can judge for yourselves what the Walking Id's legacy is going to be. I find this quote especially poignant:
Hubbard considers Nagin a symptom of "the first generation of black leaders with no history of a civil rights background. We wound up with style and no substance. Nagin never explained his game plan. He never had a playbook. Nagin can't be any better than the people around him. I don't know if he has anyone on his staff who can tell him no."
And, as the blogpocheh has been reporting here, here, and here (not to mention the mainstream media), it seems recovery czar Ed Blakely has been drinking the same Kool-Aid, minus the style spice. I'm willing to make up the "buffoon" T-shirts if there is a demonstrated market for 'em - and Blakely just paved the way. Thanks, dude.
Smith Street was on the verge.
Hell, all of Brooklyn is on the verge, period. It's larger than Manhattan in landmass, but it is further from the continental U.S., blocked by Manhattan. And over ten years ago, it wasn't sharing in the kinder, gentler, safer New York City that Mayor Giuliani was supposedly presiding over - not yet, anyway. These days, Brooklyn has caught up some in that department - the Nets are moving to its downtown, it is becoming inundated with some brand-new high-rise condo-type places, and those who are nearly too hip to live have made their way to neighborhoods such as Williamsburg and Red Hook, and even to Smith Street, at the heart of the Brooklyn Heights - Boerum Hill neighborhood. In late 1995, though, the boutiques and the Michelin star-rated restaurants had not arrived - just lil' ol' me.
Friends I knew in the five boroughs were getting priced out of their neighborhoods. Manhattan was not realistic at all anymore. Even Brooklyn's Park Slope neighborhood was starting to climb up there in the rent department. However, I lucked out in two ways - I was getting out of my aunt's apartment in Manhattan, where I had overstayed my welcome, and I was headed to a spot on Smith where I had a room for cheap that wasn't a flophouse. The little room was part of a two-bedroom place two stories above a fish store. I would be sharing it with a woman who was separated from her husband, who was asking for $400 a month from me for the room, and who paid all of the rent each month to some mob types who hung out in business suits at a butcher shop down the street.
It took me nearly two months to find this place, and it was taking three jobs to pay the rent and take care of necessities such as food. I liked the jobs, but I knew that two of them would be nonexistent once the holiday season was over. Plus, in all the time I'd been in NYC - approximately three-plus months - I'd had a total of four hours in front of a glory hole working hot glass. I needed a change. But first, I needed some more money and some time to explore potential job connections.
One week in November, I came to a potential workplace in New Orleans and tried it out. What I loved the most about the new opportunity was the fact that I could do the glassworking and live at the same time. I'd already made up my mind to go, but I wanted to get more of a nest egg. With that, I committed myself to the work weekend from hell - one job right after the other, with nearly no sleep betwixt and between.
It began on an early December Saturday morning...