Can’t Go Home

I got a wheezing in my chest and I can’t get my wireless headphones to sync up with Spotify so as I walk down the streets of Bed Stuy I find myself a shuffling broken down white man with a 2 year old iPhone playing Wiz Khalifa loud enough for the church going folk to assume that I only like songs that played on the radio six years ago. Just another Sunday morning. We do things to embarrass ourselves so that we can feel more connected with our undignified brethren, aka the rest of the human species. I’m about to let you know, a mother fucker is downright uncouth out here on these streets on an unseasonably warm day for the clocks to jump ahead (bastards).

I just walked by the projects. I got a white friend who lives in there but mostly it’s black people. I went down in the subway and came out in the part of south Williamsburg owned by Hasidic Jews. I just googled how to spell Hasidic and a picture of where I just walked was the first result. I jaywalked past a police car and I’m wearing a Trayvon Martin hoodie. Last night, a police car stopped at the crosswalk for me like they almost never do. Last year two weeks before Christmas a policeman walked me to my door in what was a taped off crime scene after a guy shot to death two police officers in a car down the block.

Where I live when you get on the subway there’s all kinds of people and they are all poor. Look at this guy over here asleep on the way back to work, about sixty years old wearing a hat that says I Love Jesus to distract God from the fact he can’t make it to church this morning.

Yeah but the old poor people and the new poor people ain’t the same. Gentrification, in case you don’t hear that word every five minutes like I do, is when comparatively well to do mother fuckers roll into a historically poor neighborhood and start raising rents in various ways both direct and indirect. Here in Bed Stuy it’s easy to see who just moved in. They’re poor in money but rich in inheritance having been the accidental benefactors of four hundred years of economic favoritism.

In America you either take way too much or you get nothing at all.
When I first moved here I told an old Latino on the train that I felt bad because I was part of a bunch of white people taking over the neighborhood and he said anybody who told me that doesn’t want to work for a living. Opinions are all over the map on this shit. I don’t know what the fuck is happening. What I do know is that my life correlates very strongly with an alarming number of social trends and that makes me feel…dumb as hell. 

Oh well. Pattern recognition comes for us all. 

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Adios and Goodnight

Back in the eighties, when Jorge lived here, the poor would leave houses made of aluminum pans in the mountains above the restaurants and come into the village to drink for free.

Every night, when the bars closed, tourists and fraises with money still in their wallets were robbed without enthusiasm by diminuitive descendants of Incan princes holding pocket knives and smoking cigarettes.

When we left the bar, the Southern Cross was hanging over us, and Jorge tried to find someone with cannabis. I was nervous and pretended to be sick. I squatted like a primitive man and drew in the dirt until he gave up and we walked home.

“They’ll come down soon,” said Jorges, pointing to the mountains.

I took out my wallet and pulled out all the pesos I had and threw them into the bushes along the road.

I was drunk of course, and Jorge just laughed. He said, “We could’ve bought a pound of ants with that.”