August 2, 1997, Saturday
First, a bus picked us up in the parking lot and took us to a terminal of the Newark Airport's Monorail. It's a sleek local transportation system designed to funnel passengers between the various disparate airport terminals and parking lots. It whisks smoothely along high above the ground. A little canned female electronic voice irritating chirps out the names of all the stops and urges passengers to "step lively" as they exit.
The Monorail took us to the airport's bus stop, where we caught a local municipal bus to Penn Station in Downtown Newark. That ride cost us $1 each. We were the only white people on the bus except for a military dude, and like us, he was forced to ask the bus driver for help on how to get to his destination.
In the Penn Station, we paced around from one place to the next trying to figure out a way to continue into New York City. Matthew Hart thinks nothing of asking strangers for directions, and he soon spied someone he knew was the "perfect guy to ask," a distinguished but somewhat eccentric-looking older black man. To Matthew's query about how to take a train to New York, the old man replied, "I know, but it's gonna cost you a doller." Matthew has been led to expect the worst in people and naturally assumed this meant the old man wanted a dollar for the wisdom he was about to impart. Wanting the information at all cost, Matthew checked his pocket and found 90 cents of change. "I only have 90 cents," he moaned. "Here, I got a dime," said the old man, generously handing a coin to Matthew, who gladly accepted it rather than explain his presumptions. The old man then explained how to catch a train to New York. Indeed, the fare was a dollar.
She lived very close to a strange lush little community garden I'd visited in 1994 with a group of Oberlin friends. Her home was the entire third floor of a tall narrow weathered, stained and graffitied brick building. From the outside, the building looked like a great wire-festooned brick slice of bread about ready to fall over after having been cut by some enormous bread knife. Inside, the place was vast and painted brilliant white. In layers over a cave-like face of brick the ages of its stages in the long haul to modern times was revealed. Unpainted metal conduit served as a kind of top-level garnish embodying the latest convenience added. Diana and Verge are subletting the place just for the summer.
Verge had been suffering from Strep Throat but today seemed to be well on her way to recovery. Strep Throat makes it extremely painful to eat, and as one recovers, one experiences incredible hunger. One of Verge's friends from Kentucky is visiting the apartment too. His name is Bob. He's kind of the sweet quiet type. At least, he's definitely not the irritating unctious type. My busting on that type will come in tomorrow's entry. I'd slept pretty well during the drive last night. The back of Deya's car had been comfortable what with all the sleeping bags and clothes there. The others, by contrast, were weary. Matthew and Deya elected to take naps while Monster Boy, Leah and I went out with Diana and Verge for breakfast.
We went to Orlin's on St. Mark's Place.
While the others mostly ate eggy breakfast stuff, I had a "pita platter."
We heard a commotion coming down the street and looked out the window to see a moderate-sized demonstration in front of a recently vacant lot. The other day a building a stood there, but the New York City government had evicted its tenants (a mix of squatters and rent payers) and demolished it. I wanted to go mingle with the crowd, so I fixed myself a cup of vodkatea and went down to the street. Diana, Deya, Monster Boy and Leah joined me. I asked one of the protestors what the protest was all about, and he said something incomprehensible in halting Spanish-inflected English. The police (NYPD on their blue-striped cars) had turned out in force and stood ready to quell any rebellion.
In the evening Matthew Hart and Monster Boy accompanied me on a mission to eat pizza. I payed for the bulk of it and ate it the way I love to, that is, extremely quickly. As usual when eating hot pizza in this way, I burned the roof of my mouth. I'm a firm believer in acting like an irrational animal when experiencing the animal pleasures.
Back at the apartment, I lay down with a cup of vino, intent on drinking it. But I fell asleep instead.
All the alterna-brats were out in force. There weren't so many punks. The punk thing is pretty much over with in New York. There weren't even that many people wearing boots even. Perhaps it was the hot weather, but the fashion climate perhaps had also changed. There were a rather large number of goths, and they all took their goth thing most seriously. They all had fishnets and used white face paint, even the boys.
While Matthew did other things, Deya and I sat on some steps and drank some vodkatea we'd brought with us. We didn't notice until we were leaving that the steps went up to a drug/alcohol rehabilitation center and had been clearly marked "no drugs/no alcohol." But to any observer, we looked as though we were drinking tea!
Deya and I are in agreement that we hate being around Matthew when he's on heroin. He looks horrible and insane, he acts like an overly unctious creep, and he talks and badgers too much.
Late at night while the rest of us slept, Matthew, Diana, and perhaps Leah went driving around New York with Diana's brother in his Dodge Dart Swinger.
Of course, New York is also very different from the easy-going Southern town in which I live. The people are so crowded together in New York that they behave in a way that to me seems European. They tolerate smells and noises I cannot stomach, they sit together in their diversity randomly crowded on the subway, having to tolerate each other by sheer necessity. They unflinchingly obey rules (red lights) that in Charlottesville can easily be ignored while ignoring rules (open containers in public) that in Charlottesville are unflinching obeyed. They have no tolerance for others taking advantage of the system at their expense or contributing to their problems, and so they unwitting find themselves obeying rules and behaving orderly in an apparent effort to satisfy karma. The proximity makes people behave more like a superorganism, like a hive of bees, despite their individually selfish motives.
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