Sunday, June 1, 2014

Harlem of many hats

I have walked a lot in the last month.

Through East Harlem.

Up and down Lenox Avenue.

Through West Harlem.

Up 5th Avenue...

And across its interruption, at 122nd Street, by  Mt Morris Park, now recovered from snow.

On our own block we have drug addicts and drug dealers, musicians and professors, old timers and young professionals, overnighting tourists and residents about whom I know nothing. And us. As the weather warms the street vibrates at night with open windowed cars rapping down the road at a crawl or at the scream of BMW horsepower. By day there is a gaggle of older men outside the bodega, on plastic chairs and upturned crates, shooting the breeze. I greet my neighbours on their stoops - the old lady painting her toenails, the white whiskered father and his bearded son, and say good afternoon to the old gentlemen who walk down the sidewalk in their good shoes and Sunday hats. I try and meet the eye of the angry man who screams at white girls whenever he can. Ron, the super next door, always has a smile, and keeps company with the lady sitting on her walker who can't walk far but who likes to sit in front of the building. The angry man will run errands for him, subcontract his freelance trash-bagging gigs on the street and wash his shiny black pick up. The overseas and domestic visitors stream in and out of the Airbnb with shopping bags and pale legs and cameras, taking pictures of the street, our cat in the nighttime-lit window, and themselves: Look, we are in Harlem! The boys with the lowslung pants and fast car friends slouch in and out of their house.

It's an interesting time.

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