Bitches Guide to LES or Landin’ in NYC

Couch Creatures: Unless you’ve been here a really really really long time, you got couch creatures. Not bed bugs, people. Since I moved to the LES, if 10th Street between Avenues C & D can truly be called that, I’ve had the father from a family folk act, the current administrator of ABC No Rio, the former musical director of The Living Theater, a cranked out TV commercial camera man, a stylish former friend who’s now a Wardrobe or Costume person in Los Angeles, one girl who got married and divorced and one woman who got dead. At some point, we all hated each other with equal fervor. The most unbelievable part of all of this is that I actually once had a couch. A couple of them. One was velour type, one was brown leatherette. “Ouch, it sticks to your skin like a band aid!” one queen said during the summer. We’d hired gay movers to bring it into my place, the ad said “Gay or Straight, Don’t Hesitate!” and that was too good to pass up.

Yuca: Yuca is a good place for brunch. At night there are many people drinking their drinks, talking loud, perusing a good time. They’ve missed the boat. The good time was at brunch, when you can get an eggs Benedict with a Corn Bread muffin, a mimosa, and a snack basket of breaded items. Yuca used to be Leshko’s, which was a horrible Polish restaurant where people fell apart in a relatively quiet manner. Leshko’s was not better than Odessa, which is still there, so run West if a 50 something East Village resident makes the disappearance of said dive into a giant case for nostalgia. They’re just trying to get in your pants, son.

NYU Students: There are a lot of them. They pay a lot to go there. To improve their group character, the opposite of a safety orientation would go far. Do NOT hang out in large packs, TAKE RISKS that don’t involve tired drinking games, and above all remember, nobody really likes you. If you have ANY MONEY AT ALL display it at ALL TIMES, this is a good way to meet locals.

Orchard Street: Zion Mizrahi created the Orchard Street we know today. He got to Orchard Street in the 60s, as a teen working in his father’s suit shop. When Zion was grown up, heck, middle aged, Assemblyman Sheldon Silver gave him the good idea of turning the street into a BED, Business Entertainment District. The blocks were kind of raggedy at night until then, and in the day you could get lots of buttery leather pants in vivacious colors, cardigans with fox tails dangling from the should blade area, house dresses, ties, the whole gamut. Now in the day you can still get some ties but there’s also a fetish shop called Damask that is patronized by – well, by somebody who can pay a lot for premium sci fi latex – and also Montreal style French Fries with gravy, which are called Poutine. It’s hard to get upset by these developments, but anybody who’s lived on the LES a long time fits into two categories: Permanently indignant or trying to get the right combo of psyche meds. Anyway, since the apartment units remain frustratingly small, 20 somethings who meet and want to spawn will leave the immediate area, to house the new extra lives they must feel are the necessary next step. It does not go: Men’s Suits, crime, Fetish, Bistro, Courtship, Parenthood, for these recherché breeders.

Puerto Ricans: This is their neighborhood. Do not be mistaken. While some have to leave to breed, Puerto Rican’s can stay right the fuck here because they: help each other. hang onto their flats. still know how to fix shit.

Gleaning: You can ALWAYS GET FREE FOOD here. If somebody can’t get themselves free food in the LES, they are too untogether to breathe, practically. There is Cardinal Spellman lunches. Bowery Mission. Pastor Diane. Bagel shops put out bagels at around 10pm, bodegas and corner grocery stores have to put out juice, yogurt, and milk that’s passed its sell by date.

The office furniture in the street in crappy, because it was always was a particle board piece of junk. If there are a lot of mattresses in one month, RUN LIKE THE WIND because bedbugs can Jump and Infest Your House and then you have to just burn everything you own and walk away, naked.

Fag Bashing, Street Harassment: Don’t be the kind of freak who rolls with the punches, ladies and gentlemen. I can’t fight with my fists but I can YELL like a BANSHEE if some dullard thinks they can go to my neighborhood and start commentating on my hair, my clothes, and potential fuckability. I do know some fags who can fight like sons of bitches, and this is encouraged. You don’t go to Aspen and make fun of people who ski, do you? That’s because you can’t afford it. Also because you might still want something from rich people. Guess what. You’re not gettin’ it. So be nice to the freaks, y’all, the Odds, in this case, are much much better.

Addendum:

Halloween: Is awful here. Last year, a Bert and Ernie heckled me. I told them take their two bit costumes and get the H E Double Toothpicks outta my neighborhood. Another, nicer, Bert and Ernie walked right past them on the corner. The little kids are the usual batman Darth Vader maybe a pumpkin, and their parents have to take them to stores for candy. You think they are going to visit people inside of a building? What? The girls go store bought slut. People look happier than usual, when they aren’t scrapping with each other. Why don’t straight people do that shit every month? They have something they enjoy, as simple as it is, as simple as they are, so what’s with the once a year thing? People need the right to own Fun. The Theater for the New City as the best running Halloween night ever, with a Big Band Room, Walk of Horrors, hundreds of performances by community dance groups, yoga experts, magicians, and community narcissists, and there’s food you get buy purchasing a certain amount of tickets. This is always the best way to get anything. Tickets.

Mermaid Day Parade: Okay so this is in Coney Island, not the LES, but as the crow flies it is only a long long ride on the F Train, and takes place in late June. The Costumes aren’t store bought, the girls are beautiful – topless, slathered in body paint and glitter and AMAZING OUTFITS that they have created, not bought at Halloween Express. In the parade they have floats, bands, kids, fearless men, judges, a grand prize, and plus there’s a filthy beach nearby, the Sideshow bar, Ruby’s Bar looking like an S Clay Wilson drawing (look it up, your youth has become slightly irksome), and the mermaids all jump in the dirty cold ocean after its all over. Even the cops look upbeat and almost casual.

Bodegas: The bodega guys are Yemeni now. They make kick ass sandwiches. There is no roof on the sandwich variety. They’re tough and the right combination of tolerant and kick ass to survive selling convenience luxury goods and even necessary items like Fresh Step Kitty Litter, cans of chili, and sanitary napkins. They broke through the egg sandwich time ban, and we can never go back. None of this only before noon, no egg sandwich after 10pm, business. They are from an unknown hell with no family on the continent and could give a god damn. Do it, Santiago.

Korean Stores. A lot of Koreans are able to sponsor themselves out of the nonfacist one, the South, by getting these stores and bringing each other in on it. They were the first to have those fig newtons with classy jam in them, pieces of sponge cake, gourmet chocolate, and tightly saran wrapped brie in an inflexible wedge. It made people happy, round about the 80s, to see these things when they were drunk late at night. Things went okay for a while, let’s call it 25 years. How many drunk assholes do you want to see as you totter in one spot, cracking jokes about the pita chips, as you fade in and out with severe sleep deprivation, and how much of an overcharge is worth it. Trouble plus Unnatural calm equals kids in crappy American state schools, learning so much less than their ancestors might’ve told them. The formula held out, but a couple of local incidents have dimmed the lights on these labor intensive operations. For one thing, the Mexican guys worked outside, always, or bringing stuff around in the store. They stood near the produce, plucked the flower displays, booked around the aisles, just that little bit shorter than the partiers. Unseen, unimportant, I mean everybody is equal but you know – . A labor organizer noticed that these fellows, many of them, were sleeping in the East River Park, separate from the Crusties and the Stew Bums, because they were not making minimum wage to stand outside these overpriced shops, not ever, and pickets began, the wage got raised, things didn’t seem to really change but a big Korean store just shut down, the same one that didn’t bail down a neighborhood couple that was being badly whomped by skinheads, back in the 80s. The counter people saw you every day, but they did not like you. This wasn’t loyalty inspiring. There’s more bodegas now, the classy fig newton thing has peaked, I believe. I walked by the outdoor produce section of the last Korean stores on Avenue A, and watched my Puerto Rican friend pluck up a mango, an apple, whatever he wanted – NY has a quiet Latino Aristocracy, just like African Americans have when it comes to getting a wink and a nod at plenty of movie theaters around town. Mansions made out of unspoken courtesy. Right ON, as they once said in Portland with an alarming frequency.
Crusties: On the West Coast they call them Gypsy Kids, sometimes. The crustiest Crusties of all were these two girls I met who lived in the midtown subway tunnel. They were caked in soot, well spoken, and regarded New Years Eve in Times Square as a perfect Spanging platform. Guilt, liquor, no bathroom, stupid hats – hard working girls, those two. One of them got jailed and scrubbed down. The other one got gone. Crusties travel a lot, they don’t wash and I’m guessing its protective coloration, skunk like, that keeps predators away, and also lack of access. NYC is not a place with a lot of extra showers. A New Yorker might know somebody a quarter century and not feel comfortable sharing their bathroom facilities with them. Cursties came to the East Village to beg, but mean spirited old bar musicians, painter, decoupage experts, cursed them up and down. “I am like you! This is an insult! Get a freaking job!” Don’t get cute with me, these older hobbyists of the arts must have meant, I wanted to be regarded by strangers as a shining artifact and instead I do this, I do that, you do it too now.

Some of the crusties have facial tattoos, the colors they wear are blandish, the girls are young and screw their faces up in a warning that once in their past didn’t work well enough, I’m guessing. Some of them just stayed right in one place, the East River and Tompkins Square Park, but the cops did a friendliness offensive, relegated them to one row of benches, aroma, dogs, and ratty bags, and walked up and down saying their names over and over, like a salesman or a two bit politician. Nailed. NYC Cops don’t really want to be locking up runaways , stew bums, travelers, and poets who wrote four good ones and retired to bask in total sloth. NYC Cops get called every time somebody hates their neighbor, gets hit, thinks they got hit, makes a threat, and at this point you can holler “FUCK you” over and over at one and he’ll just look at you like the most jaded case worker on the planet. “Why am I here?” is the most frequent interrogatory opening from these bored sons of bitches, stuck standing just as long as the unluckiest bouncer, but with a benefit package to keep the fuck it’s at bay.

1 comment
  1. Halloween, “Why don’t straight people do that shit every month?”
    .
    Mass bartender suicide, my dear, not all the lemmings leap.
    What time tomorrow for Brickman’s?

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