Wednesday, September 5, 2007

I Used To Live In New York City. Everything There Was Dark And Dirty.

Okay, so I stole the title of this post from the song 12:30 by the Mamas and Papas. But it's true; 25 years ago tonight I was living in a "duplex studio" apartment in New York's Greenwich Village. As I look around at my barn, horse pasture, two horses, compost heap, etc., it all seems like a dream now.

I long had a fantasy about being a writer living in Greenwich Village. While that didn't come true for me, I did become a book editor living in Greenwich Village when McGraw-Hill hired me to be electronics books editor for their professional and reference division. When I arrived in New York (from my first residency in Texas), I immediately went apartment hunting in the Village and luckily found a newly remodeled building at the corner of Bleecker Street and Broadway. The building was Bleecker Court at 77 Bleecker, and I signed a lease for apartment 727E less than 48 hours after arriving in New York. (It wasn't until I had lived in NYC for a while that I realized how lucky I had been!) 77 Bleecker was converted manufacturing space, and my apartment, consisting of just one large space and a separate bathroom, was on two levels connected by a staircase. Upstairs was the kitchen, bath, closets, and dining area; downstairs was my bed, sofa, desk, and television. On the lower level were floor to ceiling windows that gave me an astonishing view of lower Broadway. And it also had a doorman! Below is the outside of my old building; I took this photo on my last visit to NYC.

My old neighborhood has gotten badly gentrified over the years. I loved the character and soul it had when I first moved in; it was mainly an Italian neighborhood with a few Chinese restaurants and Korean grocers. The Grand Union supermarket is where I bought most of my food, and there were small hardware stores, dry cleaning shops, etc. nearby. The Bleecker Street Cinema showed quirky films cheap----like a double feature of Mean Streets and Taxi Driver-----and the Bottom Line had some great shows. Bleecker Street had legendary venues like Le Figaro and Cafe Wha? for food and entertainment; I felt very alive each morning as I walked down it to the West 4th Street subway station along Sixth Avenue. Most shocking of all on my last visit was the absence of the twin towers of the World Trade Center. I remember how they glistened red from the reflected sunset in the autumn twilight as I walked home along Bleecker after work. On those evenings when the sky was clear, they seemed mystical against the darkening twilight sky. It's depressing to think that I nor anyone else will ever see that sight again.

Eventually I met and married Tina, and I moved from 77 Bleecker to 205 Third Avenue into a building called Gramercy Park Towers. But that is a story for another post. . . . . .