Foto by tgw, "Here Comes the Sun," New York City 2011
Again: Waiting for Virgil
Another trip through Hell with Virgil doing the narrating. Day 2 of my hometown facing another day of record-breaking heat; yesterday the thermometer rose to a whopping 104 degrees in Central Park, highest ever recorded in the park since the weather station there started recording temperatures. It got up to 108 over in Newark, a new record for them. One hundred and five in Atlantic City. The flames of Hell are licking high up around me as I sit here now at 2:35 on a Saturday morning. The temperature is still sitting fat-ass down on us at 90. It was suppose to drop to 80 but it hasn't yet.
I am managing still. Drinking gallons of New York City tap water. I keep my fingers crossed. So far no minnows or brown dregs in the water and it is very cold, coming in from deep under ground from the Catskills down to my water tap--and it is ice cold, and if you start passing out you simply run into the bathroom, wet a towel down under the tap and throw it over your shoulders or up over your head if need be and you stay cool. So far, I haven't been forced to wet a towel down yet, but by golly today, the weather babes are saying the temp will try and break another record today, too, again 104 maybe, I may immerse myself in my bathtub filled to the holy brim with that cold tap water. I keep filling glass juice bottles with that tap water and that water stays surprisingly cool for a damn good while.
Virgil during the height of yesterday's boat trip down through the lower depths commented that this area of this urban hell was reserved for idiots who try and survive in New York Concrete City without an air-conditioner. I have 3 air-conditioners actually--3 big Lasko fans that so far have kept blowing steadily, keeping the air flowing about me, though at one point yesterday they were blowing the 104 air from outside into the apartment, and that air is hot enough to blister your face--though even having that Hadean hot air blowing on you is cooling, believe it or not.
I'm sure there are millions of people in this city living in apartments without air-conditioning--millions of people living in tiny stuffy studios with only one window where if it's 104 outside, it's 114 inside.
5:00 AM: The temperature is currently down to 87 degrees, but the air is already feeling like the steam coming out of a teakettle. The air coming from my fans contains only a whiff of coolness. The humidity is like I'm under a shower of goo. If I make it through today, the Weather Underground has lowered their forecast for Sunday (the Sun's Day) down to a high of 88. Tonight they're saying the bad heat should break and fall back into the 70s. In an hour or so, I'll be sneaking out into the streets looking for the Saturday morning coffee man down on 30th and Broadway. My skin is beginning to itch and feel sticky. I'm beginning to try and sweat around the edges of my hair. If it's 87, it feels like it's 97, the air turning into a demon's ghost as his spirit passes over and over my body.
1:20 PM: I'm shouting "hot damns" all over my room. Praise the lawdy-lard, I'm refreshed. I am just waking up. Yes. I slept from around 5:30 am until just a few minutes ago. I awoke in a pool of sweat, but not steamy sweaty hot at all. In fact, I'm thinking, it's supposed to be 103 or hotter by now, it doesn't feel as hot today as it did this time yesterday. I checked the Weather Underground...it's 98 right now and they're still predicting 103 as the high and now they are saying that tonight again the temp's not going below 81. That the temperature at night doesn't drop below 80 is the worst part of this phony global warming scenario--phony in the sense that in reality God is punishing us for our many sins by giving us a preview of his and his buddy Lucifer's concept of a lake of fire. Are the true believers confused by all of this? Now all we need is a tidal wave or an earthquake to hit New York City this afternoon, then I, too, will become a true believer and be on my knees twiddling my beads begging my Lard and Big Idiot Savant to suddenly take me out of all of this. But, I am a mere monkey with an inflated ego.
In the meantime, L Hat sent me a blog touting a poor slob photographer who after getting a little Hollywood money in his jeans--he says proudly he was discovered by Warren Beatty--enough to buy him a very expensive Nikon camera--went about making panoramic photographs (the first panoramic photographs of Manhattan were hand-drawn--hand-drawn maps with even the buildings drawn to scale on them) the streets of Manhattan, referred to in most New Yorkers's minds and tourists's minds as the true New York City--meaning when a hinterland hayseed whoops it up about goin' to the big city, New York City, they mean they're coming to Manhattan--they're not going to Red Hook, Brooklyn, for instance--or Elmhurst, Queens. When people ask me where I live, I tell them Manhattan...it takes them a moment to realize it but then they say, "Oh, you live in New York City."
So this photographer who got discovered by Warren Beatty with his success money took his Nikon supercamera, mounted it on a tripod on top of a Volkswagen bus (another gift from Hitler to the world), hired a crew of friends and experts to help him, and thus he started taking panoramic photo shots of as many NYC (meaning Manhattan) neighborhoods as he could. He started his filming--blowing all his money on the project--in Mid-town on the West Side in the West 50s managing to do a damn good job doing this filming on up the West Side into the West 80s, etc.
I have known more than one professional photographer during my time here in olde New York, all of them with colossal projects in their futures--my best friend during the 70s and 80s was a Black photographer (his highest claim to fame was when his good friend, Jimmy Jacobs, who at that time was one of Mike Tyson's "owners" and managers, hired him to take up-close and personal photos of Mike Tyson before and after all his championship fights) who was constantly dreaming of getting his hands on some grant dollars so he could accomplish his dream photographic project, photographing his changing neighborhood! His neighborhood? The Upper West Side from 72nd Street up to 86th between Broadway and Central Park West--he lived on West 81st between Amsterdam and Columbus--originally an old Puerto Rican neighborhood that started being eliminated in the late 60s by what the White Power Elite called Urban Renewal, which meant that the White real estate developers put forth a scheme and got it City Council approved to drive all those filthy Puerto Ricans out of all those great brownstones (New York City real estate gold mines in those days) from Lincoln Center, say West 62nd, all the way up the West Side to West 104th (name changed to Duke Ellington Blvd. later when the Blacks started moving downtown into this neighborhood from Harlem)--and this was all Puerto Rican all the way up to Morningside Heights--Puerto Rican and Dominicano--with a smattering of encroaching West Indians and Cubans--those who after WWII immigrated here and took over these West Side neighborhoods from the mostly Jewish people who had populated the area before the war and after the war gave up their Manhattan digs to move to the burbs, mainly Westchester County, especially from Mount Vernon (Fleetwood) on up to White Plains.
Wonderful, I've just spent time avoiding dealing with the heat by taking you on one of my little probably irritating and disrupting side trips back through my particular memories of 1982, the year I moved into my current digs right smack-dab in the middle of Mid-Town Manhattan, the heart of New York City. All my photographs of my neighborhood taken out one of my windows or from the roofs of as many of the local buildings as I can get permission to shoot from--though about two years ago I was banned from the roof of my building--not due to anything I did, but due to some new tenants, the White hip rocker types who seem to have plenty of daddy's money to blow, five of which went up on our roof and began drinking beer and making out with their babes and they got overenthusiastic and began pissing off the roof onto people below on the sidewalk...and that was that, the landlord closed the roof to tenants.
It is 2:21 pm now--the temperature is 96.8. The Weather Underground has projected down today's high from 103 to 99, though they are still saying tonight the temp will still not drop below 81. I was looking at all those 1982 panorama shots by this photographer (I'm no good at names) sent to me by L Hat (once a resident of the far Upper West Side) of what New Yorkers once referred to as "low-rise" neighborhoods, where most of the buildings were like brownstones, only 5 or 6 stories in height (these buildings had no elevators so they were walk-up buildings, dig?). I look at those old buildings, most with businesses in their ground-floor storefronts, like delis and loan sharks and Asian Star Cuban-Caribbean restaurants, and I imagine how sufferingly stuffy and HOT those old unair-conditioned apartments were during those 100-degree-spans-of-heatwaves they experienced. Apartments sometimes housing whole families, 3 small railroad-type rooms with perhaps 6 people living in them.
3:10 PM: I just returned from a trip down into the streets of Manhattan and HOLY BEJESUS in Purgatory, it is stiffling hot in the streets. No breeze. The concrete and asphalt slinging the heat back up slingshot like into your face--especially drilling through your forehead and into your brain. The tourists were packing my neighborhood deli--buying gobs of bottles of water and iced teas. Me, I bought my first coffee of the day. Like the Berbers of the desert, I drink hot coffee to keep cool. And then that reminds me of the Somalians currently enjoying a famine in temps I'm sure that are at least equal to the ones we New Yorkers are suffering through--at least us New Yorkers who in terms of success are on a par with those starving burning to death Somalis. Didn't you just love President Obama's reaction to the wild and crazed Norwegian who blew away over 80 school kids and government workers (that's the record for a single shooter--broke the record held by the American Virginia Tech shooter)? He said that all the world now had to contend with these terrorists! Does this imply that perhaps we will be invading and occupying Norway now?
4:33 PM: I've instructed Virgil, or whoever's rowing this vessel through Hades, to row me back ashore; I'm finished with the tour--no poetry evolved from this 2-day tour. I'm disappointed and have told Virgil so. Too, I'm a little jealous, of course, of Dante, who I stole this idea from. Aren't all artists stealers? I had Virgil row the boat ashore because suddenly the temp has FALLEN, down to 94. It's because it's threatening to rain. Remember how I said yesterday how in Mexico City when it got in the 90s after noon you shrugged it off because you knew around 4:30 the daily rains would come washing off the slopes of the eastern mountain range, the one containing Popo and his sister, and cool Cuidad Mexico back down to normal...and like I did during this 2-day heat colossal, I did what the Mexicans used to do: Sleep during the hottest part of the afternoon to then awaken to the rain-refreshed afternoon hours when you went back to work, finished up your days's work, and then hit the streets for drinks, music, club crawling, until the 9 pm dinner hour, when you chowed down for the big feed of the day.
So the big record-breaking wrath of the Christian God heat wave over sinful New York City is momentarily rebuffed--cold atheistic air coming down out of Anglican Canada may be saving our asses for a few days at least (I mean August is coming, and August in NYC ain't very august at all--August is when you expect the holiest of hell hot days)--tomorrow's NYC forecast is now lowered down to 90 in the afternoon and 71 at night, which is semitropical weather and is divine weather as far as my normal NYC summer expectations are concerned.
I'm watching on teevee the Canadian Open golf tournament from Vancouver, B.C., and oh how cool Vancouver looks...they turn the zoom lens on and show up in the mountains that rule all around and above Vancouver and they zoom onto one of those high-up glaciers still holding on trying to survive the abnormally hot temperatures that are hitting the Arctic and the Northern Territory, melting the Arctic ice, melting those magnificent glacier holdovers from the ice age...and the good old planet Earth, the only planet that allows human beings and their ancestors to abide on it, has taken so many revenges from so many various invented gods--human-monkeys invent totally unbelievable gods to believe in in their fight against the Earth and its natural tendencies, using the nature-destructive method human monkeys call Civilization.
I once tried to make my residence in Victoria, B.C. I rented a suite in a motel/hotel that was directly across the street and broad park from the B.C. parliament buildings, I think it was on Dallas Road, our big picture window looking south back far across the Strait of Juan de Fuca over at Port Angeles, Washington, from whence my wife and I (a very attractive American couple we were, too, arriving so crassly and Hollywoodishly as we did in our velly Brit white Jaguar sedan) had come to Victoria via the ferry. What do I remember about living in Victoria, B.C.? That it was boring. That a wax dummy of Winston Churchill sat in the back seat of an old Rolls sedan in front of the Parliament buildings. That you had to buy your liquor and beer from a state store and these stores couldn't sell cold beer so they kept hot six packs of beer--I drank Ranier, a Seattle beer, at that time, which they had in Victoria--in big walnut cabinet-like things, behind glass doors, like the doors found in the really old kitchen cabinets. This guy in a suit and tie would procure you a six pack of hot Raniers and a bottle of Canadian Club--then we'd go back to the motel with our room with the magnificent view and we'd end up getting drunk and watching U.S. television--eventually one day both of us saying, "Let's book this place...," which we did. Canadian Club, I must explain here, was my wife's source of alcoholic enjoyment--and trust me, that wife was not an alcoholic--her downfall: Salem cigarettes. I watch women smoking and I don't say anything. When I would warn my wife that those Salems were gonna kill her one day, she told me bluntly that she'd rather die, even of cancer, than give up her Salems. This most beautiful and very intelligent and financially successful woman, died at age 58 from breast cancer--those precious breasts that she wouldn't allow me to worship with great sexual lust because she didn't want them to ever sag, having to be cut off--and then the suffering, though I was told by her nephews she remained stoically herself to the very end--and, yes, stoic she was, the most practical woman I've ever had the privilege of marrying and living with (longer than with any other woman--10 years--10 years of living and traveling and partying and becoming politically involved together--we were members of the New Orleans CORE chapter and Huey Newton and Julius Lester were our field coordinators and Dick Gregory came down from Arkansas to the CORE meetings every other week, CORE meetings that I , of course, belligerently refused to go to after a White woman from Washington, D.C., put me down after I stood up during her bullshit pep talk and said fuck the talk, let's take the walk. I was told there were principles and practices we had to follow, all based on training sessions they'd had at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, home of the Humanists, in case you're interested, where they had worked out ways of handling the sometimes deadly abuse we were certainly going to be afforded like when we sat in at a New Orleans all-white lunch counter with our Black friends or participated in the frequent Freedom Marches, like one that was planned for that next weekend in Laurel, Mississippi. But my wife, the practical woman, put me down, too, and faithfully kept going to CORE meetings until after one when she came home from it and I could read she was bothered by something that had happened at the meeting and I coaxed her into telling that Dick Gregory had hit on her at the social after the meeting; hit on her so heavy, she felt ashamed now to go back to anymore meetings. And she never went back. To this day, I see or hear Dick Gregory and I remember how disgusted he'd made my wife and how I begin to want to confront the bastard about it after wow these so many years back now; though I do have to admit, too, that Dick was one of the funniest son of a gun's I've ever heard--especially in one performance where he'd start off reading the lead in to the Bill of Rights [it's actually in the Preamble to the Declaration of Independence], that which tells us that if our government is denying us our rights to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, we had the right to throw the bastards out on their fat privileged asses, to use force if necessary...the right to REVOLT against the Powers that be.
Now, it's 5:22 and I'm laid back and sufficiently cool to begin thinking about heading out to get my dinner--a soup and salad dinner sounds perfect--to go over to my foodie joint on Fifth Avenue and obtain a big container of chicken gumbo and one of their prefixed salads--baby spinach leaves, onions, olives, tomatoes, green peppers, radishes--with Balsamic vinegar and olive oil dressing--hell yeah, that sounds like a heavenly dinner for so hellish an afternoon and evening.
for The Daily Growler