Plug and Play

I was at Staples the other day and I saw one of those retro Atari consoles on sale. I was tempted to buy one but then I saw that it was “plug and play.”

Plug and play sounds so simple a task but I’m a neophyte when it comes to connecting electronic devices to anything. I like bluetooth. You press a few buttons, lights start blinking and bam, you’re set.

So I walked away from that retro Atari console. I bought my pens and went home.

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Two bars, side by side, in the West Village. Arthur’s is a place where you can wind down and have a conversation or two. The place on the right, well, when I’ve visited I’ve had a rip-roaring good time. Live bands, beer and whiskey flowing all over the place, and a  bathroom down a flight of stairs that made for some adventure when you’re drunk.

I think I’ve been to both places twice and both times I already had more than a few.

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When I was sixteen years old I volunteered at a youth crisis center that was in that building over that closed “Turned Up” store. The building is condemned now and it probably should had been condemned when I was sixteen but it was what it was.

The other volunteers were around my age so it was basically a free-for-all. Everyone was a kid with the exception of the director and the secretary. And, as kids do, we were perpetually crushing on each other.

There was this girl named Blanca. She was so good lookin’ that I remember her to this very day. And that was thirty-plus years ago. Olive skin, long curly black hair, dark eyes and a body shaped like an hour glass. She was only fourteen years of age. My friend Martin and I crushed on her at the same time and we were in a friendly competition for her affection.

One day she was missing. Just like that. Poof. Her mother was frantic, the entire center was frantic. Where the hell could she be? My friend and I were sitting at the crisis center worrying when the phone rang. It was Blanca. She was crying. I got on one phone and he got on another to hear in. She said she was on a street corner a mile and half away. Martin and I started running. We ran down Third Avenue, him on one side and me on the other.

Periodically I’d look over and there he was, keeping pace. At some point we crossed over to Second Avenue because that’s where she said she was. It occurred to me years later, “Why we didn’t just take the train or bus?” We were kids and that’s what kids did when they needed to go somewhere; they ran.

He reached her first and put her in a huge bear hug. I lost. I was beside myself. I didn’t want to look like a douche so I accompanied them to her house. When we arrived, her mother grabbed her and shouted, “Where were you?!”

Then the cops and some kid came out of the kitchen. The boy looked scared. Turns out Blanca lied to everyone. She was with this guy all day. Her boyfriend, apparently. She knew she’d get in trouble if her mother found out that she was with him so she concocted the story that she was abducted.

Martin and I left. I don’t think anyone noticed that we left. Everyone was bickering, crying, etc. We went back to the youth crisis center and quietly went about our business.

As for Blanca, we never saw her again.

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The Swings


When I was a kid I saw a girl get hit in the head by one of those swings (which, for some reason back then, were made of metal and on hot sunny days they became as hot as a stove top).

Someone was standing on the seat doing some crazy swingin’ and she walked too close to the swing and it took her out. The person doing the swingin’ flew off the thing but was uninjured. The girl who was hit in the head, however, was bleeding profusely from a large gash on her forehead.

It effected me so much that I never ever got on a swing again.

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My Old Bedroom


I lived in this building from 1975-1980. That arrow points to my old bedroom. My old bedroom had a small bed, and a black and white TV that sat on a rickety, wooden cabinet made by my dad. It was basically a few slabs of wood nailed together. I’m being kind when I call it a “cabinet.” It eventually crashed to the ground.

Those buildings on the left weren’t there back then. There were buildings there up until the mid-70′s when they burned down. For most of my youth, the buildings stood there, damaged by fire, filled with garbage and dead animals.

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Working Papers


In 1984, I was eligible to get my working papers. Here is the public school that I visited to achieve this milestone.

I stood in line with a bunch of people my age armed with my medical records and a desire to earn a buck. It took all morning but I got them. A few weeks later I started working in the produce department of a Midtown supermarket. The hourly rate was $3.75. I was on my way.

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The Vacation

I’m on vacation next week. You know how you count the days before your vacation is supposed to begin? Not me. It totally blindsided me. But it’s here on Monday and I’m going to do what I can to make it relaxing one.

I have nothing planned and that is disappointing to me. It’s a catch-22 for me; I plan things and if I don’t get to them I get pissed off. If I don’t plan things and something happens then it’s epic and I love it. If I plan things and I do them, well, I planned them so naturally I got them done. I’m never happy.

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