I was a drunk. A 29 year-old out degenerate by night, a hung over school teacher by day, at a prestigious [...]
-1- Once upon a time, there existed a New York City economy where a young person fresh out of college could, [...]
Stepping outside the slightly threadbare art deco hotel lobby—which I refused to perceive as anything but Busby Berkeley glamorous—I melded [...]
"A short but deeply researched, dark, intense biography... studded with original aperçus about the art of biography, the nature of literary influence, and the importance of place to a writer's sensibility." -- Priscilla Gilman, The Boston Globe
Once upon a time, there existed a New York City economy where a young person fresh out of college could, with a straight face, think in terms of “building a career.”
Imagine such optimism. The notion of “career” seems so trite now, forty-plus years on, so immaterial, in this age of downsizing, outsourcing, off-shoring. But in 1975 there we were, my wife and I, products of the public schools and just a generation from the shtetl, in a one-bedroom Manhattan walk-up for under $300. Our salaries were less than $8,000 a year, but what does that matter, when you’re twenty-four and living in the Emerald City?
This was in the pre-High Line Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, the very year when the Daily News’ October 30th headline screamed “Ford to City: Drop Dead!” Back then, the unctuous blood of slaughtered beasts formed in great pools on the cobblestoned streets of the Meat Packing District. The burned out Key Food supermarket on Eighth Avenue – where teenaged cashiers with chipped nail polish once screamed to their manager, “Melendez! We need quarters!” – remained a shell of cinders for years, papered with posters for the Queen of Latin Soul, La Lupe. The junkie in white patent leather shoes, who we nicknamed “Happy,” giggled mindlessly all day long on the same corner where our other neighbors drank nips of Miller High Life and played dominoes on a folding card table in front of the Bright Luncheonette.
My wife and I worked hard and played hard and steadily inched up the ladder of life. Once in awhile, our careers advanced in tandem but, mostly, when one career drifted, the other climbed higher.
The years passed and we ricocheted around the city. We bounced from mid-70s Chelsea, to Jackson Heights and its early 80s Columbian cocaine cowboys, to Park Slope in 1985, a time when our northern part of the nabe was redlined, still considered the big bad “Bed-Stuy” by insurance companies.read more...