Fame On The F Train



Neighborhood: East Village, JFK

Yesterday afternoon my long journey from Sriracha, Thailand, ended with the 747’s touchdown at JFK in New York. I hadn’t slept much on the flight and jet lag threatened to seize my body and soul, as I unpacked my bag at my Fort Greene apartment. Sleep crowded my vision, but the writer Bruce Benderson was celebrating his birthday at his East Village flat. A cold shower revived me, and I dressed for summer in khaki trousers, a white tee-shirt, and a colorful sports jacket.

The party was fun. Bruce was ablaze with joy. His guests were of all ages, although most were young male admirers of his transgressive novels. They loved my peach suit coat. I said that it was orange. They argued that it was peach. We drank lots of wine, and I recounted stories of Times Square in 1970s. One of his friends was a tall boy from Idaho. Ryan rued missing the age of unprotected sex.

“I sometimes risk it, but feel like a gun is to my head. You never had to worry about that in the 70s.”

“No, but that’s when AIDS started to hit the gay community. My friend Jim Spicer died at NYU Hospital in 1978. The doctors were perplexed by the resistance of his pneumonia to their treatment. I sat by the bed the night of his death. No nurses dared come into the room. They thought he had the plague.”

“Sorry for your loss.”

“There were many.”

We discussed drugs and sex for an hour.

“I like your jacket.” Ryan wasn’t coming on to me. He worked in fashion. “It’s not often that straight men wear that color.”


“No, peach.”

At 10pm Bruce politely pointed out that we had finished the wine and beer and vodka. I wished him a ‘happy birthday’ and strolled over to the 2nd Avenue subway stop. The F train rumbled into the station and I sat down for the short ride to Jay Street, where I would change trains for Fort Greene. I was ready for my pillows.

I woke up at the 15th Street station, six stops beyond Jay Street.

An inbound train was stopping on the other side of the tracks. I ran up the stairs and jumped on it before the doors slid shut and sat down for the ride back to Jay Street.

My eyes shut for a second. The jet lag ambushed me again, and I woke up, just in time, at Jay Street jumping to my feet. A young passenger looked at me and asked, “Hey , mister, are you famous?”

“No, but I am tired,” I got off the train, wondering why he would think me famous.

The reflection in the train’s window gave the answer.

The jacket was the color of a peach and it was famous, not me.

[This happened in 2012]


OPEN CITY declared Peter Nolan Smith an underground punk legend of the 1970s East Village. In the last century the New England native worked as a nightclub doorman at New York’s Hurrah and Milk Bar; Paris’ Les Bains-Douches and Balajo; London’s Cafe de Paris, and Hamburg’s Bsir.

Throughout the 1990s Peter Nolan Smith was employed as a diamond salesman on West 47th Street in Manhattan’s Diamond District.

The 2000s were spent in Thailand running an internet company and raising his family.

He is currently based in Fort Greene, New York and Thailand and putting the final touches on BACK AND FORTH his historical semi-fictional book about hitchhiking across the USA in 1974.

His website mangozeen.com  covers news and semi fiction from around the globe with over 5000 entries.

His motto: “All stories are true if interesting.

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