On my way to the KGB reading, I’ve come into Bobst library – the red-ochre, Uluru-coloured behemoth that menaces the older residents of Greenwich Village – to break my blog fast, or, blog silence, which is due, perhaps, to having been off in a siding of the New York City digestive tract for several weeks – not that it hasn’t been fun, it’s just that, sometimes, you get too absorbed to observe consciously. Sometimes, that part of you called “living” has to be given free rein, and that part called “writer” has to take a back seat.
Kerouac didn’t advertise the fact that he would come back from his epic Benzedrine-driven road trips to his mother’s house, and spend months in quiet, writing. For me, thankfully, it isn’t as pronounced. I’m happy to follow a busy week with a quiet one (and be busy with writing). For a while back there, during a besotted, “lonely-in-New York month”, half the nights I couldn’t get home before 3, because I was in love with the elbows I rubbed up against in the East and West Village dives, not there so much for the contents of the multifarious seduction of the back-lit bottles (though, that too), as for the company. As Hell says: “pull up a stool, there’s always room for one more. ” And, it was fun to wash out of taxis with people I’d only just met, in places I wouldn’t know how to get to the next day.
But, to tell the truth, how else would you spend your first three months in New York? (It’s like what a friend said to me, whose exciting new business is about to be boarded by venture capitalist pirates, and he’s still living in a kip in south Brooklyn – I don’t think he’ll mind me saying it, because I live in the same kip. Late one night we decided to get a taxi home from a bizarre karaoke in Korea Town with white leather booths. I enjoyed his “New York moment perspective.” He said: “tomorrow, you could be broke, and couldn’t do this anyway, and one day you’ll be old, so you may as well do it now.” The taxi was barreling down the East River drive. If it were a quai in Paris, it would have been beautiful. Here it was gritty and dirty, but the grandeur came from the energy that was crackling through everything. And then, of course, the meta-moment came, crossing the Brooklyn Bridge at 3 a.m., came with a pocking rush, like the tyres of the taxi driven by the Haitian driver, when you realise, “shit – I’m here. I’m HERE!”)
Tonight reminds me that, just recently, I’ve come back to a sense of perspective. I’ve been reminded of that walking through Washington Square, where Black and White and Asian kids in white hoodies are dancing like the cheesy Fat Boy Slim dancers in the video Praise You – they’re dancing hip hop to a boom box under the red lights of the Christmas tree, under Washington Square’s white arch, with the Empire State behind it, lit white. One of the kids hugs me as I pass; I laugh, and he moves on: “let me see you clap your hands, I know you can,” he says to two little girls sitting nearby. In the Village, at least, off 6th Avenue, there’s an exhaling, as rush hour loosens its grip, before Friday night’s carnage begins.
It’s a time for quiet in Washington Square, if you have quiet inside you. And I do.