Sunday, December 12, 2004

This neighborhood is a little bit scary.
by Jessica Delfino

I am currently hanging at my bf's place in the lower east side. He lives way East and South, not quite to Chinatown, but almost somehow in a part of town that got skipped in the neighborhood naming process altogether. He lives practically below the foot of the Williamsburg Bridge, in the kind of neighborhood that houses both a live chicken coop (where I guess people go when they want to see their chickens beheaded before their god damn eyes, god dammit, none of this Purdue shit) and a super hip nightclub reserved only for the dorkiest of cool nerd-art types on the very same block.

You can see that the neighborhood has gone through some half-assed kind of metamorphasis, as if it were in the progress of fixing the garage and somewhere along the way went inside to get a glass of iced tea and ended up sitting on the couch, playing video games and smoking crack for the next decade or so. There's a very miscellaneous mish-mash of personalities and business going on around here, so much so that if one hadn't lived with an ear abreast of the constantly-updated hip neighborhoods-to-soon-be warnings, no one would have ever known that this place even existed, as was the case with me. (I thought this neighborhood was the river!)

But, friends, have you ever wandered over to a place called sin-E on Clinton St.? Ever had a tasty brunch at Schiller's on the corner of Norfolk and Rivington? Did you know there's a rad hat store on Suffolk and Stanton where Britney Spears and Christine Aguilera get hand-made one of a kind hats? Probably not. Why? Because you think that the Lower East Side ends at Ludlow Street.

Life is pretty tranquil over here on Pitt Street, which is what they call Ave C south of Houston Street. From my boyfriend's balcony window, which is actually the glass of a door that opens out onto a patio five stories over the sidewalk, the view is pretty stunted, totally consumed by projects - as high up and as wide left and right as the eye can see. It's a low income housing joint, and I never see or hear of any of those bad poor people making too much racket, probably because they're too poor to have fun, but I do secretly envy the fact (and wonder if any of the other people who live in this building might agree) that they live right across the street from here, but their rent is most certainly less than half of what the white people across the street are paying.

There's plenty of free parking here, and the constant, steady sheen of cars rushing across the Williamsburg Bridge. There's a chinese food restaurant in the building next door where thugs boss the Asians around and a real live authentic spanish bodega on the corner (the kind where that one long song is playing over and over again all day while people speak very quickly in a language that you failed in high school, because you're even stupider than a spanish person.)

I probably never would have noticed this spot if I hadn't been invited here by my boyfriend. Before him, I thought that this was the neighborhood where I should go if I ever wanted to burn rubbish in a barrel, and then maybe warm my hands beside it. Here, life is almost free, living is almost safe, the days often start with the sounds of strangers fighting in the street and almost always end the same way.

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