Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Tales from a hot city: Summer 1995

Peformance Space 122.  The year is 1995 or it might be 1996.  I was the Box Office Manager, then Director of Communications.  One warm summer night, Min Tanaka, a Butoh inspired dance company from Japan was scheduled to perform. As the Box Office Manager, I stood right in the doorway over looking dirty, filthy, sublime 1st Avenue.  Elizabeth, the 40 year old marijuana dealer waltzed up and down the avenue; she specialized in dime bags of mediocre weed.  She was someone you could always depend on.  The usual suspects began to arrive; East Village boys and girls with mohawks, black shit-kickers, tattered T-shirts, red lipstick, the occasional gray hair, the occasional straight couple.  When out of the blue, a long stretch limousine appeared, framed by the red doorway.  Out popped Sean Lennon and his mom Yoko.  That's Ono.

Sean took the lead, bounding ahead of his mother and another man (bodyguard? boyfriend?).  He said, We have reservations.  And handed me a hundred dollar bill for $20 in tickets.  His mom hung back, eyes downcast.  She wanted so desperately to not be recognized.  As if.  Her son, however, was a big aggressive.  A bit entitled.  I waved them in.  As if they would pay.  We all knew they were coming.  We were all agog but b/c we were also jaded New Yorkers, we didn't say a word.  They glided up the steps of the hundred year old school house--- definitely leaving the luxury of the stretch limo, incongruously parked--- waiting---- alongside Elizabeth, the drunks, the trash and the stink of the city.

Image: Chinese Malaysian dancer, Lee Swee Keong.  Xinhua Photo, 2008


  1. I love the cool nature of people trained not to notice those who have done everything they can to be noticed.

    I don't know how New Yorkers do it, but I find it fascinating.

  2. We get a bit jaded I think b/c its all around. Glad you liked the post.

  3. It's because we see this sort of thing more often than not. It's hard to appreciate the enormity of New York City until you've come to live here from a smaller locale (like you Lillian) or was born here and have visited smaller metropoli (sic) or live in a New York City suburb (that's me on both counts).

    This point was illustrated for me a few weeks ago on my return flight from a business trip to Atlanta. I was seated next to a lovely older couple flying into New York to catch a cruise. On our final approach into LaGuardia, we got a full-on, Westward view of the Manhattan skyline and the Western shores of Brooklyn and Queens. If only you could see the wide-eyed amazement as they gazed out the window at the tall buildings and the endless maze of streets. They simply could not imagine how one could live here, let alone survive. I suppose it's all a matter of perspective. You simply have to live here to understand it.