Archive for October, 2007

West Side Glory

Posted in Uncategorized on October 30, 2007 by wally426

24-10-2007   Hell’s Kitchen, NY

The run begins at 5:00 in the morning… Eleventh Avenue glistens with puddles of runoff from the meat packers, street vendors, and garbage trucks. A man is spraying off a truck carrying sheep carcasses. Stripped of their winter coats and skin, their eyes are locked in a perpetual state of shock, bulging white among a network of dark red veins. I step over the pools of dirt and blood, trying not to soak my shoes. Even though it’s late October, the air on the West side highway is unseasonably warm. It’s supposed to be in the low sixties this time of year, but even at this early hour it’s almost seventy. It seems as though dodging the traffic to cross the highway will be the most perilous part of the run, but I have yet to enter into the dark path which skirts the mighty Hudson river. As I hit the path, I notice the river looming to my left, looking like a huge pulsating black mass. Orange lights from the Jersey shore bounce off the undulating oil slick, dark from two hundred years of pollution and congested shipping routes. My footsteps leave no echo. The hollow thumps against the concrete cascade into whirlpools along the river’s edge. Deep beneath the surface lies the rotting rusty skeletons of ships, cars, docks, and cement-footed gangsters…. all part of the city’s seedy past. A silhouette passes by one of the massive girders under the highway, a flash of grey against the backdrop of riveted steel. I run past the 69th street transfer bridge, the river water laps gently against it’s rusted sides…. There’s an irrational fear that I’ve had since I was a child, it entails swimming near man-made objects in cold, murky, polluted water. The thought of falling over the railing passes through my head again and again. I can see myself floundering in the cold water amongst the floatsam with nowhere to grab onto. Gargantuan slimy fish brushing against my legs, choking on black oily water as my shoes become heavier, feeling the freezing water envelope my eyes, a half-sunk barge inviting me over to crash through its hull to the river’s sandy bottom… I snap out of my daydream and turn around to go back to the apartment. Time to go back past the rusty bridge, cardboard shacks of the homeless, scurrying rats, garbage trucks and humming street lamps. It feels good to be back in the apartment, like warmth from the hot Florida sun during a February vacation.  

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Someone queue the Rocky music…

Posted in Uncategorized on October 12, 2007 by wally426

12-10-2007  New York, NY

After a long summer off, race season officially began at 10:00 the morning of October 4th. I signed up for the Poland Spring marathon warm-up, a five-mile race through Central Park. Best part about this race is that I’ll have a buddy to run with… Toothpick Vic Kondratas will be somewhere in the pack of maniacs running that morning. As the race is on a Sunday morning, the hardest part will be making Saturday night a low-key affair so that we’re not crawling to the start. There’s really nothing better than running during the autumn months, it’s an unbelievably refreshing experience. For Vic, it will be more of a blessing than most, as his big Italian gorilla ass will be struggling mightily up each hill.

Yesterday I moved into my friend Claire’s apartment in the city. She lives in a small one bedroom in what used to be called Hell’s kitchen. The last time I apartment sat her place was back in January, seems like ages ago. The weather was bitterly cold, I was a newly single man after almost ten years of being in numerous relationships, and Singapore wasn’t even on the horizon. One of my favorite pasttimes was walking around the streets of Manhattan, hoodie covering my face, MP3 player blasting, watching the faces of hundreds of people pass by… faces I would most likely never see again. It’s a strange feeling when you’re on the train, staring at someone sitting across from you. There are the awkward moments when your eyes meet with theirs. I often find myself wondering about the strangers on the train, where their lives might be taking them, how their lives will turn out after the subway doors close. A quick bingbong! and they’re gone forever. Since the days of Guliani’s profiling squads, Hell’s kitchen has been renamed “Clinton”. Imagine that, one of the greatest names for an area and it’s renamed Clinton!!! It’s a perfect example of how much character this city has lost since the mid 90’s. Back then, the kitchen was known as one of the roughest neighborhoods in Manhattan, filled with all kinds of glorious street urchins. You can’t help but wonder where they’ve gone and what kind of character us Wall Street types will bring to a place that was once oozing with flavor. As much as one can lament the gradual passing of the city’s gritiness, many know that cities are living organisms that are constantly changing… even if it means a tremendous influx of kids from Michigan, Indiana, and O-HI-O.

I always wondered where it would be best to raise a family, the city or the country. Suburbs are definitely out of the question, the thought of my kids growing up on the Island gives me chills. I see what some of the parents are like in Syosset and it makes me nauseous, all they seem to care about are material items. Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of spoiled kids that grew up in the city (myself included), but there was a greater understanding of culture and a constant awareness of the people around you. I want my kids to have some space, yet some of the most important lessons children can attain can’t be learned living out in the boondocks. Perhaps a nice country house would do the trick? A place up in the mountains where one can breathe crisp, fresh, mountain air in the morning… go for a swim in a crystal clear stream, take a long walk in the woods, knock down some trees, throw rocks at other rocks, etc. It’d also be nice to have a place where my friends can gather on the weekends (a-la Johanna’s parents place up in Woodstock). One can always dream I suppose…