Times Square

8th Avenue is a buzz. All of America is on full display as I make my way over to Broadway; Times Square. You see all of America in front of you. Advertisements after advertisements with blinking lights and loud music playing, Elmo, Spider Man, The Hulk, Big Bird, on every corner handing out flyers to see this show, or, experience a grand tour of Manhattan on a double decker bus, McDonald’s lit up like a beacon in the night, Olive Garden and TGIF has lines of people waiting to get in. The crowd is too much. I feel high from the manic state I’m in yet I also feel depressed as to what has happened to this part of the city; this country. The gentrification gods have done their work. Times Square looks like a circus. All they need are elephants and dancing horses to complete the job. I walk on with both eyes open and hands in pockets; cash wrapped in a safety pin. Hundred dollar bills, twenty dollar bills, tens and fives. A homeless man approaches me. I tell him I’m in the same boat then give him a twenty for good karma. God knows how much I’ve taken from people and never paid it back. Maybe this is my way of paying off my debts. I almost gave him a hundred. But, then I realized, I’m crazy, but not stupid. Or, maybe I am dumb for not having faith that the bum will be grateful and one day pass it along. Evangelicals and other Christians in America tell us to not give to the man on the street. He’ll spend it on booze and drugs, they say.  I say so be it. If he needs a bottle to get him through the night; so be it. Who am I to judge?

I find my way down into the Village where poets and punks used to hang out at one time. Gentrification has struck here too. Everything is nice and neat; clean. Almost too clean. It’s as if the hand of capitalism came swooping down upon them and cleaned from top to bottom, spic and span, every last bit of grime the neighborhood could muster. The streets sparkle.

On a barstool I find myself  sitting inside The White Horse Tavern. This is where Kerouac, Ginsberg and Burroughs plotted to change the world. Or, at least write some damn good poetry and prose. They say Kerouac was kicked out of here on numerous occasions for being drunk and disorderly, loud and obnoxious. God love him. We are all fools in God’s hands. Rumor also has it that Dylan Thomas died here by way of the drink. They say he collapsed right here on the floor. Research shows that is simply not the truth. He might have left his spirit here that night, but, his body was found at The Chelsea Hotel. The same hotel where Syd Vicious of The Sex Pistols brutally murdered his love Nancy Spungen. People line up in front of the place every day to take pictures. Midwestern tourists and Japanese on-lookers are told of the unspeakable. They are told of death and drugs and how now the neighborhood has changed; the city has changed. But, at what cost? The poor being moved out to Queens, the Bronx, Jersey City, Newark. Some even move as far away as Camden, New Jersey; a city that has still not gotten rid of it’s streets of crime.

It’s five o’clock in the morning and I’m hungry. Can’t find a dollar slice to save my life. As David Mamet said, Things change.

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