New New York

-have you heard from him in the last few days?

-No…why…what did he do NOW?

-Well, you know how he was on probation, and…

-Did he fuck that up too?

-Uh…yeah, I guess he messed that up…he sent me a text a little bit ago saying that he was waiting for a van to pick him up from court to take him to jail, and I was unable to contact him after that…

-Whatever. He knew the consequences of what he was doing. I don’t have any sympathy for him at this point.


-Aren’t you leaving soon yourself?

-Yeah, for the West Coast…heading into the city first…leaving in a few hours.


…and then we were both gone



One of the innumerable Pro Era members at 285 Kent, 6/13/2013

Hollis and I banged into Williamsburg late. We power-walked from the subway, sipping whaaski coffees and hitting a thin joint, passing hipster angst graffitied onto dented industrial storefronts. The showspace was down by the river. ‘Down by the River,’ usually has negative connotations in an urban environment, but NYC is so spankin’ safe these days that even such an undesirable area was just another Place To Be.

Of course, the hipster post-up of the 1970’s was the Lower East Side, and that place as apparently just horrible. Junkies EVERYWHERE horrible. When New York was raw.

Were they more hip because of this?

Sans actual danger, the showspace—285 Kent—was in an appropriately run-down stretch of city. It abutted a second showspace, but everything else within our view was shuttered with steel.



The showspace was run by a bunch of hipsters in their early 20’s. It had a real DIY feel, like everyone who participated in the construction, decoration and maintenance of the place dormed together at NYU. A gaggle of them manned the entrance, which was lined with kicked-around couches and opened up into a cinderblocked space crammed with about 300 hip-hop heads…the walls were slashed with graffiti, and a sticky bar served liquor and beer in back.

While the opening act was busy annoying people, I stepped out for a rollie and ended up bumming one out. I introduced myself, and received an introduction in return:

“Sup? I’m Roy.”

We dapped and I turned to the fetching girl to his right. She stuck her hand out.

“I’m Victoria.”

“Hi, I’m Roger,” I said in the way one would introduce themselves to a fetching girl.

“Yeah, this is Victoria, my girlfriend,” Roy edited.

“Hi, I’m Roger,” I said in a way one would introduce themselves to a fetching girl with a boyfriend.

Roy turned out to be news-savvy, and we began pontificating about the insanity of the recent NSA revelations and the noticeable lack of rioting that followed them.

Roy seemed to have a twitch, though. Every few milliseconds, his head would jerk to the right. I was finally able to ascertain that he was checking out a group of guys puffing on something half-way down the cracked-concrete block. It was Joey Bada$$ and about a dozen members of Pro Era. Roy was star-struck.

“Maybe you should just go up to them,” Victoria suggested.

“Naw, man,” I helpfully butted in. “You can’t just go up there empty-handed. You gotta have, like, a peace offering. Weed or something.”

“Aw, shit, you’re right.” Roy’s hands desperately twitched into his pockets in case there was drugs in them he had forgotten about.

There weren’t, so he twitchily continued talking to me while waiting for his buddies to get there with some spliffs.

By the time his friends had arrived, the Pro Era crew had reentered the showspace, and Roy was twitching with regret. I took this time to mosey back through the front entrance.


When I slipped back in the space, the first of the thousand-or-so members of Pro Era had ascended the stage. I bumped back into Hollis and we tried to make our way towards the beats, but the crowd had pressed forward and condensed until their chemical structure had changed. They were no longer a selection of individual molecules, but a thick slab of slate, making any movement towards the music near-impossible. Thankfully, Hollis was a veteran of such situations. He used his diminutive height to his advantage, and kinda ducked and plowed through the crowd, me skittering along in his wake before the slab could re-condense behind him.

I ended up behind a guy with dreads, who was behind a guy with an 80’s hi-top doo. Hi-Top’s doo added about a foot to his height, and Dreads spent a lot of time trying to see around it. Unfortunately, I’m not particularly tall either, so this really affected my viewing experience. Dreads kept edging backwards to get a better angle, pressing me into a large plastic garbage can behind me until my body was dented into it, and I only stayed upright by putting my hand on the wall for support. It would have been easier to press back, but my other hand was located directly behind the guy’s right ass cheek, so I ended up groping him whenever we made contact. Damnit.


What was once cutting-edge eventually becomes mainstream. When I Googled ‘Kent Street’ for this piece, a page came up that proposed a ‘concert space’ for the area. If the new structure came in, 285 Kent would be out. There would need to be a new space for it and such things, somewhere cooler, cheaper, grittier.

At the rate which NYC is gentrifying, there soon won’t be any hip places left.


-Mrs. _____? It’s ______’s friend Roger. We met at the hospital.

-Oh, hello Roger.

-How’re you do…how are you holding up?

-Oh, you know, pretty well.

-Do you know what, y’know, what the situation is?

-They sent ______ to Benedictine. He’s in the psych ward right now. I’m just trying to see if I can see him…

-Do you know what jail he’s going to? And for how long?

-He’s actually probably going to long-term rehab.

-So, no jail time?

-No…no, not for the moment…

One thought on “New New York

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