Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Caves of New York II


I went to New York in 1990, to visit my friends Danny and Ronny, but also to see if I still wanted to move there. I had gone ten years earlier with my family, to see some of downtown for a day, for we lived in Connecticut at the time, and many memories are forever burned into my mind from that trip, but when I saw the 'basement' of the World Trade Center, as I called it, and it's city beneath the city, my first thought was I want to work here!
During the eighties, I lived mainly in Wisconsin and Chicago, and I spent most of my free time fantasizing about New York and London. I read all the magazines that centered around the parts of the cities I craved, mainly night clubs and fashion, and I saw myself living in one of the two one day.
When 1990 came and went, and almost all of my friends moved to New York, I wondered why I still lived where I did, and what my life was going to be about, now that the eighties were over.
I spent most of that decade in gay bars and night clubs, and never questioned my place there; I was still a kid after all.
For me, the eighties were: DIY! Androgyny! Drinking! Buying records! Drugging! Sleeping in the hallway cause my ride left! Sleeping in a stranger's bed! Sleeping til 3pm! Burgundy hair! Dancing to cool songs with cool people! Spending every second with friends! Starting fashion trends! Having enough money for the bars! Catching as catch could! Partying all night and all day and still looking great! Running all over town acting queeny and getting into trouble! Not caring if I paid my bills! Running up to the edge of disaster, again and again!

But at 24, none of that seemed important to me any more. It seemed childish. Bars and clubs were starting to bore me, probably because most of my friends were gone; they were either gone or falling down the drug rabbit hole, and into worlds I wasn't ready to visit. Work was going from bad to worse, and I hated every moment there. Did I hate working? My job? My career? I didn't know. I spent many many long long hours thinking about what the nineties were going to mean to me, bumbling, stumbling, hung over mornings, and bleary afternoons thinking Now What? Now Where? Now Who? Now Why?, wondering those questions, not asking them, desperate and worried, while wandering around my apartment, and the streets of Chicago.

Back in 1990, after my visit to New York, I knew I was ready to move there. But when I was back in my routine in Chicago, I would always change my mind. I have given myself the gift of living in a city. I thought to myself. I live here.

Danny and I spent our time together running around New York, going to the Met and the MOMA, having lunch in the minuscule Bagel next to his apartment, shopping in Soho for cheap club wear at Canal Street Jean and on Canal for fake Chanel t-shirts and jewelry, hanging out with Pat Fields at her store and buying up the place, visiting Bonnie at her rent control on St. Mark's, (God, the past lives that seeped out of those walls!) across from the 'anthill' as Danny called it. It was a large recovery house, with many doors and stairways, that indeed did resemble an anthill, when it's inhabitants endlessly crawled all over it. Later I found out that building was The Dom during one of it's incarnations, where Warhol filmed the Velvet Underground. At night, of course, we went out. I only really remember being at the Palladium with him on that trip, and the Monster. We had so much fun getting ready to go out, the actual going out was secondary, because I didn't have him all to myself any more.
He was fighting with Ronny during that time, rather Ronny was fighting with him, I think Ronny was jealous of him, and he wasn't speaking to him anymore. They were living together, sleeping in the same room, but not speaking. When Danny wasn't around, Ronny would tell me how his new life in New York was, which reminds me, I have to do an entire post on Ronny sometime soon. He was pretty amazing. He was glad he had finally moved there, and found a great salon to work for, and encouraged me to move there, too, as he dressed for work. His clean and simple outfit of white jeans and a white dress shirt and a blue bandanna dew rag became a favorite look of mine for years after.
On my last night in New York, Danny and I went to the Monster. It's a local Village gay pub, with dancing in the basement. The week of partying was starting to get to us, and we dressed down for the occasion, and had a more subdued conversation while we got ready for the evening. I was a little shocked by this, because Danny never dressed down ever, that I could remember, and he looked great in his preppy college kid clothes. He said he started to realize the kind of guys he attracted when he was dressed androgynously were not the kind he wanted to spend more than an evening with, let alone have a relationship. That simple act of changing the way he presented himself to the world, told me he was starting to change his priorities, too.
He kept trying to get me to talk to this guy that was checking me out, and we hung out in the basement til they closed.
"But Danny, I want to spend time with you! I want to talk to you!" I said
"That's OK, we talked enough- just talk to him! See what happens!" He said.
The bar closed, and we went to the bodega by his place, to get some junk food, something we did often back home. Well, who was in the beer aisle but Mr. Monster Guy, so we talked a little while. After a few moments, Danny joined the conversation, as we completed our purchases, and walked onto the street, where we parted ways with Monster Guy.
"I'm proud of you, Brian. You did something you are usually too afraid to do."
And that, as it turned out, is a good way to describe my experiences and life in the nineties...

NY, '90


Same Old Scene

A rare imix for you to enjoy. Rare cuz I flames on the Apples.


David said...

Did I know Ronny?

Anonymous said...

I miss this place. When I left a phone message for you today, it occurred to me I hadn't read your blog in way too long. All of my blog reading plummeted when work got pretty insane. I've missed it.
Hopefully I'll see you soon!