Friday, June 22, 2007

hood nuts

One thing I truly miss about living in New York is the fact that it's a city with some spectacular neighborhood characters. Yes, there are random drunken ajossis on the subway, but they aren't regulars in my life like there used to be. Overall, Seoul has nothing on the crazy people in New York.

I remember there was a woman in NYC I'd often see around 2nd Avenue and 11th Street, across from where the 2nd Ave. Deli once existed--it had a sign that could be misread as Zndavedeli. If you've ever seen this woman, you'd never forget her because she always had her old school walkman and her little headphones on--and she would just be dancing. I will admit that I'm guilty of getting into my music in public. You might catch me waiting at the corner tapping my foot to the beat or even humming a bit, but her case was never anything like that. This middle-aged street crazy would get down like it was her birthday, like no one was watching, like she was in the basement with the door locked, LIKE SHE WASN'T IN PUBLIC! She'd twirl around, close her eyes and mouth the words, extend her arms to the sky, while bopping her head to the groove. This wasn't just that one point in a song that just required a bit of a booty shake. I watched this woman do this for extended periods of time. She'd go through a couple songs. Then she'd start to walk along down the street like nothing happened--THEN she'd be right back at it!
Then there was Hotdog. Hotdog was kinda like a crack-head/hooker neighborhood nut that could often be found hanging around Tompkins Square Park. But she was lovable and always good for a laugh. Once Hotdog called me "Skinnybitch." One word. Well, actually... she screamed it at me, then mumbled a bunch of other stuff I now can't recall. On another occasion she tried to sell me hair in the JMZ (or more fondly, the JiZM) station on the Lower East Side.

NYC also had a guy who always asked for a quarter. The thing about him was that he didn't look like a "person in need". Quarter Guy had pretty well-kept dreads that he pulled into ponytails. He walked around with headphones on (but no dancing from him). He'd ask you, "Do you have a quarter?" If you refused he'd just go right on to the next person without skipping a beat. If you tried to tell him that he had already asked you earlier that day, or just two minutes ago, or tried to ask if it was some sort of social experiment, or performance art, or what... he'd ignore you and go on with his thing. I often wondered how much money he made in a day. I wondered if he's put himself through grad school that way or if he was doing this so he could write a book about it. It just seemed so... crazy. There was a point where Quarter Guy switched it up to a dollar. Then a couple months later I saw him again asking for quarters. I guess he wasn't smelly or scary, so maybe he just needed a quarter to make a phone call, so people gave him one; however, a whole dollar, that was asking a bit much.

The only regular nut I have in my hood is a lady who stands at the main intersection across from the Burger King droning on all day (and into the night) with a megaphone. Of course, I don't understand what she's talking about, but I imagine she's preaching about how I'm going to hell. I always think at those times that hell might not be so bad-- I mean if I don't have to hang out with the megaphone lady for eternity, AND I get to hang out with all the people who drink, have sex, are gay, etc. It might be like Vegas or the Pride Parade.

God... if you really exist, I'm sorry, but you hear what I'm saying, right? And God, could you please send me some more regular crazy, but harmless, hood nut people to watch on a regular basis? I don't own a television. I mean, I don't want one. Like, I don't think that would be a solution to the lack of interesting people to watch problem. Instead, you could send me a trip to Thailand, or a Mercedes-Benz, or some more gay boyfriends, or all of the above--your choice! Thanks God.

Okay, I've lost it. Time for a nap.

1 comment:

Laurel said...

there were 2 quarter guys! one used to hang out down on fulton near cliff, and i think he's the one with the dreads you're talking about. he used to just sort of rock back and forth, and ask for a quarter.
the other guy was younger, and would walk around the village asking people for quarters. there was some talk of him doing unsavory things with the quarters he got, but that seemed like an urban legend to me.