Downtown F signThursday night, May 1, 2014

As we roll into Manhattan I peek down on the floor and see newspapers all over the place.

The train is hot, I’m talking “August” hot.

Out on the street the temperature is 80 degrees, down below in the subway it has to be close to a hundred!

It’s muggy and sticky. I’m good though despite wearing a long sleeve, button down dress shirt and a pair of jeans. Not sure why I wore my black dress shoes, my feet are killing me.

A guy seated directly across from me is sipping on a can of beer covered by a brown paper bag. Before he takes a swig he looks around the train. Probably checking for a cop. He looks at me and I at him, I quickly glance in another direction.

At each stop on the Coney Island-bound F-train in Manhattan a handful of people get on. It gets crazy crowded. I do not miss these awkward times, trust me.

I need my space.

It used to bug me out when someone would shimmy up to me and I was able to smell his cologne.

Back up yo!

We pull into 57th street and I have a flashback…it’s the station I used to get off when I worked at Planet Hollywood in the early 90’s.

The train is like a can of sardines.  To be honest I have never seen a can of sardines. Let’s just say it’s packed, back to back like the Limelight back in the day.

One thing that stood out to me when we reached Brooklyn; As the train stopped and the doors opened at the Smith and Ninth stop, a lot of people got off. Years ago I don’t recall many people getting off there.  Same for York Street. I saw a ton of people get off there too.

Watch the closing doors please…”

I get off at the 7th avenue station along with many others. Seems like my bag is getting heavier and heavier as I climb the stairs to the streets.

First thing I did was stop off at Smiley’s Pizza on the corner of 9th street and 7th avenue.

I order two slices and a small coke. The guys behind the counter are cool and very efficient.  I doubt there’s free refills, the fountain is behind the counter.

As I take a squat in a booth I notice three guys, probably in their early 20’s sitting in front of me. All they do is complain about society. I felt like saying, ‘SHUT THE FUCK UP’!

Complain, Complain, Complain…

To my right is a Smiley’s employee gobbling up some pasta. Must have been on his break. How cool is that? Go on break and eat some pasta.

“Yo, can you watch my bags?” I asked him as I ran next door to grab a newspaper.

“Sure, no problem…”

They tell you to keep an eye on your personal belongings in New York City but I felt it was safe to let my man watch my stuff.

Two stores over is a newsstand. I buy the Daily News and head back to my spot.  My pizza is ready. I’m officially “New York” now, eating and reading the newspaper.

Customers come and go; they order pizza and pasta. The place is busy as ever.  It’s in a nice location. Right at the top of the subway station. Location, location, location…

I make my way across 7th avenue and head to my destination; 13th and 8th.  But first I have to stop in Johnny Mack’s to pick up the keys. I’m staying at Joe’s apartment; he and I go way back.  Thanks Joe!

Johnny Mack’s has a few people sitting at the bar. I walk in, talk to the bartender Sarah while she hands me the keys.

“Wanna drink?” she asks politely.

“Nah, I’m good…”

I take the keys and head to the apartment.  After dropping off my bags I make my way up to the avenue.

Sanders is closed, I mean the Pavilion Theater.  There’s not a soul around.

Curling around the circle, walking past Connecticut Muffin there are a few people sitting outside chatting. I thought of cutting across through the circle but the traffic was like the Indy 500.

I cross the avenue and walk past Farrell’s; it’s packed inside. No one is hanging outside   My man Duffer is at the stick.  I pop in and chat with one of the good guys from the neighborhood.

Duffer’s been behind the bar at Farrell’s for 33 years.

Bars are part of the neighborhood. So far in 15 minutes I have been in more bars than I have been in the past five years.

It’s starts to rain so of course that fucks everything up. I had planned on walking around the hood to check things out.

I take shelter under Red’s Shoe Store awning.  Next door at Rae and Otto’s there’s a party going on. But Rae’s isn’t a candy store anymore. It’s a restaurant and they call it “Krupa’s Grocery.”  They kept the sign and everything.

“Good morning luv…”

Yo Ricky, what up kid?

Looks like they are getting ready for a grand opening. I have thoughts of crashing. Maybe when I was in my twenties, not now.

I chill out on the corner for about thirty minutes watching people walk by…I don’t recognize anyone. When someone walks past me they look at me and I look at them.

“What the fuck is this nut doing standing on the corner?” they must be thinking…

I have to focus in and do a double take. We used to hang out on the corner every night. There’s not a single person on any corner on the avenue.

Across the street in front of my old apartment there’s a lady sitting on a milk crate with three little dogs.

The rain stops. I hang a left on Windsor Place and make my way to the boys schoolyard at Holy Name…