Last night I was talking to my wife and telling her all about the great clubs from back in the day. Boy did we have fun. I highly doubt the club-scene is still rocking like back in the day.
My Top 6 NYC Clubs of All-Time
1-Peppermint Lounge (The new one on 15th and 5th)
“What did you do there?”
In my teens I began to spend time over in the city, especially when I would play hooky from school. Hop the turnstile (or rush the gate) at 15th street-Prospect Park; catch the F-Train and ride to a place that seemed like a different world.
Here’s a story from the New York Post on Washington Square Park in the Village. Been there many times.
In this entry, names have been changed to protect the innocent…
It was a cool, breezy night in late March, somewhere around eight o’clock. Everyone was here.
“Here,” was Prospect Park. There must have been over twenty-five of us, this was our main spot; we hung out here almost every night. On weekends we would stay until midnight. Seemed like I was always the last one to leave.
My basketball coach at Holy Name always preached, “Be the first to practice and the last to leave.”
Tonight my eyes are glued to a pretty girl, her name is Morgan. I was surprised to see her to tell you the truth. She didn’t hang out with us often.
There were certain girls in my grade who I had no shot with. They might as well have carried a sign on their backs saying, I’M NOT INTERESTED IN YOU SO DON’T EVEN TRY IT!
Let me paint the picture for you; I was this skinny, curly, red-haired kid and I was a wise guy. Not the kind of wise guy from Bensonhurst or even down on Court Street, I had too much to say. I was in love with basketball and thought I had all the answers. I wasn’t very good at talking with the girls either. It was awkward. Do you blame me, my father, who was long gone treated my mother like shit.
Deep down I’m not so sure how the girls felt about me but you can best believe the parents of those girls were probably worried about their daughters hanging out with me. We might have been attending Catholic school but we were starting to discover the opposite sex…and the bottle.
Did I tell you we were 14 and in the 8th grade?
There was two months to go then it was time for that next step; high school. There was an engaging discussion on which high school we were attending next Fall.
Earlier in the day I saw Morgan on Prospect Avenue coming up from Tenth Avenue. I knew she lived down there because I would always see her walking up and down Prospect Avenue. She was all alone on her way towards the Ninth Avenue.
Maybe she was on her way to Joe’s to get a slice?
BargainLand to get some perfume?
Or maybe she was walking by the boys schoolyard to see who was there?
If I had the ball in my hands I’d dribble between my legs or behind my back; I was a show-off hoping to impress her.
The minute I saw her I got nervous. I was dying to talk to her but as soon I left the schoolyard and headed up Prospect Avenue, I was too afraid to say anything. I walked along side her dribbling my basketball.
“You going to Power?” Morgan asked. Picking up my dribble I heard her ask me again, “well?”
I was stunned.
Here was one of the prettiest girls in Holy Name talking to me and how did she know I was going to Power?
We had never said a word to each other in school but now she was talking to me. Don’t get me wrong, I would stare at her every day and chase her when we played tag at recess but that was it.
“I’m going to Power,” I answered.
Again, too shy to even look at her, I kept my head up and continued dribbling my basketball. Our coach at Holy Name always told us when dribbling the ball, “keep your head.” Our coaches gave us a lot of advice; it seemed like they were teaching us life lessons too.
She looked at me and smiled. Her white teeth were beautiful, “Yeah, I know.”
Did she just say she knew I was going to Power?
I stopped dead in my tracks staring at her. I wanted to kiss her so bad right there on Prospect Avenue.
She looked at me in a weird way. Morgan had a habit of tilting her head to the side when she looked at you. After a few uncomfortable seconds, we continued towards the avenue.
Standing in front of the church I felt like a complete idiot. Why couldn’t I keep a decent conversation with her?
I watch her cross the avenue and go to Henry’s Deli on the corner. Glancing over my right shoulder at Jesus hanging on the cross in front of the church. I could have sworn he said something like, “stay away from that girl…”
My friends and I spent a lot of time together. I was getting drunk every weekend. I said I earlier I was shocked to see her in the park with us that night. She had some friends down at the horse stables across the street from the Bowling Alley. As pretty as she was, she probably had a boyfriend from I.H.M.
I was beginning to like the idea of getting drunk. The following weekend I tried some wine. We were hanging out when someone came by and asked us if we wanted a hit. When the bottle was passed to me I hesitated at first. First thing I noticed was that it was in a brown paper bag.
“Damn, what is this?” I asked as I enjoyed the taste of the sweet wine.
“Wild Irish Rose” someone said. “Just pass the bottle and don’t drink it all.”
I had hit the jackpot. It tasted better than beer and best of all it was cheap. By the time the bottle got back to me, it was empty.
“How much is a bottle of that?” I asked
“Ninety-nine cents,” someone shouted.
Like usual I was broke. But I knew tomorrow night I was stealing a dollar from my mother and getting some of that wine.
After drinking wine every weekend, later that summer I discovered Tango. It started to get expensive buying a bottle of vodka and a pint of OJ so instead you could purchase a mixed drink in a bottle from the liquor store, they called it a screwdriver over in Farrell’s.
Pretty soon I was getting drunk four, sometimes five nights out of the week. I’d come home and my mother was out with her friends, asleep or she’d be on the phone. One night I grabbed a bottle from the liquor cabinet and went up on my roof. I sat there and drank every last drop. With my back against the brick chimney I looked up towards the sky asking God for help. I’m not sure I spoke loud enough.
I was 14 years old and turning into an alcoholic.
While this blog entry is inspired by real people, places and an actual event, names have been changed to protect the innocent.
It’s New Year’s Eve night.
I was putting on my coat and gloves in the living room of our five-room, railroad apartment thinking of how I was going to ask mom for some money. Later tonight we have it all planned out though; hit the liquor store on 16th street for some booze and despite the temperature being in the low teens, we would head over to Prospect Park, get drunk then hop on the train to Times Square and watch the ball drop. I had been over to the city plenty of times but never on New Year’s Eve. In the past we watched the ball drop on TV. On this night it was about the bottle. Pretty soon, every night would be all about the bottle.
First I needed some dough.
“Can I have ten dollars?” I asked mom as she was sitting on the couch watching TV.
“Me and my friends are hangin’ out.”
Mom looked at me with a puzzled look on her face.
I was beginning to get annoyed.
“Yeah, hanging out,” I answered. I hate when she answers my questions with a question.
“I don’t have any money,” she barked.
Frustrated, I zipped up my coat and stormed out of the apartment.
“WHY DIDN’T YOU JUST SAY THAT!” I screamed to her as I walked down the stairs, out into the cold night.
Mom would turn me down all the time. I was getting sick and tired of having empty pockets. I needed a job but I hated to work. Plus I was tired of hearing her say, “Get a job.” I tried delivering the Daily News once but I had to wake up too early for that. My cousin had a paper route and boy did that suck, and I was just helping him.
I walked across the street and stood outside Ballard’s Pharmacy waiting for my friends to show up. After dinner this was our meeting place. When everyone arrived, we marched along ninth avenue to Prospect Park.
I hopped up on the blue mailbox that was planted on the sidewalk on the corner and watch Jason close the iron gate of the store. I notice he has a brown paper bag tucked under his arm. I’m sure it is filled with money. Probably all the cash they made from the whole day. Ballard’s was always packed.
Jason placed the bag down on the sidewalk as he reached up and pulled the gate down.
I thought of running by and scooping up the bag and sprinting down Windsor Place, I’d then have money and be able to buy some booze. Nah, I couldn’t do that, Jason knows me and knows I live across the street. They would put me in Spofford up in the Bronx and I’d be fucked.
Looking down Windsor Place towards 8th avenue I see Missy, Naomi and Kennedy walking up the street coming my way. As they approach, I see Naomi chewing bubble gum.
“What’s up?” I yelled.
Missy and Kennedy say hi but not Naomi.
Pretty soon more and more of my friends begin to show up. Our group, which is close to twenty strong begin to walk along ninth avenue towards Prospect Park.
We’re an army of teens about to hang out all night. We don’t care what people say. We make our own rules. As we pass Farrell’s, I look through the huge window in front and see a tall man holding a container.
In our neighborhood, it’s a two-step process; start out drinking on the street as a teenager, soon as you become legal, you step inside Farrell’s, walk up to the bar and order a drink.
“We goin’ over to the city or what?” Willie asks while we pass the pizzeria.
Everyone has mixed reactions. Some want to stay in the neighborhood, some want to go over to Times Square.
“Fuck yeah!” I scream out.
I’m hoping Naomi wants to go over to the city. It was just last night that we had a big fight over the phone and I broke up with her. We’ve been boyfriend and girlfriend for a few months. We’re always getting into fights.
A few of my friends start heading to the Bodega and liquor store. A cop car pulls up in front of the park and the cop in the passenger’s seat tells us to move inside the park.
No one says anything back, we do as we’re told. We’re wise-ass kids but when a cop tells us something, we listen.
About an hour later, everyone’s hanging out having a good time.
“Yo Willie, let’s go to the city,” I cried.
Willie is involved in a conversation with his girlfriend Gabby, I think they are dating.
“Yeah sure, it’s only nine, we have plenty of time,” he declared.
I walk away from him and sit on the bench.
Looking around I see groups of three and four of my friends standing in isolated circles talking and drinking. Everyone has a beer can or plastic cup in their hand. I’m sitting on the bench and haven’t tasted a drop of booze all night. How can I, I was broke.
I glance over and see Naomi talking with some kid who I don’t recognize. I get a bit jealous. Matter of fact, I always get jealous when she talks to other boys.
Getting up from the bench I leave the park and head home. I walk upstairs and no one is home. Earlier in the day I had heard mom on the phone talking about a big party down at Timboo’s.
I figured now’s my chance. I head straight for the liquor cabinet. Mom always has a few bottles of booze in there so I grab the bottle of vodka. I also see Gin, Johnny Walker, some Jack Daniels and a bottle of wine. Grabbing the vodka I look at it and notice it’s half full. I stuff it inside my coat and head back to the park. No way Mom is going to miss this. There’s beer in the fridge but I don’t like the taste. Walking along ninth avenue I have my hands in my pocket holding onto the bottle so it doesn’t slip out.
I get to the park and pull out the bottle and start sipping. It tastes awful. Looking over at the bench I see a carton of Tropicana orange juice and a few empty cups. I play bartender and mix myself a screwdriver. Down at Timboo’s I had seen the bartender mix this drink for my father.
Now I feel part of the group. I hear Naomi’s laugh above everyone’s talking, but the booze has some people yelling now instead of talking. She’s standing alone with the same kid. They are having a good time; more jealousy creeps in.
“Yo Red, Happy New Year,” Sammy screams out to me as he raises his can of beer and we toast.
I tap his can and drink up. As I sip from my cup I glance over at Naomi and her new friend. Not sure how much longer I can take this.