This incident in Brooklyn breaks my heart. If you come across an attack, do all you can to help the victim. We can’t allow these punks to get away with this behavior.
This incident in Brooklyn breaks my heart. If you come across an attack, do all you can to help the victim. We can’t allow these punks to get away with this behavior.
Tuesday morning, not going to school today.
Heading over to the city. Trains are up and running after the blizzard. They cancelled school yesterday. Great move.
Grab a coffee, light and sweet from Pynn’s deli and a buttered roll. There’s a couple of older guys standing on the corner. I look at them, they look at me.
“Yo Red, who’s gonna coach the Nets?”
“No idea,” I respond as I walk towards the 16th street entrance to the train. I hop on the crowded F-train and get a spot against the door.
“WATCH THE CLOSING DOORS PLEASE. NEXT STOP IS SEVENTH AVENUE.”
Standing up the whole trip I decide to get off at West 4th street. It’s always random with me when I take the train to the city. Sometimes if I feel like getting an egg cream I get off at Second Avenue. At Jay Street the packed A-train is across the platform. Some kid is looking at me.
“WHAT THE FUCK YOU LOOKIN’ AT?” I shout.
He doesn’t say anything.
An old lady standing next to me looks at me.
If I wanna walk past the Garden or drop in at Cosby’s I get off at thirty-fourth.
Wanna check out a peep show, it’s forty-doo-wop. Yeah, you got it. I found the peep shows last year when I cut out of school and me and some kids from the city were amazed.
But I got no time to talk about that shit right now. Tell ya later.
Sometimes I take the ‘F’ to Rockefeller Center, check out the people ice skating. That shit bores me though but I like checking out the chicks.
At the West 4th street station I climb the three flights of stairs and notice there’s snow all over the court. They call this place ‘The Cage.” They tell me the Doctor played here.
Hawk, Kareem and Tiny all balled here.
The summer league is real good here. Maybe one day I show them I got game?
We shovel our court in the schoolyard but what’s up with these kids in Manhattan? Can’t they shovel? Doesn’t take very long to grab a shovel and clear space to work on your handle or to get some shots up. Lazy I guess.
Walking up sixth avenue ton of people are on their way to work. The street is packed with cars. Traffic jam and it’s only nine in the morning.
Homeless guy on the corner asks me for change.
“Sorry bro, I’m broke,” I explain to him. If I got extra dough on me I usually flip a guy a quarter.
Starbucks is crowded but I see a table open. Shocker!
Drop my backpack down and put my coat on the back of a seat. The table by the window, my favorite spot. I can watch all the people walk by.
Gotta keep an eye on my shit because you never know. There’s thieves everywhere.
The line is long but it moves rather quick. There’s a line for the bathroom too.
I love coffee. Been drinking it since I was eleven. Mom got me hooked. Coffee is my favorite drink. Oh no, wait, Wild Irish Rose is my favorite.
I order a house coffee, venti size. Grab a newspaper from the bin and sit down.
Think I’ll spend the next few hours chillin’ out here. They leave you alone.
Refills are fifty-three cents.
Plus it’s warm.
Where else can I go?
All my friends are in school.
FRIDAY AFTERNOON – MAY 15
Walking to the train I see an old friend, Anthony Mastrandrea.
Great family from Windsor Place. Went to school with his older brother Louie.
There’s Dominick, Peter and Stephen.
Their mom and dad are good people.
Big soccer fans back in the day. They loved the New York Cosmos. Mainly Giorgio Chinaglia.
Anthony pulled his truck over to chat. Good move Ant, we need more friendly people in the world.
As I pass the boys schoolyard on Prospect Avenue and Howard Place looks like they are having recess. It’s not Holy Name though, it’s St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Academy.
Something ain’t right at 241 Prospect Park West.
There’s like 15 kids out there.
They’re not playing ball either.
They have their school uniforms on and all but…
Just chasing each other around.
While I walk down Howard Place I am tempted to make a suggestion to the three adults standing in a circle keeping an eye on the children.
“Let’s choose up sides!”
COME ON MAN!
GET THESE KIDS GOING.
Good thing I didn’t. Probably would have called the cops on me.
We had some big time, and I mean BIG TIME slap-ball games in the yard during recess. The full-court basketball games were competitive. We would unclip our ties and toss them to the side.
Yeah fruitcake, I had a clip-on. Go ahead and laugh.
When the girls stood against the church wall and watched us, we played harder.
We played in our dress shoes. Remember the marshmallow shoes? LOL. Try running in them.
Shirttails sticking out in the back. (Is Shirttails one word or two?)
Did I mention we had between 40 and 50 kids in our class?
Mary Kawas always participated. One of the best athletes I ever went against in the yard. She was aces…
So with two, sometimes three classes at recess, that was over 120 kids. Wait, we had four 8th grade classes.
Where did everyone go?
And here’s one for the local child psychologist: we organized the games ourselves.
Most times we made the teams up back in the classroom before we came out.
On the Manhattan-bound F-Train it’s not too crowded. But first off, I miss the swipe of the Metro Card.
“Swipe it again,” dude behind me says.
I want my tokens back!
F-train comes roaring into the station. I board and pass on planting my ass in the open spot. I choose to stand.
Looking around the train everyone is in a trance. What’s the deal?
Hating the fact that they are going to work I would guess. I am on vacation, sorry.
Straphangers look mad.
But lighten up Francis, it’s FRIDAY!
As the F travels from Fourth Avenue to Carroll Street I get a peek at the BQE. It’s packed. Bumper-to-Bumper. Don’t miss those days at all.
I thought I was standing my ground when all of a sudden I lose my footing.
The Bergen Street Curve got me.
Loved the guy with the business suit holding the coffee in one hand, his phone in the other. Briefcase between his legs.
He spilled the coffee all over.
To me, people get way too close on the train. I need my space. Back up people.
Gotta love the people who run for the train, as the door is about to close they stick half their body in and get stuck.
What’s that all about?
Wait for the next train bro!
You look silly stuck in the door.
How about Smith and 9th station and York Street?
These stops are packed now.
Never was that way.
Guys on the train look like they wanna fight. Look like boxers entering the ring.
Mad at the world.
One guy got on at East Broadway, swear he was ready to rumble.
Where’s Michael Buffer?
Forget “Watch the closing doors.”
I’ m waiting for, “LET’S GET READY TO RUMBLE!”
Oh shit, Second Avenue, my stop.
Gotta get off.
Talk to you later.
THURSDAY AFTERNOON – MAY 14
Landed at LaGuardia Airport.
New York City is alive and kickin’.
It’s a little after four. People everywhere.
Hustling off the plane I am looking for the nearest newsstand; I need a New York Post and Daily News, not to mention a Metro Card. I also need the men’s room.
Snatching my luggage off the belt, I head to the Hudson Newsstand for my card. I am also looking for the Q70 bus.
“Right outside my friend,” the nice man says, pointing out to ground transportation as I give him $9 for the card. I have to come clean, help at the airport is at an all-time high. People were so nice.
I walk about 50 yards and I see a lot of signs.
Sign, sign, everywhere a sign.
There’s so many fucking signs!
Oh before I forget, you should see the line for the cabs!
Forget that, just take the bus to the train.
I move to the right place, the bus pulls up to the curb. The driver has a smile on his face.
I hop on, smile back at the bus driver, insert my Metro Card and head to the back for the ten minute ride.
The bus driver is like Mario Andretti. He’s driving like you have to drive in New York, aggressive. Express bus.
One stop away in Jackson Heights and I head for the subway. The streets are packed.
F-train is downstairs and I am on my way to Brooklyn. Two swipes of the Metro Card; $5.50, not bad. As I passed through the turnstile, I notice a high school kid duck under. Two cops are 20 feet away. Kid has a lot of balls. Back in the day we jumped over.
I can sense the excitement in the city. I sure do miss it. Feel the vibe. Check my flow. Gotta get my hustle on. If you go slow, you’ll be crushed. Stay in your lane.
The Manhattan-bound F-train pulls into the station and it’s empty. I grab a seat but quickly change my mind. I decide to stand up in the back of the car. This way my luggage doesn’t get in the way.
When the train pulls into the 21 street-Queensbridge station I think of Ron Artest.
Other notables from the same area:
Mobb Deep, MC Shan, Nas, Roxanne Shante, Marley Marl and the late George Jefferson. I think Vern and Vic Fleming are from Queensbridge too.
Passing Roosevelt Island, we go under the water and into Manhattan.
Lexington Avenue, few people get on. Coming from work, they look tired.
57th Street. Wish the F-train stopped here back in the day when I worked the door at Planet Hollywood.
47-50th Rockefeller Center.
42nd street. They say Times Square has changed. Tomorrow I see what they are talking about. Maybe I will take a picture with Elmo.
34th street, the Garden. Rangers are in the playoffs and kicking ass. Knicks? Forget them for now. NBA Draft Lottery is Tuesday.
West 4th. The Village. Will spend some time here tomorrow.
By now the train is packed.
People are back-to-back. One rider was pissed that someone got too close to her.
“Better get out of my face,” she says.
Be cool Yolanda. (Pulp Fiction)
These people look like they are ready to fight. Can’t anyone smile? It’s not that bad.
Don’t forget, it’s rush hour though. I’m sure they are tired and can’t wait to get home.
I hear some interesting conversations.
People are listening to their headphones.
Some are reading. Love the guy who is singing out loud.
Some have their eyes closed. No doubt thinking of what’s for dinner.
2nd Avenue, which I will devote an entire blog entry. East Village was booming all weekend. Gem Spa.
Delancey street. Thinking of buying some jeans on Orchard.
East Broadway. Eddie Lau in the house.
York Street. It was amazing how many people got off the train and I couldn’t believe my eyes as to how many people were standing on the platform waiting for the Manhattan-bound F-train.
“You gotta see the view from my apartment,” one lady said to her friend. “I’m right on the water.”
Nice. What’s your rent?
Jay Street Boro-Hall. St. Francis College. Gerard Trapp and Edgar, former Terriers.
We’re coming out of the tunnel now. Can’t wait to look out the window. What a view.
Smith and 9th. Again, ton of people got off at this station. Many people start talking on their phone. As a kid we played Visitation in Red Hook. long walk from train to gym. Murray had some team. Ty and Keith, two good ball players.
4th avenue. Change here for the R train to Bay Ridge. Lots of steps. It’s a cardio workout.
And finally my stop, 7th avenue. Thought I was going to say 15th street for my stop, right?
Not this weekend. But I will head up to the avenue soon.
Before I head to my apartment, I stop off at Smiling Pizza for a couple of slices and a coke. The joint is packed. It’s dinner time what do you expect.
The guys behind the counter are aces. Very efficient.
It was an exciting train ride from Queens, through Manhattan and now in Brooklyn. I covered three of the five boroughs.
Boy it’s good to be back.
You remember Maria, right?
Well there she goes, right over there.
She looks great. Always smiling.
She’s walking alone, going right by Farrell’s, towards the park. There’s a a few guys on the corner of 16th street checking her out. Tight jeans. White sneakers. Denim jacket.
What’s crazy is my boy Tony was asking about her the other night. “Whatever happened to that Hispanic chick from Church Avenue?”
For once, I was speechless.
What the fuck did happen to her? It was probably me that fucked up. After we hung out that night in the park I told her I was going to meet her at East 5th the next night; I never made it.
Shit, I gotta catch up to her. I throw my bottle of coke in the trash can.Tuck my newspaper in my back pocket.
Gotta tell ya, I think about her often. Matter of fact, I could be in bed late at night and she’s the only thing on my mind. I think of her even when I am with my girlfriend. Yeah I know, that’s pretty shitty of me. I know. If my girlfriend ever knew I was with her…oh boy I would be fucked.
But I gotta be honest with you. I will never forget that night we hung out in the park. Maria is an amazing kisser. Nothing lasts forever, right? Beautiful girls don’t come around often. Besides, I think I’m in love with my girl.
Jetting across ninth avenue, I call out to Maria.
“Hey, wait up!” She looks over her left shoulder and says hi.
“Where ya’ been?” I ask.
“Oh I’ve been around.”
I stop dead in my tracks, looking around.
“After that night we hung in the park I never saw you again,” I tell her.
“I’ve been busy.”
She’s been busy?
“And you stood me up,” she tells me.
Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!
“And besides, me and my boyfriend got back together,” she informs me as she lets out a giggle.
I am standing still on the corner, right outside Oak park pharmacy. I knew I should have went down to East 5th to meet her. I fucked up.
“Oh, okay,” I say to Maria as she looks over towards the circle.
Guess I really blew this one… I have no idea what to say next.
This is where I always fuck up. I’m awful with words. I clam up. Wish I knew what to say in times like this. I’m not very good at expressing my feelings.
She’s fucking gorgeous and I threw it all away.
A few of of my friends are walking towards us.
“Red, what’s up?” Johnny G asks.
“Come on, we’re going to the city,” he informs me as he looks at Maria.
We’ve been doing this a lot lately. Back in August we met some kids at Brighton Beach who were from the city. We became friends, started playing ball and now we hang out over there once or twice a week. They’re cool people.
They begin to walk towards the subway, I watch him, Mickey and Kevin walk down the stairs.
“You going?” Maria asks.
I am standing there frozen. Still thinking of Maria’s boyfriend.
“Yeah probably,” I answer.
“Okay well have fun,” Maria says as she jogs over to the circle.
I watch her run. She has amazing legs. Maria goes straight for some tall guy. They hug. I feel like an idiot. Dejected and feeling like shit, I walk to the subway, jog down the stairs and catch up to my friends.
“Yo, wait up!” I scream out.
We’re headed over to the city. As I sit on the F-train, I can’t take my mind off Maria.
January 21 1978
Great, it’s snowing again. What the fuck is the deal?
Maybe I should grab a shovel and see if anyone needs their sidewalk cleared. It’s a good way to make some money. At least it’s not too cold out. The temp is about twenty-eight degrees.
Mom left for work about about an hour ago, my sister is at school, she’s in the 7th grade at Holy Name and my older brother is still sleeping. He stays out late, comes home and sleeps in.
Fuck it, I’m headed over to the city.
Hopping on the F-train I head over to Times Square. I rush the gate because I don’t pay to get on the train. Thank God no cops are around. The guy in the token booth is to busy with the line of people waiting to buy a token.
I’m starting to get a little pissed off about life.
Everyone around me seems to be fucked up.
My mother is getting on my case.
“Lower that Music.”
“Take the garbage out.”
“Make your bed.”
“Be home by nine.”
My brother is always yelling at me. Just the other day he got mad at me for wearing his shirt.
“What the fuck ya think you’re doin’ wearing my shirt?”
The shirt was really nice. What sucked is that he yelled at me right on Windsor Place. I was with my girlfriend. He embarrassed the shit out of me.
Speaking of my girlfriend, we broke up again. She gets me mad when she talks to other boys. From my bedroom window I watched her catch the 69 bus for school. At times I think of going over and apologizing to her. I know I can be a pain in the ass sometimes. She stands there every morning. Every morning I sit at my window watching her.
As for me, school is the last thing on my mind. I know I should go back, but I’m embarrassed.
Bless me Father for I have sinned, it’s been two weeks since I last attended school.
The secretary at school is always calling my house in the morning wondering where I am. I pick it up when it rings.
“Hello can I speak to Mrs. Moore?”
CLICK! I hang up.
School tried sending letters home but when the mailman comes, I grab the mail before mom. I open it, read it and throw it in the garbage.
On the Manhattan-bound train I’m standing against the door. I look around at all the people headed to work. They look tired and miserable. Suckers if you ask me.
At Jay Street Boro-Hall I get off, grab a Daily News on the newsstand and hop back on the F. How cool is that? A newsstand on the platform. When I’m with my friends and we’re riding the trains we steal candy from the newsstand on 4th avenue. It’s easy.
I’m read about the Knicks, my favorite team. What the fuck is up with these guys? They can’t win a game. They suck.
As we pull into West 4th street I think of getting off, heading upstairs and checking out who’s hanging around the courts. I love the village. I started coming here last summer. It happened right after I met this pretty girl at Manhattan Beach; her father lives on 16th street and 6th avenue. Her parents are divorced, like mine.
Often times I dream of living in the city. What I thought was so cool is that her father has cable TV. She told me her dad watches Knicks games live from the Garden. Her and I hung out a few nights in the summer just walking around. We had pizza at Ray’s and even walked down to the East Village for an egg cream. But that’s all I’m going to tell you.
I also love watching basketball at West 4th. There’s been some great players come through here. I’m too young to get out there and play with these guys, but I do try to get some shots up when no one is around. One night, about two in the morning I hopped on the train with my basketball and came out here to shoot. I had the court to myself.
I decide to stay on the F-train and go a few more stops to forty-second street.
As we get to 34th street I think of getting off and walking past the Garden. I could go in and look for Red Holzman.
“Yo Red, what’s up with the team?”
I stay on the train. Holzman would probably laugh at me anyway.
The next stop I get off and as I walk up the stairs with the crowd of people I roll up the newspaper and stick it in my back pocket. I learned that from my father and all the ironoworkers down Timboo’s.
Out on the street I’m relieved it stopped snowing. Standing on sixth avenue I look up to see a building going up. I see a few ironworkers walking across the beams. I wanna be an ironworker in a few years. My uncle says I have to be 18. I still have three more years to go.
Walking down forty-second I stop in a coffee shop. The take-out line is long, out the door onto the sidewalk. People are grabbing their coffee and breakfast to go. I notice an open table by the window and take a seat.
The waitress comes over with a glass of water. She’s an older lady. Probably about forty. She looks excited.
“Coffee hun?” she asks. She looks like Linda Lavin on that show “Alice.”
“No, can I have a coke please?”
The Linda Lavin look-a-like writes it down and walks away.
I grab a menu and check out their breakfast.
It starts snowing again.
Came across this disturbing story/video.
Hop on the F-train.
WTF is going down?
Bishop Ford High School is closing its doors in June. No doubt it’s a sad day at 500 19th street. Growing up in the neighborhood and having many friends attend Ford, I have so many memories of the Falcons. Let me take you back 34 years ago…
On a warm Friday afternoon in May, I was shooting all alone in my paved paradise; the boys schoolyard at Holy Name.
It was a little after three. Students from Bishop Ford were making their way to the F-train down on Windsor Place. Their route was simple. Exit the school up on nineteenth street, stroll a few short blocks across ninth avenue, hang a right at Joe’s Pizza down Prospect Avenue and make a quick left on Howard Place.
On their way down Howard they would pass the yard. I had seen them for years. Most would be walking pretty fast to catch their train. Some would walk slow and watch us play ball. I would see some kids smoking cigarettes and at times catch a boy and girl holding hands. The girls were pretty.
At times I was envious. Jealous too. I always wanted to go to Ford. Many of my friends attended the catholic school up by the cemetery.
The Ford kids had a habit of breaking balls.
“GET A JOB YA BUM”! I heard a kid shout.
I stood there motionless on the middle court. The kid kept walking but I couldn’t take my eyes off him. He was a wise-ass punk.
I was hurt inside, embarrassed and ashamed. I wanted to run out and rip this kid’s fucking heart out. The only problem was I was alone and he was with a bunch of his classmates who were all laughing.
I let it go but deep down, it was building up inside of me. “It” was the rage.
“Hey man, you ever go to school,” another kid called out. I glanced up from my dribbling drill.
Boy, these kids love to fuck with me, I thought to myself.
This was actually the first time I had ever heard any comments from them.
Ignoring the jerk I dribbled through my legs, crossed over, and stutter stepped like Earl Monroe, down to the other end of the court against the church wall pulling up for a mid-range jump shot.
“Yeah man, you’re always here!” another kid barked.
Now I was pissed.
This was my yard. Of course I was here all the time.
I felt like going out there and fighting them but they were in large groups. On other days in the past some of them would stare at me and call out, “nice shot!” after I made a jumper. The girls would be watching too. When I’d catch one of them out of the corner of my eye I would try to show off by going behind my back with the dribble, just like Walt Frazier avoiding a defender.
One afternoon a tall white kid walked into the yard. He was wearing black slacks, a dark dress shirt and black shoes that were shiny and pointy. We called them, “cockroach killers.”
This kid must have been about six-foot-five. He had three expensive, looking gold chains hanging from his neck. He resembled a football player, but Ford didn’t have a football team.
“Hey can I take a few shots with you?” he asked.
“Yeah sure,” I replied, as I threw him a crisp, two-handed chest pass.
“Nice shoes.” I uttered to him. He didn’t hear me, he was too excited about having the ball in his hands.
I watched him as he shot the ball from twenty feet away and missed everything.
“Airball!” came a cry from outside the fence.
A bunch of kids paused to watch him.
There they go breaking balls again.
I chased the ball down and threw it back to the tall kid. He caught it and placed it down on the concrete. Looking at me he said, “Here we go.”
He we go? I thought to myself? This kid was clearly an inside player, he had no right stepping out and trying to make a long jump shot.
As he rolled up his sleeves he looked like someone who was about to have a fist fight. That’s what the tough guys did in the old days.
“Here we go,” he proclaimed.
Picking up the ball he attempted another shot from the same distance.
As the ball was on it’s way to the netless rim; another comment came from the peanut gallery.
“Hey Tony, give it up man, you suck!”
The ball sailed through the air and ended up being another airball.
It didn’t hit a thing.
No rim or backboard. It just landed on the ground and bounced away.
This kid sucks, I thought to myself. I chased the ball down again and listened to some more kids ridicule him.
“Tony, you suck man, that kid will school you!”
“Yeah Tony, go home and study!” another kid screamed. They all laughed.
I looked at Tony and shrugged my shoulders.
“Later for them man, they probably suck anyway.” I pointed out to him.
Tony looked at me and asked, “You wanna play one on one?”
This kid was kidding, right? I thought to myself. How the fuck was he going to guard me wearing shoes?
I started dribbling the ball between my legs and said “your ball first.”
I zipped another crisp chest pass to him catching him by surprise as he fumbled the ball.
Tony took the ball out first and couldn’t buy a basket for the next five minutes. I scored with ease every time I touched the ball. I took it right by the uncoordinated kid. His first problem was trying to shoot from deep. I was waiting for him to back me down into the post. He had me by at least a hundred pounds.
When I had the ball and he tried to get close to me on defense, I would back him up with a few pump fakes and jab steps, and launch my jumper. A crowd had gathered outside the fence, and after enough of taking it to him, the tall fella called it quits.
Tony was like a defeated boxer in the ring throwing in the towel, he had enough.
“Hey man, you’re good, what school you go to?” He asked me.
I looked at the kid, thought about the question and tossed up a long jumper that went straight though the rim.
“I go to Jay.”
“What year you in?” He asked
“Wow! You’re fuckin’ good, you play varsity?”
I chased the ball down and didn’t answer him.
“I gotta get home, take care. It was nice playing with you,” he said.
The kid extended his hand. He told me he was the center on the freshmen team at Ford.
“Nice meeting you,” I answered.
Tony took off out of the yard and down Howard Place.
I continued to shoot…alone.