A stanza cannot stand alone. It needs a friend to accompany. It’s deciding its fate, its future to deliver an extended message. Perhaps there are no mistakes or accidents that I might end this one without a companion.
Monthly Archives: January 2011
Disaster Creeps In
Disaster creeps in
when I’m alone
when there’s nothing to do
when the rush of the radiator
and the beeping horn becomes
We sit and wait for things
in the dust
that’s already settled
Amongst toiled brown sheets
and dim lights…
and the humming
inside and out
is quite a damper!
on this glorious
JOY- A New Beginning in the Underground
I always envision my late night/early morning “events” here, in the arcade, as if they happened last night, last week, a few months ago. Whenever I recall back on those sweet, sweet, sweet times, it’s always me- sitting in the arcade watching over myself, as if I’m not myself and someone else. It could have been Jen, who I oddly enough met the last night the club was closing, or Eliseo, who was a friend of Jen’s. Throughout my superstar career at Vinyl slash Arc, he was my dancing buddy, a foot moving conosiure that I was always much obliged and practically honored to be seen celebrating with.
The last weekend replays too, in my mind, like a never-ending wheel of supernatural film, replaying, replaying countless maneuvers throughout the two immensely different rooms, the main room and the arcade. I was here and there and in between, a space that I can never enter again. Endless nights I could be found dancing in the midst of my own creating. Who fostered it none other than the “Be Yourself” master, the creator of a now historically defunct party, DJ Danny Tenaglia. He would always come on the mic and remind everyone to be mindful of the club’s rules, although there really were none other than to just “be yourself.” The space he helped me create was a whirlwind of energy surrounding me, surmising me that bled into the other winds that other clubbers created. We (the community) were always aware of each other’s presence although there we could party alone; I guess you could say we partied within our minds, yet somehow with each other. I got lost in the moment, the many moments, that all started when John, one year my senior, a crush I had for years in high school, finally met me, or I met him. My life changed forever. I could explore worlds I didn’t know existed and worlds within those.
I used to see him during passing in high school, walking ahead of me in his super huge jeans that were what I knew at the time to be raver jeans, although I had no idea, really, what a rave was. Time after time, for the five minutes they allowed us, I would catch him and his pants swaying back and forth, now in slow motion. The pants, slow motion, a key to a door that I so very much wanted to enter. I cannot tell if I liked him because he was a mystery to me, or if it was his style of dress, his colored hair, red and purple, or was he in fact, cute at all. Whatever the case, I couldn’t bear the intensity of my heart leaping into my throat when someone outside after school told me they knew him and I could somehow meet him through this very person.
We met through the grapevine, and he knew I wanted to check out a rave. I met him one night at his house in Dyker Heights. I walked over from my home on 74th st. and 13th ave. I was very much into the punk scene in those days although I was never really involved in changing the world and the capitalist society every “punk” was so adamantly against. I, however, fully indulged in the appropriate attire, and wore one of my favorite conglomerations: skin tight black capris, rolled up at the bottom with safety pins, black fishnets, a black tank or corset type top, a very thin gap vest and to top it all off, initiating myself into the underworld of casual raver garb, a black pair of sauconys. They were so hot at the time. I was proud of my outfit.
Although I took special care of what was to be my superficial armor, nothing I could have worn could match the mysterious coolness that emanated off John. There was something about his demeanor, his walk, his uncaring attitude towards me that made me just want to know more, more, more. More about him, about what he did, about what we were so very close to opening, capturing, digesting and finally, ultimately just becoming.
John told me to bring three cans of food for the party which was a yearly holiday rave thrown by one of the most pretentious, successful and overwhelmingly unreliable party throwers, Stuck on Earth. I later came to know them still as such, always bringing the big headliners that never showed up, standing there still, shelling out an enormous price to be packed in like sardines in the middle of whatever ghetto they decided to throw it in that time. The party was called “Joy.” The flyer, which I admit, I wish I had today, was smaller than a standard loose-leaf size, covered in extravagant digital color plastered with a sweet candy cane in the middle.
We had to meet his friend Rob at his house on 25th ave. It was evening already. A cool, December evening, not enough for me to feel frigid, the feeling in my soul was ready for whatever was coming, heating up my body physically. We walked to the back of his apartment to enter through the back door. The neighborhood behind me was paper-mache falseness, too empty to be real. He opened the old, beat down Brooklyn door and the pop-up bookness of the other world disappeared behind me. A new brightness of 1998 enveloped me. I passed his roommates room and I realized that she was my co-worker at the raver friendly store on 8th st. called “Rubber Soles.” This was the beginning of the strange coincidences that continue to happen today between the unseemingly small community of EDM lovers and club go-ers.
John and I sat in Rob’s room. Rob, oddly enough again, was my childhood friend’s older brother, which I would see so very scarcely. Pieces started to come together and blend. There was enough for me here to be accepted and feel comfortable although I was still a little, naïve, wanna be punk rock riot grrl.
His room was bright yellow, small; narrow, plastered with rave flyers, a huge NYC subway map that came to be the urban shrine of all partie kids. You had to know the subway system if you wanted to get to that out of the way party. John and I took a walk to a friend’s house around the corner to pick up some pills. I had dabbled in pot and other hallucinogens but I had never done ecstasy. In my mind, it should have been everything that I thought it was in movies. Actually, I had no idea, really, what I was in for. I just gave him the $25 that he asked for, which what seems now, almost ten years later, a very steep price.
The train ride there, or perhaps the deluge we found ourselves in on our way there is absolutely unforgettable. On Clubplanet.com, the number one Internet source at the time for club and party listings, explained on its drop down menu that finding club Vinyl was a learning experience in itself. Housed on the very, very, very west side of lower New York City, behind the Holland tunnel obstructed between narrow old school streets and high warehouse buildings. We got off the subway stop to find that we, actually, were closed in. I’m not talking about what we experience today, walking to one end of the subway station late at night to find that one entrance is closed. I’m talking, big, big station, black, medieval gates closed- telling us that the circles we were going in were to no avail. Back and forth, back and forth, every entrance or exit was turning us away. Finally, we found the turnstiles which were too, blocked off and behind them the ever so friendly token booth clerk in his/her safe haven of a glass booth. We could not reach him/her and he/she told us to go that-a-way. Whatever way that was, we made it out and continued our search for the ever voluptuous, stirring dream of the nightlife.
Hudson and Hubert streets were indeed packed far away from what’s considered the bustling, average centerpiece of NYC dwelling. We turned the corner onto Hubert, towards the water. The incandescent street lamps hovered over us, tall and high. They seemed to speak another language of a past, a future, and the very present that was so new. Indeed, surreal, all in itself.
I hear them whispering, “enter, thank you, go ahead” as I watch my feet slowly scurry to the back of the line.
We dropped off our brown paper bags inside plastic bags on the big concrete ledge that I came to know as a resting spot while waiting on lines. Walked up to the doorman, big, tall, heavy and ever-present. I didn’t have an ID. I was only 17 but believe it or not in 1998, you didn’t need one. If you were and looked cool enough and were possibly, hopefully with a cooler looking dude, you could get in anywhere. John made up some shit to get me in and the god of a bouncer let us go.
Because I used to go there so much, I’m constantly meshing the real memory and induced and perhaps permitting events that didn’t happen, to happen. I want to suppose that we walked through the long and quiet, dark and dungeon like corridor and then to the right to the window to pay. It happened, although the way I only imagine it to. As soon as we did pay, however, we kept walking straight until we hit a major opening threshold to the slight left.
Bam! And fucking Bam!
Wide open space of just a fucking all out, slammin’ fucking party!!
How else to describe the smack in the face, the brick on my head falling on me like shits and giggles.
My eyes widened at the new world.
John and I walked down the two wide steps into the jungle of people and animals, foreigners and aliens, old school superstars and special made up celebrities of the underworld. The lights on and off, strobe lights, black lights spurting an energy not matching the liveliness of the place but enough unto themselves. Four large, black pillars separated and held up the club and next to them wide speakers that people sat on and under. We made our way around the club, I suppose, making the rounds, looking for people, John ahead of me and myself trailing behind. I was looking around, left and right, above and below me, never missing to catch a glance, a glimpse of the new found paradise. People were cool, hip, and real, no bullshit. Old, young, all races, wearing casual clothes, jeans, t-shirts, big pants, sweatshirts of blue and green and black. One girl was wearing this neon blue Christmas garland around her neck and swishing it around. They were from the village, mostly, below 14th, college kids, kids who did nothing with their lives but everything, they were artists, freaks and entirely unique. They made a pattern around the club, bunches and groups of people doing their own goddamn fucking thing. And what the fuck ever. I loved it.
I loved the conglomeration. I loved the feeling I felt automatically upon walking into this strange and utterly heavenly debacle. What really drew me to it is that although I didn’t understand what it was about just yet, fully, I knew there was something there that was REAL. I felt it, I felt the energy. I felt the need for people to explode and share their passions for life that they couldn’t do in the real world but could do here. That’s what drew this mass together, a celebration of each other, unbiased, unprejudiced and totally pure.
John and I “dropped.” He pulled the two small pills out. One for me, one for him. He slyly pulled them out of the little baggie and I saw him look out of the corner of his eye, left to right.
We walked over the lower left corner of the club where there was a small uprising of a stage. His crew was there, some guys, some really funky down to earth and chill girls and I watched them dance. I watched them run up to each other, laugh in harmony, jump in joy and spin themselves around in the pleasure of dance. I couldn’t dance just yet, but watching them was learning.
We ended up in the arcade. To the right was a slight step with ledges for sitting. Covering this area was a thick, burgundy drape. All I could see beneath the curtain were fast moving feet, dancing. They looked so strange to me being there, scurrying under the heavy mass of fabric, but nonetheless, held a spiritual image that forever branded itself in my memory.
I sat on another ledge, further down, where a kid asked me what kind of pills I was on.
“No, I mean, what kind of pills are you on?” he asked again, because I had no idea there were different kinds of ecstasy pills. Finally, I got the specificity of his question through the impatience of his tone of voice and I ran up to ask John, who was standing a little ways ahead of me, what they were.
“Uh, I think they’re Tellytubbies.” To this day, I really think he hadn’t the slightest idea.
Again, I see myself sitting in this same spot and one of his friends Sandra, handed me some skittles out of the bag. This introduced me to the never-ending giving cycle of candy and sweets that permeates illegality as much as real narcotics do.
I’m catching myself swirling around in circles and John looking at me like I’m some kind of idiot. I don’t know how I got there on my tippytoes but thank goodness I realize what I’m doing, run over and sit by John. I think he’s fed up with me now.
We never spoke again until college, years later. Last year.
I’m wondering if I should talk about and post such personal experiences especially since a major theme throughout this story deals with drug use. I want to make sure that this is ok, which I’m sure it will be, and I walk over to Professor Minter’s office before class. But to no avail, a student is sitting there and probably will be until class starts. Funny, while I’m writing a story about something so relevant to my life although it’s been years, John walks by. He’s almost done with school and he tells me that the Italian office is making him run around to get permission for certain classes. I take this as a sign that it’s ok to talk about this stuff because finally, he’s ok, and I’m ok and we all turned out to be pretty good kids. Or young adults… moving along in the overground. Making our way in the real world. And what sustained us for so long, even now, although rare, was the dream, the benevolence, and the mysterious obscurity of the underground.
Joy: A New Beginning in the Underground
I enjoyed Audre Lorde’s Zami because her writing style felt so close to home. Although I’m white and straight, I felt so many similarities between her and myself both being a young women growing up in the city. The fact that she was growing up here, in New York as a Native New Yorker, really made a big difference in my perception of her too. I have this thing for those that are natives because I feel they understand the immigrant plight better than most who come here from other states. There’s this long, drawn out resemblance to peasantry that I find appealing. It’s my mother’s story and my grandmother’s story, being a woman of color finding herself in the early part of the century.
As aforementioned, I felt Lorde’s style was easy to emulate but I also empathized with her nightlife “events,” as it were. I know what it’s like to be young, trying to fit in, make a “scene” and she was doing just that not far from where I was doing mine. My story is similar in that we danced the nights away. Although uncomfortable at times, we did so in order to in a way feel more comfortable about everything. We were looking for something, anything. Different. To help and to make us better, more whole people.
I truly hope I did a decent job of emulating her style while keeping my own voice. I want my story to really hit people deeply, because it hit me very deeply and does so to this day. I’m very proud of this story not just because it’s all mine, but because those who “get” it, really appreciate it. A lot of clubbers have heard my story and they have similar ones as well, bonding us together too. Even if my classmates don’t get the “clubbing” part, I hope everyone does empathize with trying to find something and then the gloriously beautiful part of actually finding it.
EDIT: I am not white. I am Hispanic.
I Think I’ll Write a Poem Now…
I think I’ll write a poem now.
Waiting for something to happen.
Some creative bit, some explosion of inside-ness…
I want to explore what I might be hiding away.
It’s a coffee cat…
Are you 40 ouncing?
Missing something- the nightlife.
He asks me if I have any paper clips- the long ones- not these.
A certain hallway, alleyway, dimensions taut and stretched.
It was a honeymoon before,
withstanding my direction.
I’m not thinking very clearly.
don’t eat salami before you go to sleep
Don’t eat salami before you go to sleep.
when you love another
for who they are
and that’s how we should
love the world.
The sun shines through
the gray clouds
hits my windowpane
like the kiss
on my cheek.
under the blanket
containing a sense of warmth
a finite dream
How can we make
current to today’s world?
I wish a little wish
and I dream a little dream
Don’t eat salami
before you go to sleep.
I’m sitting on a chair behind a desk in Room B16. It’s not a pleasant room. The upper half of the walls are a sickly pale blue and the bottom half is a darker, sky blue. Sky blue is not the word. You wouldn’t want to look at the sky if it was this kind of blue. Cluttered in different areas are papers, students’ papers, hanging on pieces of old and battered tape, clinging for sustainability and recognition for as long as they can. Ancient green filing cabinets and closets stretch along the back wall; peeling paint reveals older brown surfaces- reminiscent of disease. One closet was once plastered with faux wood paper. It’s also peeling, revealing years of trying to mask something only eventually to fail.
The windows are closed. They are shut tight. They are covered with a dark tan material the Department of Education calls curtains. They function. Paper balls and trash, chip bags and pencil sharpenings are strewn across the floor. A few fluorescent lights hang overhead in an ominous fashion. They are rectangular, hanging low beneath pipes- pipes upon pipes. One light is out of order threatening to disturb the luminescent dictatorship.
Children huddle over their desks, wracking their young brains for answers to questions that test their reading knowledge. Some whine, some complain, some sleep. Others work feverishly to complete the tasks accurately, genuinely concerned about the well being of their future. Again, they ask for pencils and I wince in annoyance.
I saw carcasses on your ceiling during the night
a reflection of my deepest demons
waiting, staring back at me
submerged in my mind rose
They awakened while I lay in your bed
reminiscing on dark times-
I closed my eyes and more images appeared
like broken glass beneath my fingers
slowly cutting through a thick skin
that’s denied these truths for years- and it hurt
But in your warm arms
we spoke and learned and grew-
the cloud of nostalgia enveloped your room-
and a new sense of security had been born
between us- we spoke with our eyes
we spoke with a kiss
we consoled each other’s hardest
caves full of hidden weaknesses with an
Again and again
The taste of your sweet lips healed all of my oldest wounds
scars faded with the sound of your smooth, golden voice
your choice of words turned the ghosts to dust
And these carcasses disappeared in
the morning as I awoke to your wide, white, welcoming smile once again.
You Know, How it Lasts Forever
It was too incredibly sweet
I never was so happy to pay
I feel cold
and angry sitting
on my floor
Knowing I let it happen
it get this way
Dancing on the edge of the concrete jungle
The swimming pool, the fish bowl clouding our senses and perception
of what’s real.
The warm, hazy sun rises to greet us with good morning
while our night has hardly begun.
Swaying to the heavy, steady sounds of mystic beats
we worship invisible gods created in the midst of our desperation
silently denying truths that could ultimately set us free.
Twisted, funhouse mirrors reflect molested memories.
Childhood dreams deferred in the haunting bowels
reminiscing what could have been/creating here and now
forever later never.
Orange glow of the streetlights
casting shadows of our hollow bodies here on the cathedral pavement.
This was the night before. 2 am.
We often walk the same streets in dismissed bliss, marching to work, slaving the trade.
But like food shopping, we come like counter clockwise clockwork
waiting on lines for the bleak dive bathroom, the womb a muscle contracting to give birth
WONDER (Acrostic Poem 2)
What is it that makes us think- in awe-
Of those and other things around us?
Never really stopping to question
“Does it matter?” It does matter! and
Even in this time of spite I dare you to, without hesitation,
Re-assess your behavior…