So yeah, I’m a bridge and tunnel person and what the fuck of it?

I’ve been over those goddamn bridges so many times, it came like a second nature to me.  And so much a second nature that I got all cocky and ended up in a head-on collision.

Halloween ’89, me and Jefferson had gone over to Kathleen Ryan’s party (our relationship long since over) – I end up passed out at the wheel down the street the from the Woodlawn cemetery in the middle of the fucking Bronx with two goddamn meatheads leaning in my window to wake me up and tell me what a fucking asshole, not to mention lush, I was.

Meanwhile, barely coherent, the cops are askin me what the hell am I doing in the middle of the Bronx at 4am.  “Weell,” I mumble, “I was goan over ta tha wesside highway, ya see, ta catch tha bridsh outta mahat’an – ta ge’back ta dear o’ wesheste’, ya see.”

Me, of course, so completely out of it that I thought I was on the south end of Central Park heading over to the West Side of Manhattan, which had been my original plan until I realized that I had no money for tolls and had to go out the 3rd Avenue Bridge to the Deegan, but that can all come later (if at all).

So, Yes, the bridges and highways.

You hop on the Sprain Brook Pkwy, then off the Sprain in Yonkers and jump on Central Ave/Rte. 100 for just a little bit before you get the Major Deegan Expswy.  Actually not a bad little road if you’re in the mood for taking no shit from assholes, and keeping an eye to the open lane for avg speed appx. 65mph – 70, if you’re lucky.

And if you can keep the flow goin’, avoid the Yankee Stadium and GWB traffic, you can get yerself right into Manhattan, no time flat.  Not to mention that along the way, if you’re observant, and a little lucky, you can get some pretty prime Manhattan skyline views.

First from the hill right after the Yonkers raceway, and then a little further south, from the spot right at the exit for the GW bridge.  These, of course, not quite as choice as the sun that rose over the island that morning as I looked east from the Newark Airport bus terminal.

Sweet angelic fireball sittin on toppa all those buildings – a sight to see – and the folks in Jersey get it every morning.

Anyways, deeper now into the Bronx and y’gotta be watchin’ for the 3rd Ave. Bridge exit as this whole elaborate changing of highways – four changes in the trip of 30-odd miles – is to avoid all tolls between suburbs and city – and so – off the Major Deegan at the 3rd Ave. Bridge exit, and down to the infamous stoplight of a thousand window washers now beaten into submission by Ghouliani — one of these poor saps was actually gut shot by an off-duty cop in the summer of ’98.

Then – a brief trek through the Bronx streets and on to the bridge – a small, low-slung, unimposing span that connects Harlem to the Bronx.

Now on the bridge, first look left (south) to see if the traffic’s backed-up on the FDR-drive – if so, you’re resigned to 2nd Avenue and a quick cultural education so you gotta stay basically to the left – but, if no visible tie-ups, the FDR it is so you gotta jump across three lanes of traffic, around a hairpin turn and you’re cruisin’ down possibly one of the thinnest six-lane major metropolitan roadways it has been my distinct pleasure to traverse with regularity.

But of course the most fun of all is to head way downtown on the damn thing to the 15th St. exit for Stuy-town and the East Village or the Houston exit which gets you to NYU, Angelika theater, etc., etc.

But, if you’re lucky, you’re only going as far as that twentysomething post-yuppie haven of the upper east side – 70’s to the 90’s between 1st and 3rd avenues.  Me being a simple bastard from suburbia, I have no idea as to any historical implications of these addresses other than the fact that my grandfather worked and lived there with my father, aunt and baby uncle during the 1940’s.

Though by the time of this tale, in 1987-89, this area meant friends and acquaintances from high school and college paying exorbitant rents to live in noisy shoeboxes.

To be fair though there are some decent bars in the area, if you’re intent on drinking, and not interested in meeting like-minded people.  If you wanted to meet like-minded people you would have stayed out in the Shire and gone to local bars.

The city is for change – a smile – as Fenwick says, punching out window panes in the opening scene of Diner, “It’s a smile” – but nothing more.

So maybe it’s a summer Friday night sixertwenty years ago and college asshole suburbanites decide to meet up downtown for some real-time drinkin – (and why the hell not?).

Jeremy’s Ale House – piece of shit – not to unfairly criticize such a fine establishment, but to deal with those crowds is really the royalest of pains in the ass.  And so – after 45min, one beer, and much complaining, it’s over 5 blocks to Lisa’s Pizza – the grand Italian hole in the wall where 32 oz. of bud is $1.25, they sell good NY pizza, and there’s never a crowd and rarely an asshole.

Downtown, downtown, and everything that it was back then, and now of course this also includes the Village, East Village and West Village and basically everything from 14th street to Bowling Green.

During the middle and late eighties for those bridgeandtunnel folk so derisively looked down upon by the far more sophisticated and urbane Manhattan-bred – (of whom I know none) – but down there was fun, I think, cooler than both Yupper East Side, Yupper West Side, and Brooklyn in terms of places for suburbanites-so-inclined to hang out and drink.

And so then the rain poured down on me and Jeff that particular night at Lisa’s Pizza, when we never did make it to the Yankee’s game (which got rained out anyway), but did get soaking wet – and lost in Yonkers – and lost my wallet in the car – and many other times that for some reason or another we managed to hang out down there w/a lack of crowds.

Of course, the same deal w/a female being so completely different.  She was there to fight the crowd and find her friend (with a guy the finding has never been quite so important) who taunted me because I chose not to defend myself – but it was ok – I had scored a $15 of brown weed over off of 14th somewhere between A and 3rd and I was doin just fine – happy as a clam with a lark companion.

And seeing Jim Carroll read at the Knitting Factory (or wherever the hell that was) – amusing only himself – sweet in the downtown stoned summer sun, early evening beforehand.  Rolling a joint in the bathroom of that stinky village bar where my sunglasses dropped in the toilet of a shit stall that looked more like a shooting gallery and then gettin high with Jimmy Meyer out on the street – ah, the beauty of it all.

(Oklahoma City, March 1992)

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