In the spring of last year, I lived in Spanish Harlem in a very Withnail and I townhouse, complete with a cast of characters such as the Percocet addled construction worker, the drug addled alcoholic Iraq/Afghan war veteran, the starving and angry African American artist a la’ Basquiat, and sundry other characters who came and went in the short months I lived there.  The former townhouse, now flop house, was across the street from a public dispensary of some kind and next door to a more private dispensary that also sold lotto numbers in a more Free Market version of the game than is run currently by the State.  A few days before, “Dude,” in a total stupor set his bed on fire with a smouldering cigarette and Sean had to break down his door and tell him, “Dude, your fucking bed is on fucking fire, how the fuck do you sleep in that?” to which Dude finally woke up and did what any normal person in that situation would do, toss the bed, burning clock radio, and other ephemera out the window and return to slumber.  When I came home in the pouring rain from work, I knew the story told by the black mess rotting in the front and whipped all about like an army had camped there and the smell of damp plastic char in the air.  The Mexican players said, “The Fire People, they looking for you” to which I answered, “I don’t really live here” and went inside and locked the door and went up to my room and locked that door too, not that this second action did any good since Sean had broken down my doorway while I wasn’t home to replace the [medicine] he had used to pay the rent with actual cash.  Morning, a few days later, in my room, the top floor of a five story walk up in this shared living situation, I heard a squawking call outside.  I thought it a protest.  But, it was a procession.   I grabbed my camera and ran past the Sudzy Bubbles, the Papa Mart, the Kennedy Fried Chicken, and looked on at an ancient spectacle played out on our modern mini-mall streets of modern New York City.

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