Thursday, May 13, 2010

What's All the Shouting About?

Late at night, I can hear them shouting on 73rd Street. Nothing makes any sense -- just loud, male voices shouting obscenities into the night at the trees, passers-by, each other. First I thought they were in a therapy group at the Phoenix House, but the voices are too late and too far away. P&G's bar used to be on the corner of 73rd and Amsterdam; now it's Gina Fornarina, which is next to the salumeria next to Jacques Torres. How far we've come from P&G's and its red neon sign.

Amsterdam Avenue changes after 9 p.m. Most of the stores are closed and all the families have gone home to sleep. That's when the night walkers come out, looking for a bar or a hit. They don't seem to realize that P&G is gone and I guess Malachy's is too far away. So they stand on the corner and howl at the moon. How strange the night street is, and how far from the 24-neon of Times Square. Expensive bistros next to the porn shop and the old Amsterdam Barber. Half the street chic, half still the same old tired shops. Gentrification never penetrated this street, and probably never will. More peddlers' carts turn up, selling fruit, handbags, silver jewelry. More parents push strollers and more nannies take up the sidewalks as they talk on their cell phones, parading down the street. Gray's Papaya is still there, and Tip Top Shoes, and Ivy's Cafe.

The pocket of gentrification seems silly. And the men are still shouting far into the night.

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