So I’ve been living in New York. Brooklyn, specifically, where life is lived on the street, as opposed to Manhattan, where life is lived in tall buildings. People hang out on stoops and talk and whistle and holler and jump rope and drink beer wrapped in brown paper bags and listen to music with thumping bass. Now that it’s February most folks have retreated inside, but there are still a few die-hards who stand or sit outside and blast their music into the cold, and who can blame them? When you’re really digging something sometimes you don’t wanna keep it to yourself.
Every few minutes you can hear and feel a train from the JMZ line rumble by on its way to the Marcy stop. The JMZ line was formerly known as the JZ and was supposedly the namesake of rapper Jay-Z (although Wikipedia puts the kibosh on this theory and says nope, his name is a permutation of the word “Jazzy,” which is decidedly less cool, partly because, well, DJ Jazzy Jeff kinda already used that). The city was briefly talking about eliminating the “Z” line as part of its terrifyingly-named “doomsday cuts,” but reconsidered and the Z remains. En route to Manhattan, the JMZ goes over the Williamsburg bridge and offers a stunning view of the skyline.
My neighborhood is comprised mostly of Dominican and Puerto Rican families, with a few Hasidim and “Hipsters” sprinkled in. I fall into this much-maligned latter category even though I am not hip. I mean, just look at my shoes.
My housemate/landlord, Bearden, says I walk too slow and look around too much. “You gotta keep moving, man” he says, and whenever we walk anywhere together I have to trot to keep up even though my legs are twice as long as his. He’s a hell-raising, Barry Hannah-reading, Rolling Stones-and-Bob Dylan-listening, Razorbacks-football-loving Arkansan with the loudest voice I’ve ever heard. Bearden is a writer and the front man for a band called “Sheriff,” of which I’m an adjunct member (I play lead guitar and sing harmonies). I don’t like Bob Dylan nearly as much as he thinks I should, but we connect on a mutual love for Bob’s one-time disciple Neil Young and the great pulp writer Elmore Leonard. Bearden and his wife, Laura, are two of the most passionate, creative, and generous people I’ve ever met.