Sunday, April 30, 2006

Christmas Graffiti 5


This blog is graffiti.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


I was in 6th grade, so I guess I was eleven when this happened. It was halloween, and I brought a couple of freinds over, to paint our faces for trick-or-treating. One freind unexpectedly "invited" two 14 year old girls, as well. I had no idea that I was being set up.

One of my two freinds kept me busy painting monster faces on each other in the bathroom, while the other helped these girls steal everything of value they could find in our apartment. When we got out of the bathroom with the monster makeup on, the girls were halfway out the door. I didn't notice the bulge in one of the girl's snorkel coat at all.

As we talked about where we were going to trick or treat, one of the guys asked me to play the radio. This was unusual in itself, because we didn't usually listen to the radio when we were hanging out. I said "OK," only to find the radio missing. I ran to the drawer that held my brother's cassette recorder. Gone! I started crying like a baby, thinking about how much trouble I was in. Everything was gone, even my brother's penny collection!

I almost came to blows with my freinds after realizing that they set this up. It ended up with us trailing the girls to McDonalds, where they spent the pennies, and further downtown to the Amsterdam projects, behind Lincoln Center, where most of my classmates lived (These two idiots among them!)

Somehow, we found which building they were in, and enlisted the help of the Toyloy family in that building. I name them because Ricky was in my older brother's class, and his sister Yvette went to the roof with me to get the goods back from the theiving girls. I had the pleasure of reminiscing about this incident with both of them last year at the one and only St. Paul the Apostle School reunion.

Unfortunately, the two "friends" who set me up back in the day weren't at the reunion, and I never knew what happened to the girls. We had them arrested, and their families kept coming to our house to plead with us not to press charges. I had a fantasy about getting sex from one of them to keep them out of jail, which was a pretty bad thing to think at such a young age. Of course, I was 12 years old by that time, so I had an excuse for thinking that way. We ended up not pressing charges, my childish fantasy remaining just that.

At the reunion, I heard that the old freind that showed the girls where all the valuables were in my family's apt. was now in jail. Big surprise. He, and the other kid had starting stealing cars by eighth grade, just two years later. I always hoped that my better nature would rub off on freinds like these. I should count myself lucky that more of their malicious nature didn't rub off on me.


Tuesday, April 18, 2006


I was called down to the Principal's office again. What the hell did I do this time? I saw my brother was also summoned, so it wasn't likely anything we did. We didn't socialize at school. It turned out that there was a "little fire" at our building, as the Principal described it.

I remember worrying about Baggy, our cat, all afternoon. Mom was at work until 5 PM, just a few blocks away from my school, and Dad was in Freeport, teaching HS English.

As it turned out, there was a 4 alarm fire at the Vendome (48 W. 73rd St), started by a grease fire from the bar/restaurant on the ground floor. All but 5 apartments of the seven-floor building (6 apts. per floor.) were uninhabitable. All of the B apartments were spared, as in 3B (our apt.), 4B, etc. Baggy was fine, too.

When I finally got home, the walls of both adjoining apartments were totally ripped out, and you could see into the living rooms. Pink insulation littered the hallway. It was surreal. When we got to our apt, at the end of the hall, it was amazing to see so little smoke damage inside.

Around 4 or 5 PM, a channel 7 Eyewitless news crew came around to film a report. The guy they sent had long hair, and was a rising star of local news at the time, none other than GERALDO RIVERA! He made the report from our upstairs neighbor's apartment, 5 or 7B.

This is one of my earlier Vendome stories, so I was pretty young. GERALDO did his report, and when they put the camera on me and my brother, I was smiling and laughing, so I looked down. We saw it rebroadcasted on the late news, at 11. He didn't ask us any questions, someone just said "get a shot of the kids!"

I still laugh at that memory, but this was a great tragedy, though no lives were lost. At that age, I was just happy that my cat was OK, and that we still had a place to live.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


I had an older friend, a kid who lived in the Mayfair towers, next to the Dakota. He was 14, I was 12. He was rich, I wasn't. He was pretty slick about things, too. First, he talked me into trusting him to carry me across a shallow part of the boat lake in Central Park, instead of getting muddy feet walking around it's edges. I was a naieve child, when it came to friendships. Of course I ended up swimming in the filthy water, and got beaten with the scrub-brush when I got home. Yes, beaten on the butt, and screaming on the floor.

This was Mom's message to me, telling me that something was wrong with this.

I was leery of hanging out with this kid again, but I went over to his apartment to play with GI Joes. Yeah, well it got kind of weird. He started undressing, saying we were going to play with GI Joes in the bathtub. Ever the diplomat, I said I didn't want to do that. He ended up rolling around on his thick shag carpet naked, as I hastily excused myself.

I took it in stride. I had other friends that I knew were gay, even before they admitted it, when I was 12 years old. We were still kids; I thought of this as an embarassing invitation that I rejected. Only today do I realize that this kid was probably molested at an early age, which made him so open about what he wanted to do at 14 years old.

I was lucky for my upbringing. I was exposed to NYC in the '70's, and it wasn't a pretty sight, except to me. I thought I lived in a great world, even with all of the crap my family went through. I am a product of my times, and I'm proud of it.

Thursday, April 06, 2006


As a child, even before I moved into the Vendome, I had been photographed more times than I can remember, though there is that one with me lifting my shirt with no diaper on, at about 2, that I'll never forget... LOL! My father was an amateur photographer, and my mother had a freind who was a professional photographer. Between them, we had a ton of family photos by the time I was 8 years old.

Around this time, this friend of mom's asked her if I would pose for nude pictures, and she asked me if I wanted to pose nude for his "artistic" photography. I was pre-pubescent, but still realized the sexual aspect of this. I knew he was gay, wanting to look at me in a sexual way, not an "artistic" one. I liked girls, even before I reached puberty, and knew this wasn't for me.

I told mom that I wasn't comfortable posing nude, and that was the end of that story. As much as I might fault my mom for even asking me if I wanted to pose nude for a probable pedophile, I'm proud that she never let that happen against my wishes, and protected me from worse predators. She was a consummate liberal, open to all ideas. I was exposed to more in my childhood than many adults have seen in their whole life.

There's a flip side to this coin: I wanted to see one of my babysitters nude, and she never babysat me again. That's for another post, but she was also a freind of mom's; one with morals.