Monday, August 02, 2004

Robert Johnson 1: Crackville

Many years ago, I lived down crackville, specifically in a fourplex apartment building on the southeast corner of Hudson and NW 24th Street. It was a small apartment, but nice, and it had a fenced in area behind the building, which contained a carport. This part of the city is bad enough that I wouldn't have moved there if I couldn't have parked my car out of sight, but the garage was nice, and it was almost like having my own back yard to play in. During the two or three years I lived there, I dug flower beds, planted roses, and did all sorts of free landscaping. I knew the landlord (we drank a lot of beer together, and he barbecued pretty well every Sunday that it wasn't snowing), and I knew some of the local people, and it was pretty much OK.

But it was crackville. There was a smell that came from across the street, when the wind was right, that I didn't recognize until years later as the smell of crack being smoked. It was constant, and it was everywhere. The dealer's door was never closed, even in wintertime, and many times I saw large men standing guard. I didn't go over there. I tried to avoid even LOOKING over there--but they didn't fuck with me, and everyone needs a trade, so there was an uneasy peace.

The thing I liked most about the apartment was that it was across the alley from the Platonic form of bodega. The Royal Food Mart had everything from eggs to potatoes to spark plugs to Mickey's Big Mouths, and the vietnamese family who basically lived inside the place was friendly and always helpful.

This whole scene is set at the confluence of three big demographics: Little Saigon, or as the Chamber of Commerce likes to put it, The Asian District; the fucking ghetto, or rather the first tendrils of the ghetto beginning to creep over the highway; and Heritage Hills, a historical district containing many, many mansions (the blue stucco place from the Meghan story was eight blocks away from my apartment). We were very decidedly NOT on the Heritage Hills side of the tracks.

Anyway, I had been living with this girl for about three years--she was (and is still) wonderful, but ultimately I decided we weren't good for each other, and ended the relationship. She was completely heartbroken (who wouldn't be?), and still in denial somewhat. I made sure she understood that we were not to see or talk to each other for a long damn time (my first experiment with breaking up smart), and sent her on her way. She lit, quite literally, across the street.

Not in the crack apartments, mind you. She actually made it over towards the Heritage Hills side of things, where her friend Daria was renting an apartment. Daria, incidentally, was so dumb that she thought a pedophile was a foot doctor, but that's a story for a different blog. The important thing to remember is that my ex could literally see my back door from her apartment, which wasn't good for her in any way, shape or form. It was kind of creepy for me, too.

For the first several months of the breakup, she spent a lot of time driving around my block, or calling my friends to find out if I was there, and in general not taking things very well. I, for my part, ignored her--there's got to be a separation period before you can attempt to build a friendship after a breakup, and she was plainly still holding on to a relationship that no longer existed. Anyway, she eventually got the hint, and we're still friends, and she's very happy with the guy she's got now. But before that, there was Sammy Davis.


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