Friday, July 28, 2006


For those who live in Manhattan, it's forever been de rigeur to sensitize oneself to the ripple that spreads through a city crowd when someone from the Bridge and Tunnel set enters the room. Grow up in Arkansas, finish school in Nebraska, then get yourself a job answering phones at some two-bit third-tier law firm around the block from Penn Station, but whatever you do, you must live on Manhattan isle, because if you don't, you'll be living amidst the stupid and the accented, and that, my friend, is not what you've come here to do.

It doesn't matter if you have to share some squalid shitbag of tenement space with a junkie in the latter stages of tuberculosis, as long as you're in Manhattan -- or, perhaps, in the areas of Brooklyn that've been annexed by folks of a similar bent. As long as you're where you're supposed to be, even if you've only been there for a month or two, you've got all the license you need to ridicule the likes of me. When you choose disdain, you can't go wrong. Nothing says "I'm down with Gotham" more effectively than a perfectly timed barb at the expense of Long Island or Jersey.

Granted, we are a tacky lot, but we mean well. If you lived where we lived, you'd make the same pilgrimage. That's why you moved into "the city" in the first place, is it not? Then again, I suppose that's the distinction between you and us. You, my friend, are in the catbird seat here. You -- or, in many cases, your parents -- had the wherewithal and foresight to make your home in a place that's important: New York, NY -- the best, most significant address in the whole wide world.

We never thought of all that, growing up where we did. We don't have that capacity for self-examination -- the one that tells us when everyone's laughing. We think we fit in, with our striped shirts and spiked hair, our PATH and LIRR tickets in tow, but we don't. We come out into the night on 7th Avenue, and think we blend. We don't, but we're not aware of it, and so we're all too obvious.

I've worked doors downtown for a while now, and I can see a B&T group for what it is while they're still halfway down the block. Some know the game. When I was younger, before I got back into bouncing, I knew said game all too well, as did my friends. We knew what we were in the city to do, we knew how we were getting home, and nothing was going to happen to us because we were the types of locals who came through the tunnel to exploit the place. We weren't there to be victimized.

Too many don't know this game. They don't remember what the city used to be like in the pre-Giuliani years, when you couldn't walk through Alphabet City, much less find an apartment there. When tires burned throughout the night in Tompkins Square Park, in the days before Times Square became accessible to people from Wichita.

Take the Imette St. Guillen case, for example. St. Guillen's alleged killer, Darryl Littlejohn, supposedly has ties to the "Supreme Team" gang, a Jamaica, Queens "drug posse" whose name, before the murder, I hadn't heard in many, many years. The Supreme Team. I remember -- painfully so -- what Queens was like in the eighties and early nineties, so hearing the Supreme Team name after all these years was enough to make me stop in my fucking tracks. Google it. Google, also, an NYPD officer named Edward Byrne, who was killed by members of the Supreme Team in 1988 while sitting in a squad car in front of the home of an informant. In South Fucking Jamaica, no less -- the same place they found St. Guillen.

Littlejohn. This man was working the door of an upscale bar in the "new" Manhattan. In the "new" New York. Supreme Team. Jesus.

What this all did was make me realize that the New York I remember -- the one in which I grew up, before hipsters could even find Brooklyn on a map -- is still around. Imette St. Guillen collided with the New York I remember. In fact, the owner of The Falls -- the bar at which she was abducted -- is the son of the owner of Dorrian's Red Hand, the place where Jennifer Levin tipped a glass or two the night Robert Chambers tangled with his cat. The karma -- or whatever the fuck it was -- was too strong back then, and we should've known it wouldn't have died, even after New York was steam cleaned and reopened to the world.

When you're Bridge and Tunnel, as Jennifer Moore was, things get a bit dicier. You cross the river, you pay your toll, and you're part of the show until last call. After that, for us, there's a process involved. You need to get home, and home is hardly a short cab or subway ride away. No. It's more complicated than all that. And in the interim -- the time between, when commuter trains are caught, or cars retrieved -- shit happens. When you're young, and from the suburbs, and don't know where to legally park or how to get back to the PATH or the LIRR, you're exposing yourself to 4 am New York -- the Manhattan of Darryl Littlejohn, Steven Sakai and Draymond Coleman. The New York I remember.

That's the New York I know. It's the one that's all around me when I walk out the back door of the club and out into the night. I stopped taking trains to work, because I don't want to be at the mercy of that New York. I can't be, because I know what it can do. I won't ever trust it for a second, and neither should you.