Monday, April 16, 2007


“Yo,” said the Guido as he left the club, “it’s brick out here, n---a!”

“It’s what?”

“It’s brick, yo. Brick.”

I looked around for help with this one and found nothing. I was alone. Desperately, desolately alone. “What the fuck does that mean?” I asked, palms up, in a state of legitimate wonderment.

“It means it’s cold out here, n---a.”

“Why do you keep calling me that?”

He shrugged. “Come on, yo…”

“And why can’t you just say that it’s cold out? Why do you have to say it’s ‘brick?’ How did that become part of your lexicon?”

“Yo, you know Freddie?”

“Of course I know Freddie,” I replied. “I stand out here with him all fucking night.”

“Freddie’s my boy. I come here every week.”

“What the fuck does that have to do with the price of peanut butter in China?”

“I take care of Freddie every week,” he said, extending his hand. “What’s your name?”

“Dave,” I answered, taking his hand. “But what the fuck are you talking about?”

“I don’t know, n---a! All I know…all I know…is that I got to get away from this crazy muthafuckin’ bitch in there.”

“Can we please get back to the original topic?”

He snorted, clearing God-knows-what from his nasal passages. “Yo, all I know is that there’s some crazy-ass bitches up in here, and n----s be lookin’ at me sideways all muthafuckin’ night. All muthafuckin’ night, you feel?”

“Do me a favor?”


“FOCUS!” I shouted directly into his face.

“Yo, why you trippin’, n---a?”

“Look, all I want to know is why you said it’s ‘brick’ out here. You know, instead of just assessing your relative feelings about the climate and informing me that it’s simply ‘cold.’ That’s all I want to know from you. Is that too much to ask?”

“You got a cigarette?” he asked.

“Yo, Freddie,” I called. “Gimme a cigarette and your lighter. My boy here needs a smoke and this is absolutely fucking fascinating.” Freddie obliged with a Parliament, and the inquiry resumed.

“You don’ smoke?” he asked.

“Nah, man. That shit gives you cancer.”


“Listen,” I interrupted. “Are you gonna answer my original question? I mean, I got you a fuckin’ cigarette and I even lit it for you. You need anything else, man?”

“I’m aight.”

“Then why’d you use ‘brick’ instead of cold?”

“’Cause it is brick, n---a!” he replied.

“You sure the use of the word ‘brick’ wasn’t some last-second play for attention while you were leaving? Just so you could shout it out and let everyone out here see you’re street enough to know what ‘brick’ means?”


“It’s okay,” I said, patting him on the arm. “I totally understand, dude.”

“Yo, what’s your name?”

“First and last?”

He dragged, squinting, on his Parliament. “Huh?”

“My name’s Karl. Karl Marks. Like the economist, except I spell my last name differently. M – A – R – K – S.”


“Listen, man,” I said. “You have a good night, okay? I gotta get back by the door.”

He moved in for a hug. “Yo, you be here next week?”

“Yeah. Get home safe.” I looked down the sidewalk for a few seconds, thought of something, then flicked him on the arm with the back of my hand. “Where you from, anyway?”


Commack? On Long Island?”

“Dat’s the only Commack I know, n---a!”

“Goddamn,” I said. “That explains a lot.”