Monday, May 2, 2016


As the weather grew warmer, I used to sit at the window in the eat-in kitchen with the windows open.  That’s an important term in New York – “eat in.”  It means you don’t have to fit a dining table in your living room somewhere.  The eat-in kitchen was formerly a bedroom, so it was a nice size, and it had a bay window overlooking the back garden.  It was a very pleasant place to work.

The trees at the back of the garden, disguised the wall to the subway ditch that were just beyond them.  And beyond the subway ditch was a one-block street that began at Flatbush Avenue and ended at the subway ditch.  This was a special street – one that I never visited.  Because…

One morning as I was sitting at the kitchen table working with a manuscript, I began to hear gun fire.  I don’t know that I’d ever heard gunfire before that in Brooklyn, but I’d heard it many times as I passed the shooting range on Lamar Blvd. and Koenig Lane in Austin, Texas.  It sounds a bit like firecrackers, a bit like a car backfiring, all depending on caliber, but it is distinctive. 

The shots I heard that morning were not sporadic and then stopping – like someone was committing a crime.  The shooter shoots and then runs.  No, this was consistent for quite a while – maybe 30 minutes.  This was target practice.  I couldn’t see who was firing because of the trees and the concrete walls on either side of the ditch, but it seemed there were two pistols – two shooters just having a nice morning without having to pay to go to a shooting range.  Note to self, avoid this block.

Later on in the summer, when the nights were muggy and hot, this same block had a block party (every year).  Someone put a few 6-foot speakers on the sidewalks and blared hiphop music joyously until 3 or 4 a.m.  I know my landlord called the police to complain and I’m sure plenty of other neighbors called as well.  But the NYPD did not respond to the noise complaints.  It seemed that, for some reason, this block was untouchable.  Perhaps a politician lived on it – a city council member or someone on the mayor’s staff. Or it was gang controlled.

Admittedly, I could not hear the party at the front of the house where I slept and where there was traffic noise to deal with so I didn’t call about that noise.  My torture was the hiphop circus that arrived every June for three weeks.  Pitching a plastic “big top” in the park directly across the street, they held 3 performances a day that could be heard on the moon.  The night-time performances were supposed to end at 10pm, but ended whenever they were finished.  It was awful, and thankfully, new construction in the park put an end to that. 

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