Journal / i was up in stamford connecticut today

i was up in stamford connecticut today visiting my friends lee and cindy at pacific street framing(shameless plug for them…all of your art restoration and framing needs taken care of…look at me, schilling for my friends)and i drove by my old apartment on henry street(200 henry street, i think. or 190 henry street. it’s been awhile).
when i lived on henry street it was kind of a war zone in the middle of a crack neighborhood. now the neighborhood is a weird mix of antique stores and homeless shelters, soon to fall under the developers bulldozer as south stamford becomes condos and etc.
have you ever lived in a crack neighborhood?
ok, to put it slightly differently, have you ever lived in an abandoned factory in a crack neighborhood?
well, i have. and i really liked it. odd, but true. south stamford in the 1980’s was really rough and
fascinating. i lived there for a few years, and i loved it.
i paid $50 a month to someone at heyman properties(i was ostensibly renting storage space. i just happened to live in aforementioned storage space. and aforementioned storage space had no bathroom or running water but it had free electricity and lots of sunlight, both of which are nice), and although i only rented 150 square feet i had access to hundreds of thousands of abandoned square feet.
it was like living in a weird abandoned castle, with lots of little hidden areas that you could get into if you: a-broke the locks, or b-found open doors.
it was a noisy neighborhood, which i liked, actually.
the noises/sounds of the neighborhood were:
a-revival tent meetings(during the summer they’d have revival tent meetings on the corner. i guess this was an effort to re-claim the neighborhood from the crack dealers. it didn’t work out too well, but the revival meetings sounded really nice).
b-roosters. the family across the street from me had roosters that would start roostering at 4:30 a.m. i love animals but i will forever hate roosters after living across the street from one
for 3 years.
c-gun shots. a few times a week you’d hear people shooting, sometimes followed by police and ambulance sirens. this was usually pretty late at night.
d-amazingly loud car stereos playing public enemy and big daddy kane and dancehall eggae(lieutenant stichie was pretty popular at the time).
when i talk to people and describe the circumstances in which i lived in stamford people usually assume that i’m complaining or looking for tough-guy credibility.
the truth is that i really loved living there and i didn’t find it difficult or onerous at all. i had hundreds of thousands of square feet to run around in. i had free electricity and sunlight. i had gospel storefront churches to wander into on sunday mornings. i had a little hotplate on which i made rice and beans.
the only real downsides to living there were:
a-no, uh, bathing. i would make weekly efforts to visit friends who had showers…
b-the few women i tried to date during this time never seemed too keen on spending the night in an apartment with no running water in an abandoned factory in the middle of a crack neighborhood. in hindsight i guess i see their point. at the time i felt kind of hurt, sort of like: ‘love me, love my tiny apartment in the abandoned factory’.
c-fear of getting attacked by crack addicts, although thankfully i never was(attacked by crack addicts, that is). i learned pretty early on that if you dressed like a homeless person you’d basically be left alone. that might explain my less than stellar fashion sense that has stuck with me to this day.
and now henry street is minutes away from being demolished and turned into condos. which is inevitable and ok. n’est plus c’ast change(my french is far from good, as you can tell).
i’m also the 14 millionth person to partially quote proust. i promise that if i quote proust again in the future i won’t quote the first half of ‘the more things change’ again. now i feel cheap.
maybe i’ll quote alain de botton, as his proust is actually funnier and more germaine than proust himself(proust had a madeliene, i have a decaying old factory).
but back to the abandoned factory(no longer abandoned, now occupied by antiques warehouses)in the crack neighborhood(no longer a crack neighborhood, as crack has pretty much disappeared from the greater nyc urban sprawl).
i guess i’m happy that i live in overpriced and overtrendy lower manhattan, but i will always think lovingly and longingly and quasi-amorously of my 3 years in the abandoned factory with free electricity in south stamford.
moby