LES 1970 – 1985

For Margarets’s prompt for Day 14 of NAPOWRIMO.  Write about a street in a city where you like to stroll.  I went back to my wild days with my Cousin Billy with whom I went to Woodstock and with whom I later lived the dangerous life in the mid-70’s to mid 80’s.  She went to Brooklyn recently for her son’s wedding and was inspired.  LES is localese for LOWER EAST SIDE: Brooklyn, Bronx, Harlem. The song by Johnny Thunders is true, alas.


LES 1981

LES 1970 – 1985
“I missed all the great art at the time. I came from heroin, and I came for music. But other than that, I didn’t live here. But man, a lot of people didn’t make it, and I remember, I guess around 1980, it was like, ‘Something was happening and no one knows what it is.’” Anthony Bourdain

“You can’t put your arms around a memory” Johnny Thunders 1978

my cousin Billy and I drifted down to LES
from Montclair NJ and Durham NC.
I wonder that we made it out alive.
dangerous, smelling of raw sewage
sex and dope.
fires fueled by arson,
hostility fired by cops,
in places between buildings, in holes
the size of a car we bought our dope –
we smoked snorted shot it up.
the people had a lean and hungry look.
it’s a wonder we made it out alive.
we spent the night in the apartments of
strangers and all we had to do was
to be cool. be cool man.
sex pistols, joe strummer,
Deborah harry, cro mags,
the Ramones – sheena’s a punk rocker…
the music exploded in our ears
and we held each other up as the crowds held us up.
poetry art movies films all new and outrageous.
I learned about Dylan Thomas from some punk.
it is a wonder we made it out alive.
the summers were our reward for being good
during the rest of the year.
andy Warhol was new
people slept passed out died on the sidewalks.
now I walk there and it is like walking
among the land of ghosts.
we passed over the bridge into LES,
crossing the river styx
we crossed by over the river of lethe.
different now.
it’s a miracle we made it out alive.
President Ford said he would not bail out NYC
when it was bankrupt.
NY responded: Ford Drop Dead


LES Alphabet City 1975

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