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RING RING went the black wall mounted phone.

“Stephen, please answer that,” said Paul

“Okay Paul, I said as I took the phone from its cradle and spoke into it.

Hello? Yes this is the number for Paul The Super. Who’s calling please? One moment, I‘ll get him for you.”

“Well, who is it?” Paul asked me.

“It’s the Mayor.”

“The Mayor of what?”

“The Mayor of New York City, he wants to speak with you. “

Paul DiNioa, the superintendent of my apartment building, , my godfather and my mentor, stood up from his workbench and walked toward me as I held the phone out to him. He was the strongest man I’ve ever seen. Built like a truck, with forearms and hands that could crush a stone, I was always in awe of his strength and silent steely gaze. An immigrant from Italy with a zest for life and unwavering love for his family (and me) this man was very well respected in the neighborhood as a capable and successful jack of all trades. I watched as he took the phone into his hand looked at me, and then spoke in a soft  controlled voice with his heavy Italian accent, a sound that I can still hear to this very day.

“Mr. Mayor, so nice to hear from you again sir.” Yes, sir I do remember that I told you to call me if you needed my help. Yes sir I am always willing to help. Hmm I see, yes sir, I can be there in a few minutes. Yes sir I will do my best, I know my city is counting on me. I’m on my way sir, you’re welcome, goodbye sir.”

“Stephen, get my tool bag we have to hurry.”

I gathered up the usual tools that Paul used in these situations. His trusty measuring tape, an assortment of wrenches and screwdrivers and of course Paul’s favorite tool of all, “The Goesinta”. It’s actually only a hammer but Paul used to say that if something needed a little help, hit it hard with the hammer. The hammer makes “this goes into that”. The Goesinta”

I stood there holding The Goesinta in my hand, I marveled at its sleek wooden molded handle and the brilliance of the steel head with its curved claw at one end, while the front of it was perfectly rounded and smooth like glass.

“Stephen, get your head in the game, we’ve got to go now,” said Paul.

I threw the bag over my shoulder and raced outside to the street where we kept our vehicle.  As I climbed the steps from the alleyway to the street, I remembered all the times I used to play in this alleyway with Paul’s children. We all grew up together in this apartment building and spent most of every waking moment with each other. Paul was the superintendent, my family and I lived on the 3rd floor.  Our apartment building had so many other families and we all got along, it was a great place to be a kid. As I reached the top of the stairs I could see the wheels of The Rambler.

With its majestic sleek lines and the curves of its strong and reliable body. Its gray color came into view and as I made my way around the front of the car I reached out and touched the chrome emblem on its hood. It was our good luck charm and I rubbed that emblem every time we went out on a call.


Man do I remember it well. Paul used to let me steer the wheel sometimes while we drove through the city streets of our neighborhood.

I opened the door and hopped inside while I watched Paul gracefully leap up the alleyway steps and as usual he slid across the front hood, landed perfectly and jumped inside the car. He looked at me and smiled as he turned the key in the ignition we felt the old engine come to life. Paul had spent countless hours working under the hood of this car. He practically rebuilt the entire car himself. I helped of course, he always taught me how to tune the engine, replace brake pads and anything else that we could do ourselves.

His feeling was that why we would have someone else do what we were capable of doing. I believed that fully and still pass that on to my own children. I hope they’ll be as self sufficient as he taught me to be.

Paul looked at me and said,” Stephen buckle in, we have to get to an apartment building on Seaman Ave, right away. There’s a water main leak and The Mayor is afraid that if we don’t get the leak under control the entire city could flood, it’s up to us.” Paul threw The Rambler into first gear and as I listened to the screeching tires and smelt the burning rubber of the white walls. I was again reminded of how very lucky I was to have this man in my life.

I watched out the window of the Rambler at the passing cars and street signs. All the other kids in the neighborhood saw me and I know deep down they all wished it was them sitting in my seat.  All of them knew of the man called The Super. They knew of his heroic escapades. He was the talk of all the other superintendents in the city. He did it all, and when they needed help, they always called him.

“Stephen,” he started saying, “make sure that when we get to the building you take my tool bag and go directly to the basement. I’ll enter the area of the leak and assess the situation then meet you in the basement, okay?”

“Okay, Paul.” I said, happy to once again be called into action.

“There’s the building,” he said pointing to an apartment building down the block. I didn’t have to know the number of the building; it was clear that we had arrived at the right one. There were crowds of people standing around in the street while the tenants were streaming out of the building soaking wet and terrified. A policeman moved away a barricade when he saw that it was Paul in his trademark Rambler automobile.

“CLEAR THE WAY FOLKS, THE SUPER IS COMING THRU, ” the officer was yelling to the crowd.

Paul slowly drove to the front of the apartment building while we both looked out the car window at the water that was dripping from the rooftop down the side of the building into the street. As we exited the car we both stepped into the small stream of water that was now passing under our feet.

“You ready, Stephen?” He asked me

“Yes I am.”

“Okay hurry now, it looks like we don’t have much time. If we don’t fix this leak soon, you and I both will be out of a job. And, our neighborhood will be called Swimwood not Inwood.” He patted me on the back and off I went to the basement. I caught a glimpse of him as he ran into the front door of the building, he showed no fear, only determination to get the job done.

I was in the basement and in position near the boiler room when I heard a huge roar coming down the dumbwaiter shaft. “It must be the water overflowing”. I went to the alleyway and looked up towards the second floor. There was Paul pushing with all his strength against a steel door on the second floor landing. I could see him holding the door with one hand while reaching over with the other to slide a thick metal bar to keep the door closed.


He looked down and saw me. Then I saw a look in his eyes, he was looking past me, but at what?

“STEPHEN LOOK OUT,” he yelled.

I turned just in time to see a wall of water rushing towards me. The water from the dumbwaiter was my last thought as I was swept into the alleyway. Smashing me into metal garbage cans, the water was rising now and as it did I took me with it. I was getting tangled up in the clothes lines that hung there. Paul saw this and yelled for me to hang on. I was trying to but the water was stronger. One of the clotheslines was hanging loose and I kept trying to grab it as it fished like a snake in the rushing water. I almost had a few times and I felt myself getting weaker and going under.

Suddenly I heard Paul yelling; only he wasn’t yelling my name. Through my grogginess and constant gulping of air I could almost make out what he was saying.

“Grrrr lunniy.”

Up and down into the water I went. I kept hearing the yelling.


GO LUCY, why would Paul be yelling that? Then it came clearer to me. I pushed myself out of the waters pull one last time. I could see Paul in a window, he was pointing to something in the water. Something that was coming directly towards me.

IT WAS LUCKY, Paul was yelling GO LUCKY.

It was Lucky, the DiNioa’s black dog. Lucky was swimming towards me with the clothesline in her teeth. I reached out and took the line. Wrapping it around my hand and with Lucky safely in my other arm, Paul pulled us both to the window where he stood.

“Are you alright?” he asked me.

“I’m fine now, thanks to you and Lucky”, I replied.

“Good”, he said, “now let’s go finish this job.”

We all ran towards the basement where I had left Paul’s tool bag. There it was right where I left it, thank god. Paul grabbed the bag and we all sprinted towards the boiler room. When we got there he pointed up at a massive steering wheel looking thing.

“That’s the main for the water pressure. We need to get there and shut that down, “he said as the water was starting to puddle up around my already soaking wet Pro Keds. “When I get to the top, you need to throw me the tool bag, it’s too much for me to climb and carry the bag.”

“Okay Paul,” please be careful I whimpered along with Lucky.

“Don’t you two worry, okay I can handle this,” he said as he scooted up the side of the boiler.

While he climbed I positioned myself underneath the huge boiler and got ready to throw him the tools.

“Okay,” he yelled thru the roar of the water coming down all around him. His clothes were soaked and he was barley holding onto a small piece of steel mounted to the top of the boiler.

“Throw me the bag” “Okay,” I said as water filled my open mouth.

I took the canvas tool bag in both hands. Swinging it thru my open legs I gathered enough momentum and heaved it in the air towards Paul. The bag sailed higher and higher. Paul reached out one hand and with his very fingertips he touched the wet canvas handle of the tool bag. Just then the water exploded into the air and Paul was thrown from where he was. Lucky and I stood there unable to do anything, I was sure that he had been knocked off the top of the boiler; I listened for the sound of his body landing near us. Squinting thru tear and water soaked eyes; I painfully looked up at the spot where I last saw him.

THERE HE WAS, he was still hanging onto the massive wheel. And there in his right hand was THE GOESINTA.

With his trademark smile always warm, bright and reassuring, he winked at Lucky and I as he swang the Goesinta at the rusty steel wheel.  I could see the bulging muscles of his bicep. His arm swung at the steel like he was playing a musical instrument. Slowly at first then with increasing speed the wheel started to turn. The water was slowing down, till finally with one last might swing of the Goesinta the last drop of water fell.

Paul holstered the Goesinta into his belt and slid down the boiler to Lucky and me.

I picked up the wet tool bag as he came over and ruffled my wet hair. Lucky did a gigantic dog shake and almost knocked herself off her own feet. Paul and I both laughed as we walked out of the basement and into the bright sunshine.

“How about a Coke a Cola and a Hostess cupcake Stephen, I think you deserved it.”

I looked up at him and nodded yes. I couldn’t wait to get back to his workshop and hear the phone ring again.


The End…….for now



girl with rose


My Tip Toe Rose


Shall we dance

While we’re here

Just us two

I ask you dear


Will it hurt

When we spin

When your thorns

Start digging in


How can I

Begin to dream

That I know

What you have seen


I can walk

Or skip away

You are where

You must stay


At least until

You are selected

And sadly then

No longer protected


I am grateful

That you chose

Me as partner

My Tip Toe Rose



The Blood of my Brothers


The events of 911 continue to pluck at the heart chords of all true Americans. For me personally, that particular day stole 22 friends, 22 brothers and sisters.


Below is part of a New York Daily News article written about our neighborhood loss and how we honor our fallen friends every day.


The boys of Inwood would be proud.

Proud to see how their childhood buddies have taken care to remember and honor them, the 22 who were killed in the Twin Towers on Sept. 11, 2001.

Guys like Tommy Dowd, Bobby (Rock) O’Shea, James (JimmyMac) McAlary,John Burnside and Christian Regenhard. Joe KellettBrian MonaghanKieran Gorman and Joe Holland.

From the sidewalks and parks and schools of Inwood, they grew up to be cops and firefighters, Wall Street brokers and construction workers. Today, their smiling faces peer up from grey headstones in a memorial garden that’s easy to miss in the city’s hurried pace.


We all knew someone that worked in the towers. They were brokers, electricians, secretaries. And when the call came for first responders, we also knew those that arrived, by the thousands. Rushing into a warzone where only moments before was filled with coffee and newspaper vendors and morning pleasantries between co-workers.


And all through the days and nights that followed, thousands more civilians arrived, so many in fact that some were turned away due to health concerns of the rapidly spreading and deadly asbestos poison that was filling the air. There were moments of hope as someone would shout.” WE FOUND A SURVIVOR” The entire site would come to dead halt with a silence that could be heard to the heavens. Once again it would be a false alarm.  Days turned into weeks and still the fires would burn and smolder.


My younger brother Christopher has been a New York City firefighter for 24 years now and was at Ground Zero until the very last fire detail was removed. He then spent the next several years going to every single fallen firefighter’s funeral he could physically attend.  My brother, my hero spent the next 3 years attending funerals.


While he was working Ground HERO, Chris found few artifacts, and as a dutiful American he notified the American Red Cross. He found a key pad from a telephone, a corner of one of the hundreds of thousands of windows, AND he found an American Flag.  The Flag was shredded and torn, with the colors bleeding in spots. My brother My hero, was not able to save any one single life (on that day anyway)but he did save The Flag.

The Red Cross said that The Flag should be sent to one of their hazardous waste disposal facilities to remove and treat The Flag for asbestos. Chris boxed and sent The Flag to the Red Cross and went about his normal duties. Covering shifts for the now very short staffed fire houses all around the city, and whenever he could he work as many  all the holidays possible so firefighters with little kids could be home with their families.

Weeks became months became years. The Red Cross contacted Chris and told him that HIS Flag was now safe of all containments and that they would ship it to him. He said,” My Flag, oh no,I found it at Ground Zero, it belongs to the folks there.” Their reply was that since HE found it it was legally his property.  They sent The Flag to his firehouse. Chris and his brothers were in awe and they as brothers decided that The Flag should be shared by all.


So, they contacted the Freedom Tower design committee, these were the folks responsible for rebuilding and restoring our great American symbol- the now opened Freedom Tower. They even sent the committee a photo of The Flag.


And to truly understand the significance of what he found that day is to know that “the original flag”, the one immortalized on a US stamp, the flag that was raised by three firefighter at Ground Zero and flew proudly at various US bases overseas- IS MISSING (see Wikipedia notes below)



The flag came from the 130-foot (40 m) yacht named Star of America, owned by Shirley Dreifus of the Majestic Star, which was docked in the yacht basin in the Hudson River at the World Financial Center. McWilliams cut the yardarm off of the yacht with a K-Saw and then took the flag and its pole from the yacht to an evacuation area on the northwest side of the site. They found a pole about 20 feet (6 m) off the ground.

The flag has since disappeared. The city thought it had possession of the flag after the attack, Rudolph Giuliani and George Pataki signed it, and the flag flew at the New York City HallYankee Stadium, and the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) during its service in the Mideast. However, when the flag’s owner prepared to formally donate the flag it was discovered that there was a size discrepancy: while the yacht’s flag measured four feet by six feet, the flag the city had in its possession measured five feet by eight feet.[2]As of 2013, the flag has yet to be found. The owner, Shirley Dreifus, has started a Web site ( in an effort to get the flag back.[3] A 2013 CNNdocumentary film, The Flag, investigates the mystery of this missing 9/11 icon.[4]



Incredibly the Freedom Tower design committee told my brother and I quote,” Thanks but NO THANKS – your torn and tattered flag is not in line with the LOOK we have for the NEW Freedom Tower.

We were stunned to say the least. Word got out about The Flag and my brother and his fellow firefighters soon became inundated with calls from all over the country about The Flag. He was even offered $500,000 from someone who wanted to sell The Flag on ebay.


My brother My hero refused, in fact he told one buyer,” I could and never would sell this Flag, it is bathed in the blood of my brothers and sisters.


To this day The Flag hangs proudly in Engine 48, Ladder 56. If you’re ever in New York City, feel free to stop on and see……




american flag

Another year older and another year wiser, does that sound familiar? Yeah well, that statement didn’t apply to me at all, ever. In fact I do believe my choices and logical thinking got worse. Here’s an example;


One summer night my good buddy Bobby and I were drinking in one of our locals pubs. And just like all good summer nights, we were once again very very drunk. By 3am on this particular night we had reached the point of being so drunk, you can sit and talk about anything at all and every word out of your mouth is profound. Bobby had just ended a long term relationship with Cathy. Up until that very week the two of them were freaking inseparable, totally,totally in love. Something happened and they broke up, why, it doesn’t really matter does it?  She was now dating this other guy and that was the end of it for Bobby and Cathy.

So on this summer night, Bobby and I were determined to drink “his” pain away. Bobby was in a lot of pain and I was just helping him thru the pain. Actually it was me and a bottle of whiskey helping him through the pain. Try as I might, he just wasn’t going to let it go. He couldn’t handle her being with someone else. He wasn’t up to being consoled. The whiskey, drugs and smoke just wasn’t doing it that night. His heart had been broken and he needed to set things right. And when you’re as drunk as we were that night you had to believe you can make things right, at least till you sobered up. Instead of letting this go, Bobby said “I need to see her right now, this minute.”


I said,” Whoa bro, its 3 am. Wait till the morning.”

He said,” No man, right now. I’ve got to see her right now. We need a plan.”

So like the true drunk Irishman we were we came up with “THE PLAN.” A plan to end all plans, the most magnificent of all the ideas ever conceived in all of time. Until now, all other plans since the dawn of time were meaningless and could not hold a candle to our plan. I sat in awe drinking my beer and smoking as Bobby talked of this plan and of all the reasons why his master plan would work.

The Plan;

Cathy lived on the sixth floor, the very top floor of her apartment building. Her bedroom window was in the alleyway, in the back of the building on the sixth floor.

Phase I – Get a big long rope.

Phase II – Go to Cathy’s building with the rope and to climb the stairs to her rooftop.

Phase III – Tie one end of the rope around my waist and the other to Bobby’s waist.

Phase IV – Using my incredible beer muscles, I will gently lower Bobby over the roof edge (six stories up mind you). He will then scale the side of the building till he arrives at           her bedroom window. He will then quietly and expertly climb into her bedroom. Then profess his love for her. She will fall madly “Back in love” with him and all will be as it should.

What a plan, you have to agree.  I bet you could do some research right now and you would still not find a more perfect plan anywhere.


So with 12 more beers and rope in hand we went into her building, climbed the stairs to the rooftop and prepared to put into place the most amazing plan ever.

We located the section of the roof that was directly above Cathy’s window and proceeded to tie one end of the rope around my waist. Then Bobby takes his end of the rope and ties a knot around his waist. We drink a few beers to toast what will be the obvious success of this brilliant plan as he makes his way to the rooftop edge. Not once did we ever think this was a bad idea. Not once did we think that Bobby could DIE.


Bobby straddles the roof edge while I stand about 30 feet from the edge. The one thing we were sure of was that the rope needed to be taught before Bobby goes over the edge of the building, too much slack could result in Bobby falling too fast and possibly dragging me over the rooftop with him. If that was to happen, we would both be splattered into the concrete pavement of the alleyway 75 feet below? The ultimate end result would mean that we could drink NO MORE. And that my dear reader is not an option for Irishmen from Inwood.

So, I get in position and grabbed hold of my end of the rope. I lean slightly backwards to give the rope even less slack as Bobby puts one leg then the other over the rooftop and slides off like those SWAT guys do in the movies. We had it all figured out, right?

Well the one thing we didn’t plan on was the dead weight I would be carrying once Bobby was hanging in the air hanging. The second his weight pulled on the rope it yanked me towards the roofs edge so quickly that I never had a chance to get my footing. As he began a freefall downward I tried to gain my balance and footing. I could not and my body was dragged to the edge, luckily there was a 3 foot high brick parapet around the perimeter of the roof. I slammed head first into that wall and for a moment I didn’t feel any pull on the other end of the rope. Had Bobby fallen? Did his rope become untied? I hadn’t heard the thud of his body hitting the concrete; I actually knew what that would sound like. Shaking the cobwebs from my head that hit the brick wall, I was able to slowly sit up. Now I could feel his weight I could hear the rope as it stretched over the roofs edge. I could hear the scrapping of his body as it brushed the brick of the building below.

Bobby had dropped almost 20 feet at the same speed that I had been dragged. He slammed into the side of the building. The rope swayed right and left. Somehow it slowed down its swinging and settled. I am now holding onto a very heavy Bobby on a rope.

Suddenly I feel the rope slacken and I’m like “Oh shit he fell, I lost him.”

In a loud yet terrified whisper I call over the edge “Bobby you still there?”

He says, “I’m okay I’m at her bedroom window now”, with the weight suddenly gone from the rope. I can stand up and peek over the edge and I see his feet going into the window.


We survived this minor setback of “The Plan.”


Man that was close, I plop down onto the rooftop and with y back against the parapet wall I crack open a beer and spark up a joint. As I’m enjoying myself and catching my breath from nearly dying a sudden thought occurred to me. We never talked about how the hell he was going to get back up to the roof? Oh well, I guess we’ll figure something out when the time comes.  I drink a few more beers and eventually fall asleep with my end of the rope still hanging over the roof edge. The next thing I remember is Bobby standing over me saying, “OB get up let’s go, come on lets go.”

I look up at Bobby, amazed that he is standing there over me. We grab our rope and what’s left of our dignity and started to walk across the roof towards the stairwell. I look around the roof and it dawned on me that we both could have, should have died here tonight, it was so close. As we walk down the many many stairs out of the building and into the city night I said to Bobby, “So how did it go? Did you tell her that you loved her and how you want her back?”

He doesn’t say anything for a minute then he stops and takes a seat on the hood of a parked car.

He starts to compose his thoughts then he looks over at me and begins:


“After I stepped off the roof edge and slammed into the side of the building wall and after I finally stopped swinging back and forth.  I thought to myself, this might have been a bad idea. But what the hell, I’m here now right? So I had no choice but to climb into Cathy’s window at the very least to just save my ass. Once inside her room I crept over to her bed to awaken the girl that I love. I was going to tell her that we were meant to be together forever, that my love for her was endless. As I looked down at her angelic sleeping face and the soft bed that I had known so well.  I noticed that there were 4 not 2 feet and the end of the bed. She had another man in her bed. SHIT, now what?

So I sat there on the bedroom floor for a moment to get my head together. I came to a conclusion.   After what I just did for her, hanging off the roof like that, “well hell she just didn’t deserve me.” So I sneaked through her apartment and out the front door.”

Now, I’m not sure if this is a good ending, but that’s how it happened. He had love and he lost love, but you cannot fault the guy for trying.

We went to some sleazy afterhours bar and drank some more.


I guess the best laid plans can backfire on you.


In this instance our best plan didn’t include Bobby’s girl getting laid.

Love Stinks! sometimes




There was this dream I had last night. One of many dreams last night in fact. In some of my dreams I’m a hero, saving the less heroic. I’m sure I would be a real hero in real life if I ever called upon.

I’ve nothing left to lose so I’d have nothing to fear.

Yet this one dream last night was about “her,” or maybe it was really about “me.” Maybe me and her, oh hell, the truth is the dream was about MY HEART. MY HEART; the very interior of MY HEART.

I found myself actually inside of my own heart. What a sensation it was to know that I am inside of myself. Not in the typical way. This was different, much different

I know it’s me on the outside I can hear my own voice and now, now it’s me on the inside.  Looking around while inside MY HEART I could see the layers upon layers of milky red walls, the miles and endless miles of blood vessels that wormed their way around me, pulsing and pushing the purest blood to every part of my body.

I was inside the very thing that keeps me/us alive. Was this really a dream? I can feel the vibrating red walls; I can hear the deafening beating and drumming of MY HEART. As I look in wonder around at this majestic new prison cell I am in, I wonder if I will ever be able to leave, if I will ever awaken and once again be outside of me. Will I want to?

I reach out to touch the delicious looking milky red walls of MY HEART and as I do it shakes and retreats away from me.  I don’t understand why is MY HEART pulling away from me? I reach again and once again MY HEART withdraws from my touch. What have I done, why does MY HEART not want MY touch? Suddenly I feel the sensation of falling. I’m falling! Not just me, everything IN HERE is dropping, falling downward, and spiraling out of control. I can’t hold onto anything because MY HEART continues to elude me as I struggle to grab something. Faster and faster MY HEART sinks, deeper it and I go, but to where? Part of me wants to wake up and have this dream become nightmare over with. But NO I want to stop this falling; I want to help MY HEART.

My ears are now bombarded with the sound of the red milky walls cracking and splitting open. The sound is horrible; it’s like a wailing or crying. The sound won’t stop, and as I fall faster towards I don’t know where, the crying is all around. I notice that there is now no beating in MY HEART only the cracking and now a gurgling sound, as if MY HEART was drowning. I feel the rain as it showers down upon me, only it’s not rain, its, its TEARS. MY HEART is crying and gurgling on its/MY tears. Falling, gurgling, and spiraling. I try to scream but no sound comes out of my mouth. I reach up to touch my mouth my lips but there is nothing there. No lips, no opening. I try to look at my hands, but I cannot see.

I cannot feel me anymore.

I am but a whisper inside my head, inside MY HEART, a mere notion of something once now gone.

1977 – Top song on the radio was “Hotel California”




It was July 1977; I just turned 18 years old. For most kids my age it was time for proms and enjoying the last summer before going to college. For some that might be a milestone, for me it meant that I was now walking on the thinnest of ice. I was now old enough to be charged as an adult for any crimes I would commit from this day forward.



“SHIT SHIT SHIT, I’m going to be late. I hate being late when I have to meet him, “I was thinking to myself. I was walking fast, maybe sort of running actually. I had to meet Mr. J. That’s what everybody called him. I remember his real name but it doesn’t matter now so we’ll stick with Mr. J. He was this big drug dealer in our neighborhood. He always had pot, coke, smack, if you could name it Mr. J sold it. He never actually dealt drugs himself. He always had younger guys carrying and selling drugs for him. I was one of those younger guys, and right now I was late for a meeting with Mr. J, shit I hate being late. It was around 3pm and it was hot and sticky today.


Just a few days had passed since the great blackout of 1977 in New York City. The entire city was without power.  Every traffic light, every store, and every single city power was out for more than 24 hours. There were over 1,000 fires set by looters and rioters. It was also The Summer of Sam. Sam was this physco nutjob running around shooting and killing lovers while they were kissing in their parked cars.  Crazy, crazy shit happened that summer.

The day after the blackout me and this buddy of mine named Ray made these t-shirts that said “I Survived the 1977 NYC Blackout”. We made them in all sizes and colors, Ray and I sold a shitload of theses shirts at $5.00 a piece. My day started like this; Mr. J said I had to go handle this big pot delivery coming into the bus terminal. I figured no problem; I’ll just go to midtown Manhattan and sell some t- shirts while I wait for the bus to come in. I sold a lot of shirts that day and still had a bunch of them stuffed in these two brown paper bags when I went to meet the pot delivery. I hustled over to The Port Authority bus terminal at 42nd Street and 8th Ave to meet the courier. After the exchange I went into the terminal bathroom and put the pot in the bottom of my shopping bags and the t-shirts of top of the pot. I then took the A train from 42nd Street to Dyckman Street, where I was to meet Mr. J and his boyfriend.  I had always been a good solider for Mr. J.  But there was never a good reason to be late. Especially today, today I had a big delivery. In each paper bag I had about 5 pounds of Columbian Gold, the finest and “sweetest smoking herb you ever had.”

I got off the subway train and was walking up Broadway, I was almost at the corner now and I could see Mr. J leaning up against his big black Cadillac. Even from across the street I could see his smiling eyes. He knew that I had the good stuff and my bags were worth a whole lot of money to him.

I was about to cross the street when the following events unfolded right before my eyes.  I could actually see everything taking place out of the corner of my eye as I stepped off the sidewalk and into the street.


I saw the big green city bus.

I saw the small car in front of the big bus.

And I even saw the cop car that was slowly driving behind the big bus, the cop driving was actually looking right at me.

Then it all happened so fast. The small car in front of the green city bus slammed on his brakes in an attempt to pull into a parking spot. The city bus didn’t have a chance to stop and slammed into the small car. The bus “crushed” the little car into some other parked cars and right behind the bus was that cop car. The cop car screeches to a stop just barely missing the back of the bus. The impact of the bus and car, the screeching tires from the cop and the image of me almost getting hit by something halted me in my tracks. I didn’t move a muscle, I should have but I didn’t.

Less than 50 yards away and right across the street looking at me was Mr. J.

Less than 5 yards away from me was this traffic accident.

It suddenly occurred to me that I’m the only person on the street here.  I was the single, one and only fucking person on that very corner at that very moment. The cop that was driving and staring at me just moments ago gets out of his car. With his hat in one hand and his other hand scratching his head he sees me trying to indiscreetly cross the street behind his cop car with my two bags of some pot and t-shirts. He runs over and stands in front of me and starts babbling about how, “I WAS THE ONLY GODDAMN WITNESS.”


So there I was standing in the middle of this car accident talking with this cop with 10 freaking pounds of the “sweetest smoking herb” you ever tasted under some t-shirts in paper shopping bags. SHIT SHIT SHIT.

I could see Mr. J waving his hands and trying to get me to walk away, but the goddamn cop was saying “Hold on a second there son, we’re going to need you to write down what you saw.” I was like “Officer I got to go, I’m late, and I can’t hang around.” The other cop gets out of the car and yells “Just put him in the car, we’ll get his statement down at the station.” I had no choice but to get into the police car or I would be risking the cops getting suspicious. Worse yet, if I ran they would start chasing me and I wasn’t going to get too far with my bags. So I got into the car and off we go, as I look out the rear patrol car window I see Mr. J screaming and waving his arms.


There was nothing I could do, nothing.


Back in the 70’s pot was pretty common. The cops didn’t have drug dogs walking around all the time like they do now. Besides the stuff I as carrying was professionally wrapped and packaged. This wasn’t some amateur operation, Mr.J and his connections took their pot business very serious. I was one of 2 dozens guys that picked up for him on a weekly basis. There were a lot of people who would have trouble seeing me getting into a cop car with their merchandise.

We get to the 34th Precinct police station a place I had been so many times I couldn’t begin to count.  The cop tells me to sit on a wooden bench by the front desk and says” don’t worry kid we’ll get you back home with your groceries before you know it.”

I’m laughing to myself yeah thanks officer; “my mommy really wants these groceries.”

So there I sit on this bench in the middle of the goddamn police station AND to make matters worse it’s the middle of a goddamn shift change. There had to be dozens and dozens of cops walking around, and here I sit with 10 pounds of “the sweetest smoking herb you ever had” tucked between my legs.

I’m sitting there for 10 minutes before finally the same cop comes over, sits down next to me on the wooden bench to take my statement of the accident.

“Remember the car accident?” He asks.

“Yes officer I do remember”, I reply.

He asks me “so what exactly did you see?”

Who do you think was at fault? BLAH BLAH BLAH.

He had this clipboard with a sheet of paper with lines on it resembling the intersection. He is talking and making little cars and city buses in his drawing. His eyes were looking downward at the clipboard, it was at this moment that he looks at my shopping bags and says, and “Hey what’s that in your shopping bag? Are those t-shirts? He yanks the top one out of my bag before I could react and he holds it up to look at the writing. “These are great shirts kid; do you have a green one in extra large?”


I’m freaking dying here as this cop starts reaching in my bag grabbing t-shirts. Before you know it, other cops that are walking by see this happening and they’re stopping and saying, “hey nice t-shirts.” Another cop asks me, “Do you have a red one?” “I have a son and a daughter do you have any small sizes?” The cop sitting on the bench with me starts to reach into my bags to sort thru the t-shirts. I barked at him,” I got it for you, I’ll get it, here you go, you want a blue one?”



This goes on for what seemed like forever and finally everyone that wants a shirt gets a shirt (and hell yeah I charged them for the shirts, $5 bucks each).

I finally sell the last shirt to the last freaking cop in that goddamn police station. I lean back against the wooden bench, “Whew that was close.” I look down at my paper bags and I swear to god there must have been only a ½ dozen t-shirts left on each pile of pot in each bag.

One more freaking “cop t-shirt rush” and they would have seen “the sweetest smoking herb you ever had.” We finish up the accident interview and the cop says to me, “thanks for helping out kid, let me give you a ride back to your neighborhood.” I’m like “no, no I’m alright I’ll hop in a cab or take the bus really officer it’s no problem.”

He’s like, “no way, it’s the least I can do since you helped us.”


So once again I climb into a police car with my two bags of t-shirts and the “sweetest smoking herb you ever had.” We get back to same intersection where all this just started a few hours ago. And low and behold, still leaning against his big black caddy is Mr. J. This time he’s not smiling, he’s got this real pissed off look on his face like I was a rat or something. Not to mention here I am bringing the cops right to his feet.

Never happen, because I’m no rat and I would never ever skip out on anyone I was doing business with. I finally cross the street to him and I tell him everything that happened. I was waiting for him to pull out a gun and smack the shit out of me but instead he starts laughing, pats me on the head and says “get in the car little dude, let’s get the fuck out of here.” We drive back to his house and we get stoned right until the morning, then I lock myself in the back bedroom so I can sleep in peace. He has a big house and lots of people are always coming and going so he gave this back bedroom to me and another buddy so we could lock it from the inside while we sleep, but that is another story for another time.


We are inside and still the storm has its way with us- Not afraid are we having weathered storms before – Yet this one seems to be of a more personal nature – It seems as if this one has a path, a direction, a mission – it is in itself a vein to which we must accept just as we accept the now evaporating air we struggle to breath – To not be terrified and alarmed right now would be a mistake – The fact that this storm is inside and not of the exterior norm, is frightening – The very color of our blood has become  not blue or red but black – The designs of who we are or who we were have been molded and melted into something too vulgar to see or touch – This is the moment that all dread of and some dream about- When everything you knew or thought you knew to be true is now slowly and surely leaving with the storms windy current – Say goodbye to love, hope and life – say hello to disbelief, terror and pain – NOW run to escape – OR wait and overcome- your choice – I’ve made mine…