Friday, September 24, 2004

I am now having a hard time noticing the good things about this city. There was the sun setting this evening and the dusk that followed, and that wowed me like it always does on hungover days, but I think that is the nice thing about every place. No matter where you are there is always that beautiful hour of dusk, where people walk slower because the sky is great looking and they were once children and these were there last moments on the block to play before they were called in to dinner.

And obviously the reason I am noticing the ugliness of people today is because I witnessed it in such a major way last night. This afternoon, I was walking through Union Square and there was this old, homeless looking man playing the harmonica to make money. A kid ahead of me, twelve years old or so, a rich looking kid, tossed some change at his feet, did not hand him it to him, did not set it before him, but instead scattered a handful of pennies around his feet so that he had to pick up each fucking penny from where it was thrown. On my way home, I stopped at the Chinese place to pick up an order of dumplings and there was a group of young guys hanging out in there waiting for their food, and one of the boys yelled to this nice, beautiful woman, "Hey Chang, how much longer?" I saw the frustration in her face, and she paused before grudgingly saying way too politely, "It's almost ready."

Both of these things made me so sad, made me want to leave this town for somewhere else, made me wish I had the money to do so. And neither of these incidents would have affected me so much if I already wasn't disgusted with our inability to treat other people as human beings after my treatment last night when I got mugged. I had left Plaid where I went with Luke and some other hot queers to celebrate his birthday. I got into the Union Square subway station, had just missed the train, and tired and drunk, waited about twenty minutes for another train to come. One finally came and I plopped myself down at the empty end of a car because I was tired and didn't want to sit next to anyone. Then this other man got on the train and sat right across from me, which annoyed me since there were so many other empty spaces in the train to sit. I sat there spacing out until I heard him saying something to me. "Huh?" I asked, and he repeated himself: "Which club did you just come from?" He saw the stamp on my hand and I told him which one. He kept on asking more questions, just the where are you heading, how was your night type questions that people hitting on you normally ask. I kept on having to ask him to repeat himself since I couldn't hear him, and so he just came and sat next to me, which I was real annoyed about. After a couple questions, I said, "Look, I am really too tired to try to have a conversation right now. I just want to sit here and space out."

He went back over to his seat and I felt even more uncomfortable now and really wanted to move, but did not want to seem rude or make him uncomfortable. That was definitely a decision that I regretted this morning. He shortly came back over and sat next to me, and asked me if I had any money I could spare him. I told him no, that I am far too broke to part with any money. He asked again and gently set his hand on my knee. I said, "Hey, don't touch me." He had an intense, crazy look in his eyes in response to this, and guided me with his eyes to his other hand where there was a razor blade sitting in his palm. He asked again if I could spare him any money. I told him that I didn't have any money, told him how little money I make an hour, told him that I eat chickpeas for dinner, and that no, I cannot spare him any money. He then told me that I could run, screaming, hollering through the trains, but that he would catch me, and did I know how easily a razor can cut my throat.

"Now, I am not asking for a lot, just whatever you can give me, ten or fifteen." This, with the razor near my leg. "All right," I said, "I can give you two dollars. Then will you leave me alone?" Sure, he lied. Once I opened my wallet though, which I tried to do away from his eyesight, he said come on just one more dollar, make it three. I consented like you do when someone is threatening you with a razor. He then sat there staring at me intensely, saying that I had lied to him. "You lied to me. You said you didn't have any money on you. You don't do that. You don't lie to people. Especially in Brooklyn. I saw at least fifty in there. Now let me see your wallet." I hemmed and hawed, tried to interrupt him, thought about telling him you also don't steal from people, don't threaten them, forget fucking lying, but didn't (probably for the best), because I was cut off, him telling me how last week, he had to slice a girl, young too, that wouldn't listen. As you probably also would have done at this news (a lie or not), I handed him my wallet. He took out the cash, my money to eat and ride the subway this week. I told him this also, that that's what he was taking, and of course, he didn't care. He handed me my wallet back, told me not to get off, to stay seated, as he exited at the Bedford station. He stood right by the door until they were closed to make sure I didn't get up. The train I was on was pretty full, but apparently no one noticed this, that or no one cared to say anything.

I got off at the very next stop, the Lorimer stop, and ran to the tollbooth attendant to tell her that I had just been mugged on the train, that the guy just got off the Bedford stop and to alert the police. I was hoping that this person could still be caught. Leisurely, she called the police and told them, and told me that an officer would be by soon and to wait there. I waited close to fifteen minutes (!!!) in front of the tollbooth before the police called her back and told me to walk to the police station which apparently is right in the subway station. Why the hell wasn't I told to go there fifteen minutes ago? I gave a description of the incident to a policeman who filled out a few forms and this took at least half an hour. Then, at the end, he told me that there was a cop waiting at the top of the stairs to drive me around and see if I spotted the guy. Annoyed, I asked him if that was really going to do any good to go looking for someone an hour after the fact. He assured me that it might do good. I met the two officers upstairs, told them what happened and told them that it had happened an hour ago. Shocked, they said, "An hour ago?!" And I got in the car, was driven around and both of them talked about how outrageous this was, how there is a policeman in the Bedford stop and that he should have been called by the dispatcher right away, how there were six cars waiting to go at the Lorimer station, and someone should have put me in a car immediately to look for the guy, rather than an hour after the fact. I was glad to hear that the people downstairs had messed things up, because I was really wondering if this was standard procedure. These two cops were nice and smart, and I think they were going to go complain about how poorly this was handled, which is nice of them to care, but also pretty obnoxious that the people downstairs were so inept.

I spent the day asleep and annoyed, conjuring superhero fantasies about dropkicking this subway asshole, thought about power, how a tiny piece of metal had the effect of rendering me powerless and how it has always been this way, how those with weapons will always be able to render those without them impotent, will be able to dictate what happens.

Yesterday, I wanted to tell you all about the great exhibits I saw, now I don't have the energy. But, I will just say that the Hernan Bas show at Daniel Reich is amazing, filled me with wonderful sensations. These are the best paintings I have seen in so long. And I have to remember these paintings, the people I saw yesterday, have to remember that for the most part yesterday filled with so much joy. I am sure that joy is still there, it was not devoured by the incidents later in the night, that it is just shaded by the event, in hiding, but I have to keep loving, bring it into the light, keep talking to strangers, have to not fear certain people, have to keep in mind that everyone is a human being, my sibling.

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