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toot tootOperation Pressure Point, 1983. The cops move in en masse and shut down the nickel-bag stores and the corner dealers, making the area safe for yuppiefication. “Country” gets taken away, fidgeting in the cuffs. Other neighborhood fixtures disappear—“Wolf Man,” who howled at passersby and went barefoot 365 days a year; “Dirt Man,” who was filthy from head to toe but so good-looking that people thought he was some kind of performance artist pretending to be a berserk vagrant; and “Cop Seat Girl,” this neatly dressed black gal who sat all day on a stoop outside a Con Ed plant under some graffiti that read “Cop Seat.” First to arrive are the nightclubs, then the NYU students, then the suburban kids, a big-budget film shoot, and, finally, the beer-freaks, spare-changing from the tourists outside the Odessa (kielbasa and eggs, $1.39).

Someone announces a block-committee meeting; they want to take the city up on an offer to put trees in juan henry worked herethe sidewalk. All the white people want the trees (what could be wrong with trees?), but the Hispanics are against it, saying that prettifying the block will just drive the rents up. The whites are kind of numb—how can anyone not like trees?—but they’re cowed by the palpable hostility. One guy who wears his shirt open and a ratchet on his belt is accused of bringing a weapon to the meeting. “This is no weapon!” he says, daring anyone to differ. “This is a tool!”
Philip Dray, “I’m A Renter,” from New York Calling

By the murky waters of Newtown Creek, The Music Director drifts onward: old 14th Street captured by Robert Sietsema in the late 1970s; headline via The Scene Is Now Total Jive (1986), probably purchased used at Pier Platters in Hoboken, NJ when some felt Hoboken a viable miniature Brooklyn (Henry Miller’s Williamsburg, if not Carmine Galante’s Bushwick); Biague Lives in Gowanus & along Coney Island Creek also but by the summer of 2007, there were no known Gamby Hale Girls left in the Eastern District, just BZA & her coconuts. That machete she carries is no weapon, “it’s a tool!”

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