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  • Writer's pictureMatt Goias

How You Been

It’s been way too long since I’ve been back home.

I’m on the corner of Prince and Lafayette, where I used to always get breakfast with Steve, right after he first got to town for good, back when it was Buffa’s. Now that I think about it, that’s probably who cursed this corner... Buffa, not Steve. (Wait, maybe Steve a little bit too)

This address has been home to a million restaurants since the departure of Little Italy’s beloved spoon o’ grease, but nothing’s ever quite worked out.

There’s a lot of cursed places like this (“voodoo spots” I call ‘em) around this city. I think there may have been an article about it once in one of the weeklies that have also vanished. Whatever this place is called now, they have the COVID hut outside and it’s full of diners who have no idea what they’re doing. Everybody knows you never eat at this place. I gotta remember to always believe in myself and remember that all these people are brand, brand new.

It’s pretty bugged out, walking around a city where everybody is the most stylish person you’ve ever seen in your life. Everybody looks so great. Every last one of ‘em. Maybe I’ll let them all see me in passing and wonder. I want them to see me racing through the steamy COVID mist in front of Bar Pitti. I will not look up or make eye contact. I will appear aloof and uninterested in their rigatoni because I am aloof and uninterested in their rigatoni. I’ve got too much work to do. Too much catching up. Here’s to getting “back in touch the rhythm and blues”.

Who, among us, remembers Billy’s Stopless on Sixth?

I know they’ve seen me talking to myself in the streets, repeating my mantra. I’m Richard Lewis in many colors.

Why do I always think Shonda Rhimes wrote The Secret?

Everybody’s sitting outside Aime Leon Dore in rare New Balances and meaningful shades of hunter green. Everybody’s got that same brown dog right now, the fluffy one with curly cue hair.

Sammy’s Noodles is closed. So is Bowery Bar. What an amazing space, such a shame. Me and Jauretsi brought in the New Year there one year for Audrey.

They closed Lucky Strike (my all-time favorite) and on the corner of Houston and Bowery, a boarded-up doorway conceals what Keith McNally described as his “only mistake”. Unrelated, Bar Six is still there on Sixth. There’s people outside with champagne and it’s only Tuesday. On all the sidewalks, blue-blooded Connecticut Hepburns have bass in their voices when they speak of their children who are all named after adult males from the 1940s… two year old Harolds and Hanks and Henries.

A little further downtown, I saw an Electromagnetic tag for the very first time since we attempted to attend a poetry reading at KGB Bar with some Manhattanite mutuals. If anyone was wondering, Cash RFC is still King of the Box Trucks. They’re running up and down Allen and everywhere.

Anybody know what’s up with Joey Bats? The Portuguese on Allen?

On the darkened 20s, beautiful essentials in MTA uniforms walk together after their shift. I hear them wondering about “who pulled the trigger” as they pass a couple sitting with drinks on folding chairs listening to DMX on a boombox. The subway ladies whip their necks around quickly and the Ruff Ryder lovers lean nosily forward when some drama breaks out at the bar up the block. Two women are beating on each other and everyone on the sidewalk quickens their step. The couple with the boombox turns The Lox up slightly, but it fails to obscure the ongoing donnybrook.

On Seventh Avenue, a stunning woman eats a cheeseburger alone inside some place and, looking across the street, it occurs to me that Sweetgreens is the absolute worst. Get my dinner off my salad. You’ll never win friends with hot lettuce.

Off-duty New Jersey Transit conductors spill onto Eighth Ave and strut together in small groups, walking and talking and laughing. They’re wearing white shirts with the top buttons undone after a long day on the rails.

My legs are black and blue from walking. Krystal told me it’s just torn tissue. I’m positive tonight’s gonna be one of those New York Nights

Hey, let’s all go to Time’s Square, the center of the world and home to the world’s latest Margaritaville location. They have a giant flip flop for taking pictures, and a giant pop top underneath. (You gotta know the lyrics)

These buildings along Fashion Avenue house the capitalism that killed many of our families. If not exactly here, well, then certainly then some similar building. Maybe on Madison or out in Jersey. Doesn’t really matter. Here’s where they all were while we roamed the blocks, unruly, patrolling for girls, money, liquor, weed, and records.

Just a half block behind the giant New’s Years Eve screens, someone is strumming the Beatles outside of an Irish bar. A few more blocks down, on the corner of 43rd and Seventh, someone’s playing The Blackbyrds “Walking in Rhythm”. My clothes are perfumed with halal grill smoke and I can’t help but to look at all the sexy fat butts.

Headed downtown, I pass the Sunglass Hut where we had a party with Sean Paul and I took my last photo of Dust.

A bag of peanuts is two dollars for one, or three-for-five. I’m sitting on a rock in the square of trumpets, blissfully eating some honey roasteds.

Have you ever seen someone do parkour in real life?

Does anybody remember Mayrose over by Flatiron? Perhaps the first fancy concept-diner. An early adopter of “comfort food" marketing.

I can’t believe there’s still people coming home from office jobs this late and I can’t believe working women are still pairing sneakers with skirts and hose, the same look they lampooned and celebrated way back in the Pointer Sisters and Lily Tomlin 80’s. I love it.

There’s a big, fake Pastis called “The Smith.” Looks dumb.

There’s still a 40/40, right over there

There’s an Eataly kiosk and a man coughing right next to it, praising Liz Cheney to his skeptical friend. Everything has become a beacon to commerce. Every place has such great merch and there’s some really amazing food in the basement of the carpet store.

Can you believe some of these buildings?

Can you believe some of these looks?

Remember when this place was a Diesel store?

Remember when that place was a Diesel store?

Remember the Palladium parking lot?

Remember the graffiti Venus de Milo?

Remember Graffiti Pizza on 23rd, serving the pride of S.V.A.?

I’m taking a break and a “load off”. Sitting on the Union Square steps, next to some well-protected Russian ladies.

Max Brenner’s chocolate restaurant is still in business and basically nothing makes sense to me anymore.

The L rumbles below as impeccably-dressed Japanese step lively in elegant burgundies, grays, and mustards. Old men walk by, up to date on the latest memes.

Someone starts playing “Ramping Shop” loud and everything is perfect. Everything is finally falling into place. None of this is real but it’s all really happening.

“Deal with your breast like the crushing iris…”

I’m singing out loud and I don’t care. I’m smoking “loud", right there on the stairs. They’re playing Machel now but I gotta get up and leave.

There’s a guy now who writes graffiti under the name “Fat Jay”. He's getting up everywhere. My homie told me he’s from Jersey and I immediately decide to support him.

I can’t believe it’s so nice out but start-up bros still feel the need to scream deal memo points into the night. It’s 77 and perfect out and my feet hurt.

Ben wants to know why there’s a Sour Patch Kids store.

We all do.

The streets are telling me which way to go.

What if I come across my archenemies while crossing Houston?

Maybe I’ll punch them right in the face with a left.

588 Broadway, where I got slightly off course at The Source.

Now I’m sitting on Prince, smoking a strain called Wedding Cake. God damn, I got so much so wrong but I’m still here and “at-large". There’s mad memories in the Mulberry shadows. Everywhere is haunted, including the darkened cathedral, just down the street from the Ethiopian spot that everyone used to love. The many ghosts of Prince. I’ve always wanted Gitanes to get rid of the cous cous raisins. Real heads know.

There’s so many different people here for so many different reasons.

Bankers speak confidently to the gathered crowd awaiting their food. He’s gonna get to the bottom of the empanadas. Everyone rolls their eyes. In the corner, there are kids who look like modern day ravers. I can’t even remember the last time I hung out with some elegant European cigarette-smoking artsy types. It’s 11:11 and I know they’re sending me a big bag pretty soon.

Most of the city is people standing around waiting or sitting down eating or standing around waiting for someplace to sit down and eat.

In an exclusive and well-art-directed Chinatown ping pong parlor, bros engage in a spirited match. One of ‘em is wearing a Madball t-shirt. That’s Roger from Agnostic Front’s younger brother’s band. I know my mother still worries about me a lot.

Shout to the street legends out of Alfred E. Smith houses. Shout to each and every C-Town. Shout to the O.G.s in sleeveless shirts playing Mic Mac and Cutting Freestyle out of cars, scooters, and benches.

I feel like I’m starting to see things more straight. Maybe it’s the Delta 88 from Smith Street or the dispensary fare brought over from Nevada.

Gonna grab one last seven dollar drink from the deli before I go home. I told the guy, “Give the change to somebody who’s short”.

Guess I really did my thing.

Buy the How You Been zine here


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