What exactly do these two places have in common?Well,they both begin with a "B", both were and are tough places to live , and both are crumbling relics, ghosts of what they once were.Ah yes, one other thing. I have lived in both places.
Yes, the Cedar Street Kid moved to the depth of Hell,the Bronx,New York.And not only the Bronx, but the infamous South Bronx. You won't find the South Bronx on the bus tours of the City.The year was 1988, and the Bronx and the City as a whole were in the throes of decline.Barkers, in a carnvial like cadences ,would shout their wares out as you walked down the street."Crack,Cocaine,Crack,Cocaine" You almost expected to hear them say"Step right up,get your crack here, only five dollars."Many times someone would walk up to me and say'I have whatever you need."
My first night in the Bronx I was awakened to the sound of"pop-pop-pop-and they were not firecrackers going off.You got used to it after awhile. I got where I couldn't go to sleep without the peaceful sounds of an automatic weapon firing in the unbreathable,muggy, stifling,New York air. The good part was that I lived less than two blocks from Yankee Stadium!
Yes, Yankee Stadium, "the House that Ruth Built.",the Vatican of baseball, the home of the baseball gods,. And,I actually lived in the same apartment building that Babe Ruth had once lived in.Everyday I caught the train into Manhattan right in front of the Stadium. Of course, the secret of getting on the train was not getting murdered in the two blocks from my apartment to the train.
I kid you not. It was that bad.Without sounding racist, well,I was the only white person for miles.
I figured that they either thought I was insane or a cop.Or maybe they thougth I was an insane cop.
Either way, they, for the most part,left me alone.One night I , yes I must have been insane, walking though the crime capital of the world at night, was rounding a corner of a dark street. Ahead about one hundred feet was a gang . As I rounded the corner someone shouted"The Man", and they took off running.I thought to myself,"this could be a good thing, or this could get me killed."In case you are wondering, it didn't get me killed.
The sites, the smells, the sounds of the City are like no other sounds in the world.
Next-the sites, the sounds, the smell of Burke.