Thursday, July 7, 2022

That Damned South Street!

November 23, 2009 by  
Filed under Secrets of NYC, Stories


(Photos by Bald Punk – South Street)

After a week in which I had found clouds at every turn during the day, including inside various dust-choked demo-sites where I worked, that Friday night was supposed to have been a good one. Off early from work, I went home, took a shower, and zipped back out to one of my favorite watering holes, Murphs’ bar. The place is perched on the third floor of South Street Seaport Mall on Pier 17. You can get a beer and then go lounge on the outdoor deck that wraps around three sides of the mall. The deck provides dramatic East River views, from the monumental Brooklyn Bridge to the north, and Upper NY Bay to the south.

Pier 17
Pier 17

Something must have been in the air, because from the edges of the known and unknown universe, my coolest mofos were coming to kick-it sky high. That included various wives, girlfriends, boyfriends, “friends”, and one gumada. Some of the luminaries included Dizzy D, Polar Bear Dave, film editing guy, Rocky, Frankie funerals, IC lighting Martinez, Louie Trips, Rockhead, and a guy with a Redsox hat that we all know but like to ignore.

With all my friends around I was certain to have a great time. Plus there was cold beer, a glorious cityscape, and a food court open late. What more could a person ask for!

Oh, for the record, we were meeting at MacMenamin’s Irish Pub, which is also on the third floor of Pier 17.

View from Pier 17
View from Pier 17

Though my lady friend(LF) had me meet her and the pizza and Chinese delivery guys(aka num and nuts) on Fulton Street, which runs perpendicular to the pier. She usually does that when we go out with a large group of my friends, because num and nuts like to walk into places behind me. I don’t mind.

In a terrific mood as I listened to my iPod, I had beer on the brain, plus friends and gormandizing. Before I knew it my toes were tapping and my head was bobbing. I began to weave like a boxer. At first glance, I might have looked like a nut on the busy Fulton Street, which is the main road through Historic South Street. But since I had my iPod clearly visible in the palm of my hand, and the wires were in my ears, it was okay. People knew it was the music.

I was enjoying some real cool alternative tunes from a time when alternative meant alternative. Some of the groups were For Against, My Bloody Valentine, and Savage Republic. During one song in particular, Procession by Savage Republic, I really lost it–shimmying in a herky-jerky manner that verged on spasmodic. That’s what a great song will do to you.

Though I might have taken it to the extreme, becoming “all elbows and knees.” Perhaps I danced a little like Elaine from Seinfeld.

Something caught my eye.

In the direction of the looming skyscrapers at the city’s center, I perceived the faint outline of phantom hills. They were dark green. I turned away and faced Pier 17, half-closing my eyes. I didn’t want to be tempted by “the hills” as I had been the week before.

Ever so slowly, it seemed the spirit of old world South Street came over me. It took awhile to realize what was happening, like becoming aware of tiny spiders all over my body.

Fulton Street
Fulton Street

When I lowered the volume on my iPod, I heard what sounded like creaking and popping noises from sea worn, wooden hulls, possibly of long-gone clipper ships. I also recognized the clopping and clattering of horse-drawn carts over cobbled streets. And there were voices, lots of voices. Some were familiar . . .

I turned off the music as I zeroed in on one “conversation” in particular. It was disjointed, incoherent–surely the rantings of drunkards. The closer I listened, the other sounds faded. Now I just heard the voices along with background ramblings that seemed clumped in the same vicinity.

Months ago I had dreamed of these “barroom voices”. The coincidence terrified me. To hear them again was mind-boggling.

A cold hand clasped the back of my neck. Someone cried, “hoo-hoo!”

I swung around to see my LF and num and nuts. If I wasn’t frazzled enough, the three of them had just gotten their haircut and styled. All their locks were sculpted and teased in a similar manner(num and nuts have great hairlines).

I was still tuned into the otherworldly voices. When my LF spoke, her voice rang sharply in my head. “What’s going on Baldie!” she said, laughing.

In an agitated state, made worse by their similar haircuts, I screamed, “I’m hearing voices!”

Only a few heads turned, but I could feel many sharp glances on the crowded street.

I closed my mouth tight, knowing I couldn’t take back what I had said. So I stated what I thought was the obvious, “It’s that damned South Street!” I said and pointed ahead to it. “It gets to me every time.”

Here are all the posts in this series: Episode Twenty-Two – November/December 2009

That Damned South Street!

Ghosts of South Street

The Strange Case of Ghostly People on South Street

 Here are my STORIES and PHOTOS

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