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  1. Rooftop to Rooftop; Nation to Nation

    Tuesday, September 10, 2013

    At the beginning of the summer, I thought of writing a letter to the local paper challenging the community to a murder-free summer.  Before it went from a thought to an action, a 21-year-old man was murdered across the street from me in his lobby.  The neighborhood has been flooded with cops ever since.  I don’t know if they caught those responsible for that murder.  I do know there are shootings going on as a lifestyle around here.  I am actually grateful for getting home each day.  I am in and out a lot.  And being I am on vacation from work, my schedule is almost non-existent.  So I might be going to the store at any time in a 24-hour period.  Due to my unconventional way of living, I tend to hear tidbits from all kinds of folks in the neighborhood – from the young hoodlums who consider me somewhat cool to the store owners and the folks who are horrified at what’s been happening.  Sometimes, I get my info because people feel free to speak to each other in front of me.  During much of the summer of 2013, these have been the sounds of my neighborhood:

    “You can’t make a call until you’re moved to the second cell.”

    “I know.  I make all my calls from the second cell.”

    “They better lock up that white nigga.”

    “Yeah.  He’s gonna fuck her up.  They better lock him up.”


    Be my, be my baby

    Be my baby now


    “Hey, Ma.  God bless you.”

    “There was a gun fight last night.  Did you hear it?”

    “Yeah, like three in the morning.  I didn’t know where it was, but I heard it.”

    “It was from one rooftop to another on my corner.”

    “Holy shit.”


    “Hey, I heard you are planning on moving.  Is that true?”

    “Well, not at least for two years.  My daughter just entered a Master’s program at Lehman College, so we are staying at least that long.”

    “’Cuz the decent people leave, and I’m afraid I’m going to be left in the middle of a battlefield all by myself.”

    “No.  Don’t worry.”

    “I wouldn’t blame you for wanting to leave with all the shit’s been goin’ on lately.”

    “It’s crazy.”

    “The other day, a few yards from me, a kid pulled out a gun from his pocket right near C-Town and shot at a group.  It was daytime and many people were out and saw.  It’s like he thought he was in a movie.  But we’re real, and I really want to live.”

    “Oh my God!”

    “Yeah.  When I come out with the dog, there’s no good direction to walk.  There’s something going on everywhere.  I let him decide.  I figure he may know better just from sniffing.”


     Oye como va mi ritmo
    Bueno pa' gozar, mulata
    Oye como va mi ritmo
    Bueno pa' gozar mulata


    “Ooooh, I finally get to see the new person!  What’s his name?”

    “Joshua.  He’s a month old now.”

    “When I hadn’t seen you, I thought maybe you were away at relatives.”

    “No.  We’ve been in the house.  My stepkids are with us this summer taking summer school because they messed up.  We’re on lockdown.”

    “You might be better off with all that’s happening out here.”


    “Ani, you know what’s been going on here, right?  All the shootings?”

    “Oh please, they are shooting from one side of the Concourse to the other for drug territory.”

    “This is insane.  Anybody could be going to the store or to work and get hit.”

    “I know.  I applied for senior housing.  I figure by the time I get called, I’ll be eligible.”

    “This is some scary shit.  It’s starting to feel amazing that we get home at all.”


    “I really hope they get whoever they have to get and this passes ‘cuz I still consider this my neighborhood.”

    “It is our neighborhood, and I like it.”

    Celebrate good times, come on! (Let's celebrate)
    Celebrate good times, come on! (Let's celebrate)

    There's a party goin' on right here
    A celebration to last throughout the years

    “Hey girl.  I got approved for a place on Grand Avenue.  I’m so glad.  I gotta get outta that building.  I can’t even have my kid visit me there.  They put a gun to him and got mad that I called the cops.  What was I s’posed to do?  Wait ‘til they kill him?”

    “I’m glad for you that you got a place.  You really need to.  You’re in a very problematic building.”

    “It’s all people from rehab and shit.  The cops told me to stay upstairs.  But I can’t sit there all day.  They told me if I see a white van, to go upstairs because there could be a shoot-out.”


    “Get home safe.  I’ll call you later.”

    “You be safe too.  Vaya con Dios.”

    Obama argued Saturday that the United States would be setting a dangerous precedent if it did not respond to the Aug. 21 attack in a Damascus suburb, which U.S. intelligence officials say killed nearly 1,500 civilians, including 426 children.

    “This attack is an assault on human dignity,” Obama said. “It also presents a serious danger to our national security. ... It could lead to escalating use of chemical weapons, or their proliferation to terrorist groups who would do our people harm.”

    I agree with the president’s concerns.  I do.  I remember when I was a child hearing an older Jewish woman saying with pain in her voice about the Holocaust and saving the Jewish people, "What took the United States so long?"  I just want to point out that in the meantime, our own people are doing our people enough harm in many neighborhoods to make us feel we are already at war. 

    LA gang member                                                
                                                                                                                        Korean War soldier

    “…he had killed his mark's 16-month-old baby, whom his target was pushing in a stroller, sources said.
    The horrific shooting was believed to be in retaliation for a drive-by shooting last year that left one of the suspect's brothers wounded in addition to a 2-year-old girl, according to the sources.”
    and on and on it goes…


  2. 6 comments:

    1. Canada Anne said...

      What a crazy way to live. Omg. I always hated C town but didn't know it was that crappy. Save your children run! Run! Well at least its not boring in your neighborhood. Here in Canada only thing to worry about are the raccoons that prowl around in the night. They scare me and I dont go out at night
      because of them . But where you live. Its insane.

    2. Hi CA. We are going through an insane period right now. It wasn't always this way, and I hope to be able to tell you soon that things are calmer again. What took place near a C Town is not at all connected to C Town. There was also an upholstery shop on the corner. Not their fault either. I was confused by that part of your comment. I don't have small children, so I don't have that concern now. No where for me to run. I barely afford my bills as it is. Any other apartment in NYC will cost more for less space. If show biz works out for me and my finances change, I will have more choices. At the moment, I don't feel like anyone is out for me personally. However, when shootings are going on, I don't think they care much who might be in the way. These are neighborhood people, not professionals who hit their target and only their target.

      My neighborhood, my apartment, and my head rarely allow me to feel bored. lol Thanks for reading. <3

    3. Unknown said...

      I guess if your number's up. Just read about this 62 year old guy, Jeffery Babbitt, randomly punched in the face, 3 pm, Union Square (my neighborhood), last Wednesday -declared brain dead and died on Monday morning. Retired train conductor, cared for his 94 year old mother, Lucille in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn . . . The guy who did it declared his intention to "punch the first white man I see".

      And so it goes . . .

    4. Richard, I heard about that when it happened. That was so awful that an older man received that crazy person's rage and his life is over. His poor mother. So awful. There was no way to avoid that since it came unprovoked in a populated place in the day.

    5. Anonymous said...

      Mindy that is awful. I hope your neighborhood does get the resources and help to go back to its better times. I feel a lot of this is the result of the economic meltdown and lowering of wages and opportunities. Even so, no one should have to live with these fears.

    6. Lisa, thanks for reading. I know I focused on the problems for this blog, but just realize that people are still entering masters programs and having babies. In the midst of all this, life goes on (God willing). Also the end included an LA gang member, a soldier, and a gang shooting in Brooklyn. I didn't mean to confuse. I'd like our youth to learn other ways of living just like I'd like nations to be able to address issues without war. Some think I ask for a lot. However, what I ask for cannot be bought in a store nor is it science fiction. It is possible but involves the kind of work that leads to living differently. That tends to scare people more.

      I'm grateful that I can write about it.

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