The Fear Factor

I was talking with some friends the other day about how New York City has changed over the years. While this is well worn conversational territory, both of them were from other places and were asking about how things were back in the day before the Williamsburbs and downtowns “cornification”. Many things can be said of NYC and how it’s changed for the worse over the the last 20 plus years. It’s ridiculously expensive. Every old store/bar/restaurant is being shut down to open a Starbucks/chase bank/duane reade. It’s full of people who just moved here who, in general, completely suck. The aforementioned downfall of formally vibrant neighborhoods in brooklyn and downtown Manhattan. While all these are true, I like to point the blame at one thing that made this all possible. Safety. Yes, NYC is pretty fucking safe. Sure, they’re are some neighborhoods you don’t wanna go to at night but they’re either far out of the way from anything or slowly being gentrified.
I remember when Giuliani first came into office, there was a sudden and noticeable change. People started getting fucked with more over little things like public drinking or smoking weed on a stoop. Quotas began to get filled and crime definitely was on the down swing. While this was nice in a way (I certainly don’t miss the fear of being robbed all the time) it seemingly opened the doors for the wrong people to move here. These are people who , 5 years earlier, would be the type to say “It’s a great place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there”. That mind set from out of towners is what filtered out the people who belonged here and the people who didn’t. If you didn’t wanna deal with an extremely busy metropolis with an air of danger no matter where you were, you didn’t move her. All of sudden, things got safer and that started to mess with the filter of who would be willing to live here. It opened the doors for people to come here and act like shit was sweet all the time cause there was no one checking them on it.

At first, it wasn’t a big deal cause the people moving in were picking neighborhoods that wouldn’t be effected. The Upper east side , for instance, was already pretty wack so the influx vertical striped shirt wearing of stock brokers wasn’t hurting anything. At this point, something is happening that is truly depressing. All these people who looooooove New York and just wanna be in the mix, decide they want to move to a cool neighborhood. Somewhere like the lower east side. full of cool bars, great food and a wide assortment of different races and cultures. This, on paper, is fine. Cause they have ever right to be there. However, once they move in, they realize
“Hmm…I don’t appreciate how loud it is around here at night! I have to work tomorrow Why is it so dirty? Ewww…RATS! I’m gonna complain about that…”
Slowly but surely, these people, who moved into these neighborhoods to be cool in the first place, decide they’d like to alter the neighborhood they chose to live in (that’s been that way since before they were playing lacrosse in junior high school) to fit what they consider to be a cool place that fits there needs. All the while, they could have had exactly that had they just moved into a more fitting neighborhood in the first place. This results in places that have thrived in that neighborhood for decades shutting down cause of constant police harassment or greedy landlords who are trying to appease the new neighbors. Eventually, that once awesome hood will be no different than Murray Hill or Bleecker Street. I see a time in my life where Queens will be the coolest part of NYC. how fucked up is that?

The other day I was on a train coming home around midnight. There was about 5 loud , drunken norwegian people being really obnoxious and basically commanding the train car. All I could think about was “Man, it would be so awesome if some dude slapped the shit out of them and told them to shut the fuck up”. Now, I’m not a violent person (IE: I’m a pussy) , so it wasn’t gonna be me. But NYC needs those types more than ever. There was a time when citizens would self govern on that level. The same people who bought that air of fear to the streets pre-Giuliani. But, in a way, they wouldn’t be criminals. They’d be people keeping NYC how it should be. They’d be heroes. You’re welcome to come here, but stay in line and never get too comfortable. That element has long been lost and , in my eyes, it’s the reason NYC has become what it is now.

So, bring back fear. Bring back the roving gangs of thugs whos night out was based around doing nothing but fucking with people. I’d gladly exchange that bit of danger for the way NYC is going now. I mean, I don’t want this place to be like detroit or anything but just enough fear that people who don’t really belong here would gladly move out. Hell, a nice crime wave would probably lower rent all over the place. Who woulda ever thought that safety could be such a bad thing?

The other AIDS walk

About 10 years ago I had a dream in which I found out I had full blown AIDS and only one day to live. In my dream, I spent the remaining time telling everyone I knew, from my family and friends to estranged girlfriends. It was real as a motherfucker and when I woke up I was shook. It took me a few moments but eventually I gathered myself and realized that shit was just a dream.

Since then I’d be lying if I said I’ve had many HIV tests. While I have had one, I was never the type to get regular tests regardless of what kind of activity I was having. As anyone whose ever had one will tell you you’re never not nervous about it….even the safest motherfuckers alive feel a little unsettled…..

So, the other day, I was walking to my doctors office to get my results for the HIV test I took a week earlier. For some retarded reason, you have to be told in person whether or not you have AIDS. Apparently they don’t do phone calls. So, as I’m walking over, my mind starts racing. while I don’t actually think I have it, I can’t help but backtrack over the questionable choices I have made over the years. It’s kinda like believing in god; I don’t believe in him the same way I don’t think I have HIV, BUT there is always that tiny bit of “Man, if I’m wrong, I’m fucked” that keeps a person on their toes. However, in the case of HIV, it’s way more possible cause that shit 100% exists and I’ve fucked enough to at least have an inkling of fear.
Where as god? eh..prove it.

So, as I’m walking, my thoughts keep racing –

“Well, if there’s no god, then what about karma? Does my karma have anything to do with this shit?”

While I do see karma as a little more real than God, I also am a firm believer in chance and logic, so , you know, karma is kinda bullshit. But that didn’t stop me from thinking back to all the mean or bad things I’ve done lately. Not to mention, for the past however long, I’ve pretty much been calling bullshit on AIDS…. Not that it exists, but that a non-drug using straight person is LIKELY to get it. Everyone I’ve ever known who had it was either homosexual or a needle user. Granted this is obviously not the case in the rest of the world, but in my experience it is so I have been pretty cocky with my “aids shmaids” stance. (also, to clarify, i’m in no way saying only gay people and drug addicts get HIV, i’m just saying they’re much more likely candidates than your average drug free straight person.)

Suffice to say the karma shit was kicking into overtime. Seriously, this walk sucked…I’ve never wished I hadn’t lost my ipod more….at least then these thoughts woulda been interrupted by whatever songs the shuffle has lined up for me.

By the time I get to the doctors office, I’ve pretty much convinced myself, against all logic and reason, that it’s very possible I’m about to find out I have HIV. I think about; Who I’d tell first? Would I cry right there and then? Who I would have to call and let know they might have it too? It gets to the point where I’m thinking “Hmm…AIDS marches…would I do that shit if I had AIDS?” (the answer, by the way, is no fucking way.)

After my weigh in , I’m sent to the final little doctors office where I wait impatiently for him to come in and tell me my life as I know it is over. The room is as boring and sterile as every doctor’s office so I sit there reading the chart about the different parts of the brain. Time keeps passing and I’m wondering if this asshole is taking his time cause he is getting his nerve up to drop a bomb on me or if he’s like “Oh, it’s no big deal, every thing’s fine, he can wait for good news.” In reality, the answer is neither cause I imagine he was in his office eating pad thai while watching bizarre porn videos for “medical purposes”.

Annnnyway, finally, he comes in. His face looks a little nervous. I get more nervous.
“How are you?” he says “Lets see these results, huh? So, obviously, you tested negative for all STD’s and that’s nice…” he said it in a way you might tell someone you like their socks.
In a weird way, I was let down. Not in that I just found out I’m totally healthy but I was expecting more of a build up. Like an “Ok, you ready?” then an envelope opening, kinda like the grammies but the winner is AIDS.

Oh well, good news is good news…I’m clean.

Now I’m off to have unprotected sex.

(side note: this was originally written over 2 years ago)