Completed in 1895, the 23rd Regiment Armory is a Romanesque red brick armory.  Armories were originally important places to train and store weapons for America’s locally-based military units before the Civil War.  During industrialization, National Guard troops were used to quash labor protests.  After World War I, bronze tributes to soldiers from that conflict were added.  The building was rented by William Randolph Hearst to house a studio he owned in the 1920s.  Today, like several other century-old armories in New York City, it is used as a homeless shelter.  I went past it every day I took the express, instead of the local, bus to work.


They leave

without: shields,

shields, or anything sharp,

bronzes above,

bronzes of

soldiers who won,

(where do we keep the guns?  the pieces?)

Soldiers who won above

men losing,

Where we kept our guns,

where soldiers kept safe,

where men rallied to crush

strikes and stop rowdy wanting,

where we keep the empty.

They rifle.

Turrets at altitude

above attack,

the men who are

never above

the ground floor

these men,

at eye level,

or lower, foot traffic level,

cardboard sign,

subway piss,

but with souls,

across the street the gas

station where the money

and the delivery drivers

gas up.

(Where do we keep

the guns?

our heat?

our pieces?)

My favorite site for more details on armories.

Image: New York Public Library.

So Educated

13006659_10207655307715016_836786050096044019_nI read online that Spike Lee was having people over because Prince had died.  I found my way over and there were a bunch of people standing around, slowly closing the street like an artery plaquing.  People had cameras, there were trucks with satellites on them, and one big light.  I had kind of thought we would get to go inside some place.  I had wondered if people would stand around and not dance, which would be awful.  I stood next to a parked car, took out my book, and angled it to read it by streetlight while I waited for something to happen.  Cars stopped trying to come through.

People in New York City, God bless them, will stand around waiting for something to happen almost indefinitely, they will wait in lines that to other people would appear not only offensive but hopeless, there are likely people in many locations in New York City all waiting together for something to happen they have forgotten what it was, but they are waiting and touching their cell phones tap tap like they might be setting their phasers to stun, before they had cell phones they had newspapers and baggies of carrot sticks.

On the platform a woman starting talking loudly, “I’m on the G train platform, and they are harassing me.”  The boys were black and the woman was white.  The boys ran along down the platform.  “Oh, get over it!” one yelled, she said, “They threw something at me!” One of the boys said, “It was just an oatmeal cookie.”

I didn’t know whether to look at the woman sympathetically, or follow the kids and tell them to stop acting the fool, or not on the subway platform, that makes people especially, come on, older white ladies, nervous.  They could have been from my school, but I didn’t know them.

The opposite story the next morning, while I stood at the restaurant window waiting for coffee, a woman walking by screeched with surprise, I looked over, everyone in the restaurant looked over, and she said, “It’s okay, my sister just got engaged!”


A kid said, “I hate Jews,” and I spent the rest of the hour drawing cartoons explaining that there were so many kinds of Jewish people he couldn’t possibly hate them all.  “But they’re such bad drivers!” he said.

A kid said, “We used to do work, miss, but we don’t have to, here, it doesn’t matter, we still pass.  They don’t care about us, they just need the graduation rate high enough they get to keep their jobs.”

“Nothing’s gonna change if you don’t do something!” one kid yelled at another, their yelling argument prevented me from showing the documentary on environmental issues, and I was frustrated, I had to breathe deep before the next class came in, they could have had a better discussion and they are so loud.  They watched it the next day instead.

A kid said, “I want a panda.  I feel like pandas never take any damage.”

“What are the three kinds of Jewish people we discussed yesterday?” I asked the next morning.  Hasidic (curls on happy face), orthodox (the little hat on happy face), reform (just a happy face).  


I stood by the parked car until music came on.  People cheered and danced.

I wasn’t sure it should all be so joyful, either, when music came on, “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today/Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today,” it felt great to be in Brooklyn at with Brooklyn royalty, he presiding from top of the stoop next to his space, to hear Prince all Biblical, he and I share this eschatological interest: “We could all die any day.”

I hated that there were so many cell phones, up and photographing us all, is it impossible to be anywhere now, I took two photos, and then my phone was dead anyway, so I didn’t have to even wonder if I should be somewhere else.  I would have taken one more, of Mr. Lee dancing a little.

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today, we could all die any day.

To dance, as much as you can with your bags and your stuff and the room you have between everyone else, to not wonder too hard what is this, dancing and yelling because someone is dead, and the work was great, it made people happy and feel bigger, people leave what they leave, they leave something.  Everyone was beautifully behaved except four kids who push/ran through us and the crowd reprimanded them gently.

A little kid on top of a car, leaning this way and that.  A lady had an umbrella with images of Prince all around.  “Open it!” someone said, someone who didn’t get a photo.

“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today,” the version of the song looped again, “Parties weren’t meant to last,” they did not play my favorite, “We will see a plague and a river of blood, there will be a new city with the streets of gold, young so educated they never grow old.”

Today I asked a few students about who died, and one of them said, “I thought it was, you know, Prince,” their classmate by that name.  “Oh, God, no,” I said.

“Spike Lee had a street party,” I said, “Who’s Spike Lee?” a kid said.

“Oh, my God,” I said, but another kid answered, thank God, so I didn’t have to.




twins1. I was innocently waiting for my smoothie.  There was another girl with a black beret, and she had a wedding ring, meaning someone loved her, whereas no one loves me, or ever has, or ever will, except for the people who have, you know.

2. Getting off the subway twenty minutes later, a woman climbing the steps ahead of me had a black beret.  She was using a cane.  Her bag, her shoes, her coat, all of them were just serviceable, that is, ugly.

Married girl, pretty brunette, is ahead of me, old lady with cane and ugly clothes is behind me.  Sometimes I protest that nothing is a competition, many things are not, to me, but being married, and having pretty clothes, and being young, and smart, these things count so much.

1. I went to church, which theoretically straightened my head out at least for a few minutes, we heard about Jonah, which was nice, Nineveh got saved, the wafer stuck to the roof of my mouth so securely I was still picking it off with my tongue when I went back to pray.  Then I walked to the drugstore to buy a new notebook.  They pretty reliably have a Mead 5 Star college rule in-between sized notebook at a chain drugstore, the only type of notebook guaranteed to be no problem for me to write in.  Plain supplies for plain people.  I walked to where I thought it was.  It wasn’t there.  There was a bank there.

This part of Brooklyn is thrown off by Flatbush Avenue and our biggest park.  All of Brooklyn is a touch confusing, streetwise, and I am pretty low skilled in finding things.  I walked up another block.  No, there was the park.  Where was the damn Duane Reade?  Over a block?  How had I walked up Flatbush and missed it?  It was further down?  I had worn a dress and galoshes, and the January was starting to freeze my knees pretty deep.  The streets were very wet, big puddles, didn’t matter.  I walked past two birdfeeders made of milk cartons tied to a tree.  I kept walking.  The snow from last night was icy chunky, not good for building with, but nice to have some white.

2. Once in Kansas City I was with my friend and we were looking for our favorite bar downtown and we couldn’t find it.  We had not been drinking, we were going drinking.  Downtown Kansas City is not a hard place to find things, especially not if you have lived there for most of your life.  Somehow we were thrown by Broadway versus Main (my classic where is it vague question ever since I moved into the city).  We stood at an empty lot and looked at it like we were in a “Twilight Zone” episode.  Isn’t it, like, right here?

It was a block down and a block over.

I am worst in Kansas City, actually, I think I know where something is or how to get there and then I forget it’s my sister who lives off College and my grandma who lives off Nall.

This isn’t because I moved away, this is how I am.

I think I know where things are.