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Ramona's Ramblings

Hot town

by Ramona Jan
Posted 7/18/23

New York, with your sweltering heat and big boy cockroach there to greet me, yeah, the one I had to juice under my foot. You’re not going to get to me. Just stop it with your man on the corner. …

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Ramona's Ramblings

Hot town


New York, with your sweltering heat and big boy cockroach there to greet me, yeah, the one I had to juice under my foot. You’re not going to get to me. Just stop it with your man on the corner. The one with the boom box begging for money, ever circling me with his bicycle. “What is this the 80’s?” I scouled at him and will scoul again.  Besides l’m here to deal with a bigger issue; cancer.

Have you forgotten how I embraced you, New York, New York, even loved you, when everyone else went running? No New York. Don’t lie to me. I came to rescue your Upper West Side ass in the 70’s when it was considered the most dangerous part of the City. I lived side by side with them, rode the elevator with them everyday, and when I moved to the Lower East Side I dodged the worst of the worst. I loved you then, but you’re going to have to convince me to love you now.

There’s nothing much left of you except the harboring of a few former friends who got lucky with rent stabilized classic eights; two full baths, thick walls, large foyers, park views and cathedral ceilings. The place I’m staying at has all of that, but no air conditioning. And you’re hot. They used to say ‘hot town’, but now you’re just sweaty.

And in that perspiring kaleidoscope, there’s an elderly dame, stopped and frozen on the sidewalk, gazing at her feet. I wonder is it her time? Should I prepare to brace her fall or just move on?

I see you’ve gussied up Amsterdam Avenue with the kind of shops that used to sprinkle SoHo. Amsterdam where smokers, formerly arrested, now freely arrest the air with their pungent herb. An ordinary jar of almond butter is what? Thirty dollars? Tsk, tsk, shame on you. And tell me, how can this writer ignore hearing a myriad of conversations, one-sided or otherwise?

“I know you’re not homeless,” says one homeless man to another. “But maybe you’d like some peanuts while you’re lying in the street. You know, a little snack?” 

“Money is the great disruptor,” says one actor to another while dining on forty dollar sandwhiches, “and as you know, I grew up around plenty of it.”

“What if I told you that your shower water is dirtier than the back of this truck,” reads the back of a brown painted truck. I’d say, yes it is but it’s not my apartment and some people think that NYC has the greatest water. And then I watch as the nurse soaks raspberries in it and I follow by rinsing my organic fruits and vegetables in the same.

And yet you surprise me Old New York. You throw a curve ball with the beautiful people. I saw one in Whole Foods and another by the bus stop hailing a cab. I also saw some beautiful dogs. And then there’s the old haunts; West Side Opticians, Down and Quilt Shop and The Sturgeon King. They’ve all survived and still miraculously thrive as does Gray’s Papayas, Zabars and The Towne Shoppe where they still fit bras. I wonder if the bra-smiths are still as mean as they were in the ‘70’s. I’m not going to find out. 

Why can’t you be consistence old New York? Why can’t you be what you used to be; the Big Apple of my eye? Hot town, when you cool down, maybe I’ll pay for a dance card a/k/a a senior Metrocard and we’ll go waltzing and just maybe I’ll find a good reason to love you again. You’re pulling on my heart strings Manhattan, just keep pulling.

RAMONA JAN is the Founder and Director of Yarnslingers, a storytelling group that tells tales both fantastic and true. She is also the roving historian for Callicoon, NY and is often seen giving tours around town. You can email her at callicoonwalkingtours@gmail.com.


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