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New York City meets Munich

Semi-charmed life

July 26th, 2002 · No Comments · Uncategorized

The East Village is probably one of the better spots in New York City to catch some prime quality raving street lunatic action. The epicenter of lunatic activity is Tompkins Square Park. Walking on Avenue A along the park, you are almost guaranteed an encounter with someone engaged in a loud, passionate but incoherent conversation with no one in particular. While this sight is fairly common everywhere, usually there’s a cell phone earpiece involved. Not on Avenue A, though.

Though that does bring to mind a possible city beautification project: hand out fake cell phone earpieces to crazy people.

I was telling Conny View definition in a new window about the high raving-street-lunatic factor of the neighborhood as we strolled through there today, looking for a good spot for either a very late lunch or a very early dinner. We picked a place called 7-A, which is on the corner opposite the park. It being a cool day, the restaurant had opened up the large windows, allowing us to dine inside, but still experience the very active street life passing by.

We had almost made it through the meal without incident, when behind me, a rather animated passer-by had stopped outside the open window of the restaurant, and was calling to the hostess. I wish I could remember the start of the conversation better, but it was one of those awkward moments, when someone is being both inappropriate and incoherent at the same time, it’s not something you really want to remember.

The hostess, while trying to be polite, was clearly uncomfortable. She was trying repeated to get out of the exchange gracefully. Our man on the street was disappointed by her reaction.

“Do you know who am I?” he asked.

At this point, I turned around to look at him, and I’ll admit he did not look like as standard raving street lunatic. He looked rather well dressed.

The hostess shook her head. “No, sorry.”

“Have you heard of Third Eye Blind?” he asked.

She considered this. “Yeah, I’ve heard of them.”

“I’m Stephen Jenkins. I’m the lead singer.”

“Oh.” she said. “I have work I have to do.” She scampered back as far away from the front of the restaurant as possible, which was hard to do in such a small place, but a shrewd move.



The man claiming to be Stephen Jenkins to tried to engage any of the other patrons in ear shot, and a tall waiter working at the restaurant stepped up near the entrance looking as stern and disapproving as he could. But alas, such subtle signs are lost on raving street lunatics, whether they are people who had a moment of fame, or people who think they are people who had a moment of fame.

The waiter made it clear that loudly accosting customers was uncool no matter how many songs you’ve had on the charts.

“Do you want to fight?” asked the man on the street.

“No. Do you want a fight?” responded the waiter, coolly.

At this, the raving street lunatic made a dismissive gesture and a noise of disgust, and continued down the street. Probably on the quest for more restaurants with open windows.

I have no idea if that was actually Stephen Jenkins. But it did look like him, and he does have an apartment in Manhattan. And in this city, it is certainly in the realm of the possible to encounter a one-hit wonder roaming the streets behaving badly and demanding recognition. Or maybe it’s just another raving street lunatic. Or maybe there’s really no difference.

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