December 27, 2015
Zack and I had discussed a mutual desire for nutrients after a cheeky morning splif, we set out to get fresh juices. I watched them cram the carrot, ginger, apple, kale and beetroot into the machine, my own combination. Bedford was rammed full of people – all making their way, carving out their own individual weekend.
The flavors didn’t really go together but to me, a juice like this just had to taste like it was good for you. Zack went for a straight green juice. I hadn’t heard anything from Andre or Vince in over two weeks, emailing them each a couple of times to the point where any more would confirm any doubts that I had crossed the line from keen to desperate. I was flailing about and feeling completely at their mercy. I had written half a text to Emma yesterday, then decided against sending it. It was only a matter of time till I did hit her up. Right now I needed to escape the cycle stalking Andre’s twitter account and constantly checking my Gmail. They must have listened to the tracks again – played them for Break Method. Maybe the label wasn’t going to sign them. Whatever the deal was, the right thing would be to let me know.
We sat on tall brownstone-style steps a couple of blocks down, just above the eye level of the constant flow of people. The juice gave me a sliver of confidence that I was looking after myself, a small self-victory in a sea of doubt. Not being extremely hungover on a Saturday was also an real achievement, not that it was by choice – you could have drinks at the grimmest dive bar in the city and I’d still not be able to afford it.
Zack said how heaps of stuff was going on with the business, how amazing this women Charlie was that had lead the investment round, all this interest they were getting from the big touring companies. We tried to decipher a text of pure emojis from this girl he was obsessed with.
“Dude, I’ll never get over this”, he said “I don’t think there is a better people-watching spot in the world.”
“I know man, it’s ridiculous.”
“I’ve been a few places. Paris, London. But right here. This one street. These five or six blocks. Dude.”
There was the full array of styles and attitudes. Hot enough for plenty of skin but not too hot that walking was a painful sweaty mess. Black sleeveless tee, saggy dad jeans ‘#Normcore’, big tote bag, chucks and thin wire shades. She bounces off each step as she walks, long brown hair crunching and twisting against her back. This was one of those girls who seem to walk around with a beautiful, almost cheeky smile on their face all day. I wonder how she looked in winter, although I’m pretty sure some of these girls don’t even exist in the New York winter. Either escaping to LA or going into hibernation.
Blue summer dress buttoned at the top, bare tattooed arms, black hair tied with a bow at the back and the sides shaved. Sharp eyebrows. Small sunglasses, like John Lennon wears in that classic photo of him in the New York City t-shirt.
McCarren was a real mishmash of different elements, not too far away from the traffic, not too busy to chill. The perfect mix – without the charm of central park but an even sprinkling of grit. When we get there everyone already has a buzz going from frozen margaritas. We meet Lana, Sally & crew on the other side of the baseball diamonds, amongst loads of little groups, sprawled at different angles on one small rug, each with their heads in a book or magazine. Lana has her little dog Lola with her. She was always posting photos with the famous #LanaLola tag.
1: Founding KickBall Hipsters
I’d only played kickball once – when I’d been up all night and randomly filled in for someone. At the time I felt my performance was pretty solid, I remember seeing the ball as this huge glowing orb that I couldn’t pull my focus away from for fear of it suddenly appearing before my face. Kickball is the ultimate single’s sport for the ‘original’ set, they have lived in the area for at least five years, or just before the influx. Average age on the team was about 30. Fueled by booze and a boombox cranking old school Brooklyn hip hop – Biggie, Sugarhill Gang, Grandmaster Flash. It was all short shorts, headbands, high socks and cut off t-shirts, with a couple of bikini tops mixed in today. Being on a team, playing in the middle of the park – you had to at least pretend to be super chill. Dance along, put on a quirky game face and encourage your team by shouting ironic movie quotes.
2: Urban Sun Worshipers
Young girls defy the fact that the beach is miles away and flaunt bikini bodies. Old Italian men oil up and splay themselves on deck chairs. Fresh European arrivals expose white canvases that glare in the light. You had to take the sun where you could get it.
3: Family Grillers
Over the road you always got a couple of big Hispanic families having a good old luau grilling in the park, they bring full setups and spend a good day here. Chilling. Playing volleyball. Makes sense, backyards are almost non-existent in New York, why not use the space.
4: Fitness Freaks
McCarren Park had a mish mash of the various activity sub cultures. Around the exercise area you get the gay cross-fit crew, shirts off doing crazy gymnastic moves on the bars. They always complain about the dude close by playing sax under a tree, he’s actually pretty good, plays a nice mellow tunes for hours, the kind of stuff that works in a park setting, not the best workout music I guess. On the turf inside the running track you had the soccer crew, mostly a mix of South America, Mexican, Spanish and Italians and their families.
5: Young Ironic Icons
This place was a sea of bikes, tattoos, dogs, flannel, fades, wayfarers, top buttons, bare chests, jeans. Vintage, out there clothing and ironic old school t-shirts.
They congregated under a tree near the center, taking turns doing tricks on the flat and contemplating trying to ollie a high rail that looks impossible from where we are sitting. Next to them some kind of experimental theater is setting up for a show and a girl dressed all in black comes over and invites us to an interactive performance in half an hour. The skaters laugh them off. I’d be keen. The others are not so bothered.
7: Rich Condo Folk
The last few years had brought the young mums. They shadow their kids and try to meet other mums, they chat, scoping each other out, maybe exchange numbers – picking each other up to go on hot mummy play dates. The condo folk have those fancy outdoor blankets and loafers. Picnic baskets and diaper bags. Strollers and Chardonnay.