Kamby Bolongo Mean River named one of 25 Important Books of the 2000s by HTML Giant

KBMR was named one of 25 Important Books of the decade by HTML Giant. And was a Page One selection of New & Noteworthy Books by Poets & Writers Magazine.

Monday, March 12, 2012

No news today - Guest Post - Nicolle Elizabeth

Everybody Wants Brooklyn

I'd moved into a loft with seven people in Bushwick not far from businesses which once were. Textile warehouses, mirror factories all now converted into corporate sandwich meat packaging plants. In the mornings, fog rose from the furnaces like smoke signals writing “Here, there are ghosts” and at below freezing temperatures, seagulls still came to nest on the roof, huddling in the heat. In the winter, the street was a barren frozen wasteland few dared to cross. This was not a place for residency, but some artists had rented a flat, thrown un-permitted dance parties, and the renaissance, maybe fifty art student residents, within four blocks of buildings had begun.

The loft I had moved into was run by a woman in her twenties, named Ralph, who spent her time purchasing items from Salvation Army thrift stores and selling them for triple their worth on her website, headlined as “Vintage Chic.”

I'd known from the beginning that moving into her collective of bad attitudes was a risk, but my lease was up, and I was broke.

The loft itself had been featured on the cover of a frou frou magazine doing an expose on interesting dwellings in Brooklyn. Technically, just the bathroom had actually been featured. It had been built by Ralph's long term un-boyfriend. A man in his forties who had a relationship with a wealthy investor named Sunny. He lived in Sunny's apartment in the Village, but when he was bored, he came here to Ralph, and to check on the architectural integrity of the stairs in the loft.

“He built like every restaurant in the Lower East Side,” Ralph said to me once. Her eyes were wide blue like Big Sky and my chest had been a wreck, allergic to the fiberglass insulation in the ceiling. The apartment had giant windows, and during the day, I would sit and write by them and watch that smoke come up from the meat plant and write and overdose on coffee.

I sat quietly and listened to the other roommates' footprints patter up the inner wooden staircase in and out all day, all night. What they didn't know was that Ralph was overcharging each roommate by 200 dollars a month in rent. She was making an absolute fortune. She had wanted to go into fashion merchandising but she'd been expelled for cheating on an exam. “Why do all the work when it's inevitable someone else will?” She said to me once.

There I was, halfway into accessory to criminal behavior, freezing in the middle of a loft in Brooklyn. I'd begun sleeping with one of the roommates out of misery and that wasn't helping my problems at all because he was now in love with me. Poems posted on the mirrors, flowers in the refrigerator, it was a problem.

The day Sunny came over gave me some relief, because well, it could have been worse for me, I could have been Ralph.

“I will kick your miss priss ass,” I believe Sunny said into the door buzzer.

I stood with Ralph, paper white in the kitchen.

“Come on up,” Ralph buzzed her in.

Though funded through a healthy trust, Sunny had made her way in New York as a model, and there she stood, all six foot tall brunette expensive Chanel wearing coat of her.

She took off her faux fur hat, handed it to Ralph, and said, “Let's have a chat.”

I assumed my position on the couch by the window, feeling more insignificant than ever. This was what women did? They had affairs and smelled nice and yelled at one another?

“There's fresh coffee on the counter,” I offered.

“Stay out of this, lesbo,” Sunny spittled in my direction. “Where is he?” She asked Ralph.

“A lot of people live here,” Ralph didn't miss a beat, pouring coffee.

“He hasn't been to work in days,” Sunny took the coffee cup and I left the gals to duke it out at the table.

The walk through Brooklyn toward the nearest subway was over a mile and a half and it was eighteen degrees out but I had thinking to do. I had been commissioned to write an essay on the history of American protest music by a major magazine and the pressure was on to deliver something both interesting, but with quirk. I'd originally pitched an essay about jazz, specifically on Thelonious Monk, and how I'd been roped into a historical walk-through which inevitably would be met with scoff (music critics are brutal) was beyond me. I decided to walk to a bar that started serving $1.25 cans of beer at eleven in the morning and research there. Even in the middle of nowhere, there is always an oasis, and it always has internet.

“Long day?” The bartender asked me.

“I'll have a bloody mary,” I said back.

I looked at the giant map of the world on the wall behind him, and wondered what time it was anywhere else. I took out my notebook and started to review the list. Civil War hymns from both armies, how slave songs had turned into the blues. There was a band I'd seen at a party playing over the loud speaker.

“I know these guys,” I said to the bartender, (and I meant know, I'd made out with the drummer in an elevator)

“They're in Rolling Stone this month, can you believe that?” The bartender handed me my drink, no celery. “Everybody wants Brooklyn.”

I opened my laptop and started googling how one history turns into the next, when I saw him, walking past the window.

Ralph and Sunny's un-boyfriend was walking into this bar, with a date, what looked like a date, he had his arm around her. This is what happens in Brooklyn. They sat next to me at the counter. She was the kind of long blonde who laughed with her head back, also had expensive everything, she probably went to Pratt. They ordered plates of breakfast and talked while I listened. They were debating French literature, like that was a surprise, and he kept saying, Lydia Davis' translation of Pale Fire was a disaster, and it was all I had to not turn on my barstool and set them both straight, but instead, I watched, while he paid the bartender in a one hundred dollar bill and I felt more than ever, this is how it goes.

Nicolle Elizabeth's contributes to many fine publications. She is at work on a novel, is a bike mechanic, a baker, and a ballerina, but mostly a writer way before those other things and her mini website is this: www.thismighttank.com

No comments:

Post a Comment