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  • I squatted in Alphabet City in the 1980s. It was romantic, exciting, dirty, glamourous. Drunkenly stumbling around the streets until dawn. Going from bar to club to bar. The World. 2B. Tompkins Square before the riot. Dives whose names I no longer remember, but I could find them in my sleep today after 25 years. House music was new and we danced with sweat flying off hairdos big enough to take out an eye. We took turns on the roof keeping watch for arsonists in the pay of land developers.

    I bought a lot of heroin in Alphabet City in the 90s. It was romantic, exciting, dirty. Mostly the glamour was gone. Houston and B, Stanton and Clinton. Someone leaned in the car window and stabbed Sam. He was wearing so many sweaters the knife didn't penetrate. The car tires spun and spun on the ice and half a dozen guys peeled off the sidewalk and chased us for blocks.

    I went back to the lower east side last June. I stayed on Rivington near Chrystie. I walked and walked and walked. I took Piccolina to the dog park in Tompkins Square. No one offered to sell me drugs. The chain link fence that was put up after the riot was gone. It seemed like Grenwich Village. We went to the west side. It was clean and filled with boutiques and bistros, cafes and galleries. Piccolina and I were the first to use the dog park in Washington Square. She chased squirrels and I wondered where the trash was. C'est Magnifique was still there selling eyeball rings I still could not afford.

    We went to Soho. Not many galleries. Mostly designer chains. We sat on the sidewalk and ate blueberries while people frowned and darted around us. Someone was amused to see a dog eating blueberries. We made friends with every shop girl in Soho and bought a designer sterling ring, both less expensive and less unique than the eyeball rings in C'est Magnifique. We ate rice pudding and bought expensive shoes at Irregular Choice.

    I went to Little Italy and met Ernie Rossi. I didn't realize his store had been moved until he told me about it. I got a sfogliatelle at Ferarra's. There was a street fair going on but it seemed like Chinatown with Italian carts on the street selling sausage and peppers. I went back to my hotel on Rivington. Piccolina and I sampled chopped liver at Katz's and Russ and Daughters. It was the same.

    I still wonder where all the dirt went.
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