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They took my grill away. I’d just returned from a two week stint out west when the notice appeared in my elevator: “Dear resident, blah blah blah, per new insurance policies & NYC Fire Dept regulations, blah blah blah, all roof top charcoal grills have been confiscated.” I posted a photo to Facebook of the empty spot where all the Webers used to reside, and got a variety of responses. Most were sympathetic, some genuinely outraged, and others mocked the faux-gravitas of the situation, my indignity, and my generally carnivorous ways.

We’ve all got it coming and pay the price for being born in to this earthly existence. While it’s tempting to make the assumption, none of us can really know what another’s life is all about. I’ve gone through my share of shit over the last few decades, but it’s the seemingly little stuff – both positive and negative – that always hits hardest. I can sit with the government reading my emails or some kook running wild in a shopping mall with automatic weapons, but it’s not until the high E string snaps while tuning my guitar that I realize everything is going to hell. There were two such relatively ‘minor’ events involving the roof of my apartment building over the past five years. The first was a woman neighbor who came up to enforce a building ‘curfew’ when I was airing out my brain past midnight. And now this.

I’ve cooked for dozens of people up there over the last six years – meat eaters and vegetarians alike.  In a city so grand on one level yet so thoroughly over-regulated, over-priced, and over-everythinged on another, this was a liberating activity. No, I couldn’t swing the price for a shabby fixer-upper on the third floor, don’t look good enough in a tuxedo to crash Fashion Week in Bryant Park, and didn’t plan ahead well enough to have two over-achieving sixth graders in some progressively costly, private Park Slope middle school. But I could put food to open flame while gazing out on the New York Harbor and serve a useful purpose while tactfully avoiding conversation. I could reflect on my life, all the missteps and small victories, while generating pleasant smells and having a beer. And now I can’t.

Boo-hoo. I had a good run. If my strongest attachments in life are linked to outdoor cooking, it might be time to reevaluate.

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