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Some Get Strong, Some Get Strange

Sooner Or Later It All Gets Real – Neil Young

October 13, 2003

31 year old Antoine Yates was housing a Bengal tiger in his Harlem apartment, until police received a call last week. This is why folks recommend sticking south of 100th Street when researching rentals. I was filled with admiration listening to Yates speak after they made the discovery. “Totally unapologetic” doesn’t come close to covering it. “Hey,” he proclaimed, “I was good to that cat.” This probably entailed allowing him control of the remote and going easy on large bones deposited in the kitchen sink. I’m wondering which small deviations from routine left neighbors suspicious. Was it the odd twenty pounds of gazelle Antoine was toting home from the local butcher or did things just start to smell wrong?

The papers and TV ran it as an “only in New York” story, but that’s bullshit. It’s just a better story because it happened in New York. It isn’t what takes place here that’s of particular interest, but rather the way people respond. You really have to go out of your way to earn a raised eyebrow, and even then it’s just for a second. It’s what I love most about this city. Attention-seekers are typically shunned and left to dwell in their repressed maternal neglect. I’ve grown tired in recent years of bold proclamations stressing one area’s superiority over another. Just live where you’re going to live and shut up. But I will say this – the crap that flies on the streets of San Francisco wouldn’t make it past morning out here. And about that, there is something to be said.

Nobody’s messed with me much so far, for better or worse. I like to think this is because I know my place and give respect where it’s due; even some places where it isn’t. I’ve never been much for chest thumping. The older you get the less you have to thump and it starts to hurt anyway. What I really desire is a fit – a small space to slide in where I feel at ease and competent, neither dominating nor unqualified. I still haven’t determined if I’m asking too much. New York is big, but most of the small slots are taken.


The blue screen on my Motorola cell phone flashes “Charging” when I plug it in at day’s end, and I’m reminded of my dad’s recommendation that I keep doing the same. I don’t know that I’ve ever been a “charger,” but I do make moves, as deceptive as they sometimes seem. I’m a Cancer, after all, and hopefully just in the astrological sense. I don’t buy that planetary garbage, but I relate to the sideways motion analogy and often circle what I’m unsure of until it’s thoroughly checked out. Even then I usually fuck up, but it’s good to have a modus operandi.

So I’m still circling New York, returning home to Brooklyn by night. Yesterday I widened that circle and made it all the way up to Long Island, to visit an old friend from San Francisco. Her mom made a great meal, complete with homegrown vegetables and even dessert. The experience felt comfortable and familiar, but also made me realize how slowly my integration process has proceeded. I’m on the outside still, struggling to find daily routine and a few friends. I’ve enjoyed taking in the city from this angle and have found solace in its company. But every day presents a challenge and some more than others.

Outside advice concerning your own life moves should be taken with the same ease it is dished out. Those who tell you things will get worse are often wallowing in their own failure, and those who predict relative ease, frequently in denial. Significant relationships, be they with people, places or things take time to develop, and should be treated with respect, accordingly. If I could only find a way to get paid for this shit, I’d have it made.


I’m still sizing up my studio for Bengal tiger possibilities. It might just provide the company I’m looking for, but the shedding problem is a concern. And it may violate a sublet clause or two I skimmed over in my rush to sign. In the meantime I’ll keep looking for that elusive fit and, in between, ways to make it through the day.

2003 Rick Monaco All Rights

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