Friday, August 11, 2006

Blast from the past

It's a been a long week and it's my one day off. I've got four more early calls coming up and at least two of them will be for six farookin' thirty in the morning. Not my best time of day folks. I should be taking this time to blog up a storm and put a few in the hold file for a quick post when I can't see the screen anymore but what am I doing instead? Reading other blogs. Worse yet, reading blogs that aren't even on my blogroll. I'm telling you it's pathetic how good I am at avoidance.

Still, it's not an entirely wasted morning when you discover a blog called Tits McGee and she posts a picture of the rug from the old Baystate Hotel in lovely downtown Noho. Ah, the memories.

I worked in the bar downstairs for a couple of years and I drank in that bar for over a decade but I only went upstairs maybe three times in all those years. Ronnie had turned it into a rooming house of sorts and the tenants were, shall we say, characters. Mostly the kind of guys you saw on the street, wearing the same clothes every day that clearly hadn't been washed since Lyndon Johnson was president, begging for change. The way they smelled, one figured it was about that long since they took a bath too, but you could hardly blame them when there was only one working shared bathroom on three floors and Ronnie wasn't one to spend money frivolously on cleaning services.

Occassionally though a passing traveler of some cleanliness would stay for a week or two while in transit. It was one of those who first tempted me upstairs with a promise of some one-hit pot that would knock my socks off.

The Baystate was once a high class joint back when the boys from Harvard would dress up in their Sunday best and arrived by train in Noho to woo the lovely Smithies down by the pond on campus. By the time Ronnie got it, she was more like a worn out call girl who was reduced to taking ten dollar tricks in the alley. Still the grand sweeping staircase, retained that promise of something special at the top of those winding stairs.

Try to imagine, arriving on the landing and casting your eyes down long, seemingly endless halls covered in that carpeting. The one hit pot was a disappointment. I didn't lose my socks. But the vision of that carpet has stuck with me all these years later, like a bad acid flashback. The worst part was -- I kind of liked it.


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