Displacement affects a delicate sensibility like a slap in the face with a wet fish
The era spoke to originality and passion and cooperation within the industry. All that happened and was acknowledged not just by the writers but by the musicians themselves. Kenyatta attributed it to a "spirituality," which in a few short years, had all but evaporated: "There was solidarity there. It was a good movement, a lot of beautiful people, but the musicians have changed. Times have changed and the situation has changed. Living conditions for the people who are playing that way are very hard, so it never stays the same."
I interviewed fifty people on a busy city street over the course of a single summer day, a pool of subjects derived from a robust sampling of life: Vendors, cab drivers, business people, tourists and homeless. I asked them all the same question: “What interests you most about Soren Kierkegaard, apart from his religion and philosophy?”
Dawn flooded westward, across Houston, like blood backtracking into the grey dope filling that morning’s syringe. Trap Boy stood frozen, arm raised, mouth open, a prehistoric peat man, until the blue and white Volare made its turn onto B and everything began to move. He cawed, “No Joke, No Joke, No Joke.” The others joined in, clumped into the vendor space on the east side of the block between 2nd and 3rd. The patrol car’s windows were rolled down, two blueberries slumped in their seats, staring ahead. Cash, Chinatown, Poison echoed through gutted space like deep flamenco song. Something was happening that wouldn’t happen again. The air could be torn at any moment and no one had a clue what would come spilling out; the city was one ass hair away from shattering.
The Radio Mobile Patrol passed through the next intersection. A few feet over on 4th, bucket hats, hoodies, Adidas trackies, all lined up behind a jagged hole sledge hammered through the bombed-up cinder block wall one week before, the head of a fourteen-year old wearing a Mets cap framed inside. The kid handed the man in a wheel chair a tiny glassine envelope and the line moved forward. In the next block, a torn tan polyester suit pushed his way out two cracked glass double doors reflecting the RMP’s skewed white stripe as it passed, frosted red bulb over the frame making it for an after-hours club. He spun, plastered, already falling and fell, flat on his face. The officers listened to salsa popping inside before the doors pulled shut. In the next block a sloppy fist fight, nothing serious; then three people, hands touching their faces, tilted, on the nod. The cops smelled coffee and fresh bagels before making a right onto 14th. Crossing C, the car slowed in front of a dirty walk-up, sandwiched between two other dirty walk ups, while the driver lit his last Chesterfield of the shift.