New York Tales from Curious Borough Dwellers

024 : Paul Weidknecht in Gantry Plaza State Park, Queens
Born 1964 in Point Pleasant, New Jersey. Paul Weidknecht currently works as a writer, readily available for work. Why New York? He hasn’t been to any of our other Hitotoki cities. He digs the following Gotham bits: Driving through the tunnels and emerging in the city, Christmas time at Rockefeller Center and Radio City Music Hall, and the view from the Empire State Building. He is, however, a bit miffed by The Yankees (as any good Sox fan must be). For more info on Paul Weidknecht you should send an email.

image: Paul Weidknecht

“The cruise passed close, with laughter loud over the water...”

Long Island City, Queens. My cousin said it was the best place in the city to see the City, that there wasn’t a better spot to see fireworks on the Fourth. But it wasn’t the Fourth; it was a mild night in August, and he, my brother and I stood there at the end of the Gantry Plaza State Park pier looking out over the East River’s flickering blackness. Across the river, the lights were on at Walter Chrysler’s place, white triangles bright against the dark sky, with the nub of the Empire State, now in yellow, just visible from behind a tower of windows. To the right, the glass of the U.N. Building glowed a vague, quiet green.

We weren’t alone here. Nearby, lovers stood next to each other, leaning over the rail, whispering. A photographer prepared for his art, and after a series of soft clicks had his camera and tripod joined for a skyline shot, an enlarged copy promised to his friend.

One of us looked at Manhattan and mentioned something about calmness, tranquility. The words sounded strange, out of place—who describes New York City as calm?—but we nodded, muttering in agreement; it was calm.

In the distance, a lighted boat appeared. Several minutes later, it angled toward us. A tug, maybe. A ferry, someone else suggested; none of us able to pick up the shape. To our right, on the pier several feet away, fishermen continued casting to anything willing to eat, the whirr of line racing through the rod guides followed by a small splash of light as the bait found the surface of the dark water. The long, tiered boat approached with a loudness, a steady thumping—Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom—the heavy bass of a club’s sound system.

The cruise passed close, with laughter loud over the water, the top deck dense with undulant bodies; rhythmic in their shaking, dipping, swaying. I imagined each in a sheen of sweat, every head thrown back in a joy exaggerated by the moment, their voices folded over each other, like a mirror held up to a mirror that goes on and on.

Then there was a different sort of laughter, now drunken, mocking, sinister. And we knew. They were laughing at us—all of us—the losers on the pier who couldn’t find nightlife in the city that had perfected it. Seconds later we were laughing back reflexively, at the clowns in the floating club who hadn’t noticed serenity gliding right behind them.

And as the boat made its slow wide turn back toward wherever it had come, we listened to the blunt downbeat of the woofers, hearing the DJ shout to the party, “Make some noise!”

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017That's when I knew I wanted to live in New York: in the midst of those fragile bralets and bodysuits.— Ling Ma

016The guns, we tell the police later, were black like ice.— Tara Deal

015...my own talisman against the folly of my youth.— Andrea Jarrell

014Y'all in a band'r somethin'?— Abraham

013Perhaps it was the lanky teenager with the bright red book-bag that made me think I saw Adam.— Carrie Teicher

012I remember flattening myself against the streaky windows of the PATH train like an insect.— Erin Fisher

011I glanced up to see another shape hit the sand.— Ken H. Judy

010Vibrating almost imperceptibly in the breeze like a woody tuning fork.— Rob Giampietro

009Then the jazz stopped and the radio said the war had started in the Middle East. — Roland Kelts

008Shirtless Boris Yeltsin’s skin reddens as he reads a book.— Michael Maiello

007Port Authority was there with open, non-judging arms.— Khoi Vinh

006His almost-loss was my almost- nonexistence.— Matthew Rand

005On the cold hard floor of the orphanage, I sang, longing for the day that they would come and rescue me.— Jen Egan

004He was a lawyer, after all.— Kristin Gardner

003The parking lot gate was open, and we ran in with the skateboard.— Lorraine Martindale

002We arrived on completely Russian streets, with Russian signs and a familiar rudeness.— Kseniya Melnik

001...the hourly clicking of Oxfords and high heels across the parking lot.— Tam Nomgum


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