Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Apocalypse...whaaa? - remembering the 1977 Power Failure (aka Blackout of '77)

I was in my early 20s, coming home from my job as an evening manager of Bookmasters in Penn Station (or "Bookies" as my co-worker, artist David Wojnarowicz referred to it), and the F Train stopped, of all places, half-in and half-out of the Smith and 9th Street station. We passengers somehow made our way down from the elevated station tower in the dark in one piece, amazed at the new world that had just opened up to us..

I shlepped up 9th street to my apt at PPW and 8th Street ($125/month, utilities not included)and hung with my neighbors on the front stairs, illuminated by candles (and no doubt the lights of a thousand flickering bongs)...

Interestingly, I didn't have a car then, don't think I had an AC, no computer, just my stereo and my little B&W Philco TV (on which I watched the news and the Honeymooners and in a few short years, the drama of the John Lennon murder), so I was more oblivious to the technological deprivations then than I would be now... it was darkness, uncertainty but still community..

The next day I remember seeing my sister and now late-brother in law who lived on Berkeley and 7th, and we made our way to the Coach Inn I think on Garfield and 7th where we sat at the bar with the door opened (no A-C) drinking cool (maybe room temperature) draft beer as the stifling heat, chaos and violence which did not seem to touch our little corner of the world at that time, unfolded, before any of us had kids, or careers, before the Slope became the mighty economic engine that it is today,and we sat and sipped and laughed and gazed into the distance at this glimpse of apocalypse and our own unknown futures and the sheer wonder of it all...

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