I arose from the subway at Eastern Parkway and headed south down Utica. Its the 5th of October yet nobody seems to have gotten the memo. Down every block there are smoking BBQ drums slowly cooking jerk chicken and corn on the cob. I want to buy some now, but I’m headed to a client’s house a few blocks away. I must wait, it would be poor etiquete to show up with food, that I probably wasn’t going to eat anyway, seeing I would have my hands full with Kadia’s computer. I’ll get it on the way back, no problem.
I get in and notice Kadia and her relatives from Trinidad are in the Kitchen waiting for me. The house is a tight squeeze, the the lid to the trash can has a motion detector, and they clear an end table to be my workspace. Couldn’t be more than a foot and a half in diameter, the true test of a professional.
I sat down, gave the laptop a once over, Kadia talked on her iPhone, and her cousin just stood in the doorway watching me take apart a laptop, in my lap. The table was where I decided to put my tools, replacement screen plus whatever screws that I pulled out of it. 30 minutes later and I was done. Pop!
I asked about the smoking drums over on Utica and if they were legit. We talk about jerk chicken and I mentioned Peppas. They already knew about Peppas and asked if I knew about Ali’s. I was one step ahead of them….or so I thought. I have been to Ali’s on Flatbush, but the same people own one on Utica, and word is, it’s better. Furreal??
I wanted jerk chicken from the drum, but fuck it, let’s be honest; I had been craving Roti for almost 2 weeks now, Ali’s was on the way to the train station, and that’s all there is to be said. Ali’s was the loudest spot in the block, selling cheap jewelry on a folding table out front, next to a sound system, where on a table a DJ ran thru selections and sold mixes as well. I heard a dance hall version of “rain drops falling on my head”… The fuck?
This is as official as a west indian neighborhood can get in NYC. The woman here tend to be much darker, with unique curves to their shape. Then there’s the hair: if it’s a wig, its dreadful, if it’s their own hair it’s relaxed, and if it’s a weave, it’s blond. If their shoes aren’t modest, then they look like they hurt.
They were out of curry shrimp so there went my first choice. I tried goat last time and really wasn’t into picking bones out of my roti so I went for the boneless chicken, with pepper. I walked around thinking maybe I could run into Aziz, but my texts didn’t get any reply and I just decided a bench right there on Eastern Parkway would be fine. When the food is fresh, you must eat it then, for it’s only slipping further and further into not-so-fresh…ness.
Verdict: That roti from Utica was significantly better than the other Ali’s on Flatbush, outrageously so. You know when the food is so good, that when it hits your taste buds you just can’t help but say “fuck!!”. Yeah, that good.
On the way home I transfered from the A to the L at broadway Junction. Coming up the escalator at Broadway Junction I heard singing. I approached the intersection between the J/Z and the L platforms and saw a Amish choir singing. It would be one thing if you saw this in Grand Central or even Williamsburg, but they came to the hood. Just seeing a group of white people gathered in mass is one thing round here. But throw in those little bonnets, funny outfits and songs about Jesus (I think they’re singing bout Jesus), and well it was just a little out there.
I got home in record time, met up with Mani and all the other yahoo’s at the bodega. Five of them were outside when, my neighbor and her friend walk past. The dudes all start cat calling “oye chulita, god bless you”. Those girls are maybe fifteen, and those dudes are twenty-seven, at the youngest. I mean seriously?
Mani wanted to drink, so I suggest getting some nutcrackers. Now for those who don’t know, nutcrackers are mixed drinks you can buy from just any dude. For 5 bucks you get a homemade cocktail in a plastic drinking container and its all cheap alcohol mixed together with fruit juice. There is never a need for a holiday or special event, you just have to wanna drink something served chilled, fruity and strong.
Well turns out the Chinese restaurants serve nutcrackers, I mean they’re Chinese, they don’t give a shit, they also sell mofongo. We went to the Chinese spot, ordered two white zombies, a wet pusy and a thug passion. This is all on the menu, pusy is spelled with one “s” and the kicker is that these drinks are to go. It’s like I’m in New Orleans.
All the local riff raff were crowding around in the back of the bodega and there I was, the lone island of white, in a sea of low life latinos, filled with so much alcohol they were practically pickled. I’m sure that when the mosquitos bite into them, the mosquitos just drop on the spot from alcohol poisoning. It’s not uncommon for some people to get so heavily intoxicated early enough in the day that they are heading home piss drunk by 7pm, but some of us go till four or five in the morning.
On the TV was Sabado Gigante, and this honestly was this perfect drinking companion a Television could offer when you’re drinking, or if you’re old. I guess if you’re old and drunk it must be even perfect. Sabado Gigante is all over the place, and I can’t tell when it’s time for titties, talking or the talent competition; but I do know, that I love El Chacal.
If you ever watched the Apollo, you know that during the talent competition, if a contestant isn’t doing well, then Sandman would just come sweep and troll that dude off of the stage. Well El Chacal is the Latin Sandman, looming over the aspiring singers, waiting for them to sing off key so he could start blowing random notes from a horn over whatever the contestants were singing, cueing them to stop.
Back at the bodega everyone is drinking by the produce section. Maria slirps on a bottle of Corona while her three year old grandson sleeps in the baby carriage next to a box of rotting platanos. The little fella looked like he had been drinking himself. Let’s look at this for a second: Maria’s kids wanted to go out and party so they asked grandma to watch their kid, and of course grandma just took the little fucker with her to the bodega. Because granny has got to get hammered too.
Come 1 am we decide that we needed to sober up and head to the Chimi Mundo. A chimi is a Dominican hamburger …if you will. I walk up and to the Chimi truck and say “dame dos Chimis, por favor”
he looks at me and laughs “con todo wero?”, and I respond “si, damelo con todo”
Mani is out of his head… and so big that no one tells him to stop drinking, so he doesn’t. After I ordered our Chimis he puts his arm around me and asks if I ordered that all by myself, pointing at me and saying “esta chingon”.
A chimi is not a hamburger per say; the beef patty has garlic, onion, bell pepper, Worcestershire sauce in it. The sauce is a mix of ketchup, mayo, orange juice, oregano and Worcestershire sauce. Then they dump onions, tomato, cabbage, and frying oil, on top of that put it on two buns they have pressed. Kind of like a Dominican independence celebration in your mouth, but when you’ve been smoking and drinking, it’s great.
When I got home the fifteen year old girls were outside my apartment. They were my neighbors in the building next door, but what I didn’t realize, is that they were Maria’s kids. Jesus how many fucking people live in that apartment. They have a place no bigger than mine, yet I live alone, and there must be roughly seven people in that apartment. Maria, her sister Daisy, Daisy’s kid, and Maria has three maybe four kids. She has one boy and two maybe three girls.
They were having a party when some unruly kid started talking shit and bullying other kids. One of the parents boyfriends got in his face asking why he was violating the their apartment. The kid grabbed a bottle of Ciroc and swung it into the older man’s face. According to the kids telling me the story, blood went on everyone. REALLY!! They make it sound like a Tarantino flick, but then Maria came outside covered in blood, partially drunk, yet still able to flirt with me.
They apologized for the noise and I said it was just fine. The louder they are, the louder I can be, for when these people slowly migrate out of the neighborhood, all the new blood will start telling me to turn down. Protect my right to ridiculously loud volumes: Keep Bushwick loud.