Big city serenade (Broadway Boogie-Woogie)

It’s a little past four a.m. on a very cold Saturday morning and I’m leaning with my back against this tree, out in the darkened streets, now just a few blocks away from home: Eating this chocolate bar I’ve just bought at the convenience store at the gas station where the attendant told me I was not supposed to lean with my back against the gas pump for a change: “I’m like, sobering up,” I told him, but maybe slurring just a little too much.
The streets are all quiet and empty outside and you can almost touch the silence as it drapes down over the bleak reddish skies, invisibly crisscrossing the ether in-between the buildings like a ragged, thick old comforter. The city opens its arms wide ands draws me in: I take a deep breath and don’t fight the ebbing away.

I’m looking at this specific ten-story apartment building from the mid-sixties as it protrudes from behind the flower shop at street level, across the street from the tree I’m standing against, particularly mesmerized by the way in which two prominent broad brown-colored strips akin to bas-relief protrusions run down the façade and sandwich a third line in the middle, pushed back about a feet into the structure, in off-white—the elevator shaft, maybe.

There are minuscule windows peppering the brown columns like squared portholes, and at this time of the night—of the morning—only two or three of them are lit: It reminds me of this painting I once saw when I was a kid, I think it was ’91 and I was in New York with my parents: We were at the Museum of Modern Art and I vividly recall escaping my father’s obsession with the Modiglianis, then standing transfixed before Piet Mondrian’s Broadway Boogie-Woogie for a long while: My father asked me if I was really that much into abstract art. I told him that it looked to me as if someone had frozen an Atari game halfway into the playing.
This very building now, see, some twenty years later, also reminds of that painting.

If I close my eyes tonight and let all the silence crash in, the imaginary sounds of the chocolate bar breaking apart in my hands then melting away under my tongue become the very chorus of this lullaby I’m humming to the city: Like a thin, lean Buddha soaked in vodka under his own private Bodhi tree, praising these cold 4 a.m. empty streets—baptized in the champagne and oysters over the checkered tablecloth at a French bistro downtown, somewhere—meeting with the godhead at the dance floor of a nightclub or another—communing with the spiritual glitterati fellaheen standing in line for a table on Sunday evenings at some glass-walled temple of nihilism and great pasta—making half-honest starcrossed confessions of lost loves to whoever listens to drunken rambles at the tail-end of a party—trudging these silent streets forever, into infinity, like the Wandering Jew of old—but not really cursed, more like blessed in ignorance—with a heart bare of purpose or intention, no drive of our own but some sheer deadbeat momentum carrying us home, to bed, sometimes alone, sometimes not.