Friday, May 2, 2008

The roof is on fire

what a goddamn eventful day yesterday was! let me tell ya about it.
(Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end; then stop.)

For those of you who don't know I lead a project called the Young Authors Club through New York Cares. Its a group of about 12 kids and 12 volunteers and we all meet in PAL Duncan, Hells Kitchen. PAL Duncan is this really amazing program; it is run by the Police Athletic League and it allows these kids to have a place to go and learn and read etc. Their tuition is based on family income so some of the kids there pay about $5 for the whole year.
Okay yes it's a bit of a madhouse. The first time I walked in the receptionist was nursing her baby behind the desk, and the bathroom has no doors that lock and one stall is missing a seat.
But regardless of all that stuff these kids love to write and some are pretty damn good.
Every time we have a session I am truly surprised at the level of comprehension and writing skills. It is very interesting to see what the kids know and don't know and what they like to write about. For instance I gave them an assignment to tell us where they are from or what their names mean; none of them knew. Most live with either very young parents or foster families and you forget that they probably won't ever know this sort of information.

Yesterday I gave them an assignment which they really embraced. They were told to write a letter to the president and tell him what they would want to change and why. So okay yes some of them wanted things like tater-tots every Sunday for the rest of their lives. But others expressed some really genuine ideas including an AIDS vaccine, an end to the war, and money for their parents to buy a house or car. They also got into debates over whether they were voting for Obama or Clinton. (They are eight.) To hear them debate about political issues was really such an intense eye opener as to how influenced we can be at such an early age. It was wonderful. Every time I leave there I want to take a child with me. But that's illegal.

So after that I had to run to meet Alex for The Kills concert. My phone died because I'm a big softy and I had let the girls at Pal Duncan play with it which meant they were turning it on and off for an hour. So now I'm late, and it's raining and my phone is dead. So I did the grossest thing I could think of; I used a pay phone. Like three times. (As Alex said when i finally met her, 'Hepatitis in the ear!")

The concert was in Webster Hall, which is totally insane on the inside. There are mirrors everywhere and the floors are all checkered and the upstairs bar is made out of a giant fish tank. I had been there only once for a New Years when I was still underage and could still vividly remember the hoards of Asian and Arab men who surrounded us like gnats on the dance floor. Anyway neither Alex nor I had eaten but they wouldn't let us back outside once we were in (and the lady in the bathroom was charging money for one spray of perfume so we knew the cheese-its she had laying out must have been like ten bucks) so we just said okay fuck it let's get drinks.

Two drinks in we were drunk and enjoying ourselves much more. By the time the Kills came on we were warmed up and ready to dance.
And then the roof was on fire.
The band sounded great and we had a great view from the top right balcony. Everyone was listening intently when Alex pointed to the ceiling and told me we had to go. So I look up and say, "oh." The ceiling was this web of design and all carved and I watched as this orange fire slowly crept along the edges, making its way closer and closer to us. Suddenly managers and security guards began pushing people back from the area as the band played on. Alex and I gathered our stuff and stood there watching as the fire slowly made its way in new directions and then began burning itself out.
Nobody really panicked, in fact no one even moved. After a few minutes the fire stopped and everyone went back to their spots. After a few more minutes the firemen came, which every girl up in that balcony loved. Especially Alex. After a few more minutes a fireman came on stage and stopped the show, much to the surprise of the band and audience who hadn't even noticed that the roof was on fire. Security guards kept yelling at people not to take pictures of the firemen or the fire but we did anyway. I mean, come on.
After about ten more minutes the band came back on and all action resumed. It was a great concert and really one of the more freaky/scary things I've ever seen in my life. Imagining if the fire had continued and how people would have was frightening. I could only imagine the insane trampling/pushing/rioting that would've gone on.

To end the night I got a bacon egg and cheese sandwhich from Cozy Soup and burger, this diner on Broadway and Astor Place. It cost eight dollars.

1 comment:

Marc said...

im glad you werent burned alive in a fiery inferno. those concert hall balconies are death traps.