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Midnight Party People   —   A New York Moment

Last night at 12:30AM there were people on my street. Lots of them. A horde of them. A gaggle.

Since our apartment is on the last block of residential living (before warehouse kingdom sprouts), it was a curious noise, life outside. I mean, we get the chain-smoking bone cancer woman talking on her cordless in her deep raspy Brooklyn accent or yelling at her ungrateful children or talking to her sister about yeast infections as her cigarette smoke wafts up into our second floor windows, filling our apartment with the smell of what is killing her. We've got the neighborhood children that listen to Celine Dion at top volume on their cheap boom boxes after school, sitting on the sidewalks and talking about boys and what their girlfriends said at school that day. "Can you believe it! I hate her!" (in unison) "We hate her!"

And of course we have the mail trucks that sound like earthquakes.

But never do we have just loads of people walking down the street. Young people. At Midnight.

And then the music starts. And the screaming. And fireworks.

So of course we go outside and walk down the block and turn the corner towards the chaos. What we see is people in front of one small warehouse building, hanging off the windows, pressed to the sides of the walls, balancing on window sills, draped over the roof tops. Surprisingly not very many people for all that noise but enough to make you go, "What the fuck?".

There's a small Volkswagen van parked on the sidewalk, it's rocking, both in the figurative sense and in the literal. The windows of the van are pulsating with flashes of light and there are three or four people on its roof dancing to the thumping music with some giant antennae wrapped in Styrofoam and shaped like a Y. The crowd is gathered around the van screaming and hollering in crazy mob glory. Fireworks are exploding over our heads and we still have no idea what's going on. The music's not half bad either.

And then the police show up.

Two police cars on either side of the block start driving towards the center, blocking the strange little midnight party in. Cops get out of their cars and head over to the other cops that are out of their cars. And then more cops show up. And then more cop gathering. And it gets to where there are almost a dozen cops, all in their own little gang and I thought maybe they were having a party too.

But they looked as confused as I felt. And they just kind of walked around, not sure where to begin.

And then the Daddy Cop arrived and showed them how to handle the situation and suddenly the lost and confused police officers had a purpose and that purpose transformed their faces into my father's face when I had done something bad as a kid (like the time I bit my sister on the shoulder while she was giving me a piggy-back ride).

So the party stopped and we all went home.

We did ask someone in the crowd what the hell was going on, he told us, but I don't think I'll tell you. It's better this way.

Posted 9.23.2003

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