The year was 1983, I had been thrown out of every high school I ever attended (or didn’t attend). The bottom of the barrel, a school called City Wide (nicknamed Easy Slide) even they had to draw the line when I accidentally set a student on fire. I dropped out of high school, stole a car and moved to New York City, to sew my oats, drop acid and street perform on the Upper West Side. It was my School of Hard Knocks.
Upon arriving in the big city, after dropping my stuff off at a friends, I needed to ditch the car. I filled up the tank, rolled a big joint and put it in the ash tray sticking out. I drove to Times Square in Manhattan. Pulled up in front of a McDonalds left the keys in the ignition and the car running, reeking of pot. I went in and ordered a quarter pounder with cheese, fries and a pop. By the time I came out the car was gone and someone else's problem. I lived in the Ben Franklin Hotel at 77th and Broadway. A transient hotel perfect for an 18 year old street magician from Cincinnati.
It was the beginning of a journey that had had already been in full swing for years. I loved my room at the Ben Franklin Hotel. Didn’t have many visitors, Derek Dingle came over a couple of times. Shawn Greer visited, Jeff Moche was in the hood, Dave Hughes also in the neighborhood. It was great! The Upper West Side was in the peak of it’s redevelopment/gentrification. Fancy restaurants, high end retail, a street act on every corner, street vendors and a festive community feeling 7 days a week. I worked a few hours a night on Columbus Avenue and spent a lot of time tripping in Central Park.
I have vivid memories sitting on the top of that building, with my legs hanging over the edge, looking over Broadway. The warm city air in the night time.
They say the neon lights are bright on Broadway
They say there's always magic in the air
But when you're walkin' down the street
And you ain't had enough to eat
The glitter rubs right off and you're nowhere
They say the women treat you fine on Broadway
But lookin' at them just gives me the blues
'cause how ya gonna make some time
When all you got is one thin dime
And one thin dime won't even shine your shoes
They say that I won't last too long on Broadway
I'll catch a grey hound bus for home they all say
But they're dead wrong I know they are
'cause I can play this here deck of cards
And I won't quit till I'm a star on Broadway