New York City Songs – Volume 1
A labor of love, the first in a series of collections of music inspired by New York City.
born december 22, 1951, 8:31AM, at bellevue hospital manhattan, new york city. immigrant lower east side, cobblestone streets. spring in manhattan. through 8th grade at st. george ukranian catholic grammar school, except for a half of 5th grade, during parents’ divorce, when it was fourteen holy martyrs in brooklyn, then daily commute on subway to school in manhattan. how many amazing hours I’ve traveled in these carriages where all forms of human life and behavior are on display. summer in the city. stickball games in the streets. cyclone roller coaster at coney island amusement park. riding a zillion bicycle miles up and down the streets of manhattan, bronx, brooklyn. midsummer new york. father died at age 52 in his apartment in manhattan. i was living in brooklyn with my mother at the time. a few years later we moved to parkchester in the bronx. east village becomes hippie universe center. LSDing at bronx botanical gardens. trip to woodstock festival in upstate new york. written on the subway wall. left in 1970, evading military draft, with first love girlfriend, to spend 7 years in chicago. grew to love it there. other lives, reincarnation without death. other women, other men, other loves. but the mysterious force pulled me back in 1976. “what an exciting, dynamic, ever-changing place”. patti smith and ramones music filled the air of clubs in manhattan. libertine artist days. plato’s retreat and gay baths. before the hallowen parade was confronted with AIDS. got involved in “mail art”, corresponding from manhattan, sharing art-bits via mails with a network of artists around the world. moved to park slope, brooklyn. daily subway to manhattan jobs, including months of walking manhattan streets as a messenger. got married. left for 5 months traveling europe and middle east. returned and moved to vermont. chasing after the rural life dream implanted from idealized summer vacation in the catskill mountains in my young years. parenthood. 3 amazing children to love. dealing with the combustible engine & saltrust metal of automobiles. months of snow and frigid weather made me appreciate subways. relationships change. separation. and a new yearning for being amidst people rather than trees. these little town blues. a new love. took her to my hometown for a week right away. from stock exchange to staten island ferry to the boardwalk. coney island baby. the magnetism began to increase again. more trips back, taking kids along repeatedly, to inspire them with the magic there. memory flip-flops, but time goes on. everything changes always. everything remains the same. times square b-film theaters and sex shops sold to disney and vegas. russian neighborhood at brighton beach remains, jewish communities along ocean parkway. stirring memory of the melting pot of lower east side manhattan from when I was not yet as tall as my mother. milk and seltzer delivered to the door, doctors making house calls. hear it all in the flatbush waltz and the harlem shuffle. jazz. a part of new york history I feel and know only through the music, and films. dreams and hunger to move back to the biggest border-town in the world. someday. compiling songs about new york city, project completed on 22 december 1999. scatter my ashes in central park. it’s my town and it always will be. ~ aleXander hirka, January 2000