NY, NY V: Sour Lemons

lemon-webMy friends and I traveled to New York City a few weeks ago not just for the pizza, but to see the work of Joe Simko, a talented artist that specializes in colorful illustrations, paintings, and even giant inflatable monsters.

I looked all over the block for some sort of snooty art gallery – you know, the kind that hang a bunch of solid-colored square paintings on the wall for $10,000 a piece. Instead, I spotted a piece of graphite with a pierced eyeball, which happens to be Simko’s signature icon. It pointed to the doors of Live Fast, a boutique chocked full of rock & roll fashion and vintage accessories. The entire store was covered in a mural that reminded me of the Garbage Pail Kids at a Punk Rock concert. I walked up to a striking young woman that resembled Betty Paige.

“Um, I’m here for the art show…”

She silently pointed to a door leading to the basement while adjusting a pair of bloody knife earrings in the display case. As I descended the narrow staircase, I was distracted by a picture of flames and a half-naked devil lady, so I smacked my head on the low ceiling.

“Happens to everyone,” said someone off to the left.

I rubbed my forehead and looked over to see a bartender with long black hair and a studded leather jacket smiling at me. He already had his arm outstretched to hand me a drink, which appeared to be some sort of green glowing concoction with an eyeball floating in it.

I raised an eyebrow. “What the heck is this???”

“It’s energy drink, vodka, and a lychee stuffed  with a red grape.”

“I love New York,” I thought. Despite the icons of bloody knives, screaming eyeballs, and flaming devil women, I felt perfectly safe.

Free booze and great art usually brings a large crowd, so after about an hour, my friends and I decided to step outside for some fresh air. As we discussed meaningful topics like cartoons and video games, I randomly felt a lemon bounce past my foot. For a moment, I thought it was a tennis ball until a blur of orange flashed by me.  A woman in the crowd let out a yelp. The people around me started to duck and cover as we heard the sound of dozens of pieces of citrus pelting us from an unknown source.

Lemon. Orange. Lime. Lemon.Lemon. Orange. Lime. Lemon.

I looked across the street and a cluster of about teens were pulling fruit out from a box and throwing it at us. All of them were boys, except for a teenage girl with a red tank top that was inexplicably holding a live ferret in one hand and laughing.

Without even thinking, I blurted out, “Hey, stop! Why are you DOING that?”

A boy that looked to be about nine years held up a Snapple bottle as gestured like he was going to throw it at me. An older kid in the group, probably about fifteen years old, grabbed it out of his hand.

Oh, good, his older brother is going to stop him from throwing that bot-

Before I could even finish my thought, the older kid chucked the bottle at me, narrowly missed my head, and shattered the windshield of the car next to me. I covered my face as shards of glass sprayed everywhere. The crowd gasped.

I impulsively bolted down the street to follow them, ducking behind parked cars so they wouldn’t see me. I dialed a few numbers on my cell phone as they continued to throw fruit at the passing crowds.

“911, what is your emergency?”

“Um, some hoodlums are throwing fruit at crowds and they just threw a glass bottle into a crowd of at least 20 people and shattered a windshield.”

“What is your location?”

I had no freaking clue. In my adrenaline rush, I must have bolted about six blocks without even looking back, and I was totally lost.

“Um…near…#1 Chinese Restaurant…hold on…” There are probably approximately 8,000 “#1 Chinese Restaurants” in New York City.

I muffled the phone. I yelled into the streams of people that washed by me, “Where…where am I?”  I must have looked like a desperate raving maniac. Everyone ignored me, until a familiar voice “240 East Forth Street”. It was the guy that handed me the eyeball cocktail. I repeated the address to the dispatcher.

“You wait here!” he said, “I’ll trail ’em while you get the cops!”

Before I could stop him, he already disappeared into the crowds.

(to be continued)

(photo by Roman Volkov)