Personal History Tour of NYC

Personal History Tour of NYC

Welcome. Thank you for joining me.

I see the fliers I put up were actually effective.

Welcome to Chad's Personal History Tour of NYC. My name is Chad.

We're going to focus on the downtown area, about five miles or so of walking. The East Village, West Village, Meatpacking, and Soho. These neighborhoods have been key parts in my life.

Let’s begin.

255 East 10th Street, East Village

The East Village was the base of counterculture in New York City for many years. Although its influence has waned in recent times, back in the 1960s, artists, musicians, and hippies moved into the area because of the cheap rents, and proceeded to define what alternative culture meant in the US.

The Beatniks had been here since the 1950s. Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, and Allen Ginsberg were all residents. Ginsberg wrote Howl in this neighborhood and Kerouac famously typed his book on a long continuous roll of toilet paper.

255 East 10th Street. This four story pre-war walk up has many of its original architectural features and also holds a special place for me because it's where I got my heart broken. Like really broken. I mean I had some high school romances that didn't end well but nothing really serious happened until I moved to New York and met this girl Lucy Darlowe and fell in love. It was 2004.

It was a rainy September evening. I had been drinking at a bar when I got a text from Lucy Darlowe inviting me to come over and watch a movie at her apartment. She was sharing this East Village apartment with a man who mostly lived in Connecticut, so she had the place to herself on the weekend.

I went over, we watched a movie. Now, I was religious growing up and believed that I should wait until marriage to have sex. But that changed that night with Lucy Darlowe.

Two weeks later, after a huge fight, Lucy took my heart and threw it out of that third floor window there and she walked calmly downstairs and kicked my heart down the street. She said she was getting back together with her ex-boyfriend, that we weren't right for each other, that it had been fun but I was too young.

Ladies and gentleman, my heart was thrown out a window and kicked down the street and it lay beating its final beats when a garbage truck ran over it next to Nellie’s bar, where I spent the night getting drunk. Nellie's was a popular hangout for artists in the 1960s and survives today only because of Wall Street boys.

As we walk down the street we can see can still see the little trickles of blood from my heart that have since stained the sidewalk. It has became permanently etched into the fabric of this neighborhood.

Baggot Inn, 82 West 3rd Street, Greenwich Village (CLOSED)

Greenwich Village’s history dates back to the 16th century, when it was a marsh called "Sapokanican" by Native Americans who camped and fished in the stream later known as Minetta Brook, which we covered with asphalt and erected Minetta Tavern, which frankly I think has a highly overrated burger. If only those Native Americans had invested in real estate they would be millionaires perhaps billionaires today. But hindsight, right? 

That is true not only for the native Americans who lived on this site, but also myself, who realized I had made a mistake in breaking up with the man I was dating at the time.

I was at this famous Village dive bar where my friend was bartending when I realized that I wasn’t over him. I suppose I was scared of emotion, of my feelings, of getting close to someone, of having a human being treat me nicely in a relationship. All my life I'd been good at burying emotions and feelings and thriving on drama. And when my emotions started coming up, often at inappropriate times, I panicked. I didn't know what to do.

I was afraid he would crush my heart like Lucy Darlowe did, who coincidentally was at that bar the same night I was there feeling depressed about things. Instead of facing my feelings I did more shots, drank more, numbed myself.

Lucy and I went home together. The next morning a pipe burst in my apartment ceiling and water went everywhere. Seriously, it was a disaster. To me that was very symbolic.

Washington Square Park, Greenwich Village

All you need to know about this park is that it once used to be a public gallows.

When I got back together with Lucy it was like I had publicly hanged and humiliated myself. It was in this park on a warm summer night in 2007 that I discovered she was cheating on me.

She texted me a naked photo that was supposed to go to him. My friend Brent.

Now a naked photo from a girlfriend might not be that out of place but she had written hi brent in lipstick on her stomach for some reason and I asked her why do you have hi brent written on your stomach and she said it was just funny and I said why would that be funny and later I broke into her phone and saw the text messages they sent each other and I said why does this have to be complicated just say you want to be with him and go with him, why would you be dishonest if you wanted to sleep with him just tell me. And she said, it wasn’t just that she wanted to sleep with him but she liked the thrill of having secrets and cheating. 

And I said that’s sick, that’s really sick when I’m offering her understanding, an open relationship for her to explore her feelings with Brent who is moderately good looking not really that good looking but moderately good looking. I wouldn’t pay him much attention we just happened to be good friends because that’s what you do at college you make a good friend and move with him to the city and you think you have each other’s backs in this god awful place, this horrible place we call New York City. Fucking New York City, you’re killing me here, you’re killing me.

10 Gansevoort, Meatpacking District

The area began as a trading village for the Sapokanican, an Algonquin Indian tribe, and afterwards was a Dutch tobacco plantation, English farmland, a fort to protect New York during the War of 1812, the terminus of the Hudson River Railroad, farmers’ market, and at the turn of last century, a meat market. In the past few years, many of the meat businesses have relocated to the Bronx, but a few remain next to the high end retailers, restaurateurs, art galleries and production houses that now fill this neighborhood.

In a place of so much change, it's only fitting here that I got a call on my lunch break from my mother to tell me she had cancer.

She was very calm about it, very calm. 

Even though she was getting older she was a little surprised. She was going to have surgery in the next month or so.

It was tough because we hadn’t talked for a while and now this happened. She didn't approve of my lifestyle and I didn't approve of hers. 

But she called to tell me they had found a tumor and were going to have to operate and she said so how are things with you and I said that Lucy wanted to get married.

And my mom said do you want to marry her and I said I've loved her for so long and so desperately and we've been through so much that I felt like it was right.

And she said do you want to marry her?

And I said that I loved her and wanted to be with her and she had many admirable qualities and even though she had some negatives, some serious negatives, when things were great, they were great.

And she said do you want to marry her?

Okay, mom, I get it. Jesus.

Don't take the Lord's name in vain, she said.

Fanelli Cafe, 94 Prince St, SoHo

At this classic old Soho Pub, dating back to 1847, I once met a friend of mine who was married with seven kids. He was on a business trip to New York. He lived in Minneapolis. After we chatted for a bit, he said, You know, I wish I could live multiple lives. There are some paths I wanted to explore but I didn't and I think I would've been just as happy as I am now. I wish we had three or four lives to live.

The next month I heard that he left his wife and kids. He moved to Vienna, Austria, with his colleague who he'd been having an affair with.

Do you ever wish you could live multiple lives? I do.

This classic Soho Pub is where this tour ends.

This is where Lucy Darlowe works. She's that woman over there. You can see her through the window. I need to give her a decision about whether I want to marry her. I know I had that talk with my mom. But today is the day I have to decide. Every time we're apart, every time I think about it, I get up my resolve to break things off, but when I see her I can't do it. I love her, I can't help it.

Should I marry her? Tell me, what do you think? What's your name?

Todd, the man said.

Todd, what should I do?

Fuck man, I don't know, I don't know this shit.

You don't have any advice?

No, man, she cheated on you, so I wouldn't go for that.

But she apologized, Chad said.

Doesn't matter.

Didn't you listen to what your mother told you? a woman said.

What's your name?

Sheila, she said. I just think your mother had some good advice, and she has cancer so you know she's telling you the truth. You should listen to her.

Go for it she's hot, a man said. But the others glared at him.

Okay, I'm going in, Chad said. She's getting off her shift. We're going to talk. Can you all wait here?

A few minutes later Chad came out. He looked disappointed, shaken.

The ring I got her wasn't big enough, he said.

What? Sheila said. No, no, no, no. This is not right. This is not right at all. Let me see the ring.

Chad showed it to them.

I won't stand for this, Sheila. What does this girl have, why are you so into her? It doesn't make any sense.

I can't help it. She pulls me in, attracts me.

Sheila slapped him hard across the face.

Snap out of it, she said. You need to get your life together. Get it together, Chad. Seriously, get it together.

Todd came forward. He slapped him as hard as he could, which was hard.

They all came forward, giving Chad a slap across the face.

I'm over her, he said, I'm totally over her. I promise. We're done. We're done.

Sheila took the ring from his hand. We have to get rid of this, she said. It's the only way.

She threw it down the sewer. It's all over now, it's done.

I'm totally done with her, he said. I'm done. Thank you all for joining my Personal History Tour of NYC. Please leave a review on Yelp. I conduct this tour every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, that's Lucy's current work schedule. Please tell your friends. Thank you, all. Good night.