Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Numeral 5 at Beekman

From Journal #55
Friday, June 25, 2010

12:54—On a Q headed to... where?

Paranoid and wobbly.
Going over the Manhattan Bridge—creditors calling me! F*ckers!

I wonder if I should get off at Canal and then take an R down to my old haunts in the Financial District for some more observational note-taking?

1:30—In the Plaza outside of City Hall.
The approach to the bottom of the city: a few of the old monoliths are still standing;

On Park Row by the Optimo Cigars store; turn left on Beekman Street; past the old barber shop on 8 Beekman; then Nassau...

Theatre Alley tucked away under black scaffolding in the deep gloom and skeletal structures of fire-escapes.

Nassau torn up between Beekman & Ann.
The thresh and clatter of heavy machinery all around me.
My God: the immense red and white facade of the old Temple Court—all closed down along the streets and covered with scaffolding. They couldn’t be tearing it down; could they?

5 Beekman Street! I peer through the small round hole where the lock used to be—and look into an immense, cavernous and ruined interior illuminated by natural light from above... crumbling plaster and chunks of concrete—the remains of an ornamental balustrade with gold buttresses—stripped, raw iron columns stand in the gloom—wires and torn cables sprout from holes in the ceiling and walls.

A piano sits madly in the center of the chamber!

As I pull myself away from this otherworldly sight, a young man stops me and asks if I am working for the Census—"No" I reply, "I am a writer taking notes—notes pertaining to the Great Desecration—which rages all around us and through us!" I start to relate my sad and incredible tale to him—but he's having none of it—he nods his head and smiles and turns to continue on his way—I ask him what he does. “I work in the area.” He makes his way through the throngs, heading west on Beekman towards B’way and melts into the hopeless afternoon.

Turning back for another look, I see that all of the modern facades have been ripped off of the doorways and entrances—exposing ancient brick & mortar and long-covered ornamental masonry.

I notice the brass numeral 5: a piece of metal which has been removed from above the main doorway and placed on the ledge above it. Strange... I pick it up, thinking to abscond with it, but something stays my hand.

Standing across the street and I reconsider my plan to abscond with the numeral 5! Should I loot the ruined temple? Would I be contributing to the destruction of the Old City that I purport to cherish?

Stasis at the Perimeter

I settle for a mere tracing of the numeral—and carefully put it back in its resting place where I found it.

2:57—In the courtyard in back of Zeytuna’s. I've been here before... in that strange dream...

There is a permanent hiss in the air; a rushing sound; a combination of heavy machinery, the gnashing of gears, hydraulics, and perhaps also the wind rushing through desecrated metal canyons down here in this torn & demented city!

I suppose that I should head up to WSQ; but should I? The new benches are exceedingly unpleasant and the Old Park is now gone without a trace anyway! There is nothing left to cling to or ruminate upon...

The Quandary of the Numeral 5...


  1. Good work Brian; Compelling and strong. I can relate needless to say. (So why did I say it)?

  2. Whenever I read your work, I feel as if I am travelling with you. Just tremendous!
    Tom M.

    1. Thanks, Tom—very much appreciated! Hope all is well with you.

  3. I like to see this building too. I have been to the outside of it but didn't realize what an interesting place it is on the inside plus it's history. Thanks for looking the keyhole and report all you can. That's a nice idea to trace the number five...did you take a picture too? I would be very tempted to take it with me.

    It was a very fun read. Thanks

  4. I know that kinda stuff.i used to be a messenger in the early 70s in the wall st. area.Knew a lot of nooks and crannies there.Would goto places I shouldn't in a building.if I ever got challenged by someone just say ya got lost or you was trying to find a shortcut but never got challenged cuz who cared?