Alright, I think I've finally healed enough to tell this story...
Back in December, I was going to a poetry reading in Harlem (I'm trying to do a better job of fulfilling my duties as an artsy Negro). I got there early and decided to walk down 125th. Particularly if you live somewhere that doesn't have much in the way of a black population, 125 on a Saturday is amazing, maybe even surreal. You walk down the street and see nothing but black faces go in and out of stores that are being managed by and employing mostly black faces. You see philosophical and religious debate going on the street as the 12 Tribes, NOI, (insert your favorite religious/political/separatist group here), etc. continue to try to save black folk from themselves and the occasional passerby challenges their particular doctrine. You walk past black sheets covered in stacks of the newest CD's @ 2 for $5 or 5 for $10 and two week old movies already on DVD (sometimes it's hard for an actor to fight the temptation...). You may also see groups of 12-yr-old boys up against store walls for trying to steal (out of need for recreation). I really had to make sure that I was awake when I looked up at St. Nicholas and realized that Michael Bivens was crossing in front of me (personally, I would've gone into hiding after Hootie Mac).
The reading was taking place at a new culture store that was right next to the National Black Theater (that has a façade that should be considered as one of NYC's must see statues). Down from that I noticed a large structure that I decided to investigate. I go down to it and realized that it was the swim center in the middle of Marcus Garvey Park. I decided to explore around the park to kill time before the reading. Now, at this point it's about 6:30 in the pm, and it's fall so it's already nighttime dark in the city. I walked a little and found a path leading up a round the swim center, so I checked that out. While looking at the swim center, I see this baby carriage just sitting on the path ahead. This is where things begin to get "interesting". I see this carriage and think, "I should check this out to make sure that something hasn't happened. The carriage is up that path toward a less lit part of the park. Up ahead toward the left is this cat that appears so talking on a cellphone - and there's nobody but us there. So, I go a little closer to this carriage and decide that people in New York consider strollers disposable and leave it alone. I've also decided that old dude on the phone ain't interested in me. There's some steps leading up this rock hill type situation, and I decide to investigate that. Thinking that it's a path that I'd already been on when I was in Harlem before I kept heading up. However, I realized that it wasn't the path I thought when it ended at this big plaza with a VERY few lights.
I didn't see anybody there and I thought, wow, as out of the way and unlit as this is I'm surprised there aren't people up here doing things that they shouldn't. Across from me I could see a ledge and headed toward that. On my way I realized that there were four or five people about 50 yards off to my left. There were no big groups and I thought they were just couple standing around and some others scattered around, though the spider sense was still set to alert status. I went to the ledge and looked, it wasn't really high enough to see much other than the park, so I headed back. On my way back, one of the people had crossed and headed to the stairs. I looked back over to the couple and realized that one of them was now kneeling in front of the other. In about 3 milliseconds, it occurred to me that this might be the place the crackheads service johns at, and I decided to move faster. On my way down the stairs, the person that had crossed was standing on the left side. As I passed him, I said wassup. Just as I did so, he turned and I noticed his right hand at about crotch level. I just caught of his jimmy johnson in his hand and finally realized that this was the place that the outdoor freaks came to engage in their public acts of sexual gratification. To make matters more fun, he started coming down the stairs as I was leaving. I got the distinct impression this dude was trying to catch up with me. When I got back down to the street, I quite conspicuously crossed before the intersection, so if I followed me, I knew that he was following me. Instead he crossed to the other side of the street, but heading in the same direction as me. Right before I crossed 125, I glanced over and he seemed to be looking back at me like, "don't tell nobody I was over there".
In summation: don't go to Marcus Garvey park after dark. Unless you want watch people masturbate. In that case, by all means.....
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