Monday, July 2, 2012

Freewheelin' In The Bronx 1971 (xxxix)

By late July 1971, I was no longer eager to even consider fighting against being evicted from my Bronx slum apartment. For it was in July 1971 that Patsy, the local neighborhood white junkie, apparently broke into my apartment from the fire escape window one afternoon and robbed me of my cheap acoustic guitar, my cheap electric guitar and my cheap electric guitar amplifier, in addition to stealing my cheap portable vinyl record player. And since one of the main reasons I had been living in the cheap Bronx apartment was to write protest folk songs there, once my musical instruments were stolen, so that I could no longer create my melodies in the apartment, I took that as a sign that it was time to give up the apartment.

Despite my lack of fondness for cops, my initial response to my musical instruments being robbed was to call the local precinct and report the apartment robbery. But after the two straight-looking uniformed white male cops in their early 30s entered my apartment, noticed the wall poster of a liberated radical feminist-looking young white woman who wore tight pants (at a time when most working-class corporate offices still didn’t allow young women workers to wear tight pants or jeans to work), glanced at each other in a way that seemed to imply that I was some kind of “hippie-pervert,” I quickly realized that these cops were not likely to do too much to recover my stolen guitars and musical amplifier. And a few nights later, I was informed by Viola--the 19 year-old white Italian-American woman who lived on a welfare check with her mother in an apartment on the upper floor of the apartment building—that she had heard through the neighborhood grapevine gossip that Patsy, the neighborhood junkie, was the person who had robbed my instruments. But since Patsy’s uncle was apparently one of the cops in charge of the local precinct in the neighborhood, it was unlikely that either I would get my musical instruments back or that Patsy would ever be required to appear in court.

Coincidentally, a few weeks before the robbery of my instruments, Viola and Patsy had visited my apartment for a few minutes before Patsy went on his way and left the apartment, after apparently noticing the instruments he eventually apparently robbed when he apparently broke into the apartment a few weeks later. Viola, however, stayed behind. And, for a moment, I felt that she might be interested in hanging out with me or having me ask her for a date, since she had put on lipstick and make-up and was wearing a new blouse that seemed to make her look more physically attractive for most men than she had previously appeared to be.

But the reason Viola was now dressed up was that she was planning to go out dancing and possibly meet some new, more culturally straight Italian-American guy from the neighborhood, who was more like her then-imprisoned old boyfriend, at a local club, Maxine’s. And the main reason that she had stopped by my apartment was that she was now, apparently using heroin that Patsy had obtained for her; and she just wanted to use my apartment now to shoot up in, since she couldn’t shoot-up in her mother’s apartment a few floors above mine, when her mother was at home.

Since Viola was both the friendliest young white working-class woman I had met in that neighborhood and a street-tough 19 year-old youth who it was wise for a man to avoid angering, I didn’t object when Viola went into my bathroom while holding her needle, pulled down her dress slacks and panties, and then injected the heroin into her ass—although I didn’t think it was either the healthiest or wisest thing for Viola to now be into. And since I felt that smack should be legalized, heroin addiction should be treated as a health issue, not as a criminal or legal problem, and the civil liberties of individual users of smack should be respected, I didn’t say anything special to Viola about her now using heroin, before she soon left my apartment.

But I inwardly felt that she was probably going to end up as either a junkie like Patsy or perhaps even, like so many others who had gotten into the needle in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Since this was the last time I saw Viola before I moved on from the Bronx and since I never bumped into her again, I do not know whether or not she eventually did become a heroin addict. But, hopefully, by the 1980s the economically impoverished Viola was living the life she still dreamed about in the early 1970s: her own house in a white middle class suburban neighborhood, a husband with a good job and a child or two of her own. Yet, writing these words in 2012, I’m still somewhat doubtful that Viola ever did attain the life she dreamed about in the early 1970s—even if she was able to avoid becoming a heroin addict during the remainder of the 1970s.