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The Soho Loft
by Albert Russo

Apparently, uncle Luke stays hours in front of his bedroom mirror and has long conversations with himself, reminiscing the good old days. He still lives in that caca d’oie-colored townhouse in Brooklyn where Unky Berky spent some of his worst student years. His wife died ages ago and his two daughters, Gloria and Carlotta live in Florida with their fourth or fifth husbands. Whenever they ask him why he doesn’t move to the Sunshine State, he says: “I don’t want to roast and get skin cancer like all the gagagenarians you have down there and listen to their otherworldly bullshit. You can keep your mosquitoes and your scorpions, thank you very much, I’d rather have my roaches and my rats, I’m used to them. And besides, no one will ever convince me to trade Flatbush Avenue for all the glitter of Miami Beach, what with the occasional shootouts and the racket that goes on at night there.”

It was cool of him to lend us Nick’s loft, coz the hotels here are twice as expensive as the ones in Paris and if you want to pay less, you get such dingy rooms you’d think you were in some bombed out place after the apocalypse, with skinheads loitering in the hotel corridors and playing with their Swiss knives, and poker-faced nerds offering you crack or even worse. How do I know all that? Through the warnings of my uncle who’s turned into a walking encyclopedia of doomsday. He even insisted that we go to the Bowery - there, he almost chained me to his arm, like I was a dog or something - so that I should see what he was talking about. And you wouldn’t believe it, Mr was terribly disappointed, on account that the hobos and the drunks (I had to guess who he had in mind) looked much tamer than when he lived here, because of Mayor’s Giuliani’s zero tolerance policy. He finally said in a pussy mousey tone something the French would never admit: that Paris is nowadays more dangerous than New York.

Let me now describe that loft we’re staying at. It’s mastroiannic, I mean, it’s so big you need rollerblades to go from one end to the other, coz it used to be a warehouse. And it is in such a state of disrepair that when we got in the first time I yelped like a puppy someone had just kicked in the behind. Actually the place has probably never been renovated, let alone painted. You should have seen the elevator, a huge creaking cage from the times of Methane & Gorilla which moves like it is burping and stops for several minutes before it gives out another burp, in the meantime you can get a heart attack. And you wouldn’t believe the smell: a mixture of molten tar, rotten wood and cod liver oil.

Unky Berky didn’t dare look at me, coz he too was shocked, but we had no choice.

Excerpt 3 from ZAPINETTE GOES TO NEW YORK by Albert Russo