Like many writers, I spend probably way too much time sitting on my butt. The heat wave we recently had here in NYC only encouraged that, keeping me indoors more than usual. But tonight was lovely outside so I made sure I took a walk after I finished my day’s cranking, and when I saw a Ninth Avenue coffee shop had an open window seat, I thought I’d treat myself to a pasta dinner instead of my usual Chinese combo takeout eaten in front of the tv at home.
The street scene was noisy and lively while I ate my salad and angelhair primavera, but I didn’t mind the clamor at all. Sometimes the very racket that makes me apoplectic when I’m alone sitting in front of my computer trying to write is soothing when I’m out amongst the human race again.
After my entree, I got some coffee and made some notes for tomorrow’s story writing for an erotica website…
When I looked up from my scribbling, the evening light on Ninth Avenue was pleasant…
But I got to thinking about the movie I saw last night on TCM, Turner Classic Movies: THE DARK CORNER, a 1946 film noir that not only took place in midtown Manhattan and Times Square, but had its gumshoe hero live at the corner of 52nd and Tenth Avenue, right in the heart of Hell’s Kitchen when it really WAS Hell’s Kitchen!
So I thought to myself, why don’t I take a walk over there to see what building he was supposed to have lived in!
After I finished my coffee, I strolled west. Lo and behold, the corner where Bradford Galt, Private Investigator, was said to have resided in 1946 looked pleasingly ungentrified in 2016, and the building seemed quite like one where the brooding Mr. Galt (well-played by Mark Stevens) could have tangled with a murderous William Bendix in the film’s most exciting scene. (I highly recommend this movie.)
True, Hell’s Kitchen—a moniker once a notorious symbol of the area’s gangs and violence—is now mostly used as a colorful name and real estate selling point for the neighborhood—more juicy sounding than what it’s also called, Clinton (after DeWitt, I presume, and not Hillary or Bill). But when you’re aware of the history of the area, it never feels fully gentrified…and of course, when you personally have a noirish point of view when it comes to life in general, the spirit of Hell’s Kitchen lives on wherever you are!