I found this sweet prince on the same corner as the last prince. It’s the corner of Calle Tanca and Fortaleza. Not only is there a dive bar across the street, but next to the dive bar is a pizza spot that also happens to carry fancy beers. I can’t say the pizza was the greatest, but it was nice to be able to grab a fine crafted beer from time to time as opposed to the usual; Medalla Light. On this particular evening, I had met up with some drinking buddies before we decided to go on a tear. I couldn’t tell you what day it was. It seemed like everyday was Friday while I lived there. There was no need or special reason to go out and get ratty, it’s just what you did. I guess that’s the local way of dealing with island fever. I did say that those people know how to party, didn’t I? I had recognized this guy from around. He’s always trying to hustle up some scratch to get loaded. There’s a lot of that on the island. It gets a little depressing at times. I felt bad for this guy and left him a bottle of something a little fancier than his usual fare. I figured it was a nice thing to do to. We all need a little kindness from time to time.
There is a casino in Viejo San Juan that I frequented more often than I’d care to admit. I always felt like it was a goddamned trap as I always had to walk by it and almost always felt drawn to give it a go. This sleeping beauty was passed out by the post office which is right across the street from the El San Juan Hotel and Casino. I was on my way to post office to pick up a money order so that I could pay my rent. A chore that I dreaded because my landlord was kind of an asshole and this meant I was going to have to deal with her momentarily. I had been late with the rent the month prior. Two weeks late to be exact. I was pretty ashamed about the whole ordeal to begin with and how I got in that jam is a complete comedy of errors to be told at another time. The woman who was my landlord had already had a preconceived notion about me based on appearances. Now, she wasn’t totally off the mark in her assumptions. I was a fuck up and I was also in a dark place at that time. I couldn’t deny that. But I also didn’t think it was cool of her to hand me a pamphlet on heroin addiction when I went to pay all that I owed, late fees included. That really got under my skin and just the idea of dealing with her was stressing me the fuck out. I snapped a photo of this tired gentleman, grabbed my money order and decided that I would kill some time before I went back to my place and paid the piper. It was a lovely day that day. It was very bright and sunny out, it wasn’t too hot, all things considered, and the view of the harbor that laid just ahead was astounding. The HMS Bounty was docked and in plain sight amongst the massive cruise ships and I always loved the way that ship looked. A couple of months later the boat had a massive spill at sea off the coast of North Carolina due to Hurricane Sandy and I would never see it docked there again. I had enough of the sun and dipped into the aforementioned casino to try my luck. When a cruise ships come into town it meant a couple of things were certain; all the American fast food spots, like Burger King, were going to get mobbed by those that didn’t immediately decide to set up camp at Senior Frog’s across the street from the docks, the casino was going to get packed and the slots were going to get primed. This usually meant a good run with a one-armed bandit for me. Which it was. I walked out of that casino with about 600 bucks. I hit jackpot on the same penny slot twice in a row and damn near shit myself. Instead of pushing my luck further I decided to treat myself to a Cuban Sandwich and coffee at a lovely spot called Siglo XX and from there I would face my dreaded hag of a landlord with vigor. My landlady had a very young and somewhat pretty daughter,who liked to dress very promiscuous despite her age, and also happened to work in the office This gave me an idea. Feeling cocky and triumphant about my day I marched into the office and proceeded to pay my rent on time. With my rent was a pamphlet warning against teen pregnancy which I handed to the duo with a shit eating grin. I claimed my receipt, winked at the daughter to piss off the mom on the way out and figured it was a good day to be alive.
While I was living in PR I met a wonderful young woman and quickly fell in love. We are still together and she means the world to me. Hands down she is my favorite human being of all time. She had convinced me to move back to the states with her so that we could continue our life together. We would start with NYC and from there venture out into the world till we found a place we could truly settle and call home. In the initial stages of this plan I had moved stateside first. I had a job lined up and I figured I could rough it out on my grandfather’s couch in The South Bronx to save up for a place for the both of us for a few months until she arrived. That particular grandfather is a hard act to follow in terms of temperament and not the easiest man to get along with. This I say politely and respectfully. So with that said, I would disappear a good chunk of any day that I had off and venture about the 5 Boroughs. On this particular day I had ventured into Brooklyn to cop some weed and Xanax so that I could deal with my grandfather on the days I that I couldn’t venture out and to also see an old friend who I genuinely enjoy getting stoned and shooting the shit with. On my way back I found this fucker sprawled out on the bench of the train platform. As high as I was it was still very hard to fight the urge to kick this balding twat in the teeth. Allow me to better explain. This is the platform of the Bedford Ave. L Train. Ground Zero for the hipster epidemic. It used to be a an unloved and neglected part of town which I used to enjoy very much. Now it is overpriced and fully gentrified hell hole. Here before me was an able-bodied Caucasian looking male, clean clothed and sleeping on his newly purchased Apple laptop from J&R Music World and Electronics. I guess the over-privileged have just as much a right to sprawl out and take a nap in public as the homeless, but the reason why escapes me. This is still NYC and I don’t care how much this city has changed or how safe it’s become; you still don’t do shit like this. It’s like counting money in the street. Why not wear a shirt that says “Potential Victim” or invite strangers into your home while you are not there? Fuck this guy! Give me a nodded out junkie any day.
Allow me to take a large step back with this guy. This Sweet Prince is what I believe to be the very first of the heap. I took this photo while I lived in Jersey City, NJ while taking the PATH train home at night. I worked nights then, much like I do now, working security at a live music venue. I hated living in NJ and I hated the PATH even more. New Jersey mass-transit is terrible as a whole, but the PATH is its most repugnant after midnight. It kind of has a mind of its own and your wait for a train could be much longer than you anticipated. The train ride itself was cross between an oddities exhibit and a zoo in equal parts. During my late night commutes from NYC to NJ was able to witness a woman stroke her pet hedgehog will sweetly saying she wished she had some flat bread to put it on so that she could eat him all up (I have a pic to prove it!), I watched two young girls pass a big gulp container back and forth to vomit in after a hard night of clubbing and I’ve also woken up to a guy masturbating violently under his book-bag while staring at an attractive woman who was sleeping on the train. That got interesting, but I’ll tell that one another time. I’ve also seen bums make love to each other on that train ride home and watched a tranny rip lines of blow off the seat and then point out to her other tranny friends that her boner was clearly visible through her leggings. All this and more is what waits for you on the PATH after midnight! But that is also not to say that it was all bad. I mean, look at this guy. I love this guy and I don’t even know who he is. Obviously, he had a hell of a time. He’s stone cold drunk with lipstick smashed into his forehead and he couldn’t give two shits. While he’s nowhere near as bad as the homeless, it’s quite clear he’s fucked. And, while he’s probably better off financially than I am, he’s not throwing it in my face by sleeping on his brand new macbook. He was just a man on a mission to nowhere and I could appreciate that.
This was the most recent of my Sweet Prince photo journey. A dead bird. From the looks of it this fellow had taken that first leap that either makes or breaks birds. In this case our young fledgling failed and plummeted to its death. But that’s life in a nutshell, or, in this case, eggshell. You can either do or die, but you have to at least try. Everything is a gamble and your odds start at 50/50 and either increase in your favor or decrease along the way. I could relate to this as I had left home at a considerably young age and had to figure most of it out on my own. I’ve made a lot of mistakes along the way. I’ve also managed to somehow stay afloat, though often times barely. I found this poor guy on my way to see my friend whom I have my herbal powwows with. On my way back home, which is now in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, I stopped and stared at this bird some more and pondered on things some deeply, as most stoners do. This could have been me. It could still be me. Eventually it will be me. Life has only two promises; you will be born and you will most certainly die. What you do in-between is entirely up to you. The obvious choice, to me, is to make the best of it regardless of what is stacked against you. So with that I wished this poor baby bird, long deceased, a good night. I thanked it for its perspective and wished it a long journey in its next life.