Nov 03, 2023, 06:29AM

The Boys in Tribeca

Another splinter with cut-up pizza and snowed-in comic book shops, one night in New York City, January 1996.

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Once upon a time in Manhattan, some blocks south of Paul, Meredith, Enzo, and Giuseppe, a family waited out the blizzard of January 1996. In the Powell Building, on Hudson Street, were two very young boys and their grandmother Daisy. They were born in the center of the universe. On the night of January 8, their parents weren’t in Manhattan, nor the Island, nor the Hamptons, but stuck in Florida, desperately trying to get back home to their kids. While mom and dad were running around like humans with their head cut off, the kids were blissfully unaware of their parents’ panic. They weren’t alone, and they were being taken care of and fed, even if the pizza Daisy made was cut up—into pieces—an offense the New York natives took as so basic, and so seriously, she never forgot. During the entirety of our saga with the Italians and the teenagers, these kids were having a great time, running around and playing with each other, still flush with gifts and the spirit of Christmas 1995.

Nevertheless, they still wanted to watch a movie. “Okay, which one?” Daisy was endlessly patient, but no, there wasn’t a single copy of the fourth season of Power Rangers in the Powell Building. The kids screamed about WORLD OF VIDEO! She said no, no, no, and then after getting permission from the crazed parents stranded in Florida, Daisy relented. They would go to World of Video, and get piece. “Real pizza.” Daisy was endlessly patient.

The three of them got layered up and prepared for the walk to Greenwich Avenue, just a couple blocks away. As they left the lobby, Hudson Street glittered, nearly unrecognizable covered in snow and mostly silent. There was no way New York City could ever be that quiet, but this quiet was all these kids knew, and it was as vast as the buildings and skyscrapers that loomed over them. Walking over to Greenwich, they passed a bus stop where my friend Peter (nice guy) was waiting in a purple suit. He didn’t say anything to them—still upset over his treatment by the teenagers earlier that night—but he would have the last word with the kids later on. Daisy took them to World of Video, but it was closed, and all they could see inside were copies of Babe, a gigantic Alicia Silverstone standee promoting the videotape release of Clueless, and a returns bin full of tapes, all watched and waiting to be refiled and probably rewound.

A few blocks south they tried to get into one of the neighborhood comic book shops, but this was years before both of the boys became interested in comic books themselves. For now, they were just shiny and video game adjacent. Daisy tried to open the obviously closed comic shop, and the door swung open. Dazed, she let the kids wander into the abandoned store. Someone had taken off before the snow and forgotten to lock the door, leaving snow drifts and mini-dunes building up by the spiral staircase and standees of Batman and Two Face. Daisy walked in and found one of the boys, but the other went down the spiral staircase, where Peter Wolf was waiting to tell him something, one night in New York City, January 1996.

—Follow Bennington Quibbits on Twitter: @BenningtonQuibb


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