Jerry Garcia died, Garth Brooks played to 93,000 in Central Park and the Knicks still made long playoff runs that boasted more legs than Lieutenant Dan. Casino, Heat and Braveheart all came out in the same year, years before your in-laws who didn’t care for Inglorious Bastards, reserved stadium seating to see Apocalypto on Fandango 6 million months in advance. And Joshua Kornbluth, an aimless, long haired 20-year-old college student, who interned for the office of Special Narcotics actually developed a semi-sober conscious by giving his brain an overdue week from the weed, which also included abstaining from the less potent sprayed kind from the boogie down Bronx at Aquarius Records that tasted like Windex. Because it’s hard to maintain a clear conscious interning for the Office of Special Narcotics when you’re perpetually burnt out on the sticky icky, responsible for draining you of what soul powered glint you were blessed with the first place that some would say beamed brighter than most. Especially, when you’re listening in stupefied awe to an undercover cop, who’s regaling you about his latest undercover assignment as if he’s a black Donnie Brosco come to life who looked like a younger version of Duck from White Man Can’t Jump come to life.
Reality is, Joshua began to question his lushy littered past while drinking another winter break away with his friends from high school at the local bar, J. P’s, where everyone knew, you could get loaded on gin and tonics and smoke weed out back and not worry about jack shit. Which explains why Joshua once made a bet with his Japanese American friend Kohji about whether Darryl Strawberry now playing for the NY Yankees at the original Yankee Stadium before they replaced it with the House That Gentrification Built. If Darryl Strawberry went yard, then his friend Kohji would give Joshua the highly prized Bob Marley boxset which included the ultimate singer songwriter lament, Acoustic Meledy followed by the ultimate killer pick me up follow up, Hurting Inside. But only if Joshua dropped his pants and ran across the street while flinging around his drunk, dizzy dick throughout the thick, muggy summer wind, while chanting, “Darryl, Darryl, Darryl.” Kohji fulfilled his end of the bargain, after Joshua sealed the deal with his own version of riding the bull pre-Happy Gilmore while showcasing his stroke of excitable good luck between his legs in the process.
Out of all the drunken, wasted nights of carefree collegiate youth spent at J.P’s throughout wasted winter breaks of yesteryear, Joshua remembered one encounter that stood out from the pack as, “Hey Tonight”, by Creedence blared on the jukebox which never grew old like EZ Wider Double Widers back in the day used to overcompensate for piss poor, barely even elementary rolling skills while being forced to roll the joint on a flat surface no less. Yes, Joshua wasn’t good at weed, despite him looking like a preppy version of Kevin Pickford from Dazed and Confused minus the hot, borderline mute artist hippie girlfriend. As Joshua went back to the bar for another stiff pouring of gin and tonic, he bumps into an older Latino gent by the jukebox who he never talked to prior, who says, “You shouldn’t drink too much bro. And I don’t think all your weed puffage, based on your bloodshot eyes is doing your imagination any favors either. I see you being a major public speaker one day, maybe, even an important politician, not like these other drunken animals around you. So, slow it down kid.”
And slow it down, he did. Now, Joshua woke up every morning in his old childhood room before getting dressed for his internship in Manhattan before the subways had centralized AC with a lighter flow to his step as he’d blare Sly Stone’s Greatest Hits in the car on his way to the train station and sing, “Everybody is a star.” He started running the steps after work at his high school track and field where he spent more time senior year trying to get into slamming Budweiser Tall Boys if he wasn’t sipping on flasks of Southern Comfort when hanging out with his friends, wasting time, who didn’t share his crazy alcoholic hick DNA from his mom’s southern side to contend with as much, not that his boys back then, were fuck up free Angel’s either. On Friday’s, Joshua would take the local Lex line in Manhattan and get off Astor Place from City Hall to use his weekly 125-dollar stipend to buy up whatever Grateful Dead bootleg audiocassette tapes being sold that day on the corner of Saint Marks Place in the East Village. He’d cruise the bars at North Avenue on the weekend located in New Rochelle, in southern Westchester County, because everyone went out back then. How else do you explain Zima mixed with grenadine becoming a trend at all? Joshua and his high school buds drank forties of Old English, not known yet as Snoop Dog’s ho sprayer of choice. But giving up the weed, whether it was result of developing a semi-sober conscious because of where Joshua was interning that summer or an issue of no longer wanting to be mentally enslaved by the all-mighty ganja anymore, Joshua found his smile again, exploring haunts in Little Italy for lunch in his pursuit to track the down the perfect shrimp parm hero. But if Joshua ever lost his sense of direction, which still happened on occasion, despite taking a break from the weed, he’d still have the World Trade Center to use as the ultimate North Star in his city, to help regain his bearings again.
Now, Joshua has grown a bit, and leading a boat tour of lower Manhattan as a divorced comedian in his early forties, who hasn’t broken big yet. The Freedom Tower was finally built in 2006, after a crater of death hovered over Lower Manhattan, which seemed to stretch out forever like W’s presidency before our precious news media hailed him as some sudden misunderstood genius, since he started painting pictures of maimed vets, he gave PTSD under his permanent fuck up watch. Especially now, since Ellen was spotted palling around with W at a Cowboy’s game, only for her to admit on her show soon after how their actually friends in real life. Because regardless of political affiliation or role in allowing 9/11 to happen under his watch, Ellen is pro-Bush all the way.
Joshua no longer a long-haired, completely directionless hippie, spots a woman on his tour from his untradable summer of 95. As Joshua proceeds to wrap up the tour of Manhattan as the boat spots Lady Liberty, a petite, pretty Italian girl from Staten Island raises her hand. Joshua, never one to forget a face, remembers his Staten Island girl who he took to the free Garth Brooks that summer after meeting her at a local bar on some random Friday during the summer of 95, only for them to fail at picking up more Budweiser’s to bring to Garth Brooks, because the 95,000 in attendance had already cleared out every bodega within the 20-block radius along Central Park West.
Staten Island girl says, “How do you explain 9/11 to your kids?” Joshua remembers her being the 1st girl he ever hooked up with who admitted being a single mother prior, which at the time, prompted the response, “I can handle it if you can babe.” Joshua takes a minute to reflect on her question since becoming a single dad himself after getting divorced for failing to maintain any form of steady employment till he found his sweet spot and achieved a steady stroke against the winds of change in life, as a boat tour guide of Manhattan, which combined his love of comedic storytelling and his cherished concrete jungle of Manhattan, that he loved so, that 1st love powered dreams are made of.
The island of Manhattan was also the birthplace of his endlessly beautifying son, Arthur Morrison Kornbluth, already a star architect at 19 years old, who just joined the American Institute of Architects, who would in fact join him for occasional joint boat tours involved the sweeping historical knowledge and sweep necessary to give a big city architectural boat tours of lower Manhattan with larger-than-life flourish. After all, when Joshua’s son Arthur was only 5-year-old he told his daddy that one day he’d built an apartment with an adjoining enclosed bridge passageway, so they could live together when they got older, which finally came true. Now, Joshua’s son emerges from the background, looming much larger than life than his dad sporting spiky blond hair and a six-foot six frame, looking like Donald Trump birthed a preppy hipster art show baby. Joshua’s son, affectionally nicknamed Art Show even before he was conceived answers the question.
“My Dad always explained 9/11 as the day his age of innocence died. But my dad would always use humor to lighten the darkest realties on his lifetime like the prospect of dying from the killer queen virus of them all, no not COVID, Aids. He’d say, “If I had a daughter, I’d encourage her to become a Lesbian because the Kama Sutra is a recipe for Aids. Plus, when you’re Lesbian, you can take a licking and keep on ticking. Don Draper lives, Challah. Thank you very much.”
Art Show, The Architect adds, “How did my dad make fun of the uptick in crime during the Mayor Adam’s years? He’d say, “Sanctuary Cities are encouraged lawlessness on crack. Still, the crazies on Twitter rant and rave about wanting to ban ICE. Because Homeland Security was so Weapons of Mass Destruction years.” And how did my dad bring up the Holocaust without being depressingly dreary about it? He’d made jokes about it because humor allows us to get in the last word against our dying of the light. Dyland Thomas lives, Challah. Thank you very much.”
Dad would say, “Did you know 4/20 the national pot smoking holiday in on Hitler’s birthday? I haven’t felt this duped since Sly Stallone snuck Mel Gibson into Expendables 3. Anyone visit the home of Anne Frank in Amsterdam? My 1st impression was one of shock and awe, as I thought to myself, “This place is enormous. I’ve never seen so much closet space. I expected a cubby, not a walk-in-closet.”
The entire crowd in the boat tour can’t stop laughing as beautiful streams of endless, purifying laughter fill the air. Lady Liberty radiates a prettier punctuating light that pierces through the purple and orange sun set draping coastline. And the grown-up mom from Staten Island says, “Fuck Pete Davidson, let’s crown the new king of New York comedy. I had a feeling he’d bang out something special one day. The Big Apple is a brighter place with you 2 twin towers in it. And I thought Darryl Strawberry was juicy to take in whole.”
Darryl, Darryl, Darryl.