Joe Bataan’s Eddie Torres singing about Puerto Rico, now that makes me miss New York. Standing there on the corner waiting for a Didi. It suggested he’d arrive in nine minutes. Is that too long? I look at the word “cancel” and consider pressing it. I could do it and then do it five times again, until I found someone who was only five minutes away. Fortunately, I suppose, I already felt connected to this human being, responsible for his feelings, and decided to relax and look around my surroundings for a moment.
There was a construction site behind me, of course. I took a picture of it. I turned and took a picture of the enormous Zun tower that will soon be part of tomorrow’s old-Beijing that’s been there for as long as anyone can remember. The sun’s wrong and none of the pictures seem to reflect what I’m seeing. Perhaps it’s just the viewing of phoneglass in the strong afternoon glare.
Leaning back against the corroding metal that makes up this gate, the Joe Bataan comes on. And it almost hurts how much it sounds like Manhattan. Something about standing on a corner in New York acknowledges the veracity of all that is playing were New Yorican salsa to be what just came on. There are people before you, there in the New York of your mind, certainly, who take, or once took, this music very, very seriously. Urgent music rebounding off the City’s demanding cadence.
The reflection is different in Beijing. And it hurts, like a tooth when you notice its missing. The brain automatically buttresses all the choices that led to the today you are presently living in: one of the first things that I consider is safety. There was a Serengeti-like thrill in New York at any time I ever lived there. You generally needed to be careful, mindful, respectful. You needed to be prepared. And sometimes you had no business even being there at all. Beijing is generally safe. That’s a fine thing. It’s a better recipe for longevity. I prefer it on the balance. But it doesn’t echo back anything particularly interesting just now, scanning out from the ‘wistful daydream of a faraway land that is precisely what “Para Puerto Rico Voy”, was written for.