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Where the Sidewalk Ends

I wanted to see where the sidewalk ends.

I didn’t know that when I set out early in the afternoon. Not consciously, anyway, not in a way that I could articulate. All I knew was that I’d finished work for the week, my rent and daily bread paid up, that it had been over a week since I’d last taken my bike out, and that my legs were getting itchy again.

My plan was to head south to explore some new bike routes. To spend a few hours away from the computer, unplugged from the web. It was a beautiful day, after all, and these kinds of days are rare and getting rarer, and life is short, and one should take advantage of sunshine. I rode down Flatbush. Rode into the park, past the joggers, turned down Ocean Parkway past the Orthodox weaving through towncars, until my private little bike path was interrupted by very serious-looking construction. Forced off my comfortable path, I headed west, dodging more cars who honked and shook their fists in rage that a tiny slow bike should dare to share the road with them.

Until finally I came to the bike path on Bedrord, and took it, and rode. Where the hell was I? The last neighborhood I’d recognized was Midwood, and that had been half an hour ago. I checked the cross street, and found to my surprise I was at Avenue Y. I wondered what happened after Avenue Z. Would the sidewalk end?

Screw Avenue Q

And I realized then that yes, that’s exactly what must happen at some point. Past Z the avenues kept coming, the city kept expanding ahead of me. Would it ever end? Would there, in fact, be a place where the sidewalk ended?

Yeah. Quite abruptly and amid the sudden wafting of sea salt breeze. There, in a row of piers that looked perfectly at home in San Diego, but completely out of place in New York, the sidewalk did indeed end on Emmons Avenue.

Sheepshead Bay

Fishing line up along the piers, and the bodegas sell fishing licenses, poles and bait next to forties and Gatorade. There’s an Appleby’s, and a couple sidewalk cafes, and a wildlife preserve that looks out onto the Atlantic.

Tomorrow, I’ve got to negotiate with a client that’s behind on their payments. Tomorrow, I have talk down a supplier that wants to overcharge me. There’s deadlines and arguments that have to be had.

But that’s tomorrow. Today I walk in the sun.

It’s late in the day, but the summer sun isn’t going where. It’s taken me ten years of living in New York to get down to the Coney Island boardwalk in summer, but I’ve finally done it. There’s a ginormous boardwalk named after a former roommate of mine, where fat old guys walk around with their shirts off, mingling with fourteen year old’s being their obnoxious selves and young families in their Baby Bjorns.

Riegelman Boardwalk

Guys play pickup volleyball games under the shadows of defunct amusement park rides, and a carnival stand advertises “Hot Italian Sausage”. I give the Italian sausage, hot or not, a pass, when I realize my little casual jaunt has taken me thirteen miles from home and I’ve still got about an hour ride ahead of me.

Afterward, as I’m basking in the glow of an endorphin bath, I decide I’ve got some more energy left, and we all decide to go up to Williamsburg to see the Fuck Buttons. I’ve never heard of them before, either, but my brother has, and they’re awesome, and they look like this:

Fuck Buttons

I’m skeptical during the two forgettable opening acts, which consist of DJs pressing buttons and turning knobs. I’ve got nothing against electronica, and if you can dance to it, or put it on the background while you’re making out, it’s great fun in an ambient sort of way. But I go to a show to see a performance, to see something unique and spontaneous. Watching DJs assemble beats and loops is about as much fun as watching someone write a program. I might be impressed with the finished product, but I don’t necessarily want to sit and watch someone create it for two hours.

The Fuck Buttons are a different creature altogether though. The moshing starts early and the energy is infectious from the start, we move down from the balcony and we are, in all our hipster glory, throwing our hands in the air like we just don’t care.

I haven’t danced like that since Serbia, and the next day I’ve got the permanent hearing loss to attest to it. We scarf down chicken gyros on 6th Street before taking the subway back home, where I sleep for nineteen hours and still feel exhausted.

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