I had a surprise encounter with the Lower East Side Do It Yourselfers. I like that they picked a klutzy name instead of some contrived words to spell an acronym like S.U.R.V.I.V.E. or MERCY. LES DIY sounds like some kind of women’s separatist gang, decked in leather and cool caps and sneers (directed, of course, by Katrina Del Mar).
But the group has plenty of male members (that was innocent, hehe, so I’ll leave it). I’m embarrassed to report that one of them is my best friend (and previously mentioned flu buddy), who’s just begun hosting their daily meal giveaway in his restaurant. I’m proud of him. Let’s dub him Ric because he’s a Bogart fanatic. He’d feel and look at home in Casablanca.
I haven’t seen Ric since he harangued me into letting him drive me to UPS. And I haven’t heard from him since I told him to stop nagging me to support what sounded like a gang of left-wing hipster rabble-rousers. We’re both sensitive. My friend is arguably smarter.
Ric sure listens! Having heard me pontificate for years about the impending emergency, he encountered the LES DIY weeks ago and volunteered to put his assets where my mouth was. Now he and a chef are devising and preparing tasty lunches from whatever is donated by competitors, stores, or individuals. For those who are immune-compromised or unable to walk, the LES DIY will make deliveries.
When he called, I was inspired to emerge from my pit with masks for the active members. (Ric had already gotten some for himself and his restaurant staff.)
The LES DIY is an eclectic crew. Deliveries are managed by an efficient and pretty elf who grinned, wide-eyed, when I turned up with a box of protective gear. Her minions are a lively mix of East Village generations, from undead ex-rockers to indefatigable Sunday School teachers to guys in hats—berets, fedoras, caps, and Stetsons. There are Latinos, Ukrainians, WASPs, squatters, and yuppie workaholics ravenous for labor to perform in a flu-frozen world.
Even in a pandemic, my community feels more like home than my hometown ever did. (Let’s play Santigold’s L.E.S. Artistes in honor of the LES DIY!)
Where I come from, people drive everywhere. The friendly ones honk and wave. In normal times, East Village sidewalks teem with people chatting, arguing, flirting, plotting. Everywhere you see old friends, enemies, lovers—people you met once and liked, but can’t remember why. Memory loss is not uncommon.
Obscure Alarmist Makes Good—Finally
I hope my contribution has answered that local woman who wrote again yesterday, demanding I give money to the LES DIY. I’ve provided something more precious—tools with which the organization can safely pursue its mission. Let’s hope she’s providing more than lip service.
The LES DIY boss generously packed some private-stock Penne alla Puttanesca for me to take home. She even included a dab of pastry! My girlfriend found the entrée too spicy. At least it prompted her to mutter something at me.
For a few weeks, my new love and I had a ball behaving like kids freed of supervision. It was fun playing chess and backgammon half-naked in a room full of blues and jazz and smoke, pretending we were marooned in a far-off land. I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy with someone.
Now my place feels all too close, real—airless. Not a complete sentence since I got home. She has a way of exhaling that makes me feel I’ve just been expelled.
Nina hates my blogging, too. I took it up to give her a break. I’ll go surprise her, share a movie, try to stir a pulse.