On this night, down in the funeral home’s furnished basement, Ms. Amen prepared for her annual Halloween party. She put a Frankenstein figure in a full-size coffin, and repurposed a child-size coffin to serve as a beer cooler...
Last year, she surprised the partygoers by popping out of a coffin, long legs first, in a tiny miniskirt. This year, she would top that, she said, by wearing a leather dominatrix outfit and singing a few Rolling Stones numbers with a backup band at midnight.
In terms of funerals, things were quiet, though she was waiting on a “pending,” a Staten Island man who was “hanging on by a thread,” she said.
I was walking right by there yesterday. Here's our Lady of Czestochowa, a block away on 24th, which like Jurek, bears testament to a once-thriving (well, & ailing too) Polish community.
Across Fourth Avenue, there's a huge apartment complex thar runs from 23rd to 24th. The ever upwardly-mobile Brownstoner once described it as looking like a mental hospital, and I suppose it does have an institutional air, but I rather like it. Call me crazy. What I like best about the place are the arched doorways (on 23rd, Fourth and 24th) which reveal its inner courtyard. What mysteries lurk within? I wish I knew someone who lived there.
There did seem to be a massive amount of poorly stored garbage outside the building yesterday, but perhaps I just saw it on an unusually bad day. Despite the mess, I could imagine living there, but not on nearby 21st between Fourth & Third. The stink of the Al-Noor Live Poultry market pervades the whole block - a heady mix of ammonia & chicken shit. Though largely a light industrial block, there are some private houses and small apartment buildings, and I don't know how the residents deal with the smell. In addition, the avert-your-eyes spectacle of the chickens themselves is too sad to bear for very long. Swing away from the crammed crates of darting beaks & feathers, and look down the street instead. There's the ghostly Grain Terminal, over the water at Red Hook. It's a beautiful view, and you almost forget the smells and the clucking.
I ought to walk around this part of Third more, but unlike the gentrifying stretch further north, the avenue here is under-expressway functional, & a dubious choice for prolonged loitering. Here it is at 24th.