“You want a Gummi Bear?”

It was my barber asking me.  He’s an interesting sort.  A young guy, maybe in his late 20s, a former drug abuser who acts like a current one. He talks almost faster than I can comprehend. He’s cut my hair several times now, and has never not acted like he just did rails in the back room.  But he gives a great haircut.

“Nah, I’m good.” I reply.

“Did you see the bullshit they’re doing across the street?” He asked not just me but the entire barber shop.  Of course, he didn’t even wait a millisecond for an answer. “They’re putting a Goddamn Time Warner office there!  Can you believe that shit?  Time Warner!”

This pissed off the other barbers in the shop.  It pissed off the other customers in the shop.  Then an unexpected thing happened: it pissed off the me in the shop.

Okay, first I had to verify it for myself.  I’m still not 100% convinced of my barber’s sobriety, seeing as how that Gummi Bear he offered is no child’s candy; it’s laced with THC.  (“One will get you seriously fucked up!” he once exclaimed.)  Who knows what he might have hallucinated.

Sure enough, though, the next day while walking home from the Q/N train, I peeked at the building permits.  Turns out, he was spot on.  I got angry.  When I arrived at my apartment, I told my roommate John.

“We have no choice,” he said. “Joe, you have to firebomb it.”

I laughed.

“No, I’m serious. You need to burn that shit to the ground.”

“Why don’t YOU burn that shit to the ground?”

“I still have a suspended license.” Somehow this made sense to John.

I know what you’re probably thinking: “What’s the big deal?”  In my hometown of Cape Coral, Florida, the building of a cable company office wouldn’t generate any more than a shrug.  Something like that would be looked on at best convenient, at worst irrelevant.  But this is New York City. The businesses in your neighborhood aren’t simply businesses; they’re an extension of your home.  They’re a part of your life.

Before the Time Warner office, the space it now occupies used to have a mom-and-pop gourmet dessert shop. My girlfriend Evi and I had popped in there a couple of times after an evening out for a cannoli or a tart. It was literally a 20 second walk from my apartment, next to a woodfired pizza place.  Now it’s gone.

New Yorkers take a lot of pride in what is near their place.  I can honestly say there are 20 restaurants within a 90 second walk of my apartment.  I also have a pharmacy, a fishery, a sports bar, a laundromat, two Irish pubs, and a city-famous sandwich shop. Extend that to 180 seconds, and I can include four coffee shops, three fruit stands, two organic grocery stores and a CVS.

Granted, we tend to brag about these things because our apartments are usually the size (and scent) of laundry hampers, but still, they didn’t take away a dessert shop, they took away our dessert shop.  And what did they give us?

A fucking Time Warner.  An absolutely useless, hideous corporation. It was as if I came home one day, and someone replaced my couch with like, I don’t know, a table saw.

Maybe I oughta hit up the barber for that Gummi Bear.

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