Perry Bard - My Post 9/11 Front Door <|>

Perry Bard

The front door was solid steel, covered in graffiti, and someone was asleep on the stoop. I reached through the mail slot, scribbled the name I found on a phone bill and called. "Yes, the landlord is legit.” I had been offered a no living loft for way more than I could afford and was trying to figure out if I could really live there. Every six months for the next twenty years the landlord, who has never raised my rent, came by to paint over the graffiti. He swept the sidewalk regularly, shoveled the snow and never did any maintenance inside. That was the deal.
In the 80's there were over 100,000 homeless people sleeping on the streets of New York and my stoop was one of the more active beds in the city. I had to step over bodies to get in and push hard to get out. When an industrial freezer was evacuated from the basement and left on the stoop for pickup, someone moved into the space between the freezer and the front door. Getting in and out was a feat. But once inside with that mass of steel behind me, I had entered my private refuge.
Private until I remembered the person sleeping out in front.
In the 90's Mayor Giuliani changed the demographics of my stoop. On a mission to clean up the city, he deported the homeless to the outer boroughs. The peep- shows disappeared from Canal Street along with the Baby Doll Lounge and a mobile marketplace sprang up. Prada ,Louis Vuitton,Rolex, Movado, every brand name you can imagine available bon marché. Bus loads of tourists looking for deals were dropped off in front of my door. Hawkers replaced the homeless. The crowds ebbed and flowed in sync with the ambling police patrol - they kept the trade in motion with arrests every few hours. Where I used to have trouble getting in my front door I now had trouble negotiating a path to it.
After 9/11 my neighborhood was renamed ground zero. The couple in the storefront below me had been away shooting porn in the Philippines and couldn't get back into the country. They were running a suspect business whose only evidence was stacks of unmarked boxes. Their two pit bulls and crew of body-guards disappeared with them. An entrepreneur taking advantage of the economic stimulus to rebuild lower Manhattan transformed the storefront into an upscale restaurant. Upscale meant the steel door had to go.
Friends who come to visit now can't find my place. My entrance looks like it belongs on Madison Avenue or the Champs-Élysées. The door is glass and wood: no graffiti, no stickers, no nicks and no one on the stoop. In fact, you have to hunt for the door, and the number. My entrance is now a façade. Along with the goods still being hawked on Canal Street, it spells globalization.