New York, 1989

In the 1980s, I was really into James Dean. I would go to Fairmount, Indiana for his birthday (February 8) and the day he died (September 30.) There are two men (David and Lenny) that own a James Dean museum there, who also lived in New York and had a James Dean walk. So, in 1989, some friends and I went to New York to see places Jimmy lived and ate. It was my first trip there and was back when we only had film. I had the photos at my parents house until recently. I brought them back to Los Angeles with me and looked through them.

I don’t remember a lot from the trip, but definitely remember that, to save money, we stayed at a hostel for the first few nights. In its previous life, it had been a hotel. The water in the shower seemed to take a while to actually wet our hair, which never made sense. There were roaches, which grossed us all out. I think we left after one night and then added nights to our stay at Iroquois Hotel, which was one of the places Dean lived when he got to New York. I did not remember this part, but we went to Coney Island. I was stoked to have pictures to remind me.

We took trains to Prospect Park where we visited the grave of Montgomery Clift. I was very into visiting cemeteries for a big chunk of my youth.

One of the people I was with walked at a snail’s pace, with 2 others staying at his speed. At one point, a guy came running up the stairs from a subway with a gun, and one friend and I ran fast and away from the situation, while the slow guy & the other 2 friends just kept being slow. The girl I ran with and I thought, “Well, it was nice knowing them.” Of course, none of us got shot, thankfully.

The people I was with had a friend named Michelle that lived in Manhattan. Even back then she was talking about how she can never move so her rent will stay affordable. She worked at a bar called Nightingale’s. Bands played there and the night we went, a local and unknown band was playing. I loved them so much that Michelle got them to all sign their demo cassette tape, then mailed it to me. That band was The Spin Doctors and I do still have that tape. : )

Four of us took the same flight there and back to Chicago (where I am from.) We were running late and only one of us got on the plane back to Chicago. With no more flights available the rest of the night, we had the option of staying at the airport or going to Lenny and David’s apartment. Two of us stayed at the airport, worried about missing the flight out the next morning. I don’t recall how much we slept, but do remember a man who worked at the airport checking on us now and again. The next morning, the slow guy barely made the flight. . . again.

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