Avenue A (for Charlie Hawkins)

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Who would have thought we’d ever get old?
A lot of us didn’t
Quite a few of us didn’t even make it out of our 20s
ODs, suicides and violent deaths took a heavy toll
Survival wasn’t a priority

But we definitely lived.
Fuck, did we live
The scene was alive in a way that most people can’t even imagine

The vicinity of Thompkins Square Park and the corner of St. Mark’s and Avenue A was the epicenter.
By 7 or 8 o’clock every night the area was a thriving community of punks, skinheads, junkies, bikers and bums
The party went on until the early hours of the morning

There was a small deli on the corner run by Pakistanis
We bought our beer there – Colt 45, Old English, Budweiser
You’d scrape together enough change for a 40 ounce to share from a paper bag
Didn’t matter if it was warm as piss or if the homeless person sucking on it before you had scabs on his lips and a swollen belly like a starving African child.
It was beer.

Sometimes we’d gather up empties from around the park and cash them in for a fresh 40
I remember Big Charlie getting kicked out of the deli
The owner wouldn’t take back the empties
Charlie was pissed
You didn’t want to piss off Big Charlie

He stood on the corner across the street from the deli
And shot the bottles like missiles right through the store’s open door.
One of them hit the deli case and cracked it
“You’ll take these back motherfucker”
“Whether you want to or not”
Charlie was a former all star football player
Every one of those bottles hit its mark
Perfect touchdown passes.

Charlie died in a car accident.
It literally took a speeding truck to bring that gentle giant down.
It was hard to accept that someone so healthy and so vital and so happy
Was just
Gone

I’d say Rest in Peace
But I can’t imagine Charlie ever resting
He was one of the most vibrant people I’ve ever met
He was everybody’s friend.
And when he was around – something would be happening

I’m sure he’s laughing now
He was always laughing
He laughed when he launched the bottles at the deli
We all laughed
Except maybe the deli owner

I’m laughing now, thinking about you Charlie
Thanks for that

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