Friday, November 03, 2006

Suzanne Vega on the meat market

No, not that market. Chances are, if you are working at that market this weekend, whether as a buyer or as a seller, you haven't time to read MoneyLaw. But if you are tuning in, if only for a break, remember this: What Suzanne Vega has to say about a different meat market makes fun reading:

Blue Sky And Blood On 10th AvenueSuzanne VegaLater, when I lived on Horatio street, where the meat market ends, I learned the neighborhood's other moods and faces, but 4 o'clock on a Sunday afternoon is still my favorite time of day there.

If you look past the serene surface, you find clues to the violence beneath. The most obvious are the painted signs, worn and flaking: "Baby Lamb! Young Kid! Fancy Poultry!" "Breasts, Thighs, Hearts, Livers, Wings." "Boxed Beef." Words that in another context can be sensual, or tender, or playfully erotic, here read like pornography or skewered poetry.

The elevated tracks with their big metal beams seem to shelter this empty place. Pigeons roost under these beams, and fly freely where their relatives are slaughtered every day. Little rivers of blood run along the cracks in the sidewalk, mixing with the sawdust. Or your foot is surprised by a skid of animal fat, white and greasy.

It feels like an underworld. If you see anyone, it might be a man with a wool cap and a big belly and a cigar. He doesn't want you looking at him or minding his business. There is an atmosphere of unseen deals, people watching and being watched, violence about to happen.

Source: "Blue Sky and Blood on 10th Avenue" appeared in the New York Times Magazine on November 20, 1988, and was reprinted in Bullet in Flight (Omnibus Press 1990).

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