Willy the dancer, and Lloyd Van Brunt
There is a nursing home right near my apartment in Harlem. I often see the residents hanging outside for a smoke or a ramble to the corner and back. There are the regulars and the sporadics. But Willy is out there every single day, sometimes for hours at a time. I finally had my camera with me when he was working on his moves today.

I filmed him for about five minutes, but couldn't coax him to stop and talk. One of the nurses called over "stay safe Willy, have a good holiday as she left for Thanksgiving." She told me "it's his exercise." He must have been a sight on the dance floor when he was younger.


It's hard to tell how old he is now because he IS in excellent shape. Ok, his pants are a little stained and his upper back slightly stooped.

But his particular combination and sequence of steps are pretty great. Imagine a slow cross between the hokey pokey, some old time calisthenics and classic salsa dancing.


That's Willy.


Today I met another resident. He was happy to talk, so I asked him about the place. I've been curious for a while now. He told me the food was pretty bad, but the doctors were ok. They take most of his social security, but that leaves him with about 187 dollars a month for his smokes and printer paper, and a wistful, twinkly smirk.

He's working on a novel. He said his family, who is wealthy and lives in Brooklyn, doesn't want anything to do with him until he has more success as a writer. He's working on a novel called "High C." it's about cocaine. He was frustrated because he can't get his printer working today.


He told me a little about the main character driving down to Miami in a Cadillac to meet up with the sheriff and another cop and a small plane coming in stocked with F- something or other, (high end stuff) (He got a bunch of books out of the library to do research.) I said, "Oh, so it wasn't inspired by personal experience?" He said, "Oh, no, I've never done cocaine in my life. I just wanted to write a bestseller."


His name is Lloyd Van Brunt. "like taking the brunt of things" he told me. His ancestors came over in 1622 with a chest full of pieces of 8's. I thought that might be a gun or something. "No, it's a kind of coin." (I felt so dumb.) He said he's written some poetry and novels and that I could find him on amazon. I told him I'd look him up and buy his books. Sure enough the book that really caught my eye - "Delirium" - is out of print. But I'm thinking of getting the one about his early days.


This time of year seems to evaporate my boundaries and borders. I find myself wanting to know more of the stories behind the faces in this city. There is such fathomless cruelty, and, thank goodness, boundless generosity and joy. All in the least likely places.


Music in the HOUSE!
    posted 2020-07-15

    posted 2019-07-10

    posted 2019-04-29

I Love the Dentist
    posted 2018-11-06

Balloon Girl
    posted 2018-10-08

West Coast Journal
    posted 2017-10-24

Home Stretch
    posted 2017-06-07

Hashtag Kitchen
    posted 2017-03-09

This very old house
    posted 2016-12-13

The Big Move
    posted 2016-12-01

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