Back to my old school ways
Recently I got a chance to visit Pratt Institute. It was after getting my 1920’s style “Boardwalk Empire” haircut at Steiner Studios –which was located at the end of Washington Avenue in Brooklyn, NY… just a half mile from my old Alma Mater. So I decided to exit the studio lot and instead of the customary left turn to the Brooklyn Queens Expressway, I drove straight up Washington Avenue and parked at the environs of Pratt –pretty much at the same places where I used to hunt for a spot in my student days… over 40 years ago.
It was a lazy August summer day. Bright light shining over the campus’ greenery and reconstructed legacy structures we used to call “halls”. I walked around the grounds while taking pictures with my cell phone (that expression would have made no sense forty years ago). There were modern works of art and refurbished anachronisms like the polished Pratt cannon (it used to be painted soot-black when I last attended classes and we all just sat on it without a thought of its historic ephemera). Now in 2012, it was a vibrant piece of art, glistening in the 4 o’clock sun like a holy relic. (CLICK!)
I was soaking up the euphoric energy from the experience, taking photos at every turn of the campus path. Later, I went outside the campus to see if the old art store was still around -it was! The name changed to “Apple Art”, but it was still here. (CLICK!)
Around the corner I noticed that a new coffee shop had been established. Its neon sign attracted me and I went in. It looked pretty quiet yet friendly enough for me to adventure over to the counter where two seats separated a woman reading a newspaper and a man waiting for his order to be filled. The woman didn't look very friendly and was deeply engrossed in reading her newspaper with a strong aura of solitude. I made a conscious decision to sit next to the man and ordered an ice coffee. The attendant also offered me a choice of pastries to consider with my drink… I selected the apple-tart pie.
The African-American man next to me spoke up, “That goes well!”
-I smiled and said, “We’ll see.”
Needless to say, we struck up a friendly conversation and I found out more about the evolution of this neighborhood. He had lived here for a long time and at the present time was unemployed from his regular job -pretty much like me. He said the whole area here, in this college section of Bedford-Sty had been gentrified lately. Pratt had done a good job of fixing up the neighborhood but now everything became expensive… his voice had a “mixed-feeling” tone about it as he spoke.
I told him I was a student here in the 1970’s, as an electrical engineer, and he immediately smiled. It seems he had taken up technology as well… then his voice trailed off, indicating that he didn't go for the diploma. More friendly banter ensued and I mentioned that I was now doing background work in movies and television. His face lit up and I told him how he could get into that business also. Now I really had his attention but suddenly our server interrupted. His order was ready and he bagged-up the take-out salad as he was getting ready to leave. I took out my pen and wrote down “centralcasting.com” on a napkin -and gave it to him. There was an immediate connection as he smiled and thanked me for the tip on what might be a possible job. We shook hands and we parted company, calling each other by the wrong names (since neither of us remembered it from our initial introductions).
The coffee and pie went well. My new acquaintance was right about that. I finished the snack alone, amidst a flood of old and now, new memories… exited the shop, and… (CLICK!).