jolie laide: 47th Street, 6PM

jolie laide

I started this when I lived in Brooklyn and struggled for grace in a city that grants moments of beauty and ugliness breathtakingly close to one another. Now I live in a place where things are a different kind of ugly and the beauty is pedestrian. I struggle with that.


47th Street, 6PM

It’s closing time in the diamond district, the shop windows are in various stages of undress. Some are still seductively lit and fully stocked with pretty, some are stripped clean, leaving only their velvet beds behind, some are in the middle of their vanishing act, disembodied hands reaching around backer boards to pluck at the stars and put them away for the night. Mirroring the goods pooling in quiet vaults behind the storefronts, the diamond merchants are collecting out in the street.

In between nodes of idling armored trucks, a sidewalk vendor is trying to push the last of his stock. He is thin as a blade of grass as he leans over to rearrange his fruit. He is trying to sell the virtues of his wares to a trio of men in dark suits. “I’ve never been fat!” he exclaims, and I can see in his sunken chest and shabby clothes that is more out of poverty and necessity than anything else. “But you’ve always been ugly!” says one of the businessmen, and they laugh, impressed with themselves, the difference between their product and his. The vendor looks down and I look away, into the face of another diamond merchant, lounging in a doorway. He hisses something at me, the only word I understand is “nice.” I am not sure if he is offering something valuable to me, or offering to take something valuable from me. I want none of it, I keep heading towards the subway.


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