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Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Halloween-like Memory

The wayback machine is set for some time in the early 80's, perhaps 1981 or 1982. My best friend and I have a mutual friend living in an artist's loft in Brooklyn Heights, NY. He shares this space with a family member, building mobiles, and constructing interesting living spaces within the unit. The building sits in the shadow of the Manhattan Bridge. Back then, artists were moving to the Heights where lofts were much cheaper than the trendy SoHo spaces of the 60's and 70's.
We would spend the weekend at his place, hang out in the Heights, drink, smoke, and explore the city by foot and train. On this particular evening, after some particularly intense weed, we decide to walk to lower Manhattan on the Brooklyn Bridge. Downtown and Wall Street, in the late hours, was virtually empty, a playground in the canyons of the city.
As we enter lower Manhattan, we see some lights and commotion ahead. As we approach, we encounter trucks, emergency vehicles, police, firefighters and EMT's. As we walk into the melee, my friend spots something on the ground. Shocked, whispering to us, he says, "Look!" What we see is a headless corpse in an open casket.
My brain freezes, I get that sick feeling in my stomach, and the hair on my neck stands up. Oh my God! What's this about? I then see a couple of cops laughing. Looking around, I see director's chairs, a camera, craft services, you name it. Of course, we stumbled onto a movie set. We all started laughing, but I still felt that chill for some time to come.
A week or two later, my friend tells me the movie "Wolfen" was shooting on location in NYC. According to Wikipedia, principal photography was in the South Bronx, so it may be possible this part of the story may not be true.  If that's the case, what did we stumble upon? Perhaps some day I should watch the film & see if that scene is in the movie.
An update from my NY friend. He had the following recollection to add:
I've come to realize that my memory is not that great compared to that of others but I remember every detail of that funny night from 30 years ago... Except I don't remember the body in a casket. I remember it like right on the sidewalk or street -- but you're probably right. Anyway, all that is missing from your factual account is how completely stoned we were in an almost acid-like way and so just coming upon that brightly lit scene was a trip and then looking over at the dead body was more than we could handle. I remember it took some minutes to reconcile in our frantic minds the reaction of the smiling cops to the obvious suicide or homicide. What a funny night.

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