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A few months ago, I decided to take a sentimental stroll through my old uptown neighborhood in New York City. It was about four in the afternoon that late autumn day when I exited the subway station at 145th and Broadway. Since it was cold, I wore a heavy leather coat, a black turtleneck with matching jeans, and black Timberland boots. Besides the McDonald’s on the corner, the one Jay-Z refers to on “Empire State of Mind,” little remains from those years when I was just another shortie growing-up along the way.

After years of neglect due to drugs, it was nice seeing new shops, restaurants, and clothing stores opening, but, at the same time, it was depressing to peep through the window of one bar/restaurant and see no faces of color except for the dishwasher. Walking down the avenue, I stared at the unfamiliar storefronts that used to be something else, as well as the newly built structures that will one day serve as landmarks in the memories of the new kids when they are middle-aged and obsessed with the way things used to be.

More… “Homeboy”

Michael A. Gonzales has written essays and articles for Vibe, The Source, The Pitchfork Review, Complex and Essence.. Co-author of Bring the Noise: A Guide to Rap Music and Hip-Hop Culture (1991), his short fiction has appeared in Bronx Biannual, Brown Sugar, Black Pulp and Crime Factory. A columnist for soulhead.com, Gonzales is currently finishing his New York City hip-hop novel Boom for Real.
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