Features // March 3, 2020 // UrbanAroma Staff

Al Green: Chapter Seven

Al Green: Chapter Seven

The thing about brain injuries, in my case at least, is that all impulse control goes out the door. We all have fantasies and thoughts, but was it really necessary to knock over that guy who cut me off? I played it off like an accident, but I fear one day someone will tick me off, and their life will cease to exist. It’s a constant inward battle between the poles of my impulses. This afternoon, I’m back to winning, the direct result of this Strawberry Haze, an uplifting sativa dominant hybrid that is the perfect positivity potion.

They say dogs take after their owners, and Goof cannot control himself when it comes to expressing his disdain for panhandlers, as he lunges and snarls, attempting to bite their extending hands that beg for handouts. He has become quite the elitist. “Tu eres Domicano, del Sude Bronx!” I remind him that he’s a Dominican from South Bronx. Sometimes he forgets why he speaks Spanish in the first place, that he too came from poverty.

Goof loves Asians, the result of his having been spoiled by the Koreans at the deli on the corner. When we enter, Suzy the owner makes an announcement to all customers: “this is Goofy the service dog. Owner have the mental problems.” They give Goof a slice of Boars Head beef in return for a high cinco.

Chinatown pedestrians haggle over squid, eel, crabs, vegetables, and an assortment of I’m not sure what that is. Goof assumes they are Korean and is inexorable in his pursuit of Boars Head beef as he lunges towards them, machine gun high cinco-ing his way down Pell St. Are mastiffs the official Chinese police dogs employed to devour dissenters? Or maybe these people are feeling guilty about something they ate? What is it about Goof that incites such fear and pandemonium in Chinese people, causing them to flee for their lives? Now Goof knows what it feels like to be a panhandler begging for change.

I tie up Goof in front of the Dim Sum spot. The manager of the restaurant is pissed that potential Chinese patrons are too scared of Goof to enter; he doesn’t say anything because I’m sitting with a police officer.

Like so many Cops, my cousin is a Trump supporter. “The dog’s first language should be English,” he jokes.

“What can I say, it was a good opportunity to learn another language.”

I bullshit my cousin, telling him that I’m doing great. He’s impressed by the photos of Lottie, my “new German girlfriend.” He bailed me out in the past, the result of my drinking, and is therefore happy that I’m currently off the booze. “You cured the Irish flu,” he commends me. My cousin never drank a drop, knowing fully well what it does to all the other men in our family. On the other hand, he’ll never understand soup dumplings taste better with Tsingtao.

I slowly lean into what I’m really interested in knowing- the legalization of marijuana in NYC. He tells me, “Ain’t gonna be legal under Governor Cuomo. He doesn’t want his reputation to be the marijuana guy.” With this information in mind, I know the service has several more years to live, albeit in an increasingly competitive market.

Outside, while standing in front of his patrol car, he hands me a new PBA card. “It’s for him,” he points to Goof, flopping his ears in every direction. Goof is the official dog of the NYPD Gaelic Football team. “Adios, hermano,” my cousin says to Goof with a sarcastic accent.


Steve, Tutu, and I sit on a bench in Ft Greene park watching people play tennis in the cold. “It seems there’s blame to go around,” Steve says to us as Tutu shoots me an aggressive eyebrow.

Steve wants things to go as per usual, as if nothing happened. He doesn’t understand that getting beaten up in your own bedroom, having to lay there every night looking at the same spot where I used Tutu’s own weight against him, jujitsuing his ass, has invoked an inextinguishable hatred. Nothing worse than getting beaten up in your bedroom. I can only imagine.

“This is the only rider I have ever had beef with. He’s a rookie. He doesn’t know what he’s doing. We don’t need him,” Tutu argues for my dismissal.

“If I’m such a rookie, why don’t I report to you?” I retort. “I built the entire business in Manhattan. There were zero customers. Now there is a steady business.”

“Steady?! LOL. Like five calls a day.”

“Ten on a good day. Look, you are a manager, but you haven’t built anything,” I remind Tutu. “Your job is menial, at best. You’re not a CFO, a VP, you don’t have a fuckin acronym. Do you?”

“You hired another rookie, rookie; first day, he lost all our shit. Never met the guy. Steve, you meet the guy? How do we know he didn’t rob us, make the whole thing up?” Tutu says, accusing Anthony of faking the robbery.

Steve interrupts. “Al isn’t going anywhere. But he does need to pay you back.”

I’m a bit confused as I think he just said I need to pay Tutu back. Anthony was surrounded by three people with baseball bats, and it wasn’t my policy to stop screening potential clients, dropping the referral process. “We’re sitting ducks, and you want me to pay him?”

“For his broken ribs,” Steve calmly responds.


I started working for the delivery service because I owe the government and creditors 200k. I’m now 5k further in the hole. I want to quit, but I sense there’s more to the Anthony story, and besides: everything always just seems to work out for me.

Anthony is laid up on his sprawling Italian velvet couch, ripping bong hits of Dosi Dos indica, icepacks on his head, elbows, and knees. His face has a small bruise; but there’s no severe damage. Anthony shows me his helmet. It’s smashed. “They broke the camera.” Anthony taps the GO PRO camera built into the fancy helmet. “The video works though.”


“Yeah, I can’t watch it anymore. Gives me a headache.”

Apparently, Anthony thought it was a good idea to record himself selling weed, committing multiple felonies. I meet a lot of these rich kids who are book smart, well-traveled, but have no common sense.

This smart dumb guy plays me the video. Through his POV, we follow as he walks down the steps. As soon as he reaches the ground floor, he hits the ground like a brick. The camera rattles. He rolls over as we make out three hardcore LES guys hitting him in the helmet repeatedly with bats, until they connect with the camera- lights out. We rewind it, freezeframing on their faces.

Hardcore music listeners are getting older in age. The Lower East Side isn’t as tough as it used to be. On Sunday, I go to Niagara, on 7th and A. I bring my three friends from the END graffiti crew. Apparently, I’m owed a lot of favors from back in the day when I was selling weed.

Sunday hardcore shows are where you go to get into a fair fist fight if you’re 40. Rival graffiti crews have beef going back decades. Occasionally, you get a stabbing, but for the most part, it’s just next level moshing with some bloody noses. The guys who robbed had DTC Crew tattoos on their necks. DTC are always at Niagara on Sundays, looking for a dust up.

Brain Slug is playing, “Distort New York.” My two partners and I do some moshing to get the blood flowing. Like old times, playing street football to music, we elbow each other in the chest like cromags. My partner’s elbow is bleeding. I’m too old to be sharing blood with this guy. We haven’t hung out in over a decade; who knows where he’s been.

The tall, white skinny kid from the video is having a beer with a heroin chic girl at the bar. Fuck, I would love a Guiness about now. He is tall and baby faced, wearing a wife beater, his arms covered in DIY stick and poke tattoos. He could be a Dior male model, or he could live in the park. It’s impossible to tell these days.

We fall back and wait until the skinny kid makes a move. I’m sipping on pineapple juice. Apparently, it’s good for people with my blood type. I should know my blood type. All I know is that it’s the kind that works well with pineapple juice.

When he exits the bar to have a cigarette, we follow him into Thompkins Square Park. My one partner asks him for a light. My other partner puts a 45 to his kidney. He considers running, but I’ve got the iphone in his face, as he looks at his own face.

We sit down at a park bench, my two partners sitting next to him, me standing over him.

“Look, you can keep everything you took. Just tell me who sent you. Otherwise, this video goes viral, and the kid, he’s in the hospital, thinking about pressing charges.”

He starts laughing at me, so I jab him as hard as possible in the larynx with my thumb.

It takes a while for him to get his voice back. In the interim, I’m smoking this Purple Haze we just got in. Purple Haze, a sativa dominant hybrid is, for me, form over function. It’s cool that it’s purple and all, but it’s no Blue Dream when it comes to getting things done.

“Like I said, nobody will know. You keep everything. Cops don’t see the video. Kid doesn’t press charges.”

Skinny Kid realizes that we’re not playing. I think he did his tattoos to himself, to make it look like he was in jail in Russia; while he may have a gun tattooed to his forearm, I don’t think he’s had a lot of guns pointed at him in his life. Like I said, the LES isn’t what it used to be.

“The guy who runs the service. He set his own guy up.”


Skinny Kid nods his head.

Read Al Green: Chapter 6 here