Video Premiere: Miguel Pinero's Lower East Side
Video Premiere: Miguel Pinero's Lower East Side LIVE from Meat & Milk by Fury Young
I decided to shoot a performance video of “Miguel Piñero’s Lower East Side” not because I think it’s one my best poems, but because it represents me and where I come from. People ask me sometimes what it was like to grow up in the LES and it’s not an easy question to answer. In a lot of ways, I’m sure it was like the childhood of any other middle-class kid with loving parents. Go to school, go to the park or the library after, have dinner as a family, do your homework. But then there was a lot of other stuff. Run through the busted fire hydrants, get bialys from Kossar’s, step over hypodermic needles and homeless folks on your stoop, get schooled by an OG because you tie your shoelaces a certain way, witness all the punks and the freaks on St. Marks. I’m thinking early years here.
Lower East Side will always be a special place to me even though it has changed so much since I was a kid. And you know the grass is always greener and you got to keep moving. I really tried to write this poem not from a place of bitterness.
It’s tricky. When I was in elementary school, let’s say fourth grade, I had a music teacher who proudly shared with the class that a famous lyricist we were studying, Ira Gershwin, grew up not too far from our school. I blurted out, “yeah, he was from my street,” keen to recycle what til then I thought was a useless fact from my dad. “Oh, where do you live?” replied the teacher. “I don’t know,” I responded, embarrassed. I didn’t want to tell the class that I grew up on Eldridge Street, across from the projects.
Looking back on this I laugh, but I guess I had some weird kind of poverty shame. My parents were not poor, but the area we lived in was, and I liked the neighborhoods with toy stores and movie theatres and ice cream shops. Back then the Lower East Side didn’t have much of that. Certainly nothing fancy or boutique. So, I guess I’m saying be careful what you wish for.
I don’t find the LES to be a horrible place or anything, I really do find it overwhelming sometimes though. It’s always shocking to step out on a Saturday night and see the hordes of hip kids and high heels. I never understood why gentrification always had to be one way or the other. Why does it have to be poor, dangerous, crumby, but affordable; OR high rent, chain stores and condos, yuppie’s parade? I’ve come to accept that none of this is in my control, the City has a life of its own, and I refuse to be stuck in the past, unevolved. What I do hate though are people who come to my hood and act like they can rep it. You can’t do that. You can’t move to a neighborhood and buy the hoody. Go fuck yourself. Take it off.
The Lower East Side will always be a special place to me even though it is forever a changed neighborhood. It is not just where me and my brother grew up, but our grandparents as well. The stories my grandma tells me of her father selling chickens under the Williamsburg Bridge and her aunt Rosie’s shop One Day Old Bread… Being able to walk into Castillo Del Jagua and hear the bachata and, even though I don’t really eat meat, get a cubano sandwich because it is simply the best I have ever had… to walk down D and see the stronghold that many multi-generation locals still have… Chinatown… to walk back home to Brooklyn over the Williamsburg Bridge… Well, that’s the LES I love. I think Miguel Piñero would be down with that.
Meat & Milk
Meat & Milk is the debut poetry book of Fury Young, a born and bred Lower East Side NYC poet. The poems, along with the original notebook pages they written on jump off each page of this collection with urgency and lust. Fury writes of his world face value style, with surprise surrealist and abstract turns. Subway cars, depression incarcerated lifers, city lovers, sex, rock n’ roll all the time, crackheads, demons, and food is what you’ll find in here. Walk inside the mind of a young poet coming of age in a jaded city, an “incarcerated rabbi with so many questions,” a “porn star without a face,” an “amateur philosopher.” Meat & Milk is a poetry book very much of this age. Whether you are living in a concrete city or doing life in a concrete tomb, you will find truth in Fury’s words in Meat & Milk.
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“Fury Young embodies the righteous anger and energy of the Lower East Side, Bushwick, and other artist’s enclaves. He plunges directly into the pain and grittiness of life, like a brutal Chinatown massage. In a time of fake digital worlds, Fury is a scream for the Real, a ghetto visionary; an authentic downtown voice which channels the rage of the incarcerated, survival on the streets, and raw dog sexuality.” – Master Lee, legendary NYC street performer, author of How To Be An Artist and Not Lose Your Mind
“The Talmud tells us to keep meat and milk separate but Fury Young’s poems refuse separation. He says he was an angry young man and gives us the evidence. Still, though there’s plenty in the world and in these poems to strike righteous anger, Fury’s open eyes and open heart allow all that he sees — streets, subway seats, sad faces, singers and songs — to simmer and shape into life-filled lines of image and sound. Meat & Milk gives — not only pages of neatly typed poems — but, also, the source of these poems: the scratches in notebooks, the quotes that spark, drawings and poem’s lines. This wonderful book shows ‘Misanthrope become poet,’ as Fury says.” – Judith Tannenbaum, author of Disguised as a Poem: My Years Teaching Poetry at San Quentin
“Poets don’t usually write poetry. They become poetry. They inhale and exhale metaphors and alliterations like trees give us air. Fury Young is such a poet.” – Abiodun Oyewole of The Last Poets, author of Branches of the Tree of Life: The Collected Poems of Abiodun Oyewole 1969-2013
“Fury Young is a bardic L.E.S. rubble-rouser with a cause, letting his truth flow out with grit and humor and a downtown devotion to seeing and seeking. I remember when I was just a kid with no rhythm Fury put his big old headphones on my head and said now go walk around — this city feels so good with a soundtrack! His poems are city soundtracks. Mood pieces, dumpster portraits, milky outpourings of fine and furry feeling. These are hopeful and honest songs for our strange sad century.” – Alexandra Tatarsky, mime/poet
“Eloquent and real. A raw, precise, and nuanced portrait of New York City life.” - Amazon
“With dazzling candor, Young digs into the marrow of his inner being that ultimately instigates a call to action through music and the arts. Meat & Milk is full of the stuff of the everyday that is woven into a bigger, more ambitious picture. The result is a brew that is gripping, moving, sarcastic, innovative, sometimes hilarious, and often uncomfortable, that will resonate within you as it did in me.” – Gabrielle David, publisher of 2Leaf Press
“Young’s chosen name is truly his own. His chosen way of life follows suit. Knowing the author well, I see much of what I know about him surface in these writings, but also am surprised how real and raw he details his escapades. He paints a dirty NYC with his words and lends real honesty to the characters he interacts with and describes.” – Amazon
“I was moved by the sensitivity of the work, which somehow maintains a staunch roughness to it — the city landscape is compared to the prison landscape (the author has a great side project called Die Jim Crow, see diejimcrow.com), to surreal nature landscapes with women eating unicorn meat on the moon. Go ahead and pick up this book — you will not be disappointed.” – Amazon