Father Demo Square

Apr 01 2016

(photo link)

I’ve sat in Father Demo Square for a lot of hours.

In the 90’s I’d stop there with friends after hopping off the PATH and before walking east to whatever show was happening. You could get tofu cream cheese at Bagels on the Square in all the NY deli flavors. I know that sounds dumb to you omnivores but veganism was a little bit more labor intensive diet at that time. You weren’t getting anything like that in Philly, and definitely nowhere in New Jersey. It was like a treat you got before the show. NY had that and Michael and Zoey’s going on for a while too. Bagels with crazy vegan cream cheese flavors and vegan soft serve with ill flavors a few blocks away from each other- in the 90’s.

(Michael and Zoe’s closed. Atlas opened up 3 blocks down. I don’t know if Atlas is still there now. I never really got how that worked. It was basically the same spot except Michael and Zoe’s was better. I swear I would see the guy with the glasses from Michael and Zoe’s in Atlas, but I asked them about it and they pretended they had no idea what I was talking about. “Michael and Zoe’s what’s that? I never heard of that.”)

I really liked this time because we’d try everything to not pay for shows. It was a contest. We’d go to a show with no money to get in and then figure out some kind of scam. CB’s, at one point, had a re-entry hand stamp that was a nickel or a quarter face. “Lick and stick it” was the first technique used to beat this. One person would pay, get the stamp, go outside after the first band, lick the stamp and press it onto someone else’s hand making a slightly weaker copy. That meant someone had to pay which was unfortunate. I drew them a couple times and it worked. I’d trace a quarter with a red sharpie, draw the face in and then smear it before it dried.

I just read an interview where a band was complaining about people complaining about how they had high ticket prices in the 90’s. I remember bands with high door prices complaining about people not paying too. Lots of complaining in the 90’s. I’m not sure how not paying for shows fits into the whole complaining scene, but it was fun and I’m sure Hilly Krystal (R.I.P.) didn’t miss the $$$ to much.

So back to Father Demo Square. That picture up top is accurate. It’s from an article on Politico called “Rats with Wings”. I didn’t really read it-but I’m sure its great. Looks like the author snapped a picture on his 2007 fuji digi camera.

A few years later:

I would meet the other riders for the serv there. We’d chill out and wait for a call, watching tourists jump when rats would pop out of the garbage cans. Thompkins was to derel (and social, I can’t stress that part. To many nosey people up in your business in Thompkins back then.) to post up in, Washington Square was to hot. Father Demo was good for us because it’s basically a triangle between avenues and you could get up or downtown real fast from there. East or West too. We held it down from 2001-20007.

One time I was with Gary Knight and an old man came out of the pizza place closest to 6th ave and started talking to us about riding bikes in Italy before the war. He was so happy to see the Italian steel.

So here’s the real story:

I had on jeans and a sweatshirt and I was sitting on the bench and I was not getting any calls. Fall was ending and the bench was cold. I had finished my lunch, looked at a newspaper, drank a nasty large deli coffee, looked at my bike and talked to a dude digging in garbage cans with ten jackets on.

It was grey out, no sun. I would start to get depressed on days like that with nothing to do.

The whole time I was hearing pigeons, because there’s pigeons everywhere. Constant cooing and shuffling. Something chased them all off for a second but I still heard flapping.

I looked up at the thing in the middle of the picture…
…it looks like a streetlight but maybe its cameras.

A pigeon had wedged itself between the three poles and could not escape. The more it flapped its wings the further it would push itself down. It was horrible, I couldn’t not watch, and I also couldn’t figure out how to save it. I couldn’t climb up there to do it. I didn’t think there’d be a pigeon rescue line you could call or anything like that. So it just kept struggling. It flapped its wings hard and made strained cooing sounds.

Its just a pigeon, I know, but the bird was getting to me. I was cold and bummed out and this bird was killing itself in front of me. I finally got a call and left. I forgot about it as the day went on and didn’t get back to the park until the next morning.

The pigeon was still there, it was alive, but barely by now. I wanted to kill it, just to put it out of its suffering. I didn’t have another answer. I pictured someone calling the cops as I tried to climb the poles to do what? Break its neck or something? I don’t know.

I just left. I didn’t hang out in the square that day. I skipped it for a couple days. When I finally came back the pigeon was dead, but it was still there. It stayed the whole winter, frozen like it died. It decayed slowly over the spring and one day it was finally gone.