Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Grandmother Willow’s Brief History of Manhattan

Dedicated to Lady Jooj, Captain Ali & Sister Sara

Gather around dears, and let me tell you a tale that has long been forgotten, about the very beginnings of New York City. Forget everything you’ve heard about The Astors or Carnegie, listen to the true story, from the mouth of someone who lived through it all.

It all started in the year 1402, a primitive time in America, Trump Tower hadn’t been built yet, and Columbus wouldn’t come along for another six years bringing the Pilgrims & our first President, John Smith, on the Ninja, The Pinto and the SS Minnow. The Island of Manhattan was comprised entirely of rocks, and only 103 brave souls lived there. Specifically, 82 Poles and 21 Americans. After kicking the original inhabitants off in 1398, the Poles and Americans got along fairly well, but that all changed when a natural supply of hydrogenated oils were found in Little America.

The Polish settlers grew jealous and figured they could win against a group a fourth their size, and they were right. There was a lot of bloodshed, and metal-infused-solid-at-room-temperature oil stolen. Following the battle, the 8 remaining Americans were forced to live off of the 215th St. subway stop. With the Americans out of the way, the Poles developed and cultivated the rest of the island, under the leadership of King Jagiellow and probably the most famous Pole, Duane Reade I. They built pharmacies and a park in the center of the island, to remind them of their homeland. They lived together in the Park in a commune situation promoting free love and the worship of L. Ron Hubbard.

After a few years of living in squalor and segregation, the Americans decided that they needed to take back their precious natural resource in addition to gaining power of the island, but knew that 8 people could not a difference make. They decided to go recruiting people from other boroughs and lands. They attracted people with lies about freedom and endless possibilities, a lie we still capitalize on today. The Polish governing class was excited about the population increase, and taxed heavily (and failed to represent), causing a greater rift between the two cultures.

By 1974, Americans were all over the island, while the small, inbred Polish population only had control of Central Park, with their leaders living in Mr. Belvedere Castle. There was a lot of hostility between the two groups, mostly fuelled by the fact that every night for a month, on the one channel in NYC, there was a six hour long SOAP marathon. Artists of all kinds reacted to the Hatfield/McCoy-esque feud, and the social injustice they were suffering. Playwright Tennessee Williams wrote a play about the tension between the two groups called, “Menagerie of Street Cats Named Spandex.”

The Americans had tried unsuccessfully a few times to stage rebellions, but somehow it never seemed to pan out. That is until that fateful night. I don’t think the writers of Welcome Back Kotter could have known what they were doing when they wrote the episode, “Inherit the Halibut,” but they were setting the stage for the greatest insurgence in human history. The Americans came to Central Park, and pushed them back. They pushed them back, WAAAAYY back. In one brief battle, the Americans conquered Manhattan and sent all of the Polish governing class to Coney Island. Woody Allen replaced Duane Reade CDLXVII as King of Manhattan, allowing New York City to become the land of plenty of imitation Coach bags it was destined to be.

I’d like to say that all of the hostility has died down between the two groups by now, but sadly it hasn’t. Relics of the Polish legacy still pepper Central Park and the rest of the island. The Poles use Coney Island as a playground for pain. They designed a roller coaster, so cruel and menacing that it gives every rider not only the roller coaster induced elation, but also mean cases of whiplash and night terrors. They also have an on going event they call, “shoot the freak” where they make an innocent American run around and get pelted by paint balls, and they don't even provide counseling for PTSD. But every day, you can make the choice of who you want to support. When you visit a vendor on the street, what will it be, a Hot Dog or a Polish Sausage?

1 comment:

sara said...


(that is code for holy hell willow, i'm dying over hurr.)