Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Big Apple Musing: Powell Green

B.S. editor's note: Here we begin an occasional series of Big Apple Musings, comments and observations on the crazy, fantastic city where we have lived before and are now living again. This first post is more than a year old, but it's worth a read.

NEW YORK, March 22, 2006 — This afternoon, I was about to leave Duane Reade #131 after picking up my prescription refill (note for the New York un-savvy: Duane Reade is the leading pharmacy in the city, with what I would describe as an almost-monopoly on the market — think CVS on South Crouse within walking distance of campus and multiply it by the Big Apple and you've got Duane Reade and its couple hundred stores with lousy service and long lines; and they are all numbered). As I headed from the exit after coming up the escalator from the basement level pharmacy section into the convenience-store part of the store, I encountered an individual who in ferry-speak and law-enforcement-lingo might be referred to as an "EDP": emotionally disturbed person.

Now, EDP is typically reserved for those folks who the cops or our security personnel think are real threats to themselves or others (read: they might jump off the boat just out from Governor's Island or hurt someone). The individual I encountered today at Duane Reade #131, just up Whitehall Street from the ferry terminal, however, was a more mild EDP. Maybe just an emotionally confused or impaired person. Or maybe he was drunk or high or just starving and cold. It happens in Lower Manhattan — we have a growing homeless "problem" at the Manhattan terminal.

As I headed for the exit, Mr. EDP was coming in through the opposite door, and he looked at me, before I looked at him, and called out to get my attention.

"Big man!" I looked his way. He was a black man, probably in his mid- to late-40s, and while he was tall enough that some might consider him big, I was, as it happened, taller than him. He was, as our competing heights would have it, correct in calling me big man.

"Powell Green!" he exclaimed, using his emphatic, if indoor, voice. "Powell Green, Powell Green."

Confused, I kept moving toward the exit, and I mumbled, "I'm sorry," thinking that he could be only asking for money, or that I had no idea what he wanted because I couldn't figure out his cryptic message.

"A'ight," Mr. EDP replied, and I headed out the door toward the #1 train.

As I walked to the train at Rector Street, I puzzled over what EDP could have possibly meant. Who was Powell Green? Did he think I was Powell Green? Is Powell Green even a person? Was he possibly saying "power of green," with it coming out as "pow-a-green," and me mishearing him? Is "power of green" a street phrase referring to the importance of money? Why did he ask me?

Wikipedia doesn't know Powell Green. Google doesn't do much better. Power of Green returns mostly clean energy sites. Do y'all know either of them? Maybe EDP was Powell Green lookin' for some Power of Green.

That's the end of B's Big Apple Musing for today.

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