Wednesday, August 19

Life Imitating Art Imitating Life
or something like that

I'm sure I saw the black undercover police SUV before I read Richard Price's Lush Life. The book starts with four cops in a fake cab, cruising around, looking for problems:
The Quality of Life Task Force: four sweatshirts in a bogus taxi set up on the corner of Clinton Street alongside the Williamsburg Bridge off-ramp to profile the incoming salmon run; their mantra: Dope, guns, overtime; their motto: Everybody's got something to lose.
Even if I saw the black SUV before reading Lush Life, I never noticed it. After, it seemed to be in the Lower East Side all the time and seeing the car with its sirens on, de-cloaked, made me feel in the know. But I figured the taxi idea had been a literary twist.

'Til yesterday, when I saw four kids (teens, really) sitting on the curb alongside their van. The doors of the van were open so you could see in, to piles of blankets and inoffensive looking things. One of the kids was shirtless, with a bandaged wound on his back shoulder. Behind the van was a cab, and at first I imagined there'd been a fender-bender. But why, I wondered, does the kid already have a bandage on? Then I noticed the whirling police light on the cab's dashboard, and thought, ooooh. I wonder if Richard Price witnessed a similar moment when he was plotting out the book.

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