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Dreamcatcher New York: Part One

By Ashish Seth

A two part series (and a song) about a suburban kid’s experience of the Big Apple.


Figure # 1: The ethereal skyline of New York city seen from the highway to Long Island.

The female voice of the GPS crackles out in low quality tones, “Keep left on interstate-.”

I press a button.

“Shut up.”

We drive down a three lane highway somewhere in New Jersey, heading for New York, trees passing by in a whir, windshield viper fluid shooting out in lines on the front for the sliding vipers to wipe the bug muck away.

“Let’s stop at a coffee shop or something,” I say.

“You need to take a piss again?”

“I wanna see Jersey. This is where The Soprano’s took place.”

“I’m just saying. It’d be cool to go to a place and say, ‘hey, that’s where that guy got whacked!’”

My brother Abhi drives. I navigate the GPS on his phone. We’re heading to Long Island where Abhi has a rotation at a hospital. He needs to complete this rotation in order to get his medical degree and become a doctor. It’s late July and I’ve been on vacation from my teaching job in Brampton for weeks now.  It’s been a long ride and we’ve stopped as seldom as possible.

Abhi’s phone shakes. A text message.

“Who’s that?” I ask.

He looks at it.

“The hospital. Says ‘545 Merrick Dr. Price don’t worry.’”

“Don’t worry? What’s that supposed to mean?”

“I don’t know. It seems shady doesn’t it?”

My brother puts his phone away.

“What if we get there and it’s all a big scam?” he says.

“I don’t follow,” I say.

“They haven’t told us what the rent is for the place. What if we get there and they put us in a place and then rob us of our shit.”

I consider it for a minute. New York. The city that never sleeps. The city of cities. All modern metropolises ape the style of the Big Apple. I’ve been bombarded with perceptions and depictions of New York. A lot of the depictions have been negative: The Godfather, Goodfellas, Grand Theft Auto, Taxi Driver, countless New York rappers telling street tales of drug dealing, drive bys and homicidal shootings.

“Don’t worry,” I say. “If they scam us, we’ll sue the hospital and Ross University.”

“They won’t scam us. I was joking.”

I rest my head against the window and stare out.

Stay positive.

*             *             *             *             *

The George Washington Bridge to The Bronx.

New York 3

Figure # 2: The George Washington Bridge coming from New Jersey.

New York 2

Figure # 3: Hudson river and coasting skyline.

After paying a heavy sixteen dollar toll, the cost to escape New Jersey, our white Honda Civic turns on to The George Washington bridge.

Through the metal railings of the bridge in the far distance I see the New York skyline, a long stretch of translucent skyscraper outlines in the airy orange sky. Planes take off at La Guardia and glide silently in the clouds above the city. The eight o’clock setting sun paints the horizon a stained orange glow. Sunlight reflects a green color into the Hudson River.

“We’re finally in the city,” says Abhi. He looks excited.

I take out my iPhone and start snapping random pictures: the skyline, the road ahead, the low rise buildings along the river, anything.

“We got to make a list of places we’re going to go,” I say.

“Think of some places,” says my brother.

“All the places I think up come from movies, tv shows and songs I’ve heard about the city.”

“We need to check out food spots,” says my brother.

We get off the bridge onto a highway that cuts through a tunnel and straight into the Bronx. A few miles down, my eye catches movement at the far roof of a brown run down building. Three figures sit beside each other, sitting against a marred billboard, knees against their chest. One wears a red hat. Black faces.

They’re kids. Looking out onto the George Washington bridge. Watching the mass of cars flowing in and out of their city. In the summer heat, they’re huddled as if shivering. Do they know they’re being seen? Pondered about from a mile’s eye?  What are they thinking?

My attention turns to the sights we pass by. Graffitied walls. Narrow alleys with cracked roads and dilapidated walls of shops. Dry cleaners, laundries, convenience stores that look like a rain made them droopy and decayed and leaky. Old posters of actors with eighties hairdos on windows of barbershops and cramped convenience stores. Old cars from the nineties parked with their heavy beaten bumpers scratching the sides of low curbs.

We leave the Bronx and get on a highway towards Long Island.

*             *             *             *             *

Rockville Centre, Long Island

The sun is dimmer.

“What do you think of the area?” says Abhi.

I stare out my window at cracked roads. I see a dreamcatcher hanging off a chainlink fence of a plot of residential townhomes. The civic pulls up to a curb just after the intersection of Malverne and Hempstead.  A row of stores; a Subway restaurant, Dunkin Donuts and some Cleaners.

“I got to take a leak,” says Abhi.

“Dunkin Donuts is everywhere. It’s like our Tim Horton’s. I wonder if there are any Timmies in New York,” I say.

He turns off the car, exits and goes into the Dunkin Donuts.

An African American woman comes out of the Subway Restaurant ahead of me. Three kids follow her. She wears blue scrubs. A hospital must be nearby. My brother’s hospital. She gets into an old model Lexus and drives away after moments of idling.

A beat down old Ford blaring heavy metal music cruises slowly by me. In the driver’s seat, I see a white man with dreadlocks bobbing his head, smoking a cigarette. A younger clean shaven white man hunched over, a bit more innocent looking, smiles at dreadlock dude, turning his head and saying something.

My brother returns moments later. We drive down Malverne.

“You didn’t buy anything?”  I say. “You just went in there and pissed.”

“There was a lineup. I slipped away unnoticed.”

At the intersection of Malverne and Merrick, we pass a grassy field of graves. No gravestones. Placks in the ground mark where the bodies lie, some with flowers, some with birds picking worms out from the grass. It stretches up a hill and I can’t see where it ends. A factory smokestack in the distance past it. Around us, chained fences. Private properties. Businesses in offices. Roads that intersected like confused worms in an orgy.

As we turn an intersection, I see five or six people crowding around a spot on the sidewalk. A white lady and a white man, both chubby and messy looking, seem upset and in a panic, talking loudly pointing fingers at each other as the others look on, arms crossed, heads shaking and on the ground near them, a complete and still body of white fur, unmoving, fur fluttering-.

The light turns green.

The engine kicks. My body turns. I look straight ahead. A feeling of dread settles in. I miss my dog.

Grow up, says a voice in my head. Sounds like my brother.

“Seems like a decent area,” he says.

*             *             *             *             *

545 Merrick Dr.

We pull into an apartment complex that is well lit. White stucco walls with square windows of a dark brown wood. Clean. It looks recently built.

We get out and stretch our legs. and walk around the front area of the complex.

“You’re expecting just a room? I think they’re giving you a whole apartment,” I say.

“Let me call the superintendent and let him know we’re here,” says Abhi.

Five minutes later, a large white Ford van pulls up in the parking spot in front of us. A fat middle-aged man, probably late forties, with sunken pink cheeks, wearing a grey superintendent’s uniform, emerges from the driver’s seat.

“Hey, how ya doin. Let me show guys the place.”

We shake hands. He talks in a New Yorkian accent. He walks past us. We follow him to apartment 201.

“Did they say anything about a monthly rate?” asks Abhi.

“I don’t know what the deal is you guys made, I just give you the key,” he says.

I look at my brother, a bit worried.

He unlocks the door. 201 opens to wooden stairs that we climb to a wide open living room and kitchen, fully furnished, couches, chairs, TV, Internet router, fridge, stove, microwave and cabinets. Deep brown wooden pantry doors. Clean white walls with no etch marks or imperfections. A hall with wooden flooring leads to two bedrooms and two bathrooms, wide and spacious and ready for people.

“Wow,” I whisper to myself.

“This is nice but I don’t think I’ll be able to afford this,” says Abhi.

The superintendent smiles and shrugs.

“Look guys, you’ve had a long drive and you probably want to just freshen up and not worry about all this. Take the apartment for the weekend. Enjoy yourself. Go see New York.”

My brother and I look at each other.

“Don’t worry about a thing,” the superintendent continues. “We’ll deal with everything Monday. Talk to Jill. There are some papers you need to fill out for the hospital and property. Take it to Anne. Just down the street in front of the hospital.”

A few moments pass as we look around.

“Internet and TV passwords are over on the table. As you can see, it’s fully furnished and ready. Where you guys coming from?”


“Toronto? Long drive.”

“Hospital owns this whole place?”

“Yup. Mostly hospital employees living in these units. About half and half. I had another unit open that was first floor and smaller but the air conditioning was fried so I put you in here.”

“This is place is amazing,” I say.

“How’d you like the city when you came through the freeway?”

“We couldn’t believe people had actually built it,” says Abhi.

“First time in New York? It’s called the Big Apple for a reason.”

“How do we get to the city?” asks Abhi.

“Yeah, you’re probably gonna wanna know that,” he chuckles. “Let’s see, you’re gonna wanna take the Long Island Express into Manhattan. Especially on Saturday, don’t drive down. You won’t find parking. Sunday you can drive down.

“Go to all the areas. Hey, don’t worry. New York is a safe place. I know you guys have seen all the stereotypes. Honestly, it’s a safe city. You can go anywhere.”
“What about the Bronx?” asks my brother, implying it’s a bad place.

“The Bronx? What’s in the Bronx?” for a second, I think he’s being sarcastic. He’s only just thinking about a place. “Check out the Bronx zoo, it’s amazing. You know, guys, I mean,” he waves his hands like he doesn’t know, “it depends on what you’re looking for, you want girls, I wouldn’t know about that stuff.”

We all chuckle.

“How long you here for?” he asks.

“Three months,” says my brother. “I’ll be doing a rotation at South Nassau Community Hospital.”

“See? Relax, you’re a doctor, you’ll be fine. You get the dough. Don’t worry about the rent. We’ll get that taken care of Monday. Just take it for the weekend. What kind of doctor?”


“Oh very cool. Nice. Man, good thing you guys came this year. Last year, Hurricane Sandy. Stirred up a shitstorm, excuse my language. Water came all the way up to here.”

“Where, here?” I ask.

“No, Rockaway beach. Oh yeah, you guys’ll probably wanna check out the water. It’s beautiful. Well, you’re probably tired and hungry. I’ma leave you to it. Freshen up, If you’re hungry, there’s a Bonbino’s Pizza round here. That’s where I’ll be going to get dinner.”

“Is this a bad area?” asks my brother as we walk the super out the front door.

He hesitates for a moment and then says quietly.

“Well, that’s up to you.”

We all chuckle.

“Haha yeah I’m gonna make it a bad area,” says my brother, sarcastically.

“Hey don’t talk tough, enjoy yourself. Welcome to New York. Follow the signs. ”

Ten minutes later, my brother and I sit in the living room. I speak.

“I bet this is a marketing ploy. They get you in here make you love it. And then you can’t say no. Business.”

“Dude relax. Stop thinking so negative.”

Stay positive.


Continued in part two, coming soon. Also coming soon, an exclusive song I produced while in New York

*             *             *             *             *

Vignette Writing

Old Boy

By morning, the little light of the rising sun painted the room a dull monochromatic blue. And the sheets. And the carpet. And the rows of books stacked in rows of two on the dresser. On the cabinet. On the desk where the computer hummed sleeping. The yelp sounded from down the hall. The dog sat, dirty paws from the 4 AM call. He heaved, his pink tongue hung out and his belly gestated in and out. And his face, which used to be brown, was faded to a white, the color sucked away with time and worn out.

I heard his yelps that grew louder as I realized my own urge to urinate. And I got out of bed. And I went downstairs. And I opened the door. The damp, moist spring air. Chilled frost on the sliding windows. The morning light threw a dark monochromatic blue on the wooden fence of the backyard. The dog hopped out and down the steps into the grass. He trotted to the middle of the plot and stood wide. He urinated a stream that sprayed at parts. When he finished, he began to roam the frost-ridden grass, licking at leaves and drinking the muddy water accumulated at the slope of the backyard.

I slid the door closed and let him have his time. I poured myself a bowl of cereal, sat down and ate my early breakfast. He’d been asking to go out more frequently now. Sixteen years old for a dog is a milestone. Yesterday I dug out an old photograph from the dresser beside my bed. I put old relics and secrets in there. It was all the way at the bottom, past my high school student cards in which I still had baby fat in my cheeks and looked tubby. His photograph was nestled there all neat and tidy, unlike the mess of everything else.

There was so much color in his face back then. So much brown under his eyes and on his head. His muzzle looked soft and his snout still wet. I guess all things get worn out as they age.

I finished my cereal and put it in the sink, then heard the muffled yelp and let him in. He shook and shivered and then went to his carpet and before he sat down, he walked around on a spot in a circle a few times to find his groove and then nestled down and curled close to gather warmth. I sat on the sofa beside him and watched the clock. Momentarily he raised his head and panted heavily. I brushed my hand on his head and he nodded to acknowledge it then put his head back down and I waited again. A few minutes later he got up and went to his bowl and drank some water, taking pauses to take a breath and he drank some more.

I went to the sink and filled a glass of water and then I walked to his bowl and filled it up to the top. He drank half of it and then some more and went back and curled up next to the sofa that I sat on. Minutes passed and I lay down on the sofa. He eventually settled and when I heard slow and steady breathing, I got up and crept up the stairs to the bathroom and urinated.


In the evening, my parents were going off to someone’s marriage. All my peers were getting married. It was the thing to do. I suppose every age comes with an instruction booklet, every life with a checklist.

My father stood in the hallway, in between my brother and I. We were seated opposite each other, me on the stairs, my brother on a brown ottoman. I had a tired face on, one I put on because it was easy. My head in my hands. I had a lot of marking stacked on my desk upstairs.

“Why do you look like Devdas?” asked my father.

Devdas. He was referring to the tragic lover Devdas who died filled with unrequited love, who drunk his sorrows away. It was an Indian classical tale.

“Just tired.”

“Don’t be tired. You’re at a young age.”

Young people can’t get tired in the eyes of old people because every complaint out of their mouths is an insult to an old person wasted youth.

Then my father slapped my cheek lovingly with a wide smile.

“No matter how old you get, I’ll always love you like a child.”

I smiled and scratched the back of my head. My father went over and grabbed my brother’s right cheek and squeezed it. My brother pushed him away, embarrassingly.

“Stop it.”

My father stepped away and paced the hallway, a smile on his face, checking his clock. The light was dimming outside. Clouds were dispersed, the blue of the sky fading to darker navy. The light that shone into the living room was a monochromatic blue. The hallway was quiet. We all waited for my mother to finish her prayer and come downstairs so my parents could leave and their sons could close and lock the door.

My father spoke.

“This shirt, you know how old this shirt is?”

“How old?” I asked.

He turned his head and looked at the ceiling and thought, the thumb and index finger of his right hand squeezing the fabric of his brown dress jacket, savoring the feel.

“Ten years. I got it in 2002-2003. Eleven years now. Last time I wore it was a wedding. I forget who.”

“It’s too big on you now,” said my brother.

He turned and looked at my brother, a smug smile on his face, strutting on the spot.

“Guess how much I got it for?”



“I don’t know?”


“Why don’t you just tell me?”

My father looked at the shirt and felt its fabric. The color was a dark brown. It didn’t look old at all. It looked neat and consistently pressed.

“Around two-hundred and thirty dollars. That was the original price. I bargained it though. They brought it down to one hundred and seventy. Plus there was a sale going on. Seventy percent off. I ended up paying, roughly, seventy something bucks for it.”


“How many times have you worn it?” I asked.

“Not many,. It’s a good shirt. Good fabric,” he said.

My father called for my mother.

“What’s taking you so long? Do you want us to come up there and give you an aarti for you to come down? God!”

My mother came down eventually and my parents left for the wedding. I sat and watched some TV. I wasn’t going to work today. No.

In some ways, all things lose color over time. That’s a truth. Eventually we’re all just fossil fuels for future generations, preserving ourselves for a longer passage through time with, frequently changing how we value things when we lose the things we value, in order to value something else, in order to convince ourselves we’re content.

And it works.

An Evening of Sex and Romance Film Wordslingers Writing

A Long Hiatus (Jan 23rd)

Convergence – Jody Aberdeen

Mommy’s Little Playgroup – Lucianna LiSacchi

You may have noticed activity dropped on this blog from mid September until, well, now. At the time I was completing a teaching assignment at Louise Arbour Secondary School, an assignment with a very heavy  workload. In order to focus on the students, I had to stop productivity on this blog and my creative work. However, the teaching assignment was a lot of fun and a very rewarding and creative experience. I taught English and Global Studies. I designed some really cool assignments and activities. Best of all, I had some of the best students a teacher could want and I probably won’t be forgetting that experience until dementia hits at age eighty. I am now restarting this blog with a renewed perspective. Those students inspired me with the hope they saw in their future. This is going to be a great year because I plan on putting out a lot of new content in the fields of writing, music, photography and film.

So let’s get to business. First the blog has a new look, as you can already see.


On February 1st, my writer’s guild, Toronto Wordslingers, is having our first ever book launch, An Evening of Sex and Romance. This event will be happening at the Arta Gallery, in Toronto. It will commence at 7PM and tickets are on sale in various packages at this link here. The event will be celebrating the launches of debut novels by writers Jody Aberdeen and Lucianna LiSacchi. With a $50 purchase, you get admission for one and both books. With an $80 purchase, you get admission for two and two copies of both books.

In order to promote the event, I decided to use my film production skills and create two trailers for their books. Watch them above. If you’d like to simply purchase these books, there are links below.

Jody Aberdeen – Convergence PAPERBACK

Jody Aberdeen – Convergence eBook

Lucianna LiSacchi – Mommy’s Little Playgroup PAPERBACK

Lucianna LiSacchi – Mommy’s Little Playgroup eBook


Photography Quotes Writing

Sept 15, Peerless Galaxy


It’s when you stop listening to other people’s advice you realize you blamed yourself for being wrong by default. Sometimes manners and etiquette are criminal.

By Ashish Seth

Photography Quotes Writing

Sept 14, Modern Totem


Whatever will happen has happened already. Some totems channel energy. Some totems channel electricity.

By Ashish Seth

Photography Quotes Writing

August 30, Translucent Metropolitan


When humans disappear, nature reclaims the world in a slow, ominous, but relentless creeping crawl.

By Ashish Seth

Photography Quotes Writing

August 29, Peanut Butter Kryptonite


Cookies on Kryptonite. Katie Mitton, you make goooooood cookies. 😀

By Ashish Seth
Cookies By Katie Mitton

Katie is a young and upcoming fiction writer from Hamilton, Ontario. Watch out for that name.

Photography Quotes Writing

August 22, Witness


If you don’t respect your environment, your environment won’t respect you.

By Ashish Seth

Photography Quotes Writing

August 21, Follow the Lights


I could get you anything you want. And that’s the problem.

By Ashish Seth

Photography Quotes Writing

August 18, Steam

In the light polluted sky, signals of information traveled to their designated locations, from credit card transactions to text message LOLs. Kk, said the spook in the sky. And sometimes if you listened closely, you could hear him sigh.

By Ashish Seth