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Rod Townsend (aka our commenter Momo), sometimes receives telephone calls from The Past, a mysterious entity that remembers where things used to be in New York before Starbucks and Whole Foods came to town.


"Twinkletwat? You awake?"

"Yeah. Something in the air or something. Just can't sleep."

"You're probably not getting enough sex."

"Must you go there?"

"Sorry Prudy Huxtable, but you know I'm probably right. When I can't sleep, I blow off some steam in a peep booth."

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"I can watch porn at home."

"You have porn? I guess you can actually surprise me. You just don't seem the type to walk home with a plain paper bag molded around the shape of a magazine or a videocassette box. That's why peep booths do so well. Shameful boys like yourself."

"For your information I'm not shameful. Granted I don't own any porno-mags or video cassettes, but that because they went the way of the dino..."

"You're probably one of those people that thinks watching himself diddling in the mirror is the same as watching porn. Too funny. I'm telling you though, you should go to my fave spot to get it on. It's on the corner of Fourteenth and Third."

"And why is that?"

"Well, to just call it a peep booth store is to do it disservice. It's more like a community center. You see some of the same people all the time. You even see your friends and you flash knowing smiles at each other. Everybody hangs out, smokes and has a good time."

"People actually smoke in there?"

"It's not a bad thing. Kind of covers up the smell of, uh, ass."

"Sounds gross."

"Well, there's at least one club kid that calls that porno shop home. He stays at the club with his life's belongings at coat check in an oversized backpack. Apr s club if he doesn't score an after-hours or a hookup, he goes straight to Fourteenth and Third, pays for a dollar's worth of quarters at the door and then takes over a booth until the morning. If he doesn't hook up with somebody in one of the neighboring booths, he heads over to Tompkins Square Park after sun-up and sleeps the rest of the day."

"So you're encouraging me to go hang out in a place with homeless people?"

"Don't be a dick, dick. He's just 'differently homed.' And there are all sorts of people there. There's 'Old-Guy-Thinking-Five-Dollars-Will-Attract-You' and 'Just-Took-Her-Drag-Off-And-Feeling-Butch-With-Her-Plucked-Brows,' 'Drug-Dealer-on-the-Downlow,' and, a favorite of mine, 'Curious-College-Kid.'"

"Well the last one makes sense, seeing as that's an NYU residence."

"What are you talking about? No way."

"Yeah, I know the corner you're talking about. And seeing as you're not telling me about a parking lot or a deli, I'm pretty sure you're talking about the Northeast corner. And that building's owned by NYU."

"How cool is it that NYU owns a place with buddy booths? That's so awesome."

"Well, you can still buy condoms and lube there. And cigarettes. And, heh, this will make you happy— they sell drugs too! And the place is open 24 hours a day. They have a pharmacy! But trust me, it's not the same place you remember."

"Well, it sounds like a wonderland. Maybe the future isn't so bad after all. With what you've just told me I'll actually be dreaming pretty well tonight. Which is what we should both be doing, loverlips. I'll call you next week. G'Night."