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.


"Aw, lickylobes, you poor thing."

"Poor thing?"

"Don't be sensitive. Then again, I guess I understand. Everything flavorful in the city seems to have become milquetoast. Anything of consequence destroyed."

"You're exaggerating. There are still plenty of substantial landmarks."

"Oh! You just said the key word. I think there is one particular place from my time that must still be open."

"Okay, I'm game. What was the key word? Exaggerating?"

"No, taint-tickler—'Landmark.' On the corner of Hudson and Christopher! It's the Gay Landmark Bookstore."

"Well, I know of the Oscar Wilde Bookstore. I just bought a bunch of Dennis Cooper hardcovers there. He sort of reminds me..."

"Not the Oscar Wilde. And I think the only literature they'll sell is in paperback. But they have a lot of magazines. And videotapes too."

"Another peep-booth place? We've talked about these before."

"First of all, it's not a peep-booth store. It's so much more than that. Sure, there's your typical array of porno mags, wank vids and pornophenalia, but if you go to the counter, you can pay for access to the back room."

"Why would I want to hang out in some porn store stockroom?"

"If you'd let me finish? Anyway, you give the guy at the counter your $10. Then you step through a door leading from the brightly lit store into what at first seems to be a pitch black room."

"You're terrifying me."

"Hot, right? Eventually, though, your eyes adjust to the light change and you can tell that you're in a cave-like room arranged in a circle. There's an interior hub of small rooms with barely working televisions playing porn surrounded by an exterior ring of rooms, both with and without televisions."

"Peep booths! I told you!"

"This is where it's different. The porn is constantly playing so there's not the interruption of having to dig for tokens. And you don't have to stop wanking because someone else is banging on your door because the time has run out."

"Sounds like a troll haven."

"Sure. But anywhere there's sex to be found, trolls will follow. It's like some type of homing instinct they have. Luckily this place has, like, 30 different spaces that'll fit two or three or four guys in it. And since it's sort of removed, you don't really need to go into a room—you can just find some dark corner and get down to business."

"But if it's so dark..."

"Then you can't see the mitigating factors! I tend to trust my sense of smell more than anything. A person who's been in there more than a few hours is probably bad news. Not to mention a bit loose."

"In more ways than one."

"Ha! Exactly! I'm so proud of you, mon poulet de genie!"

"Well, although I appreciate the tip, I'm pretty sure that the place isn't going to be there. Or maybe they changed the name. There's definitely a place called Harmony on that corner."

"Harmony! Hah! That place is for skanks! No, it's on the other side of Christopher, on the ground floor of a nice four-story walk-up."

"I think I know that building. In fact I got a hoodie for my friend's dog there just the other day."

"Whoa! Leather kink fetish? I had no idea you... "

"Stop right there."

"But just the mention of it has my boxers bunching. Think I'm going to take a little stroll. Talk soon!"

Earlier: Past, Over