The block along Arion Place is lined with houses with mostly gated sidewalks where the inhabitants line up their lawn chairs, open the gates and sit throughout the day, communicating with the variety of people walking past. Some of the homes are single-unit, single-family residences while others are divided into multiple units, but everyone shares a sort of communal back patio – communal in that the general sentiment is if you’re having a party, despite the walls and fences apportioning off sections to each respective home, anyone in the surrounding area is considered welcome.
On the corner there is large, chain-link-fenced off area resembling a scrap yard if it weren’t for the above average condition of all of the vehicles parked within; including an antique New York City Fire Truck. A group of men prop the gate open forty-five degrees and sit inside under a large tent and barbecue and drink twenty-four ounce cans of Coors and plastic cups of Evan Williams bourbon and smoke weed all day every day.
Every Saturday around mid morning the music begins. The house isn’t always consistent but the quality and the volume are and it will last – depending on what kind of weekend they are having – for anywhere from three to six hours, and it can be heard from virtually anywhere within the surrounding area, including interior rooms with all the windows shut.
Around the northeast corner is a Laundromat who charges fifty-five cents per pound for drop-off laundry next to a bodega with a mediocre beer selection but a proprietor willing to negotiate. Besides these two storefronts and a few small apartment buildings with large metal exterior doors, that side of the block is empty.
To the southwest the block is packed. There are two bodegas, one on each corner but only one of which sells beer (one is owned by a religious family) at which you can also buy most anything, including a rabbit from a few fellow patrons for the price of a cigar wrap. Between lie a nail salon, a bar with two-dollar pint cans, a Mexican grocery and a mobile phone store. The street lies in a patched shadow cast by the overhead subway line running its length.
The side streets are quiet – except when the music is playing – and friendly, neighbors smile and nod and then continue along with their days. A few homes have a car parked within their gates but mostly only walkways to the doors are behind them and all of the buildings, with the exception of two are only two stories tall.