html xmlns:og='' xmlns:expr=''> Lounging at the Waldorf: Thirty Third and Third


Monday, October 15, 2012

Thirty Third and Third

My first apartment in New York was on East 33rd Street and Third Avenue. Even though you could see the Empire State Building from my doorstep, it was an uninteresting location as far as Manhattan neighborhoods go. The place did, however, come bundled two unique freebies.

One, you could quickly find out if a person was a born and raised New Yorker or not. If I said to a transplant, "I live on Thirty-third and Third," the transplant would try not to yawn. But if I said the same thing to a local, he or she would jitter buzz as if just hit with a friendly jolt of electricity. "Toity Toid and Toid!" they'd excitedly reply in an accent that hasn't been heard since All in the Family went off the air.

I didn't know it then but the expression has been immortalized in not just one but two songs. Ben Ryan's 1926 Down on Thoity Thoid and Thoid says the folks of the neighborhood would "give you their shoit only they ain't got none." Even better is Bobby Gregory's double entendre laden Moitle From Toity Toid and Toid from 1946.

I've got a goil on de East Side.
Where goils are tough as can be.
She took a job as a bouncer.
And now she's bouncing me.

Who is de toughest goil in dis whole woild?
Moitle from Toidy Toid and Toid.
Who's got buck teeth that shine like a poil?
Moitle from Toity Toid and Toid.
She wears a tight skoit right up to her knees.
Instead of poifume she wears Limboiger cheese.
Who leaves me limp when she gives me a squeeze?
Moitle from Toidy Toid and Toid.

There's a heliport, a 15 screen movie theater, a new Sasha Petraske bar, and the NYU Hospital in that neighborhood now so, yeah, it ain't quite da same.

The second fond memory comes to me from a neighbor whom I heard but never saw. He did not play loud music. He did not bang around. But he did like to yell "yo motherfucker" all the time.

Sometimes it was short and growly and to the point.
"Yo, motherfucker! Yo!" 

Other times he revved his motto like a hot rod.
"Yo. Yo! YO! Motherfucker!" 

My personal favorite was when he would sing at the top of his lungs in a nasally vibrato that sounded just like Broadway legend Rosemary Clooney in pitch, phrasing, and verve. 
"Yooooooo muthAH FUCKaaaaaaah!" 

I have no idea which apartment he was in but I could tell he was on a floor below me the way his city song banged up the light well.

When I left that apartment for the wilds of Brooklyn, oddly, I missed both of these things.

Benn Mitchell, 3rd Avenue El, 1952
NYPL Archive, 33rd Street (East) #175 - Third Avenue, 1948
NYPL Archive, Newsstand, 32nd Street and Third Avenue, 1935

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