New York Stories: Wyatt Cenac shares a New York memory

Guest blogger Wyatt Cenac shares a memory from summers spent at his grandma’s home in Crown Heights.

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Wyatt Cenac

Wyatt Cenac Photograph: Eric Michael Pearson


Welcome to "New York Stories," in which some of our favorite New Yorkers tell a story—funny, heartwarming, sad, whatever—about this great city. This week, Wyatt Cenac relives trips to Fulton Mall from his grandma's Crown Heights apartment.

My grandmother lived in Crown Heights, so a lot of my connection to New York is Brooklyn-based. Every year, I would spend chunks of my summer at her apartment eating food, watching TV and going to Prospect Park all in the spirit of giving my mother and stepfather a few weeks to do whatever it is adults do when children aren't around. (I now know what adults do when children aren't around…. I'm glad I didn't then.)

If there is one thing that always stuck out to me as a very "New York thing," it was going with my grandmother to the Fulton Mall. She'd take me there as a kid and let me pick out some shirt or hat that I'd want. One year, I got a knockoff Starter-brand Chicago Bulls short set that I took back to Texas and impressed all my friends…partly because it was the Chicago Bulls and partly because it was a quality knockoff. To me, the Fulton Mall was this amazing place that didn't exist in Texas. There was no place in Texas that I knew of where I could get a Bulls short set or a "Black Bart" T-shirt or watch guys play three-card monte—which to that point was something I'd only seen in cartoons.

When I was 19, I lived in Brooklyn with my grandmother for a semester of college while I did an internship. On Sundays, when I wanted to get out of the apartment I'd hop the 2 train and head to the Fulton Mall and just watch guys run three-card monte games. I'd head home and try it, thinking one day maybe I could bring that back to Texas as a way to make a little money. I don't really see those guys now, as the Fulton Mall is starting to look more and more like any mall, which is part of the sad but inevitable tide of change, but with any luck maybe somebody will start running a three-card monte game outside the fitting rooms of H&M.

Wyatt Cenac is the host of weekly comedy showcase Night Train. The next show happens tonight at 8pm at Littlefield; tickets are $8, advance $5. Cenac will also appear at this week's Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival on Thu 26. You can buy tickets ($25) to his set in The Urbane Comedy Hour: Non-Stop Courtesy and Culture Through the Prism of Comedy on Ticketfly.


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