96 Perry Street, Greenwich Village, 1958:
A lot of people are asking about my cat Solange, but the first thing I want to tell you is she’s NOT bad luck. I know there’s a whole thing about black cats and witches but there aren’t any around here and if there were, so what?
Solange came in because she was outside our place all the time, looking sad. The first time I saw her she was on the corner, a tiny black kitten sitting in the middle of the sidewalk, still as a ghost. My Gary Daddy-o whistled at her and she ran away.
Then I saw her again when my Nell-mom brought me out to buy some eggs. The little cat was halfway up the wall outside the store but turned around and looked at me. Then she scooched all the way up to the top and down again.
After that it was like I saw her all the time—whenever we went out, it seems. There was a doofy guy watching us once and he said something about black cats being bad luck, so I asked my Nell-mom. She said Beats didn’t believe in stuff like that, and my sometimes-teacher Sky* told us black cats were good luck in Japan. If a black cat crosses someone’s path over there, they think it’s a sign of good things to come.
So to me, that means if black cats are good luck somewhere, and bad luck here, the superstition gets canceled out. Besides, black is my favorite color and most of the Beats around here wear it—especially at parties and stuff like that.
Did you know there’s a new movie called Funny Face that’s set here in Greenwich Village? The star is Audrey Hepburn and she wears black, too. She’s supposed to work in a bookstore called Embryo Concepts. I haven’t seen the movie yet but I’ve seen the poster and Sophie and Gordy and me want to go sometime. I think Sky and his lady Bluma want to go with us, too.
When I see it, I’ll tell you.
But even if I don’t, I can tell you this much: if Beats wear black and Audrey Hepburn looks so cool in it, I think you know where I’m going here. A lot of tourists might not want a black cat but to a Beat, she’s the best. Solange came home with us (after a lot of begging) and she’s been with me ever since. Now and again she goes out of my window because you can only go so far inside this apartment and then you have to break out.
Solange doesn’t like to go out as much as she likes to go UP. She can pretty much climb the walls in here if she wants, and that’s my favorite thing about her. In Solange’s world, there’s no such thing as gravity.
Too bad the rest of us can’t say that.
* Sky runs a kinda-sorta school in my neighborhood with his lady, but they mostly own a store. You can find out more in The Beat on Ruby's Street.