Monday, July 18, 2011
El Valle Restaurant, Southern Boulevard, The Bronx
The bathroom keys, men and women's, are attached to wooden backscratchers. A traditional key rings attaches the key to the backscratcher. The backscratcher is missing three fingers. Was it relegated to bathroom key holder duty after rigorous use for its intended purpose? Is this the fate of all maimed backscratchers?
There's something symbolic about a backscratcher - one good turn deserves another- in a neighborhood that is among the poorest in the country. The Dominican resaurant is in the South Bronx, just blocks away from Hunts Point, where hookers still run a thriving business among the auto-repair stores. Existence here is above subsistence, mostly because of the generous welfare benefits - no abject poverty here, just constant struggle to stay afloat. Not many passengers get on or off at the local trains stops, as the unemployed have little need, or resources at $2.25 a ride, to travel beyond their confines, other than for the occasional trip to 161 St. for recertification of benefits. A bit futher south is a neighborhood that boasts a higher abortion rate than birth rate, a sort of Kevorkian perversion.