Good ol Santiago... / by Randy Ortiz

So yesterday I had to pass thru my old hood... Washington Heights, I have an immense love for this lil DR. As soon as I got out the train station I kept looking around and checking for what has changed and what hasn't. Many things did (gentrification much?) but some of the near and dear things, people, and places thankfully remain the same. It was 11AM and El Malecon still has the smell of rotisserie chicken going, the hardware store front bulging with brooms tapes and other misc things to buy on a store wide rack, the "tobacco" shop glass plastered with stickers from every source you can think of... I was home. Mi spirits were lifted higher than they already were that day, and to make matters even better I ran into an old friend.

Right in between the United Palace and R.S. Strauss there was the flea market by the locals and still there. "Wow" I thought, I can't believe this is still going on here and it felt great. Even better that Santiago was there... who is Santiago you ask? Why he was my pusher, the digital crack dealer, the 5 dollar in my pocket gone guy. Yes I traded and bought videogames from him ever since I was 9 (I'm 31 today), and up to the age 22 or 23 I believe I was still doing so. Amazed and happy to see him I had to stop by and say hello and see how he was doing in these tough times.

I went to him and just said "Santiago remember me?" he looks up and goes "ooooh cmon kid you know I do! I always ask your mom about you when I see her." Needless to say his little stand of games grew larger the more economy slowed down, but he still had NES games and all that up to PS3 so he was adopting ok. I spent soo much time glazing over that fold out table full o games contemplating how to spend my last 5 dollars on a trade... damn. He seemed happy to see me yet a little sad, maybe because of money or something I wasn't aware of... but it was a great time seeing him again and at his same spot and same table full of systems and games. I will definitely be going around just to lend a helping hand to the struggling locals because that's what your supposed to do.

Hell that's the least I can do for a man who kept me out of trouble with his life lessons while I traded Inspector Gadget SNES for Clay Fighter. It's the real people that you remember. A true Giant, and a true good man... Santiago the local game street seller. Support your local people, if you don't who will? Oh yeah I still love ya W.H. never forget that, tha heights for life baby!