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In the diminutive enclave of New York City, affectionately christened as Paradise, a mere four blocks encompass the entirety of its existence. As Big Ted once remarked, “A place where considering everyone is just passing through. A hell of a lot decides to stay.” Here, the movers and shakers, fraudsters and fakers in all their diverse and messed up glory, coexist. Nestled on 31st Street, the eponymous adult bookstore, Paradise, stands as the symbolic heart of this unique borough. Flanking it is the vibrant and bustling Little Kowloon, home to the inimitable Bling-Bling’s modest empire. Within this eclectic landscape, the King Wash Launderette and Knucks Convenience Store rub shoulders with takeaways and pawnshops, each contributing to the rich tapestry its many diverse residents call home.

Venture across the thoroughfare to discover the Schwartz Diner, an enduring institution since 1951, vigilantly overseen by the indefatigable Irene and Ernest. A stone’s throw away, the MacArthur Bar resides, christened in honour of the famed ballad MacArthur Park, serving patrons from noon until the early hours.

A leisurely stroll down main street brings you to the Eastside Hotel, a once-magnificent establishment now gently fading into obscurity. As the relentless summer heat bears down upon the city, air conditioners toil valiantly to provide respite. Radios and televisions emanate from every apartment and storefront, melodies and dialogues merging into an urban symphony. And amidst it all, the indomitable Gloria Gaynor proclaims, “I will survive.”

The year is 1979, and as the sun sets on one decade, the dawn of another looms, poised to transform the world forever.

* Return To Explore Paradise.       Click on a picture to enlarge.

© LewisChard 2020