from its description alone it was clear the crowd was going to need controlling

Day for night

To control the crowd

No buses tonight

Jay-Z “disappeared” in Madison Square Garden late Tuesday night, but New York City police thought that afterward he and/or his friends and fans were making an appearance in a club on West 23rd Street. The sweet night doorman in our own buildiing, which is roughly across the street, told me it’s called ZeZa. [I can’t confirm the name, especially as there’s no lettering on the canopy which stretches to the curb, and I’ve seen the space undergo more than a few reincarnations over the years.]

Commissioner Kelly’s forces totally shut down to traffic the entire block from 7th to 8th Avenues, brought in high-powered illumination spots and set them up outside the doors of the club. They also parked two large, ominous police wagons within easy reach, and that was the extraordinary sight which awaited Barry and I as we rounded our corner on the way home from a late supper at Florent.

We knew nothing about the reason for the police action, but I was more than curious, expecting somebody was up to no good, so I walked up to a few onlookers [whether party-goers or passers-by, I couldn’t tell] already installed on the sidewalk to see if they might enlighten me. I got cold shoulders, nothing, and only then did I try asking a couple of guys in uniform who didn’t look particulary busy at the moment. I was told “Some rap star closed his big show uptown and moved his people down to this club.” No one would supply a name, but later I heard about Jay-Z’s retirement party and the final concert which had been staged at Madison Square Garden that night.

Why were the police interested in Jay-Z or this particular party? One of the blue uniforms told me that he and his colleagues were there on 23rd Street “for crowd control.” Uh huh.

There was absolutely nothing going on and, aside from the police presence, from the time I had arrived there was never above a couple of dozen people on the entire length of the block, so I headed home, more than a little disturbed by what I had seen and heard.

As I walked into my lobby I passed a neighbor and explained the little I had learned about the fantastic sight of a ghostly 23rd Street. His response? It’s a good thing that they’re on top of things.” I wish I could be so easily reassured.

No, actually I don’t.

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Published on November 28, 2003 11:35 PM.

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