Why can't Lyle Goodman, a New York kind of guy who hates this friggin' town, put his signature on 13th Street?
He hangs up, shoves his cell phone into his pocket and limps to the door of the newsstand across the street from Signatures. DeMone bought the newsstand and the pizza shop next door a couple years back. Goodman says they're now partners in the two stores.
Tracking Lyle Goodman's business arrangements and relationships requires a scorecard, a T-Square and lots of stamina. He signed on with DeMone as a consultant in the hope of turning Signatures into a new Gold Club, a 12,000-square-foot strip mecca.
The expanded Signatures never opened, which means he still hasn't gotten his big payday. But Goodman says his new agreement with DeMone is that once the license transfer goes through he'll receive $150,000 and split.
Meantime, he kicks around 13th Street, living in an apartment above the newsstand. He picks up work here and there. He "consulted" for a new Gold Club at 14th and Chancellor Street, a tiny little strip joint formerly called the Office. His work there is done, he says, but he still shows up to use the desk and phone. He says he doesn't work at Signatures anymore, but he still shows up there too. He also oversees the newsstand and pizza shop.
When he opens the door to the newsstand on this morning the two women inside react like deer with a shadow falling across them at a drinking hole. They freeze, lapse into a wide-eyed silence, then warily continue their conversation.
Queens-born and Long Island-raised, Goodman is big on busting balls. The Philadelphia-New York argument starts right away. As Debra McDermott, a cashier, sifts through tiny collector's coffee mugs emblazoned with sports team logos, Goodman says, "Hey, the Islanderz! Now there'z a real team," fracturing every vowel he comes into contact with and twisting every "s" into a near "z."
McDermott tosses the Islanders mug over her shoulder and into the garbage can.
Goodman goes on about Philadel-phia's shortcomings till Barbara Miraglia, the store's lone customer, fires back and tells Goodman she went to Times Square 20 odd years ago and found only sex and drugs.
"When I was five years old," Goodman replies, "my mother helped me bathe."
Miraglia's eyes widen.
"Now," continues Goodman. "I bathe myself."
Miraglia wrinkles her eyebrows. She looks around the room for help. "Wh-at?" she says, mouth agape.
"I said," replies Goodman, "when I was five years old my mother helped me bathe. Now--I bathe myself."
Miraglia looks at Goodman as if she's certain he's crazy.
"What I'm saying is," says Goodman, "things change. Times Square is beautiful now."
He moves on to Smarty Jones. It's days before the Belmont, and he feels supremely confident the horse will lose. "He's from Philadelphia," he says. "That means he was born to lose. I'm going to bet on every horse but Smarty Jones. Every horse."
Miraglia and McDermott stare straight ahead, silent and grim. Goodman grins. For all his verbal roughhousing, the 41-year-old exudes a peculiar vulnerability and a boyishness in his taunts. When he hobbles over to the cooler for an orange juice, he hands the bottle to someone else to remove the cap. His arthritic hands are too weak for the task.
Later, when Goodman has left the shop, McDermott says how much she likes him. He's "charming, funny, generous and caring."
The mob talk? "Nonsense."
"He knows some people," she says. "I'm from South Philly. I know people too, and it doesn't mean anything. That man is no mobster."
Being Black: It's not the skin color