I go to the Russian Baths in New York City nearly every night of the week. My routine is always the same. I work until about 8:30, at which time I turn on my German-manufactured Volcano marijuana vaporizer. The thing is the size of a small bomb or a nicely designed espresso maker. It takes about five minutes to warm up.
When the machine is ready, I vaporize two large pinches of marijuana. The steamed cannabis fills a balloon-like plastic bag with a cloudy mist the color of an old dog’s rheumy eye. The plastic bag has a nipple attached to it, and I suck the pot fog into my person, which takes about a minute.
Then, wearing an iPod, I quickly walk four blocks to Atlantic Avenue, here in Brooklyn. I stand at the corner and wait for a taxi, almost getting killed every night by the fast-moving cars. I remove one earbud, give the taxi driver explicit directions on how to get to the baths in Manhattan and then put the earbud back in, at which time the marijuana announces itself and I become dreamy and emotional.
We cross the Brooklyn Bridge and head up the FDR, and the East River glistens beautifully. I usually listen to Moby’s ambient music, which seems to fit the lonesome, vast city and my own solitary urban life. I am almost always alone.
I get dropped off at Tenth and A and walk half a block to the baths’ entrance, above which is a sign declaring that this establishment has been here since 1892. My great-grandfather Nuchum Schwartz, a tailor from Brooklyn with a Jimmy Durante...