Welcome to the bright lights, baby.
I was thinking that as a Lenox Hill Hospital worker was telling me late Saturday afternoon that the whole staff was on high alert all week over news that a VIP was going to give birth in a luxurious sixth-floor suite.
And sure enough Blue Ivy Carter was born to Beyoncé and Jay-Z that night in Lenox Hill, exactly 8.1 miles and another solar system from one of the 1,705 apartments of the Marcy Projects in Bedford-Stuyvesant where Blue Ivy’s father was abandoned by his dad to be raised by a single mom.
On that former site of an old Dutch windmill stand 27 dirty, six-story municipal brick buildings across 28 scary Brooklyn acres of crack, guns and gangbangers that a kid named Shawn Corey Carter, aka Jazzy, plowed into one of the most successful musical harvests in the history of New York, winning 13 Grammys, selling 50 million albums, marrying an equal talent in Beyoncé Knowles.
A union from which arrives a brand new native New Yorker named Blue Ivy Carter.
These streets will make you feel brand new.
Especially after being born into the most luxurious maternity ward in New York.
“The hospital VIP suite was originally scheduled to be finished by Jan. 15,” says the hospital worker. “But Beyoncé coming expedited everything.”
Environmental services polished the wood-look ceramic floors, stainless steel kitchenette appliances, and the luxury bathroom fixtures, and connected the 42-inch flat-screen TV. Housekeeping fitted fine linen sheets against the espresso-colored wooden headboard and buffed the chrome frames of the off-white leather couches. Food services stocked the fridge with water, juice, soda. A crackerjack nursing staff assembled. Security snapped to attention.
Blue Ivy will ride home in a limo as New York royalty. And Jay-Z will be a prince of a father.
I know this even though I met Jay-Z only once.
It was lunchtime on Dec. 20, 2002, when he walked from the pouring rain into Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill on Manhattan’s Fifth Ave., without a posse, to eat and read with 15 inner-city fifth-graders from a public school in Williamsburg chosen by the New York Knicks Reading Zone Program.
A Knicks spokesman was whispering that Jay-Z had just started to date the beautiful Beyoncé.
Shy and humble, Jay-Z sat and exchanged smiley small talk with the wide-eyed kids before cracking open a book called “How Murray Saved Christmas” and reading aloud. Then one by one, he asked each child to read a page.
They gazed at this superstar from the Marcy Projects like he was their surrogate Father Christmas. He looked at them like he was staring in the mirror. And as someone who’s lived in the projects, which will forever live in me, I knew in that fragile give-back moment that this Jay-Z character was a real guy. That from behind the public tough gangsta rapper persona would someday arise a loving father, the dream dad he never knew.
Someday arrived kicking and wailing on Saturday night.
“Growing up in the Marcy projects, reading was vital to my life,” Jay-Z told me that day. “So this is a beautiful thing the Knicks do. Because in the projects, I never met anyone who made it. No ballplayers or singers. Even the people who became lawyers or doctors moved out of the neighborhood. So you never get a chance to meet people who made it out, people to inspire you to do the same thing.”
But he said his mother and reading did that for him.
“I loved to read,” he said. “My mother always told me that nothing in life is any good unless it comes hard to you. But when I first started writing, it just flowed out … I realized it came easy because I read a lot. That’s the message I want to send to these kids — all kids.”
On that note, Blue Ivy, there’s nothing you can’t do, now that you’re in New York, New York, baby.
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