Three Days as the Crow Flies

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Three Days as the Crow Flies is a novel by art impresario Danny Simmons. A "slice-of-life", all of the events of the book unfold within a three-day period. Published in 2004, Three Days as the Crow Flies gives the reader a glimpse of the 1980s art scene in downtown Manhattan.

Danny Simmons American painter

Daniel "Danny" Simmons Jr. is a neo-African abstract expressionist painter, father of Jamel Simmons, and the older brother of hip-hop impresario Russell Simmons and rapper Joseph Simmons. He is the co-founder and Chairman of Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation, which provides disadvantaged urban youth with arts access and education. As part of Rush Philanthropic, Simmons also founded Rush Arts Gallery and soon thereafter converted part of his loft in Brooklyn into the Corridor Gallery. Both galleries provide exhibition opportunities to early and mid-career artists who do not have commercial representation through galleries or private dealers. Along with his brother Russell, Simmons established Def Poetry Jam, which has enjoyed long-running success on HBO. In 2004, Simmons published Three Days As the Crow Flies, a fictional account of the 1980s New York art scene. He has also written a book of artwork and poetry called I Dreamed My People Were Calling But I Couldn't Find My Way Home. He has also published " Deep in your best reflection" and "the Brown beatnik tomes", two additional volumes of poetry. In 2015 Simmons moved to Philadelphia and opened Rush Arts Philadelphia gallery to further the Rush Arts mission and to begin to create a national presence for the service organization.

Manhattan Borough in New York City and county in New York, United States

Manhattan, often referred to locally as the City, is the most densely populated of the five boroughs of New York City and its economic and administrative center, cultural identifier, and historical birthplace. The borough is coextensive with New York County, one of the original counties of the U.S. state of New York. The borough consists mostly of Manhattan Island, bounded by the Hudson, East, and Harlem rivers; several small adjacent islands; and Marble Hill, a small neighborhood now on the U.S. mainland, physically connected to the Bronx and separated from the rest of Manhattan by the Harlem River. Manhattan Island is divided into three informally bounded components, each aligned with the borough's long axis: Lower, Midtown, and Upper Manhattan.


The book opens with Crow Shade, the protagonist, showering and getting dressed for the day. Crow is an African-American who lives in an under-furnished room in a boarding house in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn. He has an expensive cocaine habit. Withdrawing from the cocaine and desperate for another high, Crow resolves to visit his friend Danny, an artist, and borrow one hundred dollars.

Protagonist the main character of a creative work

A protagonist is the leading character of a story.

Boarding house house in which lodgers rent one or more rooms for one or more nights

A boarding house is a house in which lodgers rent one or more rooms for one or more nights, and sometimes for extended periods of weeks, months, and years. The common parts of the house are maintained, and some services, such as laundry and cleaning, may be supplied. They normally provide "room and board," that is, at least some meals as well as accommodation.

Brooklyn Borough in New York City and county in New York state, United States

Brooklyn is the most populous borough of New York City, with an estimated 2,648,771 residents in 2017. Named after the Dutch village of Breukelen, it borders the borough of Queens at the western end of Long Island. Brooklyn has several bridge and tunnel connections to the borough of Manhattan across the East River, and the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge connects it with Staten Island. Since 1896, Brooklyn has been coterminous with Kings County, the most populous county in the U.S. state of New York and the second-most densely populated county in the United States, after New York County.

He arrives at Danny's apartment/studio only to find it empty. At that point, Crow impulsively decides to steal three of Danny's paintings and sell them for drug money. On his way out of the apartment, Crow also steals the manuscript that Danny has been working on so that he will have something to read on the train to Manhattan.

Manuscript document written by hand

A manuscript was, traditionally, any document that is written by hand -- or, once practical typewriters became available, typewritten -- as opposed to being mechaically printed or reproduced in some indirect or automated way. More recently, the term has come to be understood to further include any written, typed, or word-processed copy of an author's work, as distinguished from its rendition as a printed version of the same. Before the arrival of printing, all documents and books were manuscripts. Manuscripts are not defined by their contents, which may combine writing with mathematical calculations, maps, explanatory figures or illustrations. Manuscripts may be in book form, scrolls or in codex format. Illuminated manuscripts are enriched with pictures, border decorations, elaborately embossed initial letters or full-page illustrations. A document should be at least 75 years old to be considered a manuscript.

Crow eventually ends up in Astor Place and heads for the sculpture in the square. He makes an unsuccessful attempt to sell the paintings before a white man named Bones Young strikes up a conversation. Bones, the son of a wealthy hippies, sells art. He offers to help Crow sell the paintings. After sharing a cigarette the two men head east to the Lower East Side.

Astor Place street of Manhattan

Astor Place is a one-block street in NoHo/East Village, in the lower part of the New York City borough of Manhattan. It runs from Broadway in the west, just below East 8th Street; to Lafayette Street, ending at Alamo plaza. "Astor Place" is also sometimes used for the neighborhood around the street. It encompasses two plazas at the intersection with Cooper Square, Lafayette Street, Fourth Avenue, and Eighth Street – Alamo Plaza and Astor Place Station Plaza. It was named for John Jacob Astor, soon after his death in 1848. A $21 million reconstruction to implement a redesign of Astor Place began in 2013.

Sculpture Branch of the visual arts that operates in three dimensions

Sculpture is the branch of the visual arts that operates in three dimensions. It is one of the plastic arts. Durable sculptural processes originally used carving and modelling, in stone, metal, ceramics, wood and other materials but, since Modernism, there has been an almost complete freedom of materials and process. A wide variety of materials may be worked by removal such as carving, assembled by welding or modelling, or molded or cast.

Lower East Side Neighborhood of Manhattan in New York City

The Lower East Side, sometimes abbreviated as LES, is a neighborhood in the southeastern part of the New York City borough of Manhattan, roughly located between the Bowery and the East River, and Canal Street and Houston Street. Traditionally an immigrant, working class neighborhood, it began rapid gentrification in the mid-2000s, prompting the National Trust for Historic Preservation to place the neighborhood on their list of America's Most Endangered Places.

When the men arrive in the Lower East Side, they meet up with Candy, an old friend of Bones and a follower of the art scene. The two take him to the art gallery, which had been converted from a bodega. There they meet Geoff, a married straight man who adopts an exaggerated effeminate posture. Geoff racially insults Crow, who pulls his wig off in front of everyone. Crow then tries to leave but Candy stops him and convinces him to stay. Geoff eventually apologizes and offers to host a showing of Crow's work. He also suggests that Crow come up with more paintings as the three he previously showed Geoff aren't enough for a whole shoe.

The group eventually end up at Club Chaos and meet up with Melissa. Melissa is a beautiful fifty-something mixed race woman. She gets Crow to recite poetry with her. After Crow leaves she reads his tarot cards, immediately sensing that there is more to Crow's story than she was led to believe.

Poetry form of literature

Poetry is a form of literature that uses aesthetic and rhythmic qualities of language—such as phonaesthetics, sound symbolism, and metre—to evoke meanings in addition to, or in place of, the prosaic ostensible meaning.

Later that night, Crow spends the night with Candy although they don't have sex. Early the next day, Melissa wakes the two by playing a flute underneath Candy's window. The three head to yet another club from there. Bones and Geoff show up and Bones, who has become jealous of the attention that Candy is showing to Crow, elbows Crow in the back of the head. The two men argue for a bit before Candy and Melissa lead Crow out of the club. The trio catches a cab to Melissa's house, a five-story townhouse. The three sleep for a few hours before Melissa wakes Crow up and asks him to paint more paintings for the showing that Geoff arranged for him. Although Crow momentarily worries that he will be found out, he goes downstair in Melissa's studio and, drawing on the information that Danny has imparted to him previously, paints three pictures.

Flute musical instrument of the woodwind family

The flute is a family of musical instruments in the woodwind group. Unlike woodwind instruments with reeds, a flute is an aerophone or reedless wind instrument that produces its sound from the flow of air across an opening. According to the instrument classification of Hornbostel–Sachs, flutes are categorized as edge-blown aerophones. A musician who plays the flute can be referred to as a flute player, flautist, flutist or, less commonly, fluter or flutenist.

Townhouse type of medium-density house

A townhouse, townhome, or town house as used in North America, Asia, Australia, South Africa and parts of Europe, is a type of terraced housing. A modern town house is often one with a small footprint on multiple floors. In British usage, the term originally referred to the city residence of someone whose main or largest residence was a country house.

Melissa is impressed with them. She arranges to have a friend, Burt, drive her and the others to the gallery for the showing. When Burt shows up, he insults Crow, touching off another tense confrontation. Melissa defuses the situation by chanting an incantation that terrifies Burt. She demands that she turn over the keys to his car and she, Crow, Candy, and Bones, who had previously arrived, head to the gallery.

The show is a huge success. All of the paintings are sold and Crow makes six thousand dollars minus commission. He is elated but begins to feel guilty about stealing Danny's art work and resolves to give Danny a cut of the money.

Candy, Bones, and Crow then accompany Geoff back to his home in suburban New Jersey (using Burt's car) to help him placate his angry wife. The four then ride back into the city and go to Melissa's house. After getting high again, Crow begins to tire of the non-stop party. Everyone except Bones agrees and they leave Melissa's house. Bones and Crow walk Candy part way home and Crow heads off to Brooklyn. Bones, who does not want to be alone, begs to go along with Crow. Crow reluctantly agrees and the two board the train. Bones falls asleep.

When the two men reach Brooklyn, Crow makes several unsuccessful attempts to wake Bones up. He then decides to leave without him, leaving a note under his arm. Deciding to put off going to Danny's house, Crow steps into the Palm Coast Bar, an after-hours spot and notorious drug den. The police raid the bar. Crow is able to throw his drugs on the floor before the police see him snorting up. He is patted down by a police officer who doesn't find anything on him and leads him toward the door to release him. On the way out, he bumps into Sergeant Dobson, an old friend of Crow's late police officer father.

Sergeant Dobson expresses sorrow that Crow is using drugs and tells Crow that his mother, who hasn't seen him since Crow's father's funeral, is worried about him. He also shares that his own son died of a heroin overdose. He promises to let Crow go if he agrees to go to rehab. Crow, who had already considered getting clean, agrees and accepts Sergeant Dobson's card. Dobson cuffs him and puts Crow into the cruiser (so that the others don't think Crow informed on anyone) and drop him off in front of his house. Crow then makes his way to Danny's house. He decides to tell the complete truth (as well as turn over Danny's share of the money) and ask for Danny's help in getting clean.


Simmons, Danny (2004). Three Days as the Crow Flies, Washington Square Press, ISBN   978-0-7434-6641-7

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