From The Final Edition:
Malik Segu remembers when he couldn’t walk down his block in South Corona, Queens, without hearing someone shout, “Unclean! Unclean!” or “Hey, pizza-face, is this your foot?” But now, he says with a wide, toothless grin, such anti-leper slurs are seldom if ever uttered in this quiet, working-class neighborhood known for its large, rectangular apartment buildings and concrete-covered streets with vehicles often parked on them.
Leper restaurants, bars, bodegas and cockfighting pits line the main commercial artery of Tweed Boulevard and partially dressed old men with few remaining body parts sun themselves in their motorized wheelchairs, trading local gossip and innuendo. The city’s largest concentration of used-prosthetics stores is also found here.
Recently, trendy young people from Manhattan have begun journeying to the neighborhood to sample its exotic cuisine and vibrant nightlife.
“I love the clubs,” said Tara McFetlock, a 22-year-old bankruptcy trader from Tribeca. “There is a haunting, tragic feeling of despair and horror there unlike anything you find in Manhattan.”
Her date for the evening, Caleb Ostrowsky, 27, said he was a smug, self-satisfied foodie excited by the adventure of dining in restaurants “where on any given evening you might just find the chef’s finger in your ragout.”