Huh. I found out something today that made my geekly little heart go all fluttery. Apparently I used to live right next-door to one of my big heroes—somebody who has captured my imagination since I was, oh, nine or ten—and I never had the slightest idea.

Yup. It was when John and I were living in our first NYC apartment, that long, slumlord-benighted year at 177 Bleecker Street. It turns out that right next door at 177A, shrouded from the naked eye by forces shadowy and mystical, was the Sanctum Sanctorum of Doctor Strange, Sorceror Supreme, Master of the Mystic Arts. He would have made an excellent neighbor, too: he could have banished our harridan of a landlady to the Nightmare Dimension and made all our lives soooo much more bearable. Or he could have bound her with the Crimson Bands of Cytorrak. Or sent her beyond the Purple Veil. Or something.

Until today, all I had to go on were a few fragments of fanboy trivia and fond (if vague) memories. My sweet tooth for the character dates back a long way. He may have been my first real exposure to the comics medium: as a kid I read the covers off an old pocket reprint edition of the early 1960s Lee-Ditko classics. Even now, a Dr. Strange action figure keeps watch over my office. All I remembered about the house, though, was the part that got mentioned all the time—that it was on Bleecker Street. I had no idea that a house number had ever come up. I sometimes kept a lookout for real-world analogs to his crazy-ass brownstone on my earliest wanderings through the Village. I never found it: double-width corner houses with fabulous circular skylights are few and far between these days. So if not for today’s random encounter with New York Songlines, I’d never have known. Actually, knowing the address only underscores the building’s occult nature: you can tell it was extra-magical because it had the number 177A. See, it was always pictured on a corner lot—MacDougal, as it turns out—which should have put it at number 171. Ooooh. Spooky.

Anyway, you learn something new every day.

(New York Songlines is an ingenious piece of work, and really cool besides. Virtual walking tours of various bits of the City. Worth exploring.)