Spent Monday in what used to be my home town of New York City. Well, for about a decade anyway until the meds wore off and like the proverbial deadhead who's pot stash is empty, realizes that this band sucks.
Not entirely, but New York today is a different place than the New York of my tenure. Those days were rough, these days are better as New Yorkers have learned through experiences of '93, 9/11, Bloomberg, that a lot of people out there are gunning for them and the only way to fend them off is to hang together. That's why when armed gangs were ransacking the jewelry stores of that pinnacle of civilization; Toronto during the 2003 blackout, New Yorkers were holding hands out and helping each other off darkened subway cars with a please and a thank you very much.
Its always nice to go back, but not in winter. New York on a cold, wet, winter's day can suck the joy out of the Dalai Lama.
Oh and I started smoking again. Not intentionally, but if you're ducking close to buildings to keep out of the rain, you really can't help yourself. You guys ought to quit that habit and start running in the park. New York will take you early anyway if you're not careful, you don't need to accelerate the process.
So like most New Yorkers, I walked to where I needed to go. Left Penn Subway Station and headed crosstown, stopping for a few seconds to look at one of the leftover eagles from the original station they took down in '63. In the light drizzle, water was beading up on it and dropping like the occasional tear shed for having lost the palace only to now guard this steel and stucco architectural abortion. The light rain was more of an impetus to walk since everybody else will jam themselves into subway cars, smelling like wet sheepdogs after a roll in dung. Oh, and forget those yellow things at street level. They are made of sugar and melt away in rain. And the cabs that are driving around are filled with grandads and grandkids from the Bronx who saved up a thousand dollars and are taking a three hour sightseeing ride around Manhattan. It once took me three hours to get from the Plaza to an office on 27th and Park. We stood on the curb trying to hail a cab for a half hour, then went into Harry's for a quick one, then hit the curb again, then another quick one at Harry's until we finally caught a bus and hoofed over three blocks from Fifth to Park.
Got a little damp on Monday but the worst part of getting anywhere in a New York rain are the umbrella rib tips that seem to beeline for your ocular organ. Norm Abrams does safety videos where he warns "remember, the most important part of getting across town is wearing a pair of these safety glasses."
Grand Central is a magnificent 100 year old girl and a great place to wander and dry off for fifteen minutes before heading into any meeting. There wasn't much time to do anything else this time around. No glass of wine outdoors at Rock Center or drinks at Campbell apartments with a college roomate. And the latter is probably a good thing 'cause my HELOC is maxed out. He meant well with his suggestion but might I suggest you pick on someone in your income bracket?
And there you had it. Another jaunt back to the hole in the ground that bills itself a train station. A quick sandwich at Zabar's, watching people and wondering who outside of aged hippie peaceniks still wear protest buttons? Aren't you supposed to wallpaper your Prius with meaningless slogans that summarize your personal philosophy in fifteen words or less these days?
Took the premium train home where the conductor informed the paying customers that they were in the quiet car in a manner and tone that if she were an attendant on a Delta flight, you'd be sure to book your next trip on United.
There you have it. Home in Fungus County, but I still retain certain New York sensibilities. My good wife tells me the story of the date who announced he had picked her up easily at the corner of Fifth and Forty Second, laughing all the while, the implication being she was somewhat cheaper than most. I told her that I'd pick her up there too, if I had a penchant for librarians.
And no, they didn't roar either.