A Manhattan Holiday
I was walking by Stuyvesant Square, on 15th Street, approaching 2nd Avenue when I passed a big black woman talking on her cell phone. Just then she said, "You don't want me to be loverly -- So why can't I just be honest?"
I strolled along the Promenade in Brooklyn. The whole of the New York Inner Harbor spread before my feet, for the promenade sit up on the Brooklyn Heights. The promenade is the top layer of a curious structure. From Manhattan or the Staten Island Ferry it looks like bookshelves have been build into the heights. Furman Street, a local road is the bottom layer. Above that, the next two shelves are the south bound and north bound lanes of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. The fourth, and top, shelf is the Brooklyn Promenade. But since each shelf hangs over three-quarters of the shelf below it, you barely aware of the highways beneath you. If you stand at the promenade's rail and look over you can see part of one lane of traffic. It is full of great trucks hauling tons of stuff, cement mixers grinding gears, semis growling, endless busses and a few cars.
As I approached the end of the park two women ran up to me, I think maybe a mother and adult daughter. "Excuse me", the daughter asked me in an east European accent, a pained expression on her face. "Do you know how we can get down to the road below?"
I was speechless as I pictured the cement mixer and semi I had just seen driving bumper to bumper at highway speeds.
"We dropped our camera", she explained.
I always want to be helpful, but I was just asked how do you step out onto death alley. I wanted to explain to them what they were asking. `It is not just a road', I thought to my self. `Do you realize that it is the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway?' But in the end I could only mutter something about, "I don't know", and they ran off to look for a way themselves.
I hoped that maybe an odd bounce off the roof of a bus had sent their camera on down to Furman Street, where maybe the memory card might survive. But I shuddered at the vision of these two women, in heels and skirts, climbing fences and dodging trucks.
When wandering in Brooklyn Heights, a neighborhood of elegant 19th century homes, I crossed Montague Street. Montague is the shopping street for the neighborhood, so I walked up it until I found a bakery and coffee shop. I stepped into "Le Pain Quotidien" (The Daily Bread) just as it stared to rain, and then pour outside.
With coffee and scone I planted myself at a table in the front window and sipped, nibbled and wrote about falling a camera. Next to me was a large common table with twenty seats and half a dozen people widely spaced around it. A number of them were working on their laptops. But one young woman was writing -- with a pen on paper. In fact she was writing in what appeared to be a journal like one I use to have, two hundred pages bound in soft chocolate brown leather. I find the sight of a young person laboring over cursive to be rarer and intriguing.
The rain abated, I paid my bill, and since I had to pass the author on the way out I asked her what she was writing. She had also noticed that I clutched a pen and so happily told me. She said it was a diary, and that it was a new one, "since I left my previous one on an airplane when flying back from Frankford." I told her that was tragic!
She reassured me that the airline had found it. It had been left in the magazine holder in the back of the seat in front of her. It had been sent to her, and she expected it soon. But she could not wait and had started a new volume.
Later, when I thought of this as a "micro-story", I also thought to myself, "Are all my stories about tragic losses?"
A Manhattan Holiday
So we are trying an experiment this year. We are taking a vacation at home. Or perhaps I should say that we are on "Holiday", because we aren't really vacating our home. We are playing tourist, trying to do those things in New York City which New Yorkers never have time to do. So this report may sound a bit like a travel brochure -- with out the travel.
Sunday - September 2, 2012 - Tugboats and Botanical Garden
Monday - September 3 - Labor Day - Coney Island
Tuesday - Sept 4 - Brooklyn
Thursday - Sept 6
We lunched in Bryant Park by the Main Library, then checked out some books.
I had heard that this was start of fashion week (actually it started on Wednesday .. because a week which starts on Sunday is .. unfashionable?), but I didn't know what that would mean until I was returning from my run by the Hudson, hot and streaming sweat. Between the river and our apartment are these big old warehouses, some of which contain galleries and studios. A week ago that block had looked desolate and abandons, but there had been some new paint. However, as I walked home from my run I find myself engulfed by a crowd of "Beautiful People". Black limos, chic clothing, diamonds, hair, champagne and the openings of several galleries - all between me and my shower.
Friday - Sept 7 - Cloisters & Met
Later we took the M4 bus to the main Metropolitan Museum. The ride was a long one (about an hour) but it took us through parts of Manhattan which I might not have had any other reason to visit.
The Met is full of old favorites which I like to see again and again, but usually there is something I've missed (it is a huge place) in the past, and so the Chinese pavilion was new to me. A restful place after a busy day.
As a bonus, we ended the day with pizza, which we shared with Robin and a friend of his, and they told us of their adventure at the West Indies Festival in Brooklyn - with two million other people.
Sunday - Sept 9
In the afternoon we took a walk down by the river and ended our holiday at a pizza place called, "The Perfect Slice" in Greenwich Village. It was not a long trip from there.