Sunday, September 25, 2005

New York State of Mind

What a pleasure it is to wake up on Sunday morning and have The New York Times on my driveway. Real life has to stop for a while, at least until I've read the magazine and the book review--oh, and let me just glance through the arts section. Look, Polanski's new Oliver Twist movie is "now showing"--in New York. And the American Ballet Theater has a new production, and Harry Connick, Jr. is on Broadway (at least that's one item that doesn't incite helpless spasms of longing). Out here in the rest of the country, we have to wait for the second wave. ABT sometimes comes to Miami Beach. Oliver Twist will be at the multiplex soon enough. But the magic of NYC is that everything happens there, first, best, all at once.

The summer after we got married (1982), Tocci and I went to New York, lived there for three months. We stayed at Sullivan's rooming house in Rockaway Beach (bathroom down the hall; shower in the back yard; 45 minutes from Manhattan on the CC train). We spent our days on the streets of New York, trying to sell enough artwork to buy food and subway tokens. We mostly succeeded. We sold Tocci's paintings and glass engravings in the financial district, on Broadway, in Greenwich Village, in Central Park (Bethesda Fountain), and our most ironic location, across from Fortunoff's. Those were the days before the clean-up of the theater district--it was full of porn shops and peep shows. Crime was rampant. Once, Tocci went into a bar to use their bathroom, leaving me holding the money and watching the merchandise, and he walked into an armed robbery in progress. "You too!" the robber barked at him, "Against the wall! Take out your wallet!" Probably the same conditions that allowed that to happen down the street from the latest Broadway hits also made it possible for us to earn our living as unlicensed street vendors. Later the same week, we saw Woman of the Year, starring Raquel Welch. [She used to be a huge star, but now, typing her name, I realize that she hasn't been in the news for a long time, and she didn't leave any classic body of work to perpetuate her legacy. I guess Myra Breckenridge will have to be her ticket to immortality.] We also saw ET before the rest of the country had that thrill--we stood in line for over an hour for the privilege. I have always thought that movie was overrated. Also, that summer, in addition to watching for cops and living on hot dogs and Italian ices, I took a course in children's literature at NYU. So, my point is, New York has everything, and in three months we sampled it. Now, we live in south Florida. There are a lot of New Yorkers here. That makes driving less pleasant, but we do have pretty good bagels. And there's always The New York Times.

7 comments:

Nile said...

I miss New York, too... lived in northeastern NJ for most of my life then actually managed to find a cheap apartment in Greenwich Village... lived there for a year, and what a year it was! there's nothing like going downstairs to the newstand at 2 or 3 am in the morning on a Saturday night, picking up the NYT and heading over to an all-night diner for a long reading session with a cup of hot joe.

ahh...!

Anonymous said...

Wasn't Racquel in something called two million BC? or maybe not quite that long ago. Anyway, there she pioneered the art of not wearing many clothes, which has been improved some since. Surely some will remember.
Love,
Dad

Anonymous said...

and that is my favorite song as well! i lived there for 4 years - i graduated from NYU and i absolutely love that city! i feel like i'm HOME whenever i'm there - dc is so conservative and dry and everyone looks the same but not in nyc! anything goes! i always get a sad little feeling when i leave - but i am planning on moving back when i get my master's degree! one thing about nyc is living there poor really stinks!!

mo

Read/Think/Live said...

Dad--

Yes, 100 million BC or whatever, as I said, "no classic body of work." She mostly made trash movies. I guess she was somewhat "famous for being famous" too. But kids today don't know who she is, not like Sophia Loren or Elizabeth Taylor, who have classic movies in their filmography.

Read/Think/Live said...

mo, I totally agree with you and it's what I always say. Life is fine for rich people in NY (and I mean, really RICH)--they have the doorman, the driver, the fine dining, the cultural smorgasbord. Regular people just live around the edges of that, but the crumbs are good and everyone gets to experience the kind of energy in the air that is so special there, the feeling that anything could happen.

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