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.