Wednesday, May 16, 2007

NYC Sunday

This place looks so much smaller than I remember it! This is what Scott says as he is looking around Washington Square Park. As a young Jersey kid, he used to take the train to Penn Station and then subway to Greenwich Village to hang out. Scott is six years older than I am, so this was in the late sixties and early seventies. Old pictures of him from when he was in high school crack me up. He has the perfect thick, shiny, black hair – the kind that feathered perfectly -- platform shoes and those crazy wide-collared shirts. He's got a well earned touch of grey now, but back then, he could have been a poster boy for Saturday Night Fever. He looked just like Al Pacino.

It’s Sunday morning around 9:30 or 10:00 and the streets are still pretty quiet. The lone walkers we see are all carrying cardboard containers of coffee in one hand and either a cell phone or a dog leash in the other. We find an Italian cafĂ©/wine bar and stop in for lattes and I order a croissant while we people-watch through the front window. People down here are dressed much more casually than they are uptown.

We wander the east village, then head toward Broadway. Parts of the street around 12th are blocked off and street vendors are everywhere. Strand Books comes into view and we’re drawn in like moths to a porch light. 18 Miles of Books is their catch phrase. There are rare and collectable books, new books, used books, literally books by the foot for those decorating or creating movie sets and an entire bottom floor dedicated to 50% off “Review Books”. Scott and I part ways just inside the door and I don’t see him again for over an hour. He’s in the art books upstairs and I’m rummaging through fiction and the Review Books. I do not need a single thing, but have never managed to leave a bookstore empty handed. By the time I'm ready to check out, I’ve collected The Female of the Species, by Joyce Carol Oates (at 50% off), Where I’m Calling From, by Raymond Carver, and The Dubliners, by James Joyce. I read On Becoming a Novelist, by John Gardner and I’m charged up to read more literary fiction, despite the towering height of the TBR pile on my bedside table. I've never read any Joyce Carol Oates or Raymond Carver and I'm ready to take another run at James Joyce.

Music draws us to Union Square where some kind of celebration is going on. There are two different Asian bands playing and there is a group with one of those huge dragons. The dragon is dancing and undulating, balloons are floating, flowers are blooming in the beds and it’s a beautiful May day.

We hail a cab and head for Arcadia Fine Arts in SoHo. Arcadia is a great gallery with some of the finest representational artists in the country. Scott wants to check out a couple of them in particular. Two of my favorites are Ron Hicks, a wonderful Denver artist and Jeremy Lipking, who is, in my opinion one of the finest living figurative artists -- after Scott.

The cab drops us at 5th and E77th and we mosey back into the Park, find a sunny bench within view of the model boat pond, unpack our treasures from Strand Books and enjoy the rest of the sunny afternoon.

Later on, we arrive at Elaine’s for dinner. I've begged Scott to wear a suit, and he looks very handsome. I've got on new shoes, a new purse and a wrap around dress. New York stage and book memorabilia hangs everywhere we look. We’re early again, so early that we're the only ones in the restaurant. Laughing at ourselves, we order a bottle of Chateauneuf du Pape and consider the menu. Scott’s amused that I’m dragging my feet and killing time making menu selections. I’m playing with my food, stalling, with the hope that some huge literary figure might walk in between the beef carpaccio and my linguini with clam sauce. As we work our way toward dessert, we are a little buzzed from the wine and now everything is pretty funny. People slowly start trickling in; some are obviously out-of-towners like us and some definitely look like regulars. By now we’re imagining that everyone is someone famous and we realize Saul Bellow or Philip Roth or a Broadway star could walk in and sit right at our table and we wouldn’t recognize them anyway. We crack ourselves up. It’s all been great fun anyway and we head back to our E76th Street home away from home.


Yellow said...

Fantastic again. I know what you mean about book shops too. I loved the way the two of you split up, kindrid spirits with separate gifts, yet an appreciation of each other in common. The way you describe him in wonderful. Give him another 15 years and he'll be craggy and weather worn like a favorite leather satchel you've had since school, and stilllooks great over your shoulder in a new suit, a classic dress, or jeans and a white shirt.

Larramie said...

Oh, pictures! I absolutely *love* these posts of the ultimate fantasy trip, Lisa. You're so kind to share and let us travel somewhat "back into the future" that I can't wait to read/see if Monday offers a museum tour?

Lisa said...

Yellow, you've captured it perfectly! The magic we have is he let's me be me and I let him be him and I think we like each other :-) I can only hope I'll age half as gracefully as he appears to be!

Larramie, we decided not to do the museums this time around, but I hope our Monday itinerary doesn't disappoint...

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Literary Quote

It is worth mentioning, for future reference, that the creative power which bubbles so pleasantly in beginning a new book quiets down after a time, and one goes on more steadily. Doubts creep in. Then one becomes resigned. Determination not to give in, and the sense of an impending shape keep one at it more than anything.

Virginia Woolf