Sunday, October 19, 2008


Masha Hamilton, co-owner of the B&B where Ed and I are staying, is an accomplished novelist. And journalist. Not surprisingly, it takes us a while to leave the breakfast table. And so it isn’t until noon that we make our way toward the upper east side of Manhattan.

The goal is to go easy on the city parts and emphasize the green, the water, the walking opportunities here. In other words, to placate the guy who refuses to say one kind word about New York.

Except that it sure is more crowded than when he was a kid here.

It is that. You hear French, Italian, Russian, Polish. Tourists, in great numbers. As someone said, the weak dollar has been a boon to New York.

And so here’s our walk, with commentary.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Rooftop sculpture garden. Because it’s such a good view toward the south and west.

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Inside the museum proper, Ed starts reading every bit of info plastered on the walls. I tug, he reads. We crawl toward the exit, past a photo exhibit and past the new Impressionist (and early XX century European) art rooms…

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And finally, out the door. And into the park.

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As always, it is a place of calm, even on the week-end. Ed wonders if the horse trails are still there. A well dressed man with a large shopping bag from Tiffany’s overhears and pauses to talk about the trail and whether they have closed all the stables in the park. Ed mutters that New Yorkers aren’t supposed to be friendly.

Toward Columbus Avenue, in search of food. Past Magnolia Bakery (yes, now on the upper Westside)…

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…past endless brunchy places which Ed rejects on the basis of price and pleasant ambiance. I’m thinking hungry thoughts, so we take the subway to SoHo. I am in NY, with a million places to find unusual snacks and all I can think of is that Café Café on Greene Street will probably be an okay compromise for the two of us. I’ve gone there when the chips are down before and it always seems to be okay for fussy types.

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But the blocks in SoHo are dense with crowds. And merchants. And tourists. And shoppers. And families. And the world. And so long as we’ve lost our calm, we may as well plunge all the way to complete madness and cross over Broadway toward Little Italy…

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…and Chinatown, and the markets along Canal Street …

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I ask Ed if he ever used to come down here when he was growing up. Not really. Just to get pickles over on the lower east side. Makes sense. People leave their neighborhoods mostly for food, right?

Finally I take pity and we turn toward the financial district. Surely, on a week-end, all will be quiet there.

But no! If you were a tourist, wanting to see ALL of New York, wouldn’t you go here, to Wall Street, to the Bull, you know, to take a photo of how it should be but isn’t, what with the markets collapsing?

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The sun is getting awfully close to the horizon. I think Ed is in a daze. He’s grown awfully quiet, so that even provocative things like “isn’t this great?” aren’t having much of an impact.

I suggest that now is the time for us to ride the ferry to Staten Island. Ed used to do this as a kid. We all did, but he used to do it A LOT. Back and forth, when it cost a nickel. Now it’s free. Life could not get better than this.

We walk toward the ferry just as the sun turns all those golden and orange colors near the horizon. One of those oh say can you see moments.

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At the Ferry Terminal, the crowds are huge. Of course. People do use this boat to get home. The sun blinks, shines and dips below the skyline.

The ride is beautiful.

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Not to get too immigrant-y here, but this is the way I first came to the country: through the Verrazano Narrows, before this bridge went up in 1964...

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Ahh, New York...

The return is dark and windy and we stay indoors. Ed reads the rag papers people have left behind. I watch a woman paint her nails as the ferry hums and pushes toward Battery Park.

We take the subway back to Brooklyn. Neither of us feels like hiking for food. Our hosts suggest that we get take out from Homage. It’s kind of skuzzy, but it has good food, we’re told. We pick up a bottle of rosé from a hugely secure liquor store, then some chicken salad and portabella mushroom sandwich with sweet potato fries from Homage, and make our way back to our b&b room. Ed tells me it’s one of his favorite meals. Ever.