Gay Pride was on parade down Fifth
Avenue, Sunday the 29th of June.
In a bar on 11th between Avenues A
and B, 3:00 in the morning on the 28th of June, Frank Sinatra was
played at talking level. Old Speckled Hen was on draft. A trumpet
player pretended convincingly to be gay, but then laughed to dispel
Union Square Park has a new corner,
the southwest. Featured are a fountain, benches, more plaza space,
and girls in summer dresses.
Occasionally someone will walk by
on a cell phone, crying.
Confetti and balloons floated down
from the rooftops as though the paraders were returning from World
War Gay, which in a sense they always are.
A black labrador jumped (well, was
lifted, truthfully) into the new fountain, despite probable city
ordinances to the contrary, all dogs being anarchists. Nobody seemed
"Regime Change in Burma"
was the banner du jour on the steps. Wasn't that the kind of
thinking we were just condemning in Iraq?
not suicidal, but if I were given a diagnosis of no more girls in
summer dresses, I might have to rethink my position.
The advance guard for the Asian
Pacific Alliance float included a somewhat portly
coffee-ice-cream-hued gentleman, bare above the waist, a blue
garland on his close-shaved head. As the parade paused to let
traffic by, he took a call on his cell phone. Where to put it? I
wondered. Where did it come from? He tucked it into his lava-lava.
Safe and snug.
One of the odd things about New
York is how you always run into friends and acquaintances,
regardless of where you go. At the parade I was found by two people
I had roomed with in Ft. Lauderdale. They subsequently were found by
two people they knew from Ithaca and Colorado, respectively. Who
knew each other,
unaccountably. It isn't at all uncommon to run into friends on the
train, in the middle of town during the rush hour, for example. A
train has perhaps twelve cars, all full at that time, and trains
come every five minutes or so, and there are many distinct lines all
over the city, so the chances really don't seem good, but it is not
uncommon. This evening I ran into someone in the East Village I knew
ten years ago in San Francisco. Yes, he comes to New York
periodically for auditions, but I don't care what you say, this was
There's what appears to be a Tae
Kwon Do club that meets in the park on Saturdays. Central Park, that
is to say. Either that, or it's just a group of friends with martial
arts bodies who like to hang out and see what their bodies are
capable of. On Saturday the 28th, their bodies were capable of: 1.
Human pyramids 2. Cartwheels 3. Handsprings, front and back 4.
Standing on shoulders 5. Unison choreographed hybrid
martial-arts/dance moves 6. Jumping 360 degree turns with kicks,
followed by back handsprings (or was that in Matrix:Reloaded?) 7.
Just generally better physical fitness than 90% of the frisbee-and-softball
boy-toys stalking the lawn. Although that other 10%….
Central Park in the summer has a
critical mass of European/South American people. And, of course,
pretty girls in summer…well, summer practically nothing.
you walk out West 79th Street with the intention of drowning
yourself in the Hudson, you'll find the Boat Basin first. The Boat
Basin is a large, primarily outdoor café below the level of the
road. Above the covered parts are vaulted arches that make you feel
as though you're in a catacomb. Why not have a beer while you're
still around to enjoy it?
There is now, officially, a
Starbuck's on every corner. For a while it seemed like there might
not be one on the corner of Lexington and 50th, but now there is.
Sometimes they are between corners, as well. I hope there doesn't
come a time when Starbuck's has taken over everything, because then
it will be very difficult to buy soap.
On the evening of June 29th, a
gentleman walked his cat on the steps at the front of Union Square.
On a leash. This square is literally teeming with nightlife every
night of the week in the summer, but the Haagen-Dazs outlet just
down the street on 14th is never open. Of course, around the corner
there's a Starbuck's.
my money, there is nothing more miraculous than flesh.
In the community laundry room late
this evening (one washer, one dryer) there were three loads of wet
clothes and no sign of anyone wanting to dry them. How could this
It may have been Lawrence Durrell
who wrote: "What are stars but points in the body of God where
we insert the healing needles of our terror and longing?" It
was certainly Durrell (in Balthazar) who wrote: "The effective
in art is what rapes the emotion of your audience without nourishing
It's been rainy in New York lately.
There is little doubt that the mosquito population has seized that
opportunity to multiply itself all out of proportion to demand.
There may be a puddle outside right this minute nurturing the
biggest mosquito New York has ever seen. He'll fly in my window some
night and go right for my kneecap (they always do), and with a lick
and a promise he'll leave me hurting and fly, fly away.
On 11th between 1st and 2nd Avenues
is a sushi place called Sandobe.
It's good. Real good.
West 4th close to 6th Avenue is the Belgian Beer Bar. If you're
lucky there will be a statuesque Valkyrie with a jewel between her
eyes behind the bar, washing the glasses with a Belgian style
bar-top washer. Everything is on draft, everything is made by monks
or the like. (Whatever the like would be, in this case.)
Around the corner on 3rd is the Fat
Black Pussycat, the bar that resides directly over the Village
Underground, where if you're really lucky Satellite Kid might be
playing a set or two. The back room at the Pussycat looks like a
cross between a Victorian parlor and an opium den. Hookers would not
feel out of place, in fact I may drop that in the suggestion box. A
from the back room to the foyer of the Underground, so bouncers
periodically wander in to check out the overstuffed furniture. Good
to have a little strong-arm presence in a room like that. It just
feels right. Like the National Guard troops with assault rifles in
the subway. There's just something so comforting about knowing a
firefight could break out on a moment's notice.
Tonight some black kids came by to
try to break my windows with rocks. The first one sounded like
something had fallen in the apartment, but the second one was
unmistakable. I ran over to the open window and shouted "what
the fuck you doin'?" as is my custom in these situations. When
they're under 10 they usually run at that point, but since these
kids were adolescents one kid had to speak up for the benefit of his
friends. "I'm fuckin' breakin' your window!" he said,
laughing and looking to the others to see if he was funny. Then they
How is that kid going to live, how
are any of them going to live, if they don't even know that it's
wrong to break people's windows with rocks? If there were a gun in
his hand would he know not to pull the trigger? Did anybody ever
tell him not to?
The heat can be oppressive, just
like the rain. Neither one is worse, nor better. Both bring this
vague haunting sensation that somewhere there is some lonely flesh
that wishes you could be with it. July 4th is on its way, so the
sound of explosions punctuates everything. Ice cream trucks and
explosions, and stones on windows. Occasionally someone will walk by
on a cell phone, crying.
It was Faulkner who wrote (in Light
in August) that "ingenuity was apparently given man in order
that he may supply himself in crises with shapes and sounds with
which to guard himself from truth."
That's New York for now, and I'm
John Rose. Thanks for listening.