Tuesday, March 28, 2006


Oh, how I love sitting at my lappy, looking out the window at the sunny, sunny day, thinking: "Oooh, it's probably nice Out There if it really is 61 like it says online." Hmm.

Having a visitor can completely open up one's perception of the city, whether by virtue of taking a different path or simply experiencing the daily patterns through a new filter. My friend Ben, of TC, MI fame, just left after visiting for a few days, and the last couple days were the first in a long while where I've seen the city as something new again (save a trip to the Chinatown fish markets a couple weeks ago, which may not sound like much, but unless you've been there before, don't hate). On Monday, we hiked uptown from Union Square along Park, Lexington, 3rd Ave., switching from one to the other, with a very hazily-planned destination, and a just-as-hazily-defined mission of "data collection." Couldn't have asked for better weather: no clouds, high 50s, maybe some 60s in the sun. Now, in the last two and a half years, I don't think I've ever had a compelling reason to be anywhere on the east side between 18th and 59th, except maybe a couple apartments I would have shown back at that "job." Thus, it was an hour and a half of discovery -- or rediscovery, in some instances. One of these buildings on this block of Third Avenue, between 32nd and 33rd, was the first apartment I ever crashed at in the city, back in December, '97, and I haven't been back since. I can only guess as to the specific building, but the block hasn't been forgotten.

Yesterday was a wayward trek through Chinatown, with the background goal of finding a copy of The Killer for Ben. Except for the fish market excursion of a couple weeks ago and occasional one-place-to-another runs along Canal St., I haven't spent all that much time there, and certainly haven't rolled up the sleeves and spent an afternoon poking around in its guts. It's a fascinating neighborhood, with an energy unlike any other in the city. What gives it the extra charge, besides the obvious cultural content, seems to be the very tangible compression of the island, as both shores pinch and drive for the Battery. Streets become narrower, and those that have been straight ever since 14th Street start to bend and curve in on one another. Cities like Paris and Tokyo are filled with narrow, winding back alleys, built for pedestrians, the memory of the feet. I haven't found anything quite like that in New York until now. The grid is all well and good for purposes of navigation, but I always get the feeling that it's stretched out against its will; it would happily revert to an entropic state of spaghetti on a plate at the removal of a couple key shims. There's something so satisfyingly natural, human even, about nonsensical, twisting back alleys.

We did end up finding a The Killer in a video store on Mott between Bayard and Canal after stopping for a cup of coffee-flavored warm milk at a neighborhood coffee shop. I would be a touch frightened, though, if one could get a perfect cappucino in Chinatown without having to dig. From there, it was up to B&H, where one of the salesmen informed me that buying a digital camera for under $300 was somewhat akin to taking a girl to McDonald's: "You take girl to McDonald's, try call again, she have DOG answer phone." Can't win 'em all.


Blogger Mel said...

I have to thank you for starting a blog Dave, because now I can live vicariously through Amy and Austin AND you. Just what every girl living in the middle of Ohio needs to distract her from her studies...

5:39 PM  
Blogger David said...

oh Mel, if I must be in the business of distracting young women from their studies, then so be it. Glad to be of service, and great to hear from you!

5:53 PM  
Blogger C. Melinda Wenner said...

And after someone takes a girl to MacDonald's and subsequently calls her only to have her DOG answer the phone, he resigns himself to accepting a sales job in a camera store, telling everyone his sad, sad tale of botched romance. Aww, shucks.

Stop writing blog entries and buy me more beer. My new credit card hasn't arrived and I have exactly $1.65 in my purse. ack.

5:40 PM  
Blogger David said...

Two Mels in one comment forum. This could get fun. You want *my* busted ass to buy *you* more beer? Well, you can buy a Zywiec pint for $1.50. It got one and a half steins on our five-stein scale. And you'd still have 15 cents left over for gum!

6:15 PM  

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