Sunday, August 28, 2011

In the Aftermath of the Storm

Is there hope for New York?

Like so many things in New York these days, Hurricane Irene was a disappointment. There was more hype than there was rain. The worst thing was everything was closed because the MTA shut down. I had to cook my own food.
It made me wonder if I've lived in New York too long now. It's been over half my life.
Things used to be exciting. I met fascinating people every day.
Now excitement means going to Bed, Bath and Beyond to buy a new towel. And the people out there? Produced at Kinko's—they all look the same, sound the same (using 'like' several times in every sentence) and are constantly texting each other on the same i-Phone.
I've met everybody worth meeting in New York.
Where have all the cool people gone?
Is New York finally 'over'?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Dream Job

Quite possibly, the best job to have in New York City

The Strand Kiosk on 5th Avenue and 60th Street is a combination of my two favorite things—books and Central Park.
The 'real' Strand—the big one—supposedly has 18 miles of books.  George Will said so in the 70's: "The eight miles worth saving in this city are at the corner of Broadway and 12th Street. They are the crammed shelves of the Strand Bookstore."
Hector, who works at the Kiosk, doesn't think it's quite 18 miles—which would be longer than Manhattan itself. He thinks the Kiosk has about 18meters of books—twenty-three centimeters of that being You Are Here.
I'm jealous of his job. I go by the Kiosk three times a day on the tour bus. I look over the side and there's Hector or John or Chris, in the lovely dappled shade, surrounded by books while I'm in the hot sun surrounded by—at least it seems like it at this time of year—people who don't even know how to read.
Hector and his gang do have a tougher time though when there's a sudden rainstorm—they have to cover all the books with tarps and pack them up into the cute little storage units. I just have to hand out ponchos. I don't really care if the tourists get wet—they won't get ruined, they just won't tip.