“…a cheapskate always pays twice.”
Rus, D. The Clan (Play to Live: Book # 2) (p. 302).
HAPPY BIRTHDAY JESSICA
TODAY FROM AMERICA:
POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN NEW YORK CITY:
1. A brief stop in San Francisco:
As I sat on the train from Sacramento to San Francisco grieving about leaving HRM behind, I amused myself trying to understand what I find so objectionable about the golden hills. Compared to most places, it is a paradise; well-designed subdivisions with ample natural areas and parks, stately homes, excellent schools and recreational facilities and large automated gates. What are the gates protecting? Attacking hordes of tattooed skinheads and black insurrectionists would sweep then aside with ease. The sneak thief who traveled all the way from the city to rifle a chosen house will not be hindered. The lunatic or the drunk, those are better handled by neighborhood policing, less expensive than the building and maintaining of gates and walls. But, that would require associating with one’s neighbors and trusting them as well.
My first stop in San Francisco was Bernie’s Coffee Shop in Noe Valley and a conversation with Peter Grenell. I learned that the navigator of the clipper ship Flying Cloud, when it made its record 89 day run from New York to San Francisco around Cape Horn, was a woman, the captain’s wife. And, that the ship’s owner was named Grenelle. Later we had pepperoni and pepperoncini pizza. Still later we had dinner at Peter’s house where we drank Pacific Star Winery Charbono. I did most of the talking. When I got to the airport I discovered my flight was delayed.
2. New York, New York:
I took the A Train from Kennedy Airport. We passed Brooklyn stations with mysterious names like Schermerhorn, Rockaway, Nostrand, Van Siclen and Euclid; places rarely visited by outsiders. In fact, there are neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens that have not seen outsiders for almost 100 years. Google Street View still probably has not penetrated some of the by-ways of Bedford-Stuyvesant. In all likelihood, many of the video-equipped cars and vans that ventured there probably lie about 25 yards within its boundaries, burned, on blocks, stripped and the expensive video equipment sold to the Russian Mafia in Canarsie.
I left the subway in the old Garment District where rolling racks stuffed with dresses used to have the right-of-way over everything even automobiles — no longer, unfortunately they have disappeared. When I was about 6 or 7 years old, I’d accompany my grandmother, who I lived with at the time, on her monthly buying trips to the district. She owned a dress shop. I would crawl around the racks of clothing, slightly drowsy from the fibers in the air, reveling in the feel of the cloth sliding across my skin and dreaming of becoming a dress designer.
It was always my secret ambition to become a clothing designer. I used to design some of the outfits for the women who worked in my bar in Thailand. I had hoped to open a boutique featuring my designs called “Dress Like A Bar Girl.” Alas, it never happened, the Thais stole my designs whenever I returned to the US.
After bribing the bellman $20 to check my luggage at the hotel, I set off walking the thirty blocks up Broadway from Herald Square to Lincoln Center to meet Terry Goggin for lunch.
The walk amazed me. New York City has the ability to transform itself every score or years of so — this time into an ongoing outdoor street festival. All along Broadway, the street’s uptown lane was closed off and converted to bicycle lanes, table and chairs and markets.
Times square has become one great urban park with events occurring everywhere, delighting both tourists and city dwellers alike.
I saw a group of people standing on the sidewalk beneath a Revlon display so I joined them.
Every once in a while, a camera would turn on the crowd. They would wave and scream at their images on the giant screen above.
As I continued north, a beautiful woman with a derby hat, bow tie, cutaway jacket and black tights tap-danced across the sidewalk to present me with a brochure for a new production of Chicago. I began noticing places I had known that were no longer there, like black spaces in an aging smile — The Stage Door Deli, several blocks of buildings, Power Memorial High School. Even my old law school at Lincoln Center, where I was a member of the first class in the newly built building, was gutted. I remember Lew Alcindor (later Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) walking by the law school after school at Power Memorial next door. The coach at Power had prohibited Lew from ridding the NY Subways because at that time they still had rotating ceiling fans.
I sat in the park across from Lincoln Center recalling my time at the law school located on the Center’s southern edge (Juilliard sits on its north border). The old needle park near by lost to gentrification and the deteriorating hotel that was priced right for assignations by performers at the Center and law students, now remodeled as upscale accommodations.
At lunch, Terry reminded me that the US Constitution was constructed to make it difficult to get anything done or as the case may be undone. Difficult to get things like Obamacare and Social Security enacted and difficult to repeal them. One has to work hard to get laws passed and equally hard to defend them when nature of the political environment changes.
After lunch, I walked back to the hotel.
A typical NY scene along Broadway today — a woman fiddling with her Smart Phone, rental bicycles awaiting riders and a guy giving me the finger.
That evening Nikki, Terry and I had dinner at a Barbecue place that served meat and more meat. With apologies to Bill Yeates, I have included a photograph of our meal.
The meat Nikki and Terry
The next day, I had coffee in the park on Herald Square.
Nikki and I then walked south on Broadway past more street markets and festivals to the Strand Bookstore one of the World’s great bookstores. Browsing through the Strand makes me want to throw away my Kindle.
Nikki sitting on the dog sofa and standing in front of Strand’s
After we left The Strand we walked to Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village. It was graduation day for some Students at NYU. We had coffee at Figaro’s.
We then walked over to High Line Park and strolled along the park until we returned to our hotel where we hurriedly packed and caught the bus to Kennedy Airport.
Nikki was the Captain of the flight and I was his guest. Alas, I was not able to join with him in the cockpit during the flight, but I did enjoy eating the first class food and drinking their wine with the crew. And so, about 8 hours later we arrived in Milan.
A. Quigley on Top:
1. “All men who have made history have been socialized. Thus they respond to desires and not to needs. In fact, it is very doubtful if men have any innate recognition of their needs, except as they have been socialized in a particular social context to respond to drives (which are innate) by desires (which are socialized responses).”
2. “Men have no more innate appreciation of what makes security or even when they are secure, than they have of what objects are edible or poisonous. The desires which a society or a tradition may associate with security are not only often self-defeating, but they are usually unconscious, so that a people may know that they feel secure or insecure, but they often do not know what it is in a situation which engenders such feelings or what security is made up of in their own traditions and experience.”
3. “In most periods of human history, exploitation of natural resources to satisfy human needs could be achieved with less expenditure of energy and with less danger, even in less desirable territories. In other words, war has never been a rational solution for obtaining resources to satisfy man’s material needs. …
…But of course, men have never been rational. They are fully capable of believing anything and of adopting any kind of social organization or social goals, so that warfare became at least a minor part of life in most societies.”
Carroll Quigley, Weapons Systems and Political Stability.
B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:
“Western civilization’s eternal quandary: How does one evade responsibility without feeling guilty?”
C. Today’s Paraprosdokian*:
“If you are going through hell, keep going.”
* A fat bigoted paraprosdokian drunk on brandy and lying in bed smoking a big cigar is a Winston Churchill.
D. Today’s Poem:
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
It is hard to imagine how much time and effort went into creating this work of art for our edification. The next time when you feel your own efforts have no value, make someone laugh.