Friday, June 28, 2002

Another Thursday night out resulting in a slightly draggy Friday morning. Up with the dawn, though, and ghosting around the office by 8:15. On the way there, buying the usual Gatorade (traditional, not Frost, Fruit Punch flavor—I highly recommend it as among the more palatable of the colors), it occurs to me that a hungover morning in NYC is really no worse than a normal morning in NYC, as the city is itself a sort of permanent hangover.

To wit, the awful smells that assault one and induce nausea, the stains and/or puddles of piss everywhere you walk, the sense that the world is unremittingly gray. The general tendency to shuffle and slump as you locomote to your eventual destination—always a building, no different from the other buildings that surround it. Hangovers are really just exaggerated ennui, exaggerated to the point of producing physical symptoms, perhaps, but ennui nevertheless.

Perhaps that is, in fact, how it became "cool" to look world-weary—because the hot young jet set is permanently hungover.

Anyway—did I mention yesterday’s bright pink fire hydrant, with a kelly-green top?

Thursday, June 27, 2002

Another swelterer, according to predictions, and that early-morning sense of a hot wet blanket about to descend on our unsuspecting heads. The elderly woman wearing a long white eyelet dress and apparently nothing else will no doubt be comfortable. In all fairness, she had a lovely figure.

A heat-addled pigeon attempted to board the N train this morning, according to my traveling companion (I missed it, sadly). They say that Coney Island pigeons intentionally ride the trains into Manhattan to save themselves some wingwork. Sounds like urban legend to me, but a curiously appealing tale.

Some interesting graffiti—one wall covered with an elaborate multilayer word-mural, in that puffed-up style that has always reminded me of Bubble Yum. A smaller, simpler one on a different wall, in blue spray paint: Blue Glob.

Two orange-T-shirted boys standing with matched black Sharpeis, both straining at the leash, in front of the Mercer Hotel. Black-kerchiefed workman ascending a fire escape by means of a galvanized steel ladder pulled up to it.

Oh, and this from a couple days ago, before the heat erased my memory: a convertible bright yellow VW thing, top down, parked across from said hotel, with the license plate: MODPROP.

Wednesday, June 26, 2002

Monsoon today. Tried to bravely sally forth at lunchtime but was thwarted by a floppy umbrella and sideways rain. Better luck tomorrow. All I spied were two Japanese women on stiltlike sandals cowering under the scaffold in front of the office. Then I ran back inside like a 'fraidy feline.

Tuesday, June 25, 2002

Lunchtime-

General notes: lots of folks in unusual color combinations out today. Also a number of overheated-looking dogs. Details follow.

Large rotund man in striking lavender shirt and modestly embellished straw hat crossing LaGuardia at Bleecker St. At a nearby payphone, one side of a conversation: "Well, I have to go home to drop my fan off, and I need potatoes."

Dog1: Chesapeake Bay retriever, stocky, slow, and panting, sniffing mournfully at the dog run to which his owner does not appear to have keys.

Dog2: scruffy terrier type being pushed along in a basket set atop a shopping cart, under the shade of a giant rainbow striped umbrella the owner is holding carefully over the dog’s head (and his own, as a seeming afterthought).

Dog3: cute perky boxer-type, simultaneously panting and wagging, peering interestedly in the windows of a restaurant while its owner reads the menu.

Dog4: tiny terrier carried in arms by a solicitous owner along Greenwich Ave.

Dog5: Passed-out pit bull lying in identical posture to that of its also passed-out owner, on the grass in Washington Square Park. Owner has the look of a man down on his luck, though the pit bull has a bright blue plastic bowl of fresh water and appears sleek and well-fed.

Two round piles of clipped vines from an industrious ivy-pruning session near NYU. They look like nests for some giant creature – a human, perhaps? The bum I saw bedding down in his accustomed deep windowsill on Prince St. this morning would no doubt find them far more comfortable. Wish I could tell him about them, but I don't know his daytime haunt, and the ivy piles will probably be swept away by tonight, anyway.

A sudden influx of shops advertising gelato, homemade ice cream (the freezer set right out on the sidewalk in case you miss the giant chalkboard advertising it), and—oddly—bubble tea or tapioca tea (to those not initiated in this imported-from-Japan fad, the concept is a glass of milky looking tea, with globules of sweet tapioca clustered in the bottom of it. Gross, if you ask me).

Dog6: Huge hulking mastiff being walked by a slim woman (they always are). Mastiff has that related-to-equines look, and is panting as he saunters down Thompson on giant dog-feet.

A woman on Sixth Ave. (they only call it Ave. of the Americas Uptown, it seems) is decked out in matching bright orange pants, jacket, and shoes, with a lighter orange tank top underneath the jacket. She is neither young, nor slim, nor beautiful, and is squinting and sweating from the sun, but the overall effect is debonair, bless her colorful heart. I applaud inwardly, as outward applause on Sixth Ave. can get one into trouble on a hot day.

Several flaccid babies being pushed along in prams covered with umbrellas and frequently draped in cloth (better than the suffocating sheets of plastic they get on rainy days). Nearly all are white babies pushed by dark-skinned women. The solo nannies look at the babies as if they’ve stolen their youth, while the nannies in pairs with identical headscarves look cheery and companionable, above the bored faces of their charges. One baby is playing with her little yellow baby-hat, all smiles, oblivious to the dark looks her nanny is shooting her.

Dogs 7 and 8: short, fat black creature waggling his behind along Washington Sq., happy as can be, and a long-bodied, long-haired daschund looking put upon by mother nature (and the vagaries of human breeding ideas)—short legs and long hair are not well-designed for getting around comfortably in a hot city. Poor guy.


Monday, June 24, 2002

Lunchtime-

Ugh—hot hot hot. A sweaty slim black man walking on the opposite side of the sidewalk crosses to the middle so he can spit right in front of me. I look at his face to see why; there is no clear indication.

On Thompson, three pedestrians pass in rapid succession, holding gelatos: one green, one orange, one chocolate. I see the store and almost stop but then remember I’ve just eaten.

Old man groping over a pile of perfect peaches in the grocery store, rejecting each one with a mutter. Six fire trucks parked all along Waverly Place, one of them backing up a full block, guided by four firemen in their striped rubber suits, on foot, waving their arms. The firemen here always look storybook-perfect in their matching suits and helmets. I still wonder how they’re doing every time I see them going about their business. This crew looked very young. I wonder if it was largely new recruits from after the 11th.

By the time I get back to the office, I have that stuck-to-a-vinyl-car-seat feeling. Should’ve had that gelato.