Friday, August 02, 2002

A youthful jazz quintet performing a languid old standard I heard done with much greater vigor by a group of elder statesmen in the streets of New Orleans. But so pleasant to listen to their not-quite-tight rhythm like the perfect soundtrack to this unbearably muggy day. It’s so funny how the mark of an unpolished band isn’t the squeaks and sour notes of a soloist practicing his scales (see Wednesday’s blog) but just a general sense that the car they are driving may fall apart at the seams at any moment.

I don’t mean this as an insult, though. I very much enjoyed their performance and was grateful to them for making the first part of my walk as pleasant as a sojurn into a giant outdoor sauna could be. I sat on a stone wall and tried to pretend that the smell of stale urine wafting into my face wasn’t coming from a dried puddle actually underneath my legs.

Then I staggered humidly to Eighth Street for a brief book purchase, and all the way back to Broadway and Prince to do battle with catty women in Victorias Secret. What Victoria’s secret really must be is how she manages to persuade millions of women to shell out their hard-earned cash for the privilege of waiting in long lines of nasty bitches at lunchtime in order to score a few flimsy pieces of nylon.

I stomped out, flinging the one item I had been waiting to buy (a measly pair of stockings for a wedding I have to go to), frisbeelike, onto a carefully arranged pile of lewd-icrous panties (at 2 for $18, no doubt).

Kiss my Jockey-clad ass, Victoria.

Thursday, August 01, 2002

Today at lunch: Strange tilty drunk bobbing and weaving about the sidewalk.

Innumerable sassy young females jawing into cell phones about nothing of great import. Here's a sample: "Well, I think you have to buy tickets to see something thaat daaaay. But there's also a puppet show, at Saks? For the people who look in the windows?" I kept getting stuck with her waiting for the light to change so I got treated to much more of this babble than I really care to hear.

Is it just me, or isn't it about time the humble cell phone moved into the territory of plain old serviceable piece of equipment, to be used for quick conversations at a low volume, and then hung up quickly and put away? Personally I try and forget I have one unless I need to know what time it is.

Later, there was a crazyman shouting into his phone so loudly that it could be heard, exact words and all, more than a block away, through the din of cabs flying along sixth ave.

Clearly he was having some kind of power struggle with his fellow overweight bald middle aged record label executives that required an obnoxious public display to show his colleagues on the other end Just How Important He Really Is. The rest of us just stood around praying a pigeon would come by and shit on him.

Wednesday, July 31, 2002

Arriving early for a doctor's appointment this morning left me with 15 minutes to spend in Central Park. Now, Central Park on a weekend is one sprawling party, complete with confused-looking revellers wandering around looking for the exit and mischevious children careening into walkers on their tiny bicycles, or rollerskates, or feet. On a Wednesday, however, it is the mysterious glade its designers envisioned: odd bits of music spiraling out of the faux forest, and lone walkers with their heads down—and of course the hardcore cyclists getting in their hour's workout before heading down to wall street, or wherever it is they go, that sought-after land where the accepted arrival time is less unbending than ours.

An incident early on nearly spoiled the walk (and maybe more) for me, though. Me: Approaching a clarinetist playing scales, with the occasional squeak of the student still refining his technique. Enjoying the low mournful hum of the instrument magnified by the bricks of a pedestrian tunnel nearby.

A Suit comes barreling towards us from the opposite direction and says—as if I were already engaged in conversation with him—"Huh, huh. Guess he's still learning." These little words don't convey the sarcasm and condescension with which they were spoken. As if learning were something to be mortally ashamed of. As if the Suit himself had sprung forth from the womb, a fully-formed and Brooks Brothered Instant Master of the Universe.

He said it very loud, plenty loud enough for the clarinetist to hear him, and then laughed cruelly several big haws just for good measure.

I wanted to slap him upside his arrogant empty head. And compliment the clarinet player on his nice tone. I was too startled and dismayed and outraged to do either. When I am an old woman I may feel freer to give those "Now listen, you rude young man!" lectures. I hope, I hope.

Later on, I passed by the clarinetist again, this time on a small footbridge overlooking his practice spot. I stopped to listen and wave a silent blessing on his progress. A brave thing, I think, to take up a new instrument in full-blown adulthood. He should be praised for doing so, not taunted. And his tone *was* nice.

Tuesday, July 30, 2002

Tough time at work now, so not very observant in my brief sojurns Out There. Between the bank and the grocery store (getting what they’d call a Ploughman’s lunch in the U.K.) the only matters of interest were: a woman saying to another woman (the latter in a dyed black ponytail with what looked like a shaved underneath bit) "I love all the people." An unusual sentiment to hear in a NYC ATM.

Also, strangely crowded grocery; apparently 12:30 in the middle of the day is prime shopping time for Greenwich Village. Not just lunch cheapstakes like me, but tall 30ish women pushing packed carts, and the requisite hunched retirees buying Doc’s Hard Lemonade and a few bits of food.

Next door a profusion of color at a caged garden. Do Not Feed The Pigeons, but a light-winged sparrow is slurping happily at his pigeon-free birdbath. Black eyed susans in a bushy bunch and some magenta flower that grows in clusters with which I am unfamiliar.

Back to work. Yuck.

Note: I always think the heat is Not So Terrible when first I step outside, but by the time I get back I am half-melted and stuck to the sidewalk. Why is that?

Monday, July 29, 2002

Portrait of a city under a heat lamp:

In Washington Sq.:

Young ragamuffins, male and female, sleeping, heads together, on a bench beside the dog run.

Young squirrel lying flat out on his stomach, legs sprawled in all directions, panting in the shade of a maple.

In a concrete playground nearby: Small dog (Yorkie, I believe) tucked into a narrow Yorkie-sized nook under a circular cement bench just inches from a red and white sign reading "No Dogs In Playground."