The New York City Marathon was happening yesterday so I thought I would head over to the finish line to watch it. But when I was on my way to Central Park I could already see that it was going to an absolute madhouse: police cars, ambulances, scores of people everywhere, more than there always are, and I decided that I didn’t have the “sand” for it, to use a phrase from Martin Scorsese’s 2002 movie Gangs of New York.
I didn’t know what to do. I decided to sit in front of the New York Public library for a while and figure it out. There was a junior newscaster standing in front of a camera talking about Benghazi or something. I stopped listening since I don’t follow politics.
And there was another guy sitting in front of a little fold-out TV tray selling copies of his novels and books of poetry next to a sign that said MEET THE AUTHOR. And don’t you know it, he was doing pretty well. He sold two books while I was sitting there to some tourists. Twenty bucks worth and the tax man never has to know. When one guy asked the writer what the book with the orange cover was about, the writer said “This is my third book, takes you deep into the Alaskan wilderness in 1821, and you experience the love affair between Aariak, an Eskimo princess, and Donald Pridegood, a ruthless trapper.” The way he said it, it sounded pretty good. No wonder he was selling them. I wish I had gotten his name to pass on, but I was still thinking about what to do. I was only thinking about myself.
And then without thinking I was walking through the streets, heading east. I walked past Fifth Avenue on 52 st. In front of the Omni Hotel there was a que of people waiting for the Kansas City Royals to leave and go over to Citi Field in Queens, where they would win the World Series. I just looked that up. I don’t know anything about the world series or baseball. The last time I watched a baseball game was at Dodger Stadium sometime around 2001 I think. I didn’t know who any of the players (before I wrote the word “players” I accidentally wrote the word “platers” which makes sense too I suppose, but I didn’t want to confuse you so I changed it back) were as they walked out of the hotel while mostly ignoring the throng of admirers seeking autographs. But I took a couple of pics with my cell phone in case you do.
While I waited for the players to board the bus I talked with a 55-year-old bike messenger who said he was a night crawler who listened to the police and ambulance radio frequencies and went around to crime scenes and accident sights and other places where other tragedies took place and had a You Tube channel where he posted the carnage. “No kidding.” I said. “Oh yeah,” he said. A couple of weeks ago I was out on the Jersey turnpike and there was a dead body beside a smashed up car. It didn’t have a head.”
The bus with the soon to be World Champion Royals drove off and I continued walking, past Park Ave., then Lexington, then Third, then I wondered what had happened to Fourth, but then I remembered in midtown, Lexington sort of was Fourth. And still I walked past Second Avenue and then First Avenue and then I was as far as I could go on the eastern edge of Manhattan Island – Manhattan is an Island if you didn’t already know.
I wondered up and down a few streets past a number of consulates, which are like embassies but not in Washington DC. There here in New York because the United Nations is over on First Avenue.
All the consulates have their flags draped over their doorways. I didn’t recognize most of them. I’m not very good with flags. I think I saw one for Italy. And then I walked in a cul-de-sac that was on 50th Street and looked down on FDR drive which wraps around the east side of Manhattan. And then I saw this plaque.
Irving Berlin. Who Knew? Irving Berlin, of course, wrote all sorts of songs including this one which is my favorite: “There’s No Business Like Show Business.”
And I guess there really isn’t when you consider that show business had allowed him to own this house, which is now occupied by the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and probably would sell for 20 million dollars in the current market, probably more.
And then I continued walking. I stopped in front of Trump World Tower, which sure seemed pretty tall.
And I thought about Donald Trump for a minute, but not in a political context, mostly just in the sense that he seems to be a man who enjoys marrying women with eastern European accents, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
And I walked past the Dag Hammarskjold Tower Condominium, where there’s a statue of Dag Hammarskjold, who was the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
I thought that would be a tough building to live in because anytime somebody was going to come over they would say “Where do you live?” And then you would have to say “I live in the Dag Hammarskjold Tower Condominium” and you wouldn’t pronounce it correctly and even if you did the person on the other end of the phone would say “What?” and then you’d have to spell it all out and that’s not an easy last name to spell. And it doesn’t seem like a very fun place to live. Not with all these rules.
And still I walked and walked forgetting where I was. I walked past Chaz Palminteri’s restaurant.
Who knew he had one? I wonder if he tends bar there on Thursday nights.
And as always there were all sorts of interesting building to look at.
Buildings are all over the place in New York. The city is perpetually being torn down and rebuilt, and who can keep track of it all. I know I can’t.
And then I stopped in at a Shake Shack, which is the In-N-Out Burger of New York and typically treated with the same sort of awestruck enthusiasm.
And then I had a burger and some fries and a soda and it was almost $16, which seems like a lot unless you’re in New York.
And then I went home.
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