Monday, December 3, 2007

Around New York City Around The Holidays

The local University allows one of its more enterprising operatives the opportunity to stuff a bunch of D-UMass pantloads into a bus and carom down I-95 to allow them some holiday shopping time. That's right, I recently enjoyed a cheap fare to The Big Apple. Unfortunately, that meant sharing accomodations with the art teachers who must have paid the special toll to earn the right to holler all the way, bragging loudly about their travels on the University's dime. And how they never get credit for having invented cubism, cleverness, and papier-mâché. And how amusing young noobs are. I don't mind braggarts. Hell, I am one. But LOUD I have no patience for. I just kept thinking, "Twenty-five bucks. There and back." An amiable old guy driving. In the back of the bus, who cared if the guys sitting behind me could name every body who had ever driven the Millennium Falcon? Loudly.
Before the cosmic shift: Every week (for a brief period), I drove into Manhattan to sell a certain "exotic" plant which at the time apparently "could not be cultivated in the city." Because we horticulturalismo types had fooled regular plant lovers into believing that orchids were "exotic" and couldn't ever be grown in anything other than the rarefied environment only we could furnish. And certainly not in Manhattan. They didn't know about the people in Manhattan who owned capybaras, but that's fauna, and I was a flora guy. I have a few of those "exotics" just over by the to-be-recycled stack of newspapers, winter bloomers sending out spikes despite my efforts. (They're bloody indestructible. I knew I would rue the day when I saved them from the 0% humidity of that NBAM. Now I'm stuck with these purple striated butterfly blooms. I just know that when I'm gone, some awful purple burst of "beauty" will distract the geese flying by the decaying wreckage of my manse during what somebody used to call January. If Alan Weissman is anyone to be believed.)
I used to sell those damned things out of a huge white unmarked van registered to a man with a foreign name. Which did not make things easier when I pulled up to the World Trade Center to offload during the Greater New York Orchid Society event. Not long after the 1993 bombing. Luckily, my big ol' Smilin' Irish-American USofA driver's license got me some pretty good location in the underground parking lot that's no longer there since now the whole place is a ... *sniff*
Of course, the best view of Manhattan is from the helm of a ship. It's on the chart. Near the mouth of Henry Hudson's "River of Mountains." Where that Minuit guy dropped an anker and hailed New Amsterdam. Now, there's that instantly-recognizable skyline, that big bridge to Brooklyn to starboard, that tall and torchy woman to port. And South Street Seaport. They have boats.
Beats coming in through the Bronx.
As we did. Lumbering down Fifth, where you can smell the dirty water dogs from the Sabrett's carts along that park there, we ever-so-briefly got to see the big tree at 30 Rock. Closest we got that day to Christmastime In The City besides hearing it played 4,293 times on the Muzak. We were there to meet friends, eat lunch, and accidentally see the On The Road scroll that Kerouac typed. It's at the Public Library.
Longtime habitués of this journal will remember our good friend David. Folks who remember he has the cancer will be happy to hear that I had to sprint to keep up with him all afternoon. We visited with a VERY FAMOUS PHOTOGRAPHER, a gracious host, showing his NEW PHOTOGRAPHY in the best-lit room in the brownstone: the laundry. (I thought he had offered us the opportunity to do a load, he's that gracious.)
Since we get back on the bus there, a brief stop at The Met, a bite at the cafeteria, and back to wait for the bus. Where the ninnies were cold and cranky.
We spent eight hours that day on that bus. When I drove to NYC in the old days, I had whittled down the travel time from SouthCoast to MidTown to about three hours. Of course, I left here at 4 in the morning. Alone. If I wanted to hear anybody talk about nothing as if I weren't there, I could listen to talk radio.
And I could shut that off.

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