gall and gumption

Monday, May 28, 2007

New York Fantasy (Not that Kind)

I met my first blogger while I was there too. I mean, obviously I know people who blog but this was the first time I met someone because they had a blog. Well, not only was this a thoroughly pleasant and stimulating conversation but it took place in Brooklyn, in the very streets where the late departed and still lamented Linus and I used to walk. I loved walking those streets with Linus, back in the day. But this time, in addition to walking with the actual human blogger, I sat on a stoop. I have always wanted to sit on a stoop.

I stayed with my friend Mark even further out in Brooklyn, where he was housesitting for some old
friends. We sat in the garden and smoked and drank coffee and harrumphed about things together happily for hours, out of that strange inertia that happens on holidays when you know you need to get moving but you can't, it is too pleasant not to move, even when other pleasures are the reason you have to move.

Why did I ever leave Brooklyn? Remember that Gershwin song, “We’ll take Manhattan?” Well, they can take it and keep it. I have many favorite things about Brooklyn and one of them is how when I come out of the subway onto the street in a strange neighborhood I don’t know what country I’ll find myself in.

I used to have this fantasy when I lived in New York of just taking photos of bodega windows, the way they have all the laundry soap and the brightly colored cans of stuff stacked up so neatly, I loved looking at those patterns. I didn't happen to have a camera then and I didn't think I could be trusted to use one. I take a lousy picture in both senses of the word. This
trip I didn't see any bodegas but there were no end of marvels. Walking to the subway to meet Mary with all my luggage I couldn't let this window get away from me. Another instance of where sometimes you get more than what you remember. I've added to my fantasy of photographing bodegas the fantasy of adding the department store windows, the places where people shop for the necessities of life (plastic kitchen containers, cheap sheets, baby things, hair bobbles,
boxer shorts, ruffly lacy little girls' dresses, and mysterious gift sets). I don't know why, but I find it touching. My heart is there, somehow.

And later, all I could think about as I walked through SoHo was getting out of it as quickly as possible. I have friends who are artists who live in lofts in SoHo and TriBeca. It must be like waking up one day and finding yourself living above the mall. Not the Fulton Mall but some mall in maybe Gaithersburg or Northern Virginia or the San Fernando Valley. With eleventy-gazillion tourists.

Canal Street reminded me of my third New York Fantasy: starting at one end of Canal Street to the other, and arriving at the other end with a complete outfit, every article of clothing -- including socks and underwear -- and every accessory (watch, fountain pen, the works) a fake, preferably transparently fake.


At 8:41 PM, Anonymous tom said...

Who knew you liked to photog shop windows and repetitive patterns? It's an obsession for me. I just did several the other day, while waiting for the kid who was interminably trying on bathing suits. Piles of clothing, and junk jewelry, and plastic hangars. I was so caught up I didn't see the Personnel arrive to ask me politely what I was doing, and, after not listening to my response, request politely that I cease and desist.

I like not only that photo but the camera - what is it?

At 9:16 PM, Blogger Kia said...

It's a Canon Powershot S45. When my mother "moves up" to the latest new item of gear I get the old one. That's how I got this. I do like it.

I do find the patterns pleasing, yes, but it's the impulse to make pattern right there that is really the thing of it for me. So I don't care for supermarket displays, for example, but I do like bodega windows. Somebody right there thought it up, you see.

And then the department stores (the non-branded stores) yeah, I'm not sure. Well, they remind me of St. Maarten, for one thing. And in some weird way of my developing-world childhood. Anyway for some reason that great bin of sandals haunted me.

What on earth did Pernnel care if you were taking pictures, for crying out loud? What a fun world we seem to be moving into.

At 5:27 AM, Blogger buckner said...

I took my camera to a mall a few years ago to take some pictures as subject matter for paintings. I snapped a shot of some goony guys in suits standing in a jewelry store doorway, and within 10 minutes the security guards were on me, telling me I couldn't use my camera in the mall. I guess they were afraid I was casing the place.

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