The Witty Wordsmith

New York, late winter, the sky is an intense shade of grey. The trees remained bare of any lively bright leaves. In the midst of the eerie grey, a remarkable bit of sunshine played peek-a-boo behind a rainy cloud.

On such an idyllic winter’s day, I set off on foot for St. Nicholas Park in Harlem. It’s a most wonderful park, which fades into hilly fields of green. Regardless of the cold, I’ve always adored sitting on a park bench and reading a good book. Quality time with a book is my ideal form of therapy. I fade into a character’s shoes and forget any of the day troubles.

On one riveting expedition, I sought a most wonderful park bench. As, I picked a perfect little spot for literary madness, the cold winds penetrated through my layers, and pea coat.

For once in my life, I shivered. The goose bumps on my arm grew more sensitive. At that point, I had to look elsewhere for a romantic date with my used book from the Strand bookstore.

I wandered through Harlem’s Hamilton’s Heights neighborhood. It’s the perfect backdrop for any quirky film (Wes Anderson’s Royal Tenenbaums was filmed there). The brownstones are eccentric yet sophisticated characters in their own right.

The hills have provided an escape from the quintessentially Manhattan painting. Bay windows, dramatic stoops and old world charm could inspire poets, painters and playwrights of life to create a proper work of art.

While heading up the hill toward Broadway, I was craving a hot chocolate from the Chipped Cup (my favorite coffee shop, uptown). On that pleasantly quiet Sunday, everyone had the same idea.

The quaint coffee shop was filled with patrons. I was disappointed, since I just wanted was to read a good book. So, I headed back down to 145 street.

To my disappointed, Dunkin Donuts was also filled to the brim with people. I didn’t want to go back to my apartment, since I was really craving a coffee shop. Instead of giving up hope, I took an unexpected turn.

The Eighth avenue subway provided the ears with a classic sound, which only a raspy record player could rival. I found my reading spot, a seat on the subway platform. Even though, the subway has many distractions, I’ve always found it an easy place to concentrate on a book there.

When the A train arrived, I boarded it merrily. I even found a seat. However, distraction found me. “Why don’t you put a chip in me, so you know where I am at all times, said a girlfriend to an equally angry boyfriend. They fought. They whole train watched. Trying to hold back laughter, I tried very hard to not loose concentration on my book.

The arguing heightened into theatrical satire. “Fuck it, I can’t think with this racket going on. At least, there aren’t break-dancers on this train, ” said I. “Showtime,” yelled a boy with a boom box.” Break-dancers with a giant boom box appeared from the blue to everyone’s annoyance.

My eyes didn’t leave my book. Anyhow, my brain was completely distracted. I made it to West 4th Street. Randomly, I decided a cannoli would be amazing.

So, I boarded the F train to Second Avenue and ended up in the East Village. I headed up First Avenue and into the old world charm of Veniero’s (legendary dessert restaurant in the East Village). I ordered a cannoli and opted for a cappuccino rather than a hot chocolate.

I took out my book and found a swell place to concentrate. It only took a long walk, two trains and another somewhat long walk to find my literary Zen. Regardless, my literary Zen was a whole lot better with a delicious cannoli accompanying it.

Advertisements

Celebrity

I don’t own a T.V. (love it, but doesn’t fit in my budget), but my father does. I take up surfing every time I visit him, channel surfing that is. There are the reality TV shows on Bravo, endless hours of CNN and my favorite, IFC’s Portlandia.

When chimes 2 AM, the endless vodka sipping and Botox injecting reality world of Bravo fades. In it’s place, appears the grand dame of late night T.V., the infomercial. It dominates practically every channel. However, in the midst of potato slicers and pimple creams shines a rainbow.

That rainbow comes in the form of QVC & the Home Shopping Network. It’s always on and features a star-studded cast of characters. From Suzanne Somers to Joan Rivers, everyone has a fashion line. Why buy a pair silk pajamas at Target? You can always buy a via QVC. There’s also the possibly to chitchat with Suzanne Somers on how marvelous those pajamas fit.

Speaking of marvelous, that word dazzled me. I wanted to design something too. However, I didn’t go to fashion school. I harkened back to my childhood.

My great-aunt always knitted. She would watch the Price is Right (game show), while sewing together everyone’s Christmas presents. Mittens, socks and fashionable hats were her specialty. Even in the midst of retirement boredom, she always found excitement in her knitting.

“By George, I will take up knitting, said I. Coincidentally, my friend Rachel had been knitting up a couture empire. She kindly invited me to a dinner party/let’s teach Anthony how to knit party. On a pleasantly cold New York evening, I went from the 14th Street subway to the ever-thrilling M14 bus. While heading cross-town, I was delighted to take on a new hobby.

When I reached Rachel’s apartment in Stuy Town, the smell of roast chicken was like sweet perfume for the soul. I enjoyed a few glasses of wine. After an amazing dinner, the knitting lesson started.

She showed me how to stretch the yarn, and then stick the needle through. I giggled a bit. The needles mirrored chopsticks. If I could eat with chopsticks, this would be quite easy.

I tried it out and the yarn wouldn’t budge. She showed me once again how to properly stretch the yarn and commence with the knitting process, but no luck.

I wasn’t quite getting it. Regardless, I could envision myself with a homemade scarf, strolling around the East Village. I gave it another shot. The yarn wasn’t budging.

Then, I realized is my brain not functioning from the glasses of wine and big dinner? I think so, said I. After another shot, we called it a night. Even though I didn’t quite getting knitting the first time, there was no giving up.

Knitting a scarf remains my goal for the year. Even though, I didn’t quite get it the first time and maybe not even the second time, I will be triumphant. Like the folks on QVC, I look forward to saying marvelous a whole lot, once my homemade fashion accessories are born.

Illuminate Yourself With A bright Red Tie

The immense fog of San Francisco married the flurries of Alaska. Afterwards, they traveled east to New York for a dream honeymoon. They made their presence known, engulfing the city’s tenement masterpieces into a sea of grey.

It was a sight to wake up to. While, a part of me, wanted to order food from seamless web, watch endless documentaries ranging from fashion photography to the art of sushi making and (just plain) hibernate, the Indiana Jones in me longed for an adventure.

Rather, than having wanderlust about the lost arc or being chased by a giant rock, I got all dolled up. I placed by tortoise shell glasses on, which accentuated my navy blue pea coat.

Something was missing. I dug deep in the far reaches of my closet. My archaeological dig did not produce a missing link to the T-Rex family, but I did find a precious relic.

“My red tie, here you are, ” I said to myself. I tied it over my grey blue shirt and put my favorite grey cardigan on. It was more Upper West Side than Indiana Jones, but it was most fitting for adventure seeking in the city.

I gained fuel at my favorite diner on Amsterdam Ave. Afterwards; I walked up 72nd Street toward Central Park. In the midst of snow and intense grey, New York lacked color. It was the equivalent of fading into an old black and white film. The only hint of color was leaping from my fiery red tie.

The pitter pater of snow persisted. I reached the imposing apartment blocks of Fifth Avenue. Snow banks, Barney’s NY shopping bags and well-heeled ladies in fur coats created a most quintessential Upper East Side memory.

I walked toward Lexington Avenue with the intent to grab the 4/5 train downtown for an afternoon nosh (snack) and cappuccino. While craving my adrenaline rush from a coffee bean, I experienced a cinematic moment. Truman Capote referred to Lexington Ave as charmless.

Walking from the East seventies to the fifties.  Lex (which I walked on a million times or so. Lex is how we refer to it here) was actually proving to be quiet lovely. Old bookshops, cafes, mom n’ pop restaurants, pre-war buildings and side streets with imposing brownstones birthed a classically New York scene.

I saw the F train station at 63rd street. “How wonderful, I’ll take the F train to the Lower East Side,” said I. When I reached the station, it was a confusing mismatch of platforms and escalators. In my whole history in New York, I had only been lost on the subway once.

This time around, the lack of platform signs indicating uptown/downtown confused me. I was officially lost in translation and on a Queens bound F train. Rather than becoming flustered, I thought to myself ” oh this train stops in Roosevelt Island (an island in the middle of the East River), I’ll just switch over to a downtown train there.

When I stepped off the subway at Roosevelt Island, curiosity captured my heart. I saw another intense set of escalators, which were so high, I wondered if I would be dancing in a sea of clouds.

The explorer in me wanted to see a part of the city, which I had never explored before. As I leaped out of the F train station, the snow morphed into a light dusting of frost.

Roosevelt island was filled with steel and glass modern apartments. However, one sight would be the red tie to an otherwise colorless day.

My eyes met the Queens-borough Bridge. It jutted across the island. The tram moved slowly (there’s a tram which takes residents from Roosevelt to Manhattan) in the midst of the background of the Manhattan skyline.

It provided me with the holy grail of New York memories. I strolled around the island a bit and finally headed downtown. After entering the subway, I could officially say “I’ve been on Roosevelt Island.

After exiting the Second Avenue subway station, I marveled at the grey skies. The snow stopped. I walked toward a coffee shop, which had vintage rock n’ roll posters and plenty of electrical outlets (to charge my phone). While trying to resist the temptation of heading inside Katz’s, an epiphany came into my brain.

That particular day with it’s snow filled skies, Kodak worthy pictures of the Queens borough bridge & overall happy spirit, will remain one of those special nostalgic memories. “Wow, sometimes, I really am the Indiana Jones of Manhattan. If Indiana Jones wore a bunch of cardigans and wrote a blog, of course,” said I.