A surprising, sunny day in June in Santa Barbara! It’s been 21 days since I left LA for SB to fly to NYC and I’ve collected Pico Iyer notes and Psycho Therapy furious scribblings on envelopes for Cherry Lane Theater subscriptions to work on down there. I have to find Julie Carlson’s England’s First Family of Writers: Godwin, Wollstonecraft, Shelley, likely at the back or bottom of my trunk, for a piece reflecting on life in NYC vs LA.
I want about two-thirds of it to articulate what may be well-known but no less true and overarching differences about life on the coasts. The remaining one-third I wish to revolve around claims Julie makes about “bookishness”and what it means, in the context of these writers (and reformers) to be “bookish.” I think it hinges on a notion of reflection as well as self-reflexiveness and I hope to anchor all this in some of her claims about this writerly family, thus straddling the border between pure autobiographical writing (like the piece by the Maine writer about “getting to that safe place”) and criticism.
I’ve enjoyed being back at the pool and last night I took J to SBAC (he’s not a member) to lift weights while I swam under the nearly full moon before a long jacuzzi and steam together. I’ve said it before, but year-round swimming (and sailing, for those inclined and situated) has to be at the top of Southern California’s virtues. My father would never live in a place you have to take your boat out of the water in October and wait (waiting is not his long suit) till April at the earliest to get it back in the water.
A Facebook friend grew up in a boating family and he wrote on a picture with the boat on those stilts or whatever East Coasters do with the boats when snow and ice cover the ground and parkas, mufflers and gloves are compulsory for survival, “It’s difficult but the short season makes it all the more sweet.” Hmmm. This brought to mind The Big Chill, “Why does that strike me as a massive rationalization?” But of course Kasdan’s script had it right: “I don’t know anyone who could get through the day without one or two juicy ones. They’re more important than sex,” says Jeff Goldblum to Tom Berenger. “Aw, come on, nothing’s more important than sex,” protests Sam. “Ever gone a week without a rationalization?” Game, set, match.
I’m happy to report that Doobie’s bangs are almost back to normal after the truly retarded groomer ignored umpteen notes which said, “Do not cut hair!” It was so pathetic. Poor Doobie, a French briard, kept shaking his head vigorously from side to side trying to cover his eyes. Here he is.
You can see closer up from the front, however, they have a little way to go before their pre-crew cut state. I love this animal. The last briard his parents had, Salsa, was an extremely aggressive female. This was not limited to the incessant crotch sniffing. And she was not amenable to cuddling and I just didn’t like her. This dog is like a person and will just let you hug him as long as you want. You do have to get over the briar’s “wet beard,” which I admit is a bit disgusting. But the rewards of affection more than make up for it.
I got a great picture of J, grilling the steak (both NY strip in my honor and filet mignon), while his mom went to vote. J and I vote at different places and we swung by our polling places before arriving to her house.
Sunday I came to Cafe Stella, much perturbed that Peabody’s Grill, my favorite dive bar diner close to J’s, had closed in my absence. The nerve! Closing my WiFi hangout breakfast or lunch place without so much as a head’s up. Very inconsiderate. The sign on the boarded up window and door says that new management will take over soon but it doesn’t look like anything is happening and there is a chain as you ascend the stairs. So I ended up at Stella and had a sublime special: crab/avocado/fontina melt on rye with a side Caesar and a few glasses of Pays D’Oc. This isn’t the best picture as you can’t see the prodigious quantity of snow crab, but you get the idea. Even I can make a grilled cheese sandwich (well, frankly, I have never tried but I feel sure I’m up to the task) so this would be a lovely dinner all year round. The Caesar dressing has a balsamic rather than a mayonnaise base, making it at once lighter and a bit sweeter. Very good.
I finally uploaded some more of the NYC pictures, including my last lunch in the city at Harry’s Burritos. The Yelp reviewers were cruel, complaining about service and food alike. It’s not fine dining Mexican like Rosa Mexicano and it’s cheap, at least by Upper West Side standards (72nd and Columbus). My dance center is 48 W. 68th, between Columbus and Central Park West on one of those idyllic UWS streets with brownstones whose prices induce spontaneous coronaries. My favorite parts of Manhattan are without question on the Upper West and East Sides between 60th and 75th. Midtown East and West are too congested and commercial for me and while the Village (both West and East) is fun, it’s also too congested for day in, day out life even if one could afford a one-bedroom (which I can’t). Harry’s Burritos is Tex Mex (though it bills itself as “San Francisco Mission” Mexican). I have only had this steak taco salad but it’s very good.
I have never been in the city at Memorial Day so I have dined very little on patios before this trip. Last July/August, it was far too humid and hot for outdoor dining, but poor New Yorkers are so excited to eat outdoors, some of them are hell bent on doing so no matter how repulsively hot it is. This is a nice patio and going in my dance attire was perfectly fine.
New York is so beautiful right now, the lush green leaves on the trees lining the Upper West and East sides on many streets. Three teachers in their late 20s were celebrating the end of the year. They teach at Martin Luther King, Jr. school, one in special ed and it was interesting to hear these three young women re-hashing the school year and trading war stories
Here is the view from Harry’s, looking downtown.
A nice doorman was headed to work at a beautiful building on Central Park West and 92nd and we had a good talk about kids in his building. NYC kids mature faster. Part of it has to do with mass transit, I think. But it’s just the overall pace of life and the drive you feel just walking down the street with people chatting intently about everything from work to art to family. So he wasn’t shocked by the sophistication of the kids in the building. He was, however, shocked by their breeding and manners. Kids from elementary school to high school address him by name and it brought to mind my friends’ boys, 19 and 23, raised with tremendous privilege but such little gentleman. My FB friends were happy to hear that manners aren’t dead.
Speaking of dance, Francis Roach, the teacher at Luigi, called me to confirm receipt of my payment for the one week intensive. I am starting to stretch a bit more as 5 hours a day will kill my hamstrings if I don’t get some flexibility back. I have great discipline, however, when it comes to avoiding certain stores whose merchandise would fit me perfectly but whose price tag is far from a perfect fit. Here is a dress in the window at Barney’s which made me swoon.
I got a passerby to take a picture of me (yes I wore other dresses this trip but took pictures only in this one) since a foot away through reinforced glass is the closest I will ever get to this dress. (I found next to this WiFi deli across from Rouge Tomate a dress, olive green, my size, on sale for 400 from 1400. I only entered because it said, “50 and up sample sale.” I was confused as none of these looked like samples but I quickly exited the store, populated and run entirely by women 65 and up.)
I love pinks and mauves (perhaps it’s the ballerina fantasy) and I adored this suit, though my FB aunt thought it was frumpy and dowdy.
Two women just came in, I think a mother and daughter. The daughter’s father was in the first wave at Normandy and the mother looks about five or so years than my mother’s true age, so pushing 80. They asked what St. Germaine was (elderberry liqueur), which is in the featured drink today, essentially a mimosa with this special twist. I had to re-open my tab to try it and it is fabulous. I must go to Bevmo! for some of this to make at home. J and I still haven’t tried the specialty cocktail in the book, Hip Sips, I found last summer at the Cape.
I told them they were a bad influence as I had coffee only with my lunchtime omelet and am now sipping this sweet but not sickly concoction.
Here, finally, is my blog on D-Day from last year. My father spoke at some length about that day in the week he got his wings in Pecos, Texas. (It isn’t working to link so just go to ARCHIVES, JUNE and it will pop up). Thanks to all our veterans for their courage and sacrifice.