The Daily

Posts Tagged ‘New York City’

Lisa

May 15, 2014 | by

John_Singer_Sargent_-_Le_verre_de_porto_(A_Dinner_Table_at_Night)_-_Google_Art_Project

John Singer Sargent, A Dinner Table at Night, 1884

Last week, I was invited to a fancy dinner in honor of a personage in the international art scene who had curated an interactive installation in an urban high school. More specifically, my rather more impressive friend was invited, and he asked if he might bring me. Not being much of a personage in the international art scene or otherwise, I was both excited and nervous. The night before, I tried on and rejected several dresses before deciding on a black lace vintage frock I had picked up at a thrift store some months before, and had altered but never worn. Having had a haircut four days before, I decided to eke a little more mileage out of my increasingly mangy blowout, and I put on my old denim jacket as a sort of security blanket.

The dinner was held in the private room of an austerely chic downtown restaurant. It was already filled with people when we arrived—some recognizable, many beautiful, all looking like personages. The room contained several long tables bedecked with place cards. I accepted a glass of wine and tried to look less anxious. But when my friend went outside for a cigarette, I went with him.

When we returned to the room, everyone was seated. Someone called to my friend to come sit next to her; he had been placed near some famous people in the center of the table. I looked around, but I already knew: there was no place card for me. Everyone else was seated. A waiter murmured in my ear that someone hadn’t shown up; I could sit in her seat for the moment. Read More »

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Three Angry Women

May 9, 2014 | by

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Last weekend I had brunch with my mother, and she related an incident from the day of the interboro bike race. My mom was walking through Central Park and found her way, and the way of several other pedestrians, blocked by an apologetic young race marshal, who explained that certain paths were closed to accommodate cyclists. “But this is my circuit!” screamed an elderly woman. “Pardon my French, BUT I’M SCREWED!”

“It was extremely unpleasant,” said my mother. “I guess my generation can take yet another bow.”

Several days later, I was at the AT&T store, where a salesperson was patiently answering my questions about my newly upgraded phone. A lady of perhaps eighty, wearing black orthopedic shoes and carrying a cane, came in and sat down in the chair next to mine. From what I gathered, the young man helping her (“Franz”) was trying to explain that a cellular plan would be less expensive than the landline she currently used. “But I need my phone on my bedside table!” she kept saying, and refused to accept the fact that the cellular phone could, indeed, sit on her bedside table, or indeed anywhere else. Where would she plug it in? She demanded. Her outlet was under her bed! The young man seemed unfazed by this inquisition. And yet, after a few minutes she screamed, “If you keep wasting my time, I’m going to beat the crap out of you!” Read More »

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Hoosier State

April 29, 2014 | by

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Robert Indiana’s LOVE sculpture, on the corner of Sixth Avenue and Fifty-Fifth Street.

Once, when I was working as a waitress, a mother came into the restaurant with her two little boys, whom we’d seen before. I must say, they were not particularly appealing children—they were wild and hard to control, and frequently cruised around the interior of the restaurant on scooters. On this day, one of them, about four years old, climbed atop an empty table and wouldn’t get down.

I said, “Honey, you have to come down from there.”

To which he said, “Fuck you!”

So I lifted him down bodily.

He ran to his mother in tears, screaming and whining. His mother said, “Sweetheart, the lady only did that because she loves you.” Read More »

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Trouble-Proof

April 24, 2014 | by

Gustave_Caillebotte_-_Rooftops_in_the_Snow_(snow_effect)_-_Google_Art_Project

Gustave Caillebotte, Rooftops in the Snow, 1878

Is there a song about city life more evocative than “Up on the Roof,” the Drifters’ 1963 hit? In 1980, The Illustrated History of Rock and Roll said, “From the internal rhyme of ‘stairs’ and ‘cares’ to the image of ascending from the street to the stars by way of an apartment staircase, it’s first-rate, sophisticated writing.” All true, but the appeal is emotional, visceral, too.

Many years ago, I used to occasionally babysit for a little boy who sported a diaper until an advanced age. When he had to go to the bathroom, he would scream, “PRIVACY!” and everyone would have to vacate whatever room he was in.

That was weird, in retrospect. But I sort of envy him it—not the diaper, but the ability to magically invoke solitude. Maybe I am extra aware of it because I am currently visiting with my parents, and they have a tendency to shout to each other between floors, and I have a tendency to regress, and suddenly, just as when I was a teenager, all I want is to have some space of my own, where I can read, and think, in private. Read More »

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Down to the Wireless

April 23, 2014 | by

Mike Licht flickr women of wifi

Mike Licht, Women of Wi-Fi, after Caillebotte. Image via Flickr

Someone in my building—or maybe two different people, I don’t know—rejoices in cruel, taunting names for his wireless networks: “MineNotYours” and “NoFreeLunch.” “I’m just going to go out on a limb here,” my old boyfriend once said, “and speculate that this person is an asshole.”

But is he? Riding in the elevator or passing neighbors in the hall, I often wonder who it might be—the retired nurse upstairs? The mild-mannered gentleman with the rescue dogs? The 103-year-old who sits with her nurse in the lobby? Does someone have a small, secret life as a righteous, anonymous enforcer? Read More »

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United Nations

April 22, 2014 | by

Giovanna_Garzoni_(Italian_-_Still_Life_with_Bowl_of_Citrons_-_Google_Art_Project

Giovanna Garzoni, Still Life with Bowl of Citrons, late 1640s.

We are currently in the midst of what will almost certainly not be referred to as the Great Lime Shortage of 2014. Following the decimation of the domestic lime crop in the 1990s, the United States is now largely dependent on foreign imports. And this year has provided a perfect storm of difficulties for growers. Quoth the New York Post,

A huge shortage is the result of a nasty cocktail of conditions in Mexico, where 97 percent of US limes are grown. Heavy rains knocked the blossoms off many trees, reducing yield. A bacteria that’s long been ravaging citrus trees in Mexico didn’t help either, but the real trouble came when criminals and drug cartels started looting the groves and hijacking delivery trucks.

A case of limes used to cost as little as $30; prices have shot up to as high as $200. And the limes are smaller—golf-ball-size fruit that doesn’t produce much juice.

The reaction, needless to say, is panic. People are looting and pillaging and smuggling. There is a black market; there is inflation. Slices of lime are being doled out or husbanded or hoarded like precious medicines in an epidemic. The resourceful are substituting cut versions of the juice, or creating new recipes. In the grand tradition of such things, the veneer of civilization has quickly eroded, and the lime-deprived populace is left clamoring, bestial, ruthless. Read More »

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