The Daily

Posts Tagged ‘New York City’

Hoosier State

April 29, 2014 | by

LOVE_sculpture_NY

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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The Zebra

April 16, 2014 | by

sc-folding-umbrella

Nathan Pyle has recently written an illustrated handbook for living in—or, perhaps even more crucially, visiting—New York. NYC (Basic Tips and Etiquette) contains such valuable tips as

  • Beware of the empty train car, it’s empty for a reason.
  • Bring cash to group dining events.
  • 12% chance you have spotted a celebrity. 88% chance you have spotted someone who vaguely resembles a celebrity. 100% chance you are awkwardly staring at someone while you argue about it.

These will, I think we agree, apply to any good-sized city.

Yesterday, two of Pyle’s tips were very much on my mind. The weather had, abruptly, turned brutal: cold, with high winds and lashing rain. This weather! This weather! This weather! everyone chanted. Pyle is absolutely right in his assertion that “one $20 umbrella will outlast four $5 umbrellas.” I went for my hardiest number, which is, incidentally, patterned with cheerful zebras on a red ground. Read More »

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On Being a Regular, or Strange Chefs, Part 2

April 8, 2014 | by

A counterpart to yesterday’s piece.

Regulars_in_the_village_pub_in_Tomintoul,_Banfshire,_discuss_the_Ministry_of_Information_film_show,_held_in_the_local_Memorial_Hall,_1943._D22631

Regulars in the village pub in Tomintoul, Banfshire, 1943. Photo: British Ministry of Information

Speaking of characters. There was a time when, for a small adventure, one had only to go to a particular bakery in the West Village. You know the one I mean. The owner was unfailingly unpleasant, the coffee unfailingly terrible, the place lacking air-conditioning and, in summer, unbearably stuffy. But the croissants were good in their heavy way, and it was always entertaining to see people attempt to ingratiate themselves with the management.

When said owner retired, he sold his business to a hard-working and kindly employee and today things go on much as before, save that now the customer service is more or less normal. It’s not the adventure it used to be. I happened to stop in for a pain aux raisins and one of those awful coffees the first day they reopened, just by chance. One fellow bellied up to the counter and said in a confidential fashion, “Man, am I glad to see you. Jean was a piece of work. Came here every day for ten years and couldn’t get a friendly word out of him.”

He was clearly looking for commiseration, but got only a noncommittal smile from the new owner, and went away with his desired status as “beloved regular” still very much in question. No sooner had he left than another man, who’d overheard, approached the counter with an equally confidential air. Read More »

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