Sir, You Need to Slide Your Card Twice

New York City, New York
November 08, 2014

Notes on first day in New York . . .

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New York Pedestrian

Observation No. 1: At 7:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning there are two kinds of New Yorkers out and about: (1) dog walkers who seem to favor your Labradoodles, and (2) joggers who run only in a counter clockwise direction around the Jackie O Reservoir in Central Park and resent a clueless tourist walking clockwise.

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Central Park

Observation No. 2: Listen carefully as you walk down a sidewalk and often you will hear three separate languages spoken within earshot at the same time.

Observation No. 3: At a fascinating lecture at the New York Historical Society by Geoffrey Ward, author of the companion book to Ken Burns’ recent PBS documentary on the Roosevelts, I concluded that by the eloquence of the speaker–just an extraordinary talk which, if you have the chance find the podcast, which will be produced by the Society, do yourself a favor and listen to it-and the eloquence of those in the audience who stepped to the microphone to ask questions,I was not only the youngest in the crowd…by far . . .but the least educated . . . by far.

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New York Historical Society

I particularly loved two quotes: (1) by Alice Roosevelt, Teddy’s sister, who was want to say, “If you don’t have anything nice to same about someone, sit down next to me”, and (2) by Teddy himself on the only occasion he was known to have gotten drunk, when asked how much he had drank, said simply, “Not so much that I couldn’t wind my watch in the morning.”

Incidentally, there is a wonderful quote from T.S. Eliot inscribed in the marble as you enter the historical society building,

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all of our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time

Observation No. 4: Central Park in the fall, when the leaves are turning, the sun is out, and the air is crisp, must be one of the most wonderful places on earth. I was particularly moved by a series of green park benches near the Bow Bridge where brass plates can be found with all manner of touching inscriptions.


Central Park

Park Benches

DSCN0221.jpgLeonard Dear

Observation No. 5: I should have realized the enormity of the Metropolitan Museum of Art when, approaching it from the rear, it took me twenty minutes to get to the front door. Rembrandt’s Aristotle Contemplating the Bust of Homer, Vermeer’s Young Woman with a Water Pitcher, Van Gough’s Self Portrait in the straw hat, Monet’s Haystacks…..there are no words. I was floored by Pieter Clara’s Still Life with a Skull. How can you paint glass? Jaw dropping. (“Would the middle aged man with the headset please please remove his lower lip from the floor, step back and let other’s see the painting”) And my personal favorite, Rembrandt’s self portrait at age 54. Very, very moving.

Observation No. 6: A pastrami sandwich at Carnegie Deli is gi-normous. Top it off with a pickle and a Pepsi and it was well worth the block long line.


This is the small sandwich?

Observation No. 7: Twice I violated the cardinal rule of avoiding eye contact and not speaking to anyone in the subway. Once when lost on the west side last night a young African American man very gently and kindly pointed out that I needed to swipe my MetroCard twice to exit. The second time when making small talk with another African American elderly gentleman while squeezed together like sardines on the Uptown 6 line tonight (don’t I sound like a pro?), commented on my “accent” (Californians have accents?) and we laughed about the glee on the faces of a mother and daughter when their stop arrived and they rapidly and not too gently parted the crowd to get out.

Observation No. 8: Nighttime in Times Square is brighter than daytime.

Damn, It’s bright Out

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