It being Spring--and with Passover just around the corner--the weekend was filled with getting our apartment ready for the dozen or 14 guest who will be coming over for dinner next Monday night.
Of all the sorts of people I envy in the world, the highest among those are not the ones with untold cash reserves, it's the ones who have, somehow, an apartment not littered by too many books, too many clay sculptures by your daughters that you just can't throw out, and financial statements from the ten or six banks you, unfortunately, have to do business with, each of them, the statements, not the banks, thick with information you'll never read or use.
My apartment is more than bursting at the seams. And though I know I will never again read Kipling's "Kim," or Robert Louis Stevenson's "Kidnapped" again, I somehow can't bring myself to throw them out.
Throwing out books, seems somehow anti-Jewish, like a Nazi book-burning from eighty years or so ago. Of course, there is no place any longer--at least that I know of--to whom you can donate books. Everything seems to have been digitized and Kindle-ized to the point where the hundreds of shelf-feet I have along every wall in my apartment seem as superfluous as principles in Washington, D.C.
Perhaps, if I were smart about real estate, which I decidedly am not, I would buy a small cabin by a lake someplace two hours north of Manhattan, and would load the place up with Updike. That would leave my New York aerie ready for the pages of "Architectural Digest," or at least "Mad Magazine." Not only, in my dreams, would that place in upstate quadruple in value, also my apartment, newly sterile would skyrocket in value, and I could retire a fat rich man--to go along with old and bitter.
Nevertheless, try as I try to bring myself to expel literature and history and art and...learning itself, from my apartment, I cannot seem to do it. I was brought up in a different time. A time when books were counted as one's friends and, in many ways, more important than things like wealth as measured by the sheer accumulation of Mammon.
There was a time, of course, when I had an office as big as the Ritz, with built in book shelves and cabinets and coffee tables and the like. Along those shelves I'd have old awards annuals--the books I learned from, the books that got me into the business, the books that were Socrates to my Alexander.
I have hundreds of those old annuals up in Boston in storage. A storage space I have been paying for monthly since I left a benighted agency up there and assumed that the next place would accommodate my vast collection of advertising history.
The truth is, no one cares anymore about the past or where we came from, unless you're a Supreme Court nominee--a reputed Originalist, who believes African-Americans three-fifths of a vote, and women and non-property holders no vote at all.
So, try as I might, I dream at night as I go to yet another fitful sleep of clearing out the towers of books that have piled in every corner of my apartment, like row after row of empty apartment blocks of unfilled homes in Communist China.
All this to say that some years ago, I found in the back of one of the closets of my apartment, as I was moving in, an old shoe box filled with silver dollars, old letters, and a small diary from a man called Doyle who arrived on the Lower East Side in 1906, or so, and kept a diary.
From this point forward, Diary again in hand, I had lost it in my clutter, I will now and again post something from Doyle--regularly, and see where that takes us.