Saturday, December 18, 2010

A slow walk through a fast city.

Ah, maybe it's a function of age. Maybe of maturity. Maybe of wearing a heavy coat and carrying a heavy bag.

Yesterday, I got out of jury duty early and had some time to myself before I needed to be back to the office. So I put Gerry Mulligan on my iPod--music for the city--and walked from downtown, Centre and Franklin to the Strand Bookstore on 12th and Broadway.

Google maps says the walk is between 1.5 and 2.1 miles, but I walked through whole worlds. The majesty, faded, of our judicial world. The grand marble edifices with the important words. Up through the bustle and the smells of Chinatown where I'm about a head taller than everyone else. Past the Victorian ornament of the Tweed graft of the 19th Century Police Headquarters, now multi-million dollar condos. Then through Soho and hipster-ville, chock-a-block with stores selling nothing I need, skinny clothing, mostly, and impossible restaurants where the food counts second.

Finally, there was Broadway, the spinal cord of New York. The NYU-ers were out and the stores are cheaper here. My iPod now was playing Coltrane's amazing "My Favorite Things." I reached the Strand and its 18 miles of books. It was crowded like a Hollywood opening. Its narrow passages were no place for a big man with a big bag.

I stayed for about 30 minutes and found one gem. A hardcover of Pauline Kael's "5001 Nights at the Movies." Thumbnail reviews from the incisive and caustic. Sure I could find it online. They had databased the book. But that misses the point.

I paid and walked still further to the 8th Avenue subway. Just two stops till the office.


Michael jacobs said...

Love the Strand , but not eight days before Xmas. Too crowded for me. The bookstore on the corner of St Mark's place is also outstanding.

george tannenbaum said...

Michael, is that Mercer St. Books?

I really miss Gotham.

Michael Jacobs said...

St marks bookshop I believe. Pretty eclectic. You'll love it