As some of you of my age will remember, there was a great ad campaign to sell New York City in the 1970s, with a catchy tune that started out “I Love New York”, and then had famous New Yorkers saying that line. I especially remember a much younger Frank Langella, who was then playing a vampire on Broadway, saying “I Love New York–at night!” Being in the city now always makes me think of that edgy time, when NYC was still a bit derelict around the edges, and we were still hicks enough to be a little afraid of the place. But now I fully agree: if I had all the money in the world, this is where I would live, even if a lot of its inimitable character has been lost in the process of the 1 %’s appropriation of everything interesting in Manhattan. By that I mean that it is sad that now only rich people can live here. We’re staying down in Soho, which as late as the 80s was still an affordable place to find a little apartment, but is now gentrified beyond recognition. We have spent more here in 2 days than we will spend in two weeks in Berlin. But oh, what fun it is to wander in this town!!
Last night we went to dinner in Little Italy at Pepe Rosso Social, an old-fashioned restaurant with attentive, casually dressed, service and great pasta, and reasonably priced by New York standards. Walking back from there we just happened to pass
the Mott Street fire station, just as a fire truck pulled in, and the tiny doors to this very old station opened up. The firemen looked exhausted and demoralized, as if they had just seen something dismaying. That scene, along with the plaques on the wall in honor of the firemen from the house who had died in the World Trade Center on September 11, moved me to tears.
Today we had a lovely breakfast at a little cafe up the street from our hotel, and then headed up to The Bronx and the New York Botanical Gardens. Any New York resident can walk through the enormous grounds for free (admission to the buildings costs $20), and now that it is smack dab in the middle of a hugely Hispanic population, the administrators are making strides to appeal to them with exhibitions like the one on now about Frida Kahlo and her gardens. Seems a little far fetched to me, but walking through the sylvan stretches of the wooded areas was heavenly, even if we were dying of the humidity. We trekked through forests and saw the positively arcadian Bronx River running through the Gardens, as if we were in the wilderness instead of about 100 yards from the train to White Plains and the less-than-salubrious neighborhoods of The Bronx.
Coming back down to Soho–it’s a long ride on the subway and the train–I even managed to go SHOPPING, and buy some clothes!! Time to get out of here before I go crazy and start spending like a New Yorker. Tomorrow we are on the plane for London, via Iceland!