Friday, May 31, 2013
Sunny and hot
Yesterday was another intense day. I’d forgotten that those are the only kinds of days that exist in NY.
It was all about downtown, from Battery Park up to the Village. Didn’t get in everything I wanted. My feet were still very sore from the previous day. I opted for comfort over vanity and wore my Timberland sneakers instead of cute shoes. Thank goodness I did.
We see a lot of photos of the Freedom Tower, but it’s a completely different experience to be there. The power of the building, and the love, care, and pride that went into it can’t be expressed in a photograph. I’m one of the people who didn’t want it built — I believe the entire site should be non-commercial, and I loathe the guy who has the lease on the property. Not once did he ever express sadness or horror at the tragedy of 9/11 — he only squawked about his money. He should not have been allowed to retain the lease on the property.
But the tower itself — the construction crew working on it understand what they’re doing. It’s not just a job for them. They’re pouring a lot more into it, and it shows. It affects the physical building and the emotional geography of the place in a beautiful way that it couldn’t if I bunch of guys who didn’t give a damn had been hired.
I was happy to see St. Paul’s — I’d been afraid it was squished in the buildings’ fall, but it wasn’t. I used to sit in the second floor Borders Cafe in the Towers and look over the ancient graveyard. Now, it has tributes to the fallen, and the Hope Bell, consecrated by the Archbishop of Canterbury the year after the tragedy.
Took lots of photos at Trinity Church, where a big portion of the harpy trilogy’s major turning point take place. I’d forgotten the odd layout of the church and how difficult it is to circumvent it. So I took lots of photos to get the geography right for those sequences, picked the spot where Kirval is murdered.
Found an interested grave of a young Naval Captain who died at 32 in a skirmish in 1813, and his widow, who lived to be 77. I will do some more research on them.
On down to Battery Park. Castle Clinton, the fort, is under renovation and not open to the public, but I got some photos of the exterior.
I forgot how beautiful that waterfront is, with the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and how the NJ waterfront is being revitalized.
Headed up through Battery Park, where Carey (again, from the Harpy Trilogy) lives, and the waterfront section where he runs and where he meets Sascha, the siren. So I’ve got that all photographed and mapped out for both physical and emotional geography.
Walked up through Tribeca and Soho, where I stopped for lunch at an Argentinean Bistro. Their wine list was fantastic, but with the heat and all, I stuck to simple iced tea and a turkey sandwich with mixed green salad. Who knew a turkey sandwich could be so good? Eavesdropped relentlessly on some of the other diners, and have a LOT of self-impressed individuals to skewer in future work.
I found some possibilities for Valerie’s building (again, the Harpy Trilogy). There’s one in particular, which used to house a thread company — if it’s now condos, hers will be on the top floor (even though the building doesn’t have a terrace and hers does). The other possibility is not to have her live in that area of Soho, but further west, on Greenwich St. Several of their buildings have terraces that look out towards the river. The thread company building– no way could you see the river.
Walked up to the Village. Absolutely sickened by the way NYU has torn apart the neighborhood’s historical buildings to build boxy, ugly, soulless behemoths. There’s no reason that a creative architect couldn’t refashion the historically valuable buildings of the area to work for the school. But, no, instead, the design is similar to the South Bank of London’s ugly buildings of the 1960s, only they front it with brick to pretend they’re trying to keep it in the tone of the area. Disgusting.
My favorite cafe (where I wrote many papers, many stories, and had many assignations) is now a cheap, ugly Mexican restaurant (there are plenty of wonderful Mexican restaurants in the city — you can tell this isn’t one of them). Since I plan to keep using my favorite cafe in that location in my work, I will have to put an author’s note in those books.
Wanted to hit Strand Books, but couldn’t stand the thought of walking much more. It was in the 90’s and humid (good thing I remembered the sunscreen). Instead, I slipped into Grace Church to regroup. Except some dunderheads were doing construction. I’m sorry, but it’s NEVER appropriate to swear in a church, and use your INSIDE voice, dumbasses! If it’s open for contemplation during renovation, YOU must work around that. That’s what they’re doing at St. Patrick’s — there are renovations going on (with scaffolding, et al INSIDE), but the workers are being very sensitive to the fact that they’re working in a CHURCH. If it bothers me, who is not a churchgoer, it must truly hurt those who belong in there.
The Cathedral of St. John the Divine, one of my favorite places in the world, is always under construction (because we, as humans, are never “finished”), and their workers are always aware of what they’re doing and where they are.
Headed across to Knickerbocker’s, a nice place on University and 9th, where I had a wonderful catch-up session with the guy who was my college professor and advisor. We had a GREAT time. It also made me realize how much he and my other favorite professor helped me find the language to articulate my beliefs and values, and gave me the tools I needed to pursue my passion — even if I wasn’t always sure what that was.
Headed back on the subway, picked up Chinese food, and was back at the brownstone in the early evening. Pretty much collapsed after dinner. Wrapped my feet in cool washcloths, and dozed off and on until Imp got home. The Puerto Rican Street Cat was worried about me, and checked on me every few minutes, taking up sentry duty at the door. Heat exhaustion, I overdid it.
During the bouts I was awake, I re-hydrated as best I could, and rested.
Slept well. My hosts have a sad situation here that has to be dealt with this morning, so I moved my appointments to later in the day in order to stay here and support them.
It will be another busy day and tomorrow — I get to go HOME. I’ve had a wonderful trip, but I want and need to be HOME.
PS — Thanks for all the shoe support! Or should I say, shoeless support!