Saturday Short Cuts

There are rare times in April when we have beautiful spring days that would rival a typical Los Angeles day (weather-wise, at least). This past Saturday was one of those days. After being awakened at 10a by a totally awesome phone call about a potentially fun collaboration (if you click the link, you have to watch the whole thing), I rolled out of bed, charged my iPod and headed out for a walk.

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Everyone in my village neighborhood was outside. It felt like a giant block party: My neighbor with her month old twins, Blu (my other neighbor that dresses head-to-toe in blue) came out to sit on the stoop, in blue flip-flops, of course. And, even Lady Miss Keir made an appearance as her normal, non-rockstar self.

Turning off my street and onto Sixth Avenue (Avenue of the Americas, for all you out-of-towners) here’s what I saw:

A group of tourists following a man holding a stick up high with a Yankees cap dangling from it

A man walking into the subway with a cat balanced on his head. The cat was on a leash.69685430_083f209429 Actually, this is the second time I’ve seen this man with his cat.

Tons of brunching New Yorkers sitting in the sun at sidewalk cafes.

As I headed down Cornelia Street to look for my favorite painter (did you ever notice howlrg-893-dscn4758 some artists will set up shop and paint a particular building or street for weeks?) I noticed all the beautiful trees in full bloom, with pockets of sun peeking through in between.

At Bleecker Street, a group of Motown singers were performing on a small patch of sidewalk between Amy’s Bread and Murray’s Cheese Shop. A bunch of people were watching until two women (definitely B&T, can spot them a mile away) started dancing to the music, within minutes an impromptu dance party broke out. It reminded me of a small-scale version of this. I headed into Amy’s to buy cupcakes for the Grey Gardens viewing party I was attending in Brooklyn later that evening. After Amy’s, I past the streetmurrays1 dancers and pushed my way into Murray’s, where I took a number and waited patiently for assistance. Luckily, I scored my favorite cheesemonger (I don’t know his name, but he always wears a dog tag earring. Snag him if you can, he’s the best) who helped me pair a cheese (a mild, aged Fontina) with my Cornichons and recommended a good Dijon mustard.

From Bleecker, I circled around Winston Churchill Park and Minetta Lane (I’m dying to have a kickball game on that street, it just seems like the perfect place for one) before 524333193_f1bfed55d4making my way over to Washington Square Park, where I saw:

Asian tourists trying to feed a squirrel a hotdog bun (this is a common occurrence. Perhaps no squirrels in certain Asian countries?)

The chess tables set up and people in various stages of chess games. All of the tables had signs advertising “Free chess games with Chess NYC members.” I talked to one of the players who informed me the class was brushing up on their techniques by challengingwashington_square_park_chess_players_by_david_shankbone anyone to a game. I watched the players for a bit. They appeared to range in age from 14 to about 70. Their skill levels also ranged from beginner to advanced. I was tempted to stop and play, but I knew my competitive streak would take over, and I’d never make it home.

A 16-person drum circle lead by a man with a cymbal. Though they were quite good — you could feel the beating of the drums reverberating on the pavement beneath your feet — but I couldn’t figure out why a cymbal …

As I headed North around the periphery of the park (the arch area is still closed for renovations) I nearly ran into a five-year-old boy with dark, curly hair, whizzing around on a scooter. He was also wearing a black cape. As he gained momentum on his set of 800px-washington_square_arch_by_david_shankbonewheels, he would yell to his Dad to look at him and then, glance behind him to make sure his cape was properly aloft and flowing in the breeze. A pint-sized superhero on a scooter.

Walking up Fifth Avenue my pace slowed due to the tourists and locals taking in the view up Fifth of the dogwood and magnolia trees in full bloom. It was a beautiful sight, with pink and white blossoms against the various shades of gray buildings and the clear, blue sky and the Empire State Building framing the scene. I wished I had thought to bring my camera, but like most New York moments, it was one I mentally photographed, in hopes I would later find the right words recreate the the scene on paper and allow myself the opportunity to conjure that moment up whenever I wanted it, remembering every sense: the smell of the flowering trees, the sounds of the city mixed with the faint echo of the drums, the feel of the shiny black wrought iron gates I ran my hands along as I walked up the street, the leftover taste of the Cornichon and cheese combo I had sampled earlier at Murrays, and the sight of the 5th ave tableau, looking both like a Victorian flashback and a present-day scene at the same time. Old and new, just like the seasons.
–Downtown

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6 responses to “Saturday Short Cuts

  1. Mmm…cornichons!! pickle of the gods!

  2. The Devil Michael

    I am *soooooo* flattered at being your fave Red Jacket. Thats the in house term for us Mongers. Im even more flattered that youre telling people to come see me for help at the shop.
    While I might not be THE most knowledgeable of the hoarde, I do my share of making the place fun and colorful. Its a team effort. Alas, however, I dont ALWAYS wear the dog tag earring. Which, by the way, reads:
    *CHEESEMONGER*
    IF LOST, PLEASE
    RETURN TO:
    MURRAY’S CHEESE
    254 BLEECKER STREET

    That sucker is made of solid brass, and even MY elephantine earlobe can only take it for a day or two at a time.

    People can always just ask for THE DEVIL MICHAEL.

  3. The Devil Michael!
    Thanks for the comment and the intro! I did notice your dog tag earring isn’t always dangling from your ear, but it was a detail that stood out the most. And, I love what it says, that’s awesome!
    See you next weekend!

  4. The Devil Michael

    Ill be there 🙂
    If youve ever noticed my top hat with the pins all over it…thats my 9/11 Memorial Top Hat. The pins represent agencies and special units that lost guys at the WTC on 9/11. Theres also a couple of mini badges of guys *I* lost. I was there as a Fire Patrolman and food volunteer for six months. The hat is a personal art project to illustrate that fact that those of us that were down there are sick now from the exposures we took to toxins. Lot of us arent going to be around for long. Im one of the healthier guys, but I know some guys that are on borrowed time. The hat generates curiosity…people ask about it and I get their ear for a minute 😉
    My dog tag on my neck reads
    WTC RECOVERY VOLUNTEER
    09-15-01 to 03/29/02
    IVE SERVED MY TIME IN HELL

    Sooooo when you come back to the shop…please gimme a heads up its you. I suck with names and faces til know them enough times.

  5. The Devil Michael

    BTW you ARE allowed to specifically ask for/wait for me.

  6. Pingback: Chess in New York City | Rocketboom

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