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- EARN $7-15 PER HOUR TO START – PAY RATES BASED ON EXPERIENCE*
- 1ST SECURITY PREPARATION PLACEMENT 307 WEST 38TH STREET (14TH FLOOR)
- *IF QUALIFIED FREE HEALTH INSURANCE AVAILABLE TO ALL CANDIDATES*
- September 23 – Le G. – Early Morning
- September 25 – Le G. – Early Morning
- September 27 – Early Morning
- September 28 – Le G. – Midmorning
* JOBS, JOBS, JOBS *
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NOTES OF A NEW YORK SON 532
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NOTES OF A NEW YORK SON 533
On the bottom third of the leaflet is a graphic of cop-style badge, bearing the
words “SECURITY” and “NEW YORK,” inscribed respectively above and below a star.
And there’s a rubber stamped coda:
Problem is, I have to deal with getting my car inspected. Right away. Before I can do
anything else. You see, things have gotten complicated. It’s like this: the space I’m in is
good until Thursday, but the idea, until five minutes ago, was to jump the gun and park
on the Friday side so I can go to lunch with Gary G. on Thursday when I’d otherwise
have to move the car. Now, if I change sides, even if I put the summons back under the
wiper – as though I never saw it – who’s to say some a sharp-eyed cop won’t notice that
the car is in a different place from where the ticket was issued and write me another?
You see my dilemma, Fernandez? Yes, I knew you’d understand.
Well, it’s a crapshoot, but you’ll have to chance it. With luck you can make a
date to have the car inspected early Friday. Brownfield should be able get you out of
there by around 11:30, in time to grab a Tuesday-Friday spot that will become legal at
12:30. You’ll only have to wait an hour or so and won’t have to cruise around looking
for a parking space.
Whatever happens. Whatever.
Weird day. Autumnal Equinox – Mabon as it was, and continues to be called by
followers of the Olde Way. Equality of day and night. Second harvest, final gathering
of the crops. Bush addresses the UN. Plenty of choppers in the sky.
• • •
Shana’s birthday. Shana of African descent who grew up in Fontainbleu, rather
than Shana of California, owner, along with her husband, of the loveable pugs. No, this
Shana, when not working at Le G., devotes her energies to fashion design and painting.
A licensed architect in France, she made the bold, and by her family’s standards,
NOTES OF A NEW YORK SON 534
reckless move to New York two years ago. In the café’s micro-culture, she’s become as
renowned for showing up late for work, then bossing around the rest of the waitstaff, as
for her extraordinary capacity to take shears and a bit of thread to almost any piece of
material and improvise something stunning out of it. Something stunning on her at any
One Saturday morning she arrived forty minutes after the place opened, when it
was already in full cry, wearing a two-piece fuchsia ensemble that not only turned
heads but stopped conversation cold. No sentence in mid-utterance, nor half-hatched
thought could compete with the bold diagonals and vivid hue of the fabric against her
near-black satin-sheened skin. Apart from which, she’s a killer basketball player.
Normally when she comes over to your table, you exchange the traditional pecks in the
direction of cheeks, but on the couple of occasions when you’ve hugged, her muscle-
mass and its definition have been flat-out shocking. Don’t mess with Shana.
But she adores Gwen and vice versa, so today your girl swings by Le G. after
school, just before Shana’s shift ends to give her the card she’s made – a cut-out
fantastical cityscape, with a golden heart suspended in a sky-void on filaments of
thread. Written out below, Gwen’s wishes for a good year, as only she can phrase it.
Shana dissolves in tears. Truly, your Gwen – her own Gwen – is a powerful soul.
Strange to say, across a range of conversations, it seems that even we of middle
age have begun to adapt our thoughts and language to the tenor of the moment. Each
of us colludes with, and contributes, in our own particular way, some small element of
madness to the greater whole. How often have you heard someone begin a sentence “If
I were a terrorist, I’d...” and scenario-build out from there? Ah, but how many can
really think like terrorists?
In comes Robert, founder and, of late, mostly absentee patron. Clearly in an
ebullient mood. A happy Robert is a lovely thing to see. He strides over to Table 4 and,
after some small talk, imparts the news Le G. has just signed a ten-year lease with the
landlord. He grins, winks, half-whacks, half pats you on the shoulder: “You’re safe!”
Overdue for the loo but someone has barricaded themselves in for the long haul.
Distraction’s the key. Fortunately, the newspaper and magazine rack stands just to the
NOTES OF A NEW YORK SON 535
side of the door. Dig out today’s Post from beneath a gazillion mauled-over sections of
the Times. Lead Story: Homeland Security refuses to let singer-songwriter Yusuf Islam
into the country, turns his plane back to England after diverting it from Dulles to
Bangor. Only Rupert’s copywriters could come up with the headline POSITIVE CAT
The latch is thrown back and a zombie-like fellow you’ve never seen emerges
from, lets the door slam though you’re obviously waiting to enter. Now, vying with the
roar of the overhead fan you’ve got those damn catchy lyrics cascading through your
head – sung in that growly, more dog than cat-like voice: Out on the edge of darkness,
And then that odd bumpeta-bumpeta drumroll that sounds like someone falling
• • •
Lovely day – an elegant tension in the handshake between summer and fall.
Midtown for midday. You miss the twice-daily rides with Gwen along the Hudson
River bikepath, passing joggers and bladers, faster cyclists zipping by you. How many
of them are aware that the port of New York is becoming evermore Asian? That the
green highrise, so prominent on the new Jersey City skyline is the headquarters of
Evergreen – the world’s dominant container shipping line, based in Hong Kong. A
Chinese company operates Newark-Elizabeth’s largest container facility, as well as
sundry others in various East and West Coast ports. Oh, and the Panama Canal too. It
ain’t Teddy Roosevelt’s any more.
Even as we pedal, jog or glide, the Chinese are building, on Grand Bahama, the
largest-ever container port right at the gateway to Latin America. And all this maritime
power grew, not out of the barrel of a gun, but because they cornered the market – back
in the days when the World Trade Center was just a hole in the ground (the first time,
that is) – on manufacturing the best quality freight containers. Who knew? Who
knows? Anyone who wants to. It’s all there in front of us.
NOTES OF A NEW YORK SON 536
ultimately, it’ll all be Chinatown.
• • •
Afternoon spent reconnecting with Carman. He’s still up on Columbus and 66th,
just east of Lincoln Center in an apartment on the fourth floor of the southernmost of a
pair of adjacent, nineteenth century tenements you’d think they’d have pulled down
years ago, so rife the whole neighborhood is with overawing “luxury” towers. What’s
it been, ten years since you visited him? How much longer would it have been if you
hadn’t run into one another on that horrible, freezing peace march?
The place has changed – lighter, more open. Back when, these walls were lined
with Carman’s collection of LPs – twelve thousand of ‘em – of which he recently sold all
but a few.
He makes a couple of mugs of coffee, pouring water through a one-cup filter,
after which you sit on a cushion on the studio floor while he cues up recordings of his
latest compositions. Eclectic as ever, but all unmistakably Carman: a chamber quintet,
interpretations of the Bhagavad-Gita, a collaboration with his nine-year-old
granddaughter – her punchy, earnest “Rap for Peace.” As you listen, you experience
that ever rarer sensation of the city falling away, of being borne into a wider universe
that is in the same moment a kind of cocoon. The harmonics of Carman’s works, the
weave of acoustic and electronic textures draws you into a state of hearing beyond and
beneath what pleases, stirs or moves you. For a few seconds there, you lose track of the
barrier between energy and sound.
• • •
The image won’t quit, though you weren’t there as witness, and it thus becomes
a twice-told tale. But who are you to begrudge a happening so urgently in need of
Two nights past at the first fall session of Writing X, you went round the table
adducing, in essence, what everyone did on their summer vacation. When Marc’s turn
NOTES OF A NEW YORK SON 537
came, he owned as how, during the convention, he’d joined an avowedly peaceable
group assembled near the WTC pit, bent on marching to Union Square. By a prior
understanding with the police brass, at the terminus there would be a mass arrest.
For two hours, broiling in the sun, Marc waited for the demonstration to move
out. Finally he gave up and started walking north figuring he’d catch a subway
uptown, wait until the crowd to arrived and join their number for the big bust. When
he’d nearly reached the subway, he looked back and saw that the march had begun.
But before the demonstrators had progressed more than a few yards, several hundred
of them had been caught up in a gigantic red net – they’d been suckered into a trap.
Leslie shook her head. “Trawling for people,” she said, her voice filled with in
disgust and dismay.
September 25 – Le G. – Early Morning
Sick you were yesterday, or more properly, exhausted. Some physical or psychic
straw must’ve broken your camel’s back, since by eight o’clock, with Katie and Gwen in
the living room, wrapped up in watching the season’s first episode of a show about a
high school girl who hears average folks speaking to her in the voice of God, you were
struggling to make sentences out of the words in News From Nowhere.
Triumphant day for Gwen. She finally got her last year’s report card and found
she’d done wonderfully well in math, far better than either she or you had anticipated.
Your only regret, as you laid your book on the headboard and closed your eyes, was
passing out without reading to Gwen from Kim. Hopefully tomorrow.
Energy somewhat returned this morning, though it feels provisional.
The three Saturday Graces in action at Le G.: Kimsey, Eyoko and Shana.
Outside, a fellow you’ve chatted with walks his beautiful dog, a rescue – part
beagle, part blue point bloodtick hound.
Big talk with John about energy – in rural China: one pig, one lightbulb.
You are what you burn.
Out of the east it pops, just after sundown, like a jack in the box. Waxing.
NOTES OF A NEW YORK SON 538
September 27 – Early Morning
Whatever this is on your left upper eyelid is turning into a right carbuncle. And
it’s sore. By good fortune Dr. Rick has an open slot this afternoon.
You hear Melinda’s version this morning, but everyone else you know who went
on the great half million demo during the convention has said essentially the same
thing: it took half an hour to walk a block. And it strikes you that this is how it’s been
on all the recent marches – the cops have held the crowd to a snail’s pace. What an
incredibly effective tactic for undermining the collective cadence that can build up
during a march – and you’ve been on real marches, the kind where people had their
blood up and the rhythm of their feet told the tale of their intention, a message much
more threatening to the powers that be than a rushing mob.
This method used by the civic bourgeois guard – the term Morris used for police
in News from Nowhere, and it’s just as apt now – of imposing a kind of shuffle on a mass
of people creates a pervasive sense of uncertainty, short-circuits their momentum,
embodies feebleness among the should-be powerful. Simply by making them constrict
their stride. Bound footsteps. Slave chains. Guantánamo feet. Achilles tendonitis of
the spirit. How to make us small, even when we’re big.
A fellow at the next table whom you know slightly turns toward you and points
out an article in the Times – a newly discovered Hemingway short story. There are the
photos, side by side: Papa’s face and a shot of the manuscript. “Here’s your
competition,” he says.
Your eyes go to the headline above the images: New Hemingway Story Comes to
Light. Point to it. Look directly at your interlocutor. Not often that you feel such a cold
fury. “Eventually,” you say, “it all comes to dark.”
• • •
Midmorning, outside and around Le G., two distinct temporalities. In one,
people walk leisurely dogs, push strollers to nowhere in particular, and stop for half-
hours on end to gab. While on the Avenue, trucks, cabs and an endless fill of SUVs rush
by in a blur of shuddering movement. So the whole Key-Westness of the sidewalk life
NOTES OF A NEW YORK SON 539
takes pace against the avalanche backdrop of hurtling metal and earthshake. This is the
radical parallelism of the city in a nutshell – coexistent actualities in full view and smell
of one another but never to meet unless – catastrophe!
• • •
If a room has got any sort of view, you gravitate toward the window. Today, the
light is right and you see how the cladding – some indeterminate beige material – of
Eichner’s 57th Street tower already looks eroded, banged-up, falling off in bits. Can’t be
over a dozen years old. Graceful aging just isn’t part of the post-modern schema.
These days, Paul flies in from Ithaca to conduct group and individual sessions
every third Monday. His suite at the Hilton faces north, toward Central Park, a sliver of
the Hudson at the ten o’clock position, and the dome, now nearly rebuilt, of City
Center, thirty floors below. Not like in the old days, when you met in his apartment
high up in the residential tower to the west of Worldwide Plaza. From there, you could,
and did, see the whole sweep of the valley and beyond to Lower Manhattan.
This drama seems of a different, less exposed order. Certainly the massing of
skyscrapers all around is striking, but there’s a reassurance to it as well – like nesting
halfway up a tall tree in a forest of giants. And the north light is lovely, never harsh.
But it’s for the first time today that you wonder: is it entirely accidental that this view is
the diametrical opposite of the former one where you all witnessed, far away in the
distance, yet clear, first one dreamlike billow of smoke, then another.
• • •
A man’s passed out on the steps up to Union Square Park. Deep stupor, but not
dead dead because you can see his belly moving in an out like a baby’s. Near at hand, a
young fellow – Parsons student maybe – sits a-sketching him. Such a rare thing, a
luxury even, to find a model who’ll stay still long enough to let you put some lines
down. City of opportunity and limitless hard knocks! Seize the moment – that’s the
NOTES OF A NEW YORK SON 540
• • •
Transformer fire, power fails at Penn Station, shuts down Long Island Railroad
and New Jersey Transit. Down the block, on 24th and Seventh, a man is shot dead.
Doesn’t make the six o’clock news. Check the Post tomorrow. Michael Moore’s
showing his true running dog’s colors: in one of his e-screeds he calls those who won’t
buy the Kerry line “Nader-impaired.” Ever echoing, in new contexts, that motto on the
ancient Assyrian dog statuette: Don’t think – bite!
A viscous Monday. Petroleum gushes up past $50 the barrel. Lord’s Prayer
changed to “give us this day our daily ooze.” Everything’s turning out just like Osama
WILD WEST SIDE says the Post. Bonangeres Mota was the man who died.
Berserk. A bicycle messenger and ex-con who’d done an eight-year bid for a machete
assault. Yesterday the cops went to arrest him for pistol-whipping a fellow messenger
last Friday. He pulled a gun. Ran. Cops gave chase, shot and hit him in the arm. He
fell in the intersection of Seventh and 24th, within spitting distance of Whole Foods,
where Katie shops nearly every day and Gwen may be found Thursday afternoons
savoring samples on her way home from school.
They yelled for him to drop the gun. He didn’t. Two more shots. The weapon
taken from his hand was an “antique-style” derringer, incapable of firing anything.
Suicide by cop.
Suicide by atrium too. A man clambered over the railing on the fourth level of
the Time Warner Center, worked his way out onto the rafters, then plunged: past
Samsung, Borders, Williams-Sonoma and on down. Landed in front of a big fat Botero
bronze. A different trajectory would have carried him further, subterranean, down into
the Whole Foods dining court. “It was like a boom,” a witness said. “We thought a
bomb went off. Everybody screamed.” More discrete the dropping – when was it? – of
AOL from the marquee. A few years ago, on it’s way up, the complex was billed as the
“Center of Everything.” But now the PR spinners have something real to keep them
busy. How do you fit death leaps into your definition of “mixed-use”?
NOTES OF A NEW YORK SON 541
and corporate offices, condo pieds à terre like urban prairies, stretching 5,000 square
feet – for the likes of Lady Henrietta Spencer Churchill, Wynton Marsalis, at least one
supermodel, nesting pairs of Hollywood and Broadway producers and the former wife
of a Senator from New Jersey whose ex must’ve got lucky in the market since her pod
cost $9 mil. And, lest we forget, changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes, those beloved
warblers migrated from southern climes: Jimmy Buffet and Ricky Martin. Ay, ay, ay –
la vida coca.
Not too long ago you read, or rather scanned, a Times story about a bridge,
perhaps in Shanghai, famous for its suicides, and how the awful regularity of the
deaths, night after night, evoked a self-appointed guardian, a man who patrols the span
looking for the tell-tale body language that says “jumper.” If he senses that’s their
mission, he’ll intervene.
So now the valence of the place changes. It becomes a challenge to kill one’s self
there, the act requires greater determination. But maybe it also draws out some for
whom the outcome is less certain – those who want to gamble with fate? Will I vanish
unnoticed? Or will the watcher be there, see me, rush in my direction, grab for me as I
vault? Does he succeed, or end up holding an empty coat?
• • •
Every time you glance up from typing, there’s her tattoo, bold as a brand logo,
etched on her sacrum between ridden-up top and waistband. An ideogram. Looks a
bit like an inverted T , double crossed through the upright, hanging from a gateway
over a rectangle. She’s sitting, her back toward you, with a couple of pals at tables
eleven and twelve. Relative young ‘uns, not Japanese you’re pretty sure, but Asian in
background, and where from? They’ve a distinctly out-of-town feel. Best guess would
be West Coast, or Hawaii – which would explain a lot, including their fluent English
and the USS Honolulu cap on the fella’s head. His face, come to look closer, seems a
mix of West and East. Handsome. As is the woman facing you, all in black, or rather
she’s very pretty.
NOTES OF A NEW YORK SON 542
at Table 4. You’ve overstayed, though justifiably, since it’s rare you get to write here
given the friends and acquaintances who gather most mornings. In response to which
you’ve changed your pattern, gradually taught yourself the discipline of writing at
home – ignoring phone calls, dust mice, the siren song of breakfast dishes entreating
sweetly from the sink.
Hop la. Leave the money on the table, half under the saucer. Add an extra buck
for the duration factor. Parallel with the door, en passant, you sense a pause in their
conversation, lean in and ask: “What do you say back there?” She turns slightly, looks
up at you, and now you see that her long hair, jeans and body language belie her age.
A mature face – she’s not your age, but no sprung chicken neither. She could be mother
to one or both of those kids. Or their elder sister. A half smile, she’s a little puzzled,
then it clicks. “It’s my last name.”
“And do you have your first name in front?” Out it leaps before you’ve a hope
of reeling it back in. “No!” she shakes her head, genuinely laughs now, and her
companions do too. You’d love to know what that last name is, to connect a small
cluster of ascending tones into a melisma that could lengthen into a riff. But stronger
still comes the impulse to vanish on this high note – take your silly male, middle-aged
wit and be gone before you or she, or the other two feel it necessary to utter anything
Grasp the handle, click the latch open and sweep out into the wall of water – a
gift from Hurricane Jeanne. There’s your bike, ten yards to the northeast, chained to its
curbside pole, drowned, the fresh grease you applied this morning either washed down
or on its way toward the gutter. When you looked out your window early, before you
left home, the streets were dry. On-line the Weather Underground predicted “light,
misting rain this morning…”. Is it worth doubling back to grab some napkins, wipe the
seat off so at least your bum stays dry? Nah. Keep to your momentum. Blood is
thicker than water.
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