At this stage in my life I’m far longer gone from Ireland than I ever spent there. I’ve considered New York my home for decades.
I’ve lived in Manhattan for almost 30 years. I’ve resided on the Upper West Side, the West Village, East Village and now Park Avenue. I’ve worked mid town in publishing at 666 5th Avenue, home to Top of the Sixes; I’ve programmed in an office overlooking Times Square and now our offices overlook Ground Zero, in the Financial District. I was with my colleagues and friends downtown, just blocks from the Towers when they fell. I’ve marched in the NYC St. Patrick’s day parade. I was drunk in almost every Irish pub on the Island over the years. I got my citizenship in Federal Plaza. I met and married Stacey in New York. We bought our homes here.
I think this all qualifies me as a dyed in the wool New Yorker. If you don’t think so, well fuck you too buddy. That New York enough?
I’d seen it all in this town . And today I wanted to see what it looks like as a ghost town. I felt entitled to my curiosity. And now I had a valid excuse to go in and visit my city. Stacey is getting back to New York State this weekend and had items she needed from the apartment.
I was heading in.
I found a mask some painter had left in the garage. It was a little crispy, dusty and smelled of turpentine. But it was something. After figuring the rubber bands went around my head, not my ears, it fit me quite well. I couldn’t find gloves but I found sandwich sized ziplocks. They’d do the trick. Also, they might be handy if I picked up bagels in a deli anywhere. They were a little hard to manage at the gas pump.
The drive was easy, the traffic light. It was the fastest time I’ve ever made from Ancramdale to Manhattan. I drove the avenues all they way south once I hit the Island, to get a good look at the place. Harlem was still hustling, half the people wore masks and the other half without looked unconcerned. The street population thinned to nothing as I went further downtown, traveling along Central Park East, towards our two bedroom apartment on Murray Hill. Those CPE residents had most likely absconded to their out of city homes.
I pulled the Escalade out front of my 36th street apartment building and called out so Mo could see my manly new bearded look. I put on my used mask. Mo, our friendliest of doormen, greeted me with a big smile I think. He had a mask on too.
Our apartment was all good. I located my hidden stash of toilet paper ; packet up Stacey’s mail and the bag she needed; grabbed some more books I didn’t need; had my packages sent up; ran the dishwasher and turned back around in 25 minutes. I also found a box of surgical gloves I bought some time back. I’d needed them because I kept attaching my fingers to foreign objects when fixing them with Gorilla Glue.
I could hear lots of activity from the other five apartments on the sixth floor but I didn’t see another person in my coming and going. I came within 10 feet of only one person in the whole of my Manhattan excursion – Doorman Mo.
I really enjoyed the five hour round trip drive. I got to sing my little titties off to my Eurotrash Amazon playlist.
Duran Duran’s Ordinary World did get me a little misty eyed as I pulled away from my city.
Driving through the city I thought of all the great New York movies I love. So tonight binge on five of my New York classics.
Walter Hills, The Warriors is probably now considered a cult movie. The Warriors , a Coney Island gang, fight to escape from Manhattan to their home neighborhood, over one violent night. Every other street gang in the boroughs is out to kill them. This is NYC at it’s filthiest. The movie was a gigantic box office on release, earning unlimited free publicity from the gang violence it sparked in theatres.
And speaking of escaping from New York, we have John Carpenter’s sci-fi classic, Escape from New York. In 1997 (the future) Manhattan is one giant maximum security prison where it’s everyman for himself. The president’s plane crash lands there. Only one man can get him out. Send in one eyed badass Snake Plisken to reluctantly rescue him. Kurt Russel just makes any movie better.
I flip flop over which is the greatest New York film ever made, but it comes down to two for me.
The Sweet Smell of Success, is seedy and nasty in beautiful black and white. Burt Lancaster is toxic as an over influential newspaper columnist, with an unhealthy possessiveness of his younger sister . Tony Curtis (career best) plays a self preserving slime of a publicist. They don’t write dialogue like this anymore. I want to go eat at the timeless 21 Club every-time I watch this masterpiece.
The car chase scene in The French Connection has never been bettered. The movie follows fanatical, break the rules Popeye Doyle, an obsessive cop trying to shut down a drug smuggling operation . Gene Hackman was a star for a reason and this film put him squarely on the superstar map. If you have never seen this movie before, I’m jealous; if you have watch it again. It’s unparalleled. This true story won 1971s Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor, back when Best Picture meant something.
I’m throwing in one contemporary movie. Gotham is New York and The Joker is a 1970s throwback. This film is a tense disturbing heartbreak. Joker got even better on a second watch and that’s my sign of a great movie. There will be a third viewing soon.
My book recommendation might be considered a romance. Jack Finney’s Time and Again sees a young man time travel back to 1883 in NYC to try and solve a mystery. This beautiful story is set against real events from Manhattan’s history. The Dakota setting, where this illustrated story all kicks off in 1970, has had of its own share of dark history since the book was first published.
This is not the type of book you’d expect from me Shelley!
Geek Trivia ; Finney also wrote Invasion of the Bodysnatchers .
There is a delightful documentary currently on Showtime featuring Duran Duran – Is There Something You Should Know. It’s only an hour long but it’s a fun throwback featuring the 80s MTV mega poppers. Respect!
Happy Good Friday.