Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A walk in Times Square

My wonderful friend Magpie took me out to dinner on Monday. It was in a real restaurant, and frankly I hadn't eaten anything of that quality in a very long time. What was even more delicious was spending a couple of hours with someone I've known for over half my life. There is comfort in conversation with friends with whom you don't have to reveal history, because they are part of it.

Afterwards, I walked across town to get to my train. The weather was balmy, and I strolled along 42nd Street past the main library, past the Zamboni clearing the ice in Bryant Park, past someone dressed as Grover of Sesame Street who asked, in a clipped Pakistani accent, "Want to take a picture with me?"

The streets were Monday-night-off barren, but busy by any other city's standard.  I walked by Madame Tussaud's, and wondered if she would recognize any of the (wax) people in her window; in America, in Times Square, history extends back a mere decade or two. Ripley's Believe It or Not was next, with its mechanical bearded lady. A street artist sketched a young couple, making a nice-looking picture that would cause each of them to wonder, Do I really look like that? (No you do not.) Then came the suburban multiplex movie theaters and chain restaurants that fit in only by dint of the accretion of neon.

I thought back to my childhood, when coming to a Broadway show meant parking in the very-iffy Hell's Kitchen and navigating one's way pseudo-graciously around streetwalkers. Back then the flashing lights illuminated dark corners, and after the show one was shocked to see little kids playing on stoops at 11pm as their families hung out and drank beer. One wondered about the people living there, then. Now the neon is a zoning requirement and there are upscale apartments and fancy food stores in the surrounding areas. You no longer feel you are walking through the set of West Side Story. Though I suppose you could still get mugged, if you weren't paying attention.


  1. Ah, yes, the XXX Times Square of our youth. I rather miss it; now it, yes, feels like a suburban mall.

  2. Julia,

    I just love hearing about your stories of New York City. I live in a small town in Oregon and a trip to NYC is definitely on my bucket list.

    Barb Castillo

  3. Oh, the Bryant Park rink is already open! I loved your selection of things to describe, and your flashback that extends farther back than the history displayed in Times Square.

    I haven't been thinking much about not living in NYC anymore, as I'm trying to live in the day given, but every now and then something like this makes me remember and I catch my breath a little.

    I'm glad you had a leisurely dinner with good food and comfortable company!