Friday, February 26, 2010

New York (Visit)

I went to New York City for a long weekend.  I stayed with my dear friend Ellen.  I love the Lower East Side, where Ellen lives, and where there's an interesting face or an interesting accent or an interesting outfit no matter which way you turn.  I also love Ellen's Jean-Michel Basquait poster.

One day we went to St. John the Divine, the world's largest Gothic cathedral, up around 106th Street.  Someone was practicing on the organ; the sound is astoundingly beautiful, soaking through me like a resurrection as I stood gazing at the altar.  The music stopped.  We walked the length of the nave to The Poets' Corner.  The inscription (not completely visible in the photo below) reads: "My heart is inditing a good matter; my tongue is the pen of a ready writer." I honestly did not bother to read that inscription while in the cathedral; I only noticed the word 'tongue' when, back home, I uploaded my snapshots.  I did some Google research to learn what the complete quote says.  Thus it was mere serendipity that I stuck my pen out in the picture and that my rude pose just happened to be appropriate to the quote.  (Or perhaps, depending on your appetite for decorum, inappropriately vulgar.)

We had breakfast three times on St. Mark's Place  at my favorite breakfast place.

One night we had dinner with Bronagh (the 8th of my Irish pen pal Flo's ten children) and her husband Justin at an upscale Greek taverna on 7th Street.  From there we went to an Irish bar, Lunasa, on 1st Avenue, where Ellen and I both had a good amount of Crown Royal.  Bronagh had a good amount of rum with coke.  Justin had a good amount of Jameson's.  We all had a great amount of laughter; we and the night and the oldies-but-goodies music, and the Olympics on a large TV fit perfectly together, so it was one of the best nights ever. I slept until 10:20AM the next morning; that must be the latest I've slept in since I don't know when ... sometime in the seventies maybe?

Tuesday night was very literary.  I like to say that to me authors are perhaps like movie stars are to most people; I doubt that I'd walk across the street to see any movie star, but I rode a bus for six hours to get to New York City primarily to see my favorite contemporary writer, Andre Aciman "in conversation" (as the announcement put it) with Paul LeClerc, the Director of the New York Public Library; the event took place in an auditorium at the main library.  Afterwards Andre Aciman sat at a table in a hallway outside the auditorium autographing copies of his just-published Eight White Nights, which I had read the previous weekend.  Once the line of people seeking an autograph had come to its end I stepped forward and had a few words with Andre Aciman about Proust and the art of translation ... I'll save writing about that for my next post.

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