Sunday, January 18, 2009

A visit to the Super Size Me doctor and a plane in the River

Last Thursday, I was running late for usual for a doctor's appointment, frantically trying to wrap things up at work so I could head out and gamble on the trains to make it on time. Just before I ran out, a coworker yelled, "OMG...a plane just went into the Hudson!"

It was sheer madness as I battled my way from midtown to Soho between the freezing 10 degree weather, which was even freaking New Yorkers out, and the news about the US Airways plane. I would be lying if I didn't say I had envisioned the worst possible scenario involving why that plane went down, and you can't even imagine my relief when I got out of the doctor's office and heard that geese were responsible. I could still here the helicoptors circling the river when I walked home that night (we only live a couple blocks from the water) and it was an eery sound even though by then I knew that all was miraculously alright.

But back to the famous doctor. I saw Dr. Isaacs from the documentary Super Size me. He was incredibly nice and thorough and had funny art work and framed pictures all over his office. Seeing as my last NY doctor's visit was to the St. Vincent's ER where I sat among a mix of homeless people and nannies with collicky babies, it was nice to feel a little normalcy on that particular medical visit.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Duplicity, Partially Shot in my Front Yard

Alright, I don't exactly have a front yard. But my street is fairly quintessential West Village, from the rows of old brick apartment houses (including the exterior of the famous 'Friends' building around the corner) to our resident bum 'Jimmy' who has resided on our stoop since the late nineties (but that's another story.)

Last spring, I had the funny experience of watching a movie being shot right outside our living room windows. Per the line producer's instructions, we had to keep our blinds open and our lights on all night. I have to say, watching a movie being filmed is like watching paint dry, and gives you an entirely new appreciation for the craft.

I watched Julia Roberts and Clive Owen practice their framing for the scene, then have to stand there for about a half hour at a time, until the director would come over and move one of them a half an inch, then leave them stranded again to stand some more. (BTW - she looked shorter in real life and he much taller... Hollywood!)

If you watch the trailer, you can see our street, and a snippet of our building, twice. First when she says the line 'You're unbelievable' and again when he says 'We don't have time for this." It's the only scenes where they're on a dark street late at night. They're brief, but there just the same.

And to think I was just a few yards away, crouching behind my windows like a blubbering idiot...until I got bored and went to bed.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Gristedes on NYE, Or Hell on Earth

If for some reason I end up in hell when I die, I know exactly what my hell will look like. It won't be all fire and brimstone with a callused, horned Satan stirring a pot of babies' skulls. Nope - my hell is Gristedes grocery store on New Year's Eve - where I'll forever wonder the packed aisles in a permanent case of deja vu.

After returning from Texas for Christmas, we came back to the city, a little reluctantly, but excited to go to a friend's apartment for New Year's Eve. I had signed up to make artichoke dip and a cake and therefore had to subject myself to my local grocery store (Gristedes) on the busiest and most New-Yorkest of all days of the year.

I normally go to Gourmet Garage, but Gourmet Garage doesn't carry regular everyday things like instant pudding mix (needed for the cake) or Triscuits (too low brow, apparently.) So there I was at Gristedes, pushing my cart down an aisle that a person of even the slightest heft wouldn't be able to fit down themselves.

It WAS crowded and the people were nasty (an old lady in a fur coat I think she'd had on since 1967 actually tapped me on the shoulder and declared she was 'going left' to move me out of her way, as if the direction I was going and therefore my shopping list didn't matter. I also witnessed a dapper looking gentleman ask the manager where his collard greens were. When the manager replied in a heavy Chinese dialect that someone 'already bought all them' the gentleman called him the M-to-the-F word and stormed out.)

But best of all was the fact that they had chosen the smack dab of the afternoon on New Year's Eve to restock their entire store. I went to get cream cheese and found the entire dairy section blocked off my men who looked on parole from a variety pack of misdemeanors and felonies. Indeed, I was there for two seconds, frantically searching for that blessed Philadelphia logo, before one of them came charging at me a hundred miles an hour with a stack of boxes up to the ceiling as if I were a hundred point target in a video game.

By the time I found the cream cheese, I grabbed 3 boxes in a panic and darted out of there only to remember I also needed heavy cream and butter. I had to go back 2 more times, literally risking life and limb.

It got better. In the vegetable aisle, a homeless man wearing a new pair of Nikes asked me for money so he could 'buy some meat.'

But the kicker of the entire trip was the fact that they apparently had run out of baking powder, which meant I'd have to visit yet another grocery store on that most dreaded, evil shopping day. 'But the stockists are here!,' I wanted to scream. And how does a grocery store run out of baking powder, anyway?'

These are the questions I'll be asking myself if I am not a good enough person in this life, pushing my cart around and around Gristedes, dodging the convicts and evil old ladies and begging homeless who have newer workout shoes than I do.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Clippity Clop on a Wednesday Night

Here's what I love about the West Village. Tonight Kris and I were watching the Sopranos (on DVD, since sadly the show is no more...) when I could have sworn I heard the sound of a horse's hooves.

I jumped up, nearly spilling my wine, and ran to the window. Sure enough, one of the officers from our local precinct was riding by on his tall bay gelding. In a city where the latest technology can't come out soon enough to fight crime, it turns out there's not much better for patrolling the neighborhood than a good old horse.

Last year, just after we moved here, I discovered a police stable by our ad agency in Tribeca (around the corner from the firehouse where they shot Ghostbusters) as well as another one on the Hudson River just a few blocks from our apartment. As a lifelong horse lover, I found this utterly fascinating. Here I was in a city where people clambered for breathing space like rats, and yet they found space for horses. Granted, one stable was on a river and another in a building that looked like a cool loft space in the making, but they were stables just the same, and the horses themselves seemed fine with it. One day on my lunch break, I even had the opportunity to see one officer training a new police mount on the cobble stoned streets of Tribeca, among the well-heeled nannies wheeling even more well-heeled babies.

New York truly is the place where anything is possible. From the most absurd and extravagant, like ordering a $1000 ice cream Sundae at Serendipity, to the most basic like getting a cheap but delicious cone from Mr. Softee. But for me there's something even more fascinating.

When I heard that horse's hooves clippity clopping down our West Village street, I could feel just for a second, what it was to live here a hundred years ago with that sound permeating the building as normal and as steady as the roar of the cabs down on Seventh. I had transcended time, if only for a moment.

And that's a feeling you can't put a price on.