Saturday, March 22, 2014

Lords of the Village

"I pull her into the alley, and her blue eyes go wide. Here we go." --The Beat on Ruby's Street

Midtown & Greenwich Village, 1958.
Now it’s getting to be spring and Sophie and I are getting restless, just like Jack Kerouac. They say wanderers are the lords of the earth and I believe them. We can’t go across the country right now but we can at least go uptown.

Times Square has a ton of things going on and my favorite place up there is the Algonquin. There was a group of famous writers that had what they call a round table there. One of them was Dorothy Parker, who wrote these wicked little limericks. They also have a cat there named Hamlet. We don’t eat there but I love to go in and walk around.

It’s also a kick to knock around Whelan’s Drug Store (though most of the time Sophie and I are closer to home at Block’s). Is there anyone alive who doesn’t like the drug store? It’s just got so much stuff in it, stuff you don’t see anywhere else.

You can also just tool around the square if you want, see what’s happening on Broadway, see men and women having coffee in restaurants, leaning in to each other telling secrets; movies, billboards, taxis everywhere. And all the actors and dancers, walking around like they own the place.

But a day of Times Square always makes me miss the Village, with artists and writers and newsstands with people buying the New York Times or cough drops or cigarettes. Caffé Reggio, Chumley’s, Kettle of Fish and Washington Square Park where people walk their dogs and play music.

Today we ran into Nell-mom and Gary Daddy-o, coming out of the store with French bread and a bag of spaghetti and tomato sauce. Nell-mom showed me how to take some globs of butter and stuff them deep into the bread before you eat it. We won’t eat until seven because Nell-mom has this thing if you eat before then, it’s uncool.

In the meantime, Gary Daddy-o gives Sophie and me some coins for ices at Sorocco’s. He must have had a gig last night. Then they tell me Nell-mom sold her fruit painting. It’s a woman, seen from the back. Except instead of legs and body she’s made of fruit, like lemons and oranges.

Gary Daddy-o and Nell-mom are laughing and they took her purple scarf and wound it around both their necks. I like seeing them laugh like that. Then something happens that almost never happens. Nell-mom invites Sophie over to dinner.

She says yes and they say they’ll see us later. Right now we have the rest of the day and some ices at Sorocco’s to look forward to. I’m thinking hazelnut. Sophie’s talking about a cannoli.