into the middle-distance
Saturday, May 12 2007
Gretchen and I drove down to SoHo in Manhattan today so she could give another poetry reading as part of the Best New Poets, 2006 fame wave she's been riding. The venue this time was an Irish bar called the Ear Inn, a cute and highly-authentic place situated in a two story brick building built in the early 1800s on what was once the western shoreline of Manhattan. The building is remnant of a row of federal-style buildings, though now it bridges a smallish skyscraper to the west to a nondescript building to the east. Inside, the bartender spoke in a style that suggested Ireland. In Manhattan, one can always get a job as a bartender if one is cute and can muster a brogue.
While Gretchen parked the car, I met David the Rabbi at the Ear. He was sitting out in front dressed to do his various rabbinical duties, which included at least one wedding later today.
Gretchen had mustered her entire New York City network for today's reading, causing the two other readers to remark pleasantly on the size of the turnout.
After the show we sat around outside the Ear talking in small groups. My group consisted of Dave and Michelle, the Park Slope couple to whom we loan our car when we fly to other countries. We were talking about the infuriating bioenergetics underlying the movie the Matrix, a conversation that would later lead one of us to propose a new kind of environmentally-friendly car, one powered by a comatose human in a pod in the back seat.
Meanwhile this Turkish guy with a sleepy eye kept collecting glasses from those drinking outside and taking them in, as if he worked there. But whenever he talked he sounded like a crackhead, and this was the term used to refer to him later. Gretchen's friend Wendy had brought her a single yellow rose, and the crackhead demanded a petal from it so he could show us a trick, and then he popped the petal like a balloon in his fist. I tried to do the same with a piece of paper, but it didn't work. For some reason the crackhead assumed that Michelle and I were a romantic couple, and once he learned our names he kept repeating them together as if he was reading from graffiti painted on the side of an overpass.
A couple bicycles were parked out in front of the Ear, and one of these was one of those gearless, brakeless, fixed-pedal MOTH racing bikes that all the hip kids are riding these days, to the great danger of the populace at large.
We walked as a group into Greenwich Village to dine at a middle eastern place called Moustache. The food was mediocre-to-poor, but the company was good. Still, as Gretchen pointed out on the way home, when one is in the City, there's never an excuse to not eat well.
Well before sunset, Gretchen and I drove back northward out of the City, but we didn't go straight home. Instead we went to Woodstock and attended a big 40th birthday bash for our friend Chris, one of the two photogenic vegan Buddhists. There was a quite a crowd in attendance, basically everyone who is anyone in the 40-something leftie activist demographic in Woodstock. When I got there I realized I had nothing to say to anyone, so I sat down on the couch and sipped white wine and stared into the middle-distance. I don't know if the glazed-eyed idealism of the vegan scene just isn't to my liking, or if I'm becoming increasingly antisocial as I grow comfortable in my marriage, but for whatever reason I felt both bored and alienated. I found myself daydreaming about how tidy my laboratory is becoming. Then, beneath the tablecloth thrown over the coffee table, I found a delightful coffee table book called Tiny Houses, which I proceeded to browse in fascination.
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