Sunday, April 26, 2009

Smile, You're on Second Avenue

Store front, Upper East Side
Let's see a smile on your face", he said in the way of New Yorkers; friendly but remote, intimate yet distant. You can say almost anything to a fellow New Yorker. No need of introduction. We are all family here. And like members of a real family, we keep our distance. People sitting next to each other on a New York bus, might chat about a movie they've both seen, the joys of grand-motherhood, the stockmarket, only to alight stops apart, never to see each other again.

So I answered my fellow New Yorker with smile, and he smiled back.

"Now where was I? Oh yes, on the place marked "B" on the map to the right. I'd just had a rather late brunch at our excellent neighborhood restaurant Nina's, and was walking north along Second Avenue about 300 meters to the local UPS store.

Before setting out for brunch, I'd decided to take a few photos. The weather was warm, verging on a muggy hot. It'd be good to take some pics before summer set in. So instead of walking along in a Mahattan daze, I was looking at the stores, or more correctly, at the places where the stores used to be, as my latest fad in photography is shop facades. When I get the urge to photograph it's always in themes. A few years ago it was billboards and I recently started manhole covers.

Now I know that times are hard, but I hadn't realized how depressed our neighbourhood had become. From B to A on the Google map clip above - in less than 0.2 miles - a desolation row ... storefront upon storefront of closed-up businesses.
I dont remember what stores used to be here ...

Or here

But this used to be a pub - "The Big Easy"

"They're selling postcards of the hanging
They're painting the passports brown
The beauty parlor is filled with sailors
The circus is in town" (Dylan)

"Here comes the blind commissioner
They've got him in a trance
One hand is tied to the tight-rope walker
The other is in his pants
And the riot squad theyre restless
They need somewhere to go
As lady and I look out tonight
From desolation row" (Dylan)

There used to be a trendy deli here; baskets of shiny red apples and tables and chairs for the coffee drinkers ... I must have a photo of it ... somewhere.

At least this looks a bit artistic ... images of Mondrian?
And now we are back to where we started.

I've come to the end of my 300 metre walk.

Yes it looks as if New York is falling down. But it's not, you know. Far from it. And that is one of the many things I love about New York. And New Yorkers.

We might be down, but we are never out. And as my weekend draws to a close, I'll remember my friend from this afternoon; I'll put a smile on my face.

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