Overlooked Manhattan: East 36th Street

It’s been over a year since I posted one of the “Overlooked Manhattan” series, and it’s time I got back to it with one on East 36th Street, which most New Yorkers only know as an outlet to the Midtown Tunnel.

But there is more! Not only are there secret gardens.

But there are also the Missions for Chad and Armenia.

Got to keep my eyes open in this city. Looking for more.

Doubling Down on Anger

I am angry not because it’s the first step in any program but because no one is honest about who they are. Not one of us. The pandemic has made this clear.

After all of the drivel about finding oneself in the quiet of the lockdown – talk which lasted all of three days – the only thing that anyone did was consume and bitch and consume and consume and consume.

Worth saving? Why? We are fucked. And good riddance to us. Btw, I have a book about that, called Anori. It’s about leaving this planet so we go fuck up another one.

Lost It or Losing It Again

Don’t speak. Or when you do, don’t say anything. That’s the maxim of this age. Or a code for something somebody said, got liked and then deleted. The point is to live your life and not be kept in a burrow. Unless that’s your life. The burrowed one.

Things get broke and then come alive again. It’s a dead thing. And then it’s something else. Profound and fecund. And fuck all of that. The point is to not bow down. No genuflection and all of that. Say what is hard and true, look back in anger and say it right.

The detritus is just that. Clean out. Move on. Grow up or out. And then die. Yeah, that happens which is the point. Jimmy.com. Waking up remains the best part of the day

The Elitist Anarchist

He sits across from you, one earplug in, as he espouses on the failings of the world – and you – and begrudgingly takes your five dollars. “You are wrong. Nobody has said anything dumber.” He’s out of tobacco and would like to squat your living room for the winter.

He rambles on, first about the barter system, then on the meaning of work until he starts a full tirade on the failure of representational government, everything you need to know and how you can change, all that just by being like him. He ambles off, briefly holding back the subway doors just for the fuck of it, and vanishes up the stairs.

Commuter Blues

I don’t have a clue who I am, where I am going or what I’ve done. It’s a meandering thing that goes out the door and comes back in. I know something about nothing and that is about all. I am fascinated for a time. People too. There is a moment. And then not. I know it is about nothing, nothing and nothing again and almost take solace in that. Not quite.

The fact is that I hate the look-at-me dissolution of our world, the babies that never grew and think people cares about their childish discoveries. That is where we have lost everything. While the barbarians culled these ones, we’ve decided to let them run the show.

The Approximation of Something

It’s his foot. It’s not just his foot. It’s his intention. He sees me running to catch the subway. I’m going to miss it. But he swings his foot out, a big construction boot, and blocks the doors. The conductor repeatedly tries to close them, but the boot is there. And I am on.

He’s a small Latino guy, a brown construction helmet hanging from his backpack along with a level almost his height. I thank him but he says nothing. He seems indifferent. But he isn’t. I know that. He goes back to quietly talking to his friend as the train leaves the station.

Life on the Commuter Train

There is nothing like coming into the city on the train. It’s all here, inside and out, the buildings thick with cranes, the roads with trucks and plastic, the river wide and dark.

We have forgotten what we never had. We have looked back blind. We have let loose with a broken yarn. We are here, magnanimous and incompetent. Yes, yes, yes. Wait. That is the answer, that sound. It will come again. When we are gone.

The boy across from me eats salted cauliflower sticks, one by one, wiping his fingers on his drooping mask, intent on the next page of The Magician. He pokes his fingers inside again, licking off the last grains, crumples the bag, and holds the book up high, a better filter against the pandemic that anyone knew. The couple beside hold hands, the young man clinging, desperately asking her what she thinks through his tight mask. The girls at the front of the train explode hilariously, talking over one another in a spew, “I felt it touch my lips. That was it. I love weed. I was going to put it into the Pringles. I don’t remember a black bag. I will Venmo you right now. You look so good.”

I think of her, still think that we could make it work. I know it is not real, that she would wander away or lie or deny what she did and said, but still it is the idea of her, the magic of that streaming in, with her in a remarkable circumstance, sucking on her great left breast, marvelous in mass, supple and goose-pimpled, believing in everything, stuck in that, even when she laughs and her friend tells her to turn to the camera for the Tik Tok video.

And then it becomes something else, more wide, more clear, held, the way you might hold a piece of nothing like it was god or truth or love and really believe that. And so yeah, seven dollars for two shots and a mega-can of beer. Fuck me. That’s what it’s all about.

Writing Process: Knowing Thyself

I don’t know who I am. I pretend to have it crystal clear at times. I even proclaim that I know things and might even really think that I do. But it is fleeting.

I haven’t confined myself to a career. While I might have taught for many years, I don’t identify as a teacher. I snuck into the profession and messed around. And that is all.

The United Nations International School, a place where I used to work.

I have also had no success as a writer, and so neither am I constrained by the limits of thinking that. Nobody reads what I write, and so I don’t really do that. It isn’t real.

I know people and talk to them, but I don’t actually know anyone. I don’t live in the country of my birth and hide out in a city of faux intellectuals. Drunks, I mean.

33rd Station on New Year’s Day

I am on a great clipper ship with nothing but clouds all around. And I think that I am clever and creative because I am writing that. But I don’t know who I am and never will.

Overlooked Manhattan: The Down Town Association

Situated at the base of 70 Pine Street, The Down Town Association is a private club which dates back to 1887, making it the oldest club in New York and second oldest in the US.

Notable members have included Thomas Dewey (New York Governor), Franklin D Roosevelt, Wendel Wilkie, and Grover Cleveland, the only person to serve non-consecutive terms as president. Current members are mostly lawyers or financers.

The club was used almost exclusively for lunches and billiards back in the day, only offering overnight accommodations to members and guests beginning in 2016.

All of that said, Covid-19 has closed it up pretty tight.