When Mat and I headed out on Saturday morning, we walked along the river towards the subway station. Roosevelt Island usually has a sky tram thing (like the SkiHi at Worlds of Fun) to get from the Island to the city, but right now it's out of service till the fall. I was looking forward to riding on one, even though I'm afraid of heights. Drag. So it was the subway to head over. (I forgot to add that to the list of things I didn't get to do). At any rate, the walk was beautiful.
Another tidbit about Roosevelt Island: There used to be a prison on the island. Emma Goldman was put there for supporting birth control (and not supporting the WW1 draft). Mae West was put there for public obscenity charges. Billie Holiday was put there on prostitution charges.
We headed first for Greenwich Village so I could see some of the places my counter culture heroes had lived and hung out. First stop, the Chelsea Hotel.
Did you know it's still a hotel? You can stay there if you have a lot of money. I think it's most famous for the tragic story of Sid and Nancy, but an unbelievable number of famous, talented people lived here to do a number of fantastic things. For example (and this is just a partial list): Bob
Dylan, Janis Joplin, Patti
Smith, Leonard Cohen, Arthur C. Clarke, Dylan
Thomas, Sid Vicious, Mark
William S. Burroughs, Gregory
Miller, Tennessee Williams,
Allen Ginsberg, K. Charles
Graham, Jack Kerouac (he wrote On
the Road right here), Simone de Beauvoir, Robert Oppenheimer, Jean-Paul Sartre, Stanley Kubrick, Mitch
Hedberg, Dennis Hopper, Eddie
Fonda, Edie Sedgwick ... and the list goes on and on. I think a life goal is to stay here some day, even just for a night.
As we wandered down Greenwich Avenue, we came upon a street fair. Very fun. We watched people and had some treats as we walked south towards 10th street to find a little cul-de-sac called Patchin Place. Lots of famous folks lived here as well: ee cummings, Djuana Barnes, Theodore Dreiser, Marlon Brando and of course, Jack Reed and Louise Bryant (the reason it was a destination). I think that Eugene O'Neil also lived there but I can't find any proof right now.
I spotted the sign right by the Jefferson Market Court with it's giant clock tower. It was super lovely. At first I thought it was all gated off but then realized the gates were open, so I went inside and walked all up and down the sidewalks thinking about Jack and Louise walking the sidewalks.
Next up, 157 w 4th, where Jack Reed rented a room to write 10 Days That Shook the World, his book about the Bolshevik Revolution. We walked past the offices of the former Masses newspaper, the socialist paper Jack wrote for back in the day but neither of us felt like backtracking for it. Of course I dorked out when we found his building. We ate some lunch across the street and sat so I could gaze at the building and imagine Jack coming and going from there.
About two blocks away is the lovely Washington Square Park, complete with a lovely arch. It was meant as an answer to the Arc de Triumph in Paris although a lot smaller. I remember walking through the park and under the arch when I stayed in NY in 1984, but the park was a lot different then. Scary and full of people offering to sell me some drugs, now it was full of people with their kids and dogs.
That day there was also a jazz band playing in the park so Mat and I sat and listened for a while. They were pretty good and Mat bought me their cd so I could listen and remember (but I forgot to pack it up when I came home!) There was a dog park and so there were tons of dogs. As I watched them go buy I started noticing there were lots and lots of dachshuds. Short hair, long hair, wire hair, I thought 'oh, lots of New Yorkers must have dachshunds because they're small and good in apartments". But when we got up and walked further into the park the dachshunds were everywhere! It was Dachshund Day in the park and man, the people and the dogs were celebrating. Very very cute. I want a Lhasa Apso day here in Lawrence.
Next up was Union Square Park. When my bff Debra went to Parson's in the 80s, she stayed in a building across from that park. And for a few weeks, when I thought I was preparing to go to the New School for Social Research, I stayed with her there. So I for sure wanted to see it now, especially since it was highly sketchy back in the day but is full of people and sunshine now.
I also wanted to check for Stomboli's, the terrific pizza place we ate at a lot while I was there. A lot of years had passed but it was still there. It's been there since 1966 (the year I was born). That's a big deal. It's good pizza.
Next up: the Statue of Liberty
After showing me the building at the tip of the island where he worked, we took the Staten Island Ferry across the water to get a good look at the Statue of Liberty. I love that statue. I love how giant it is. I tried to imagine seeing it after escaping my bad life in Europe and a long crap sea voyage. My great grandmother was only a little girl when she came here from Russia in 1908; I wondered if her parents held her up so she could see it over the railing.
After we rode back, Mat suggested (since I like to wander alone) that he go back to his pad and I head to Central Park on my own. I was all for that so he gave me directions and we went off in our separate directions.