Have you ever noticed that after you’ve survived a bit of a crisis, food tastes better, colors are more vibrant and the air is more fragrant?
After a recent bout of unpleasantness, I blew off some steam on Friday night at the very masculine Hudson Bar and Books. It’s a scotch/cigar bar in the West Village. The wood is dark, the top of the bar is gold tin and the books are stained with cigar smoke. There’s always a James Bond movie playing on the TV in the corner. [This evening’s selection: Dr. No. Dynamite fashions. Ursula Andress emerges from the Caribbean. ]
If you fight and hang in there long enough, eventually you’ll get a bit of a repose and, if you’re lucky, someone will bring you a nice tumbler of 15-year old Balvenie on a silver tray with a little ice on the side. This is the moment you exhale and realize that the world has not, as expected, collapsed. And take it from me, pallies, the second round goes down even smoother.
My friend just returned from Spain and smuggled a few illegal Cuban cigars into the country. [The U.S. still has a trade embargo with Cuba, believe it or not.] I’m not a big cigar smoker—a few a year perhaps—but smoking a COHIBA from Habana felt dangerous and fit in with the evening theme of unwinding. The smoke was kind of harsh and my voice was several octaves deeper the next morning.
Afterwards, I took my somewhat tipsy ass for a walk. I walked from Hudson and Horatio, up 8th Avenue, all the way to Port Authority to catch my transport back to New Jersey—a distance of about 42 blocks. It was a glorious night. Just a tinge cool. Everyone was out and about. New York did what it always does for me—provided its own rolling sideshow. The big parade of humanity. When I got to 8th and 14th, I plugged my iPod in and listened to Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. I know that’s kind of square but it worked so well that I listened to it twice.
I passed young couples who were arguing in the middle of the sidewalk right next to couples on first dates who clearly wanted to dispense with the formalities and get to main event. I walked over subway sidewalk grates that blew hot air up at me as A trains whizzed passed underneath. I’ve always heard that you shouldn’t walk on a subway grate because it could collapse under your weight. Not only has it never happened to me in 20+ years, I’ve never seen it happen to anyone else.
Is everyone aware that Manhattan is having a bedbug problem? It’s true! They’re everywhere. There are special trained beagles who can sniff out the little devils. Bed bug beagles! What a smart business opportunity.
I passed the Tello steakhouse on 8th and 20th Street. Its clever neon sign out front has a blinking “M” that implores you to “EAT” “MEAT.”
At 27th Street I passed a man in a wheelchair walking his three-legged dog. He (the dog) was missing his right front leg. Two tough sons-of-bitches.
At the other end of my trip home were two beautiful daughters safely snug in their beds and a wife who, once again, didn’t bail out on me when things went sour for a while. Between the three of them and New York City, I can’t see that I have much to complain about.