Coffee Klatsch

Unable to walk because I was wearing shoes that are a bit too tight but too damn cool to discard, I boarded the R train at 42nd Street heading for 57th. I sat next to two girls who looked like living Barbie dolls. Early- to mid-20s. Blonde hair that I strongly suspect might not be natural. All of their clothing was candy-colored right down to their socks. Two cute little buttons. I wanted to buy them a sundae. Their thoughts must have been of chiffon and white clouds and holding hands with harmless, pretty, all-American university boys.

One was leaning close to the other and reading something off her her iPad. She read in a conspiratorial whisper, so as not to disturb anyone sitting around them. How thoughtful! The new issue of Vogue? An advice column on how to apply make-up? I looked over.

I cannot report what she was reading because it was in CHINESE. That young, cute  cheerleader is FLUENT in CHINESE. She was interpreting what it said to her friend.

Am I EVER going to STOP judging people by the way they LOOK? How many times do I need to be taught the same lessons over and over?

*      *     *

This is where I have my morning jolt, weather permitting.

Michael Bloomberg, genius mayor of New York (may he run for president someday), is leaving office. His greatest legacy, as far as I’m concerned, is closing stretches of Broadway and other Avenues and converting them into public spaces. They’re great for hanging out and watching the big parade of humanity march by. Here’s the view from my morning coffee. This used to be a section of Broadway that roared with traffic. Now look at it. The reason there are so few people around is that it’s 6:30 a.m. Come back at 8:00 p.m. and there isn’t room to walk.


A: The New Year’s Eve ball. A few years ago they decided to leave it out year-round. Every time I have guests and point it out, they all say the same thing: “It’s a lot smaller than I thought it would be.” Boy…if I had a nickel for every time I heard that…

B: Disney. Ubiquitous. Has come to define what Times Square is vs. what it was. I’m not crazy about it, but I remember the pimps, whores and junkies. I know that image has a certain dark, poetic panache, but that’s all just selective memory. This is the lesser of two evils. Listen to Travis Bickel’s monologue as he drives his taxi through the area. It’s accurate.

C: A gaggle o’ NYPD.

D: A gaggle o’ tourists.

E: NYC wildlife.

F: A damn good cuppa. Only $1.25! Or, you can go to the Starbucks that my coffee cart guy parks in front of and pay double or triple or quadruple. And they say there aren’t any bargains in NYC. Feh.

*     *     *

Billboard in the northeast corner of Times Square courtesy of French artist JR. It was more amusing before government surveillance revelations were made.


37 thoughts on “Coffee Klatsch

  1. Balls are rarely as big as you expect them to be. Do you still have have street entertainers in Manhattan? I remember a funny black comedian who reminded me of Huggy Bear in Starsky and Hutch

    • There are tons of buskers but you’ll never see them out at 6:30 in the morning. They keep late hours. That’s where the money is.

      Starsky and Hutch. Another fine American export. You’re welcome, world!

  2. Having grown up in and around NYC and having spent so very many years three steps away from Times Square on both sides of Broadway, and constantly being in Times Square—-It is so hard for me to imagine this closing down of traffic and making all these seating areas, etc……I know a number of people who spent their whole lives in the Theatre District who don’t like what has happened to Times Square, at all. Old habits die hard, I guess….I’m afraid I won’t ever get to see it, so, I can’t really say how I would feel, except, I don’t like the way it sounds…..
    I love all your pictures and hope you take more…..!

    • What do you mean? They don’t like the pedestrian malls. Why not!? They’re great! They’d prefer choked sidewalks and dodging cabs and the M20 local bus? I wish you could step into a transporter and see it. I’m sure you’d approve. And you should see the new TKTS booth. It’s fantastic.

      • Yes! They liked it the way it was for ALL those many years…..What can I tell you. Sorry I cannot check it out myself. But just the picture you took makes me feel like it is a foreign land….Not, Good Old Times Square—Congestion and all…..! Maybe I would like it. I’m afraid I will never get the chance to find out.
        Show more, my dear, if you can….

    • That is, in fact, the norm. Bed at 10. Up at 5. What can I say? I’m a morning guy. And a mourning guy. Ha! A play on words.

      Silly, yes. You forgot vain.

  3. I have been to NY once, before the clean-up.. saw my share of crack whores and panhandlers. I am not a Starbucks fan, and would much prefer to imbibe in the cart fare. :). Here in KS, I just make my own, and cart it out the door with me. My view every morning on the way to work during the summer is the sunrise.

    • You got to see New York when it was flat on its ass. Lots of folks like to reminisce about those day, but not me. I got mugged. That stays with you a long time and makes you feel week. Get mugged by Disney and only your wallet suffers.

    • I was kind of hoping a rat would walk across the street but you don’t see too many of those anymore. I used to see quite a few! I had to settle for a pigeon.

  4. Pingback: THE WANDERER HAS RETURNED… | Moreidlethoughts Weblog

    • Can you imagine the hell that would have rained down on you if you hadn’t contacted me? SO…when’s your next trip? Brooklyn waits for you…

  5. i’m not a morning person in general, but always find myself delightfully surprised when forced to be up and about at the butt crack of dawn. places that i usually find chaotic, noisy and messy are transformed into places of calm and order. a novelty for me, as i don’t ever expect to be a morning person…

    didn’t see Times Square ‘before’. not crazy about it now when full of the tourist – but can tolerate it because you showed me your super secret Ninja-New Yorker location to take it all in while getting fabulously tanked on expensive alcohol….

    • Stick with me and I can make any NYC intolerable situation tolerable. Took a long time but I don’t mind you leveraging my experience.

      Love the pics from Turkey. Thanks, tons. Your daughter is doing something extraordinary. A most admirable life. I hope my two turn out half as curious and ambitious as she is.

      • Meeting her Turkish boyfriend has also been delightful! You’d have a stroke. Not just the “Turkish” part, but the “boyfriend” bit. Admit it… 🙂

      • Are they serious? Is this going to become a Big Issue? We should talk off-line. They look very happy and what a venue for breakfast! Beautiful!

      • pretty serious – been together about a year and they obviously adore each other. ‘big issue’? i dunno. it’s her life, and none of my business… i want her happy. she’s the one who has to figure out how to make that happen!

    • Hi there! I have to be vigilant and on constant alert. It’s too easy to size someone up by appearances. A terrible habit but at least I’m aware of it. The first step is recognizing the problem…

  6. Pimps, whores, junkies… bartenders, strippers, the drunks down at the corner store, those drunks who’d teach you all kinds of truths both real and imagined, you’re right, there was a certain romance to it and when i drive threw some of those old neighborhoods now gentrified and cleaned up i almost miss it, then i remember the two sitting in the backseat and i don’t miss it as much… but man do those memories keep me warm sometimes…

    • It was a perfect setting to navigate my youth. You think you’re invincible and can’t get hurt. You don’t have any responsibilities to anyone other than yourself. It really does conjure up some unexpectedly fond memories. But during that period, I was mugged three times and, brother, that’s memory that stays with you a good, long time, too. During one of those muggings, they didn’t take any money. They just punched me in the face a few times and went about their day. Ah, 42nd Street. What happened to you? You were badass but now you wear a frilly dress. That’s okay. I haven’t been punched in the face by a princess yet.

  7. I’m loving your morning coffee view there, I feel like I could just step right through into the picture and grab a chair and a coffee next to you.

    In terms of judging others by appearance, in real I come across as quite ditzy (I know, hard to believe right? Right?!), I can seem a bit vague and giggly, and people have always thought of me as being less intelligent than I am – I’m not saying I’m super intelligent, but people have definitely judged me as being lower down on the intelligence scale than I am. Sometimes it’s annoying, for example, when I was in my 20s I was an MD’s PA, and he often used to take me out to dinner with him when he was entertaining clients, and you could guarantee that at some point, somebody at the table would always say to me something like “Sorry, this must be very boring for you, all we’re talking about is work!”, I always had to smile sweetly and bite my tongue. On the other hand, it can be fun to surprise people when they’re not expecting much from me!

    • You’d be surprised how serene Times Square is at that hour. Just a few people passing through. Light traffic. It all goes to hell pretty soon after I finish my coffee.

      You, like the two girls on the subway, are blonde and attractive, which lends itself to a particular stereotype. I’m sure it’s something you’ve had to wrestle with since you were of age. It must be gratifying to prove them wrong. I, personally, try never to fall into that trap of pre-judging people but I’m only human after all. I slip.

      • I think we all pre-judge, it’s a natural human thing to do really; to use information we have already and apply it to what we see, it’s probably what helps us survive – if we see a slathering zombie ambling towards us, we pre-judge them as being dangerous, but maybe this one is a perfectly nice and friendly zombie, ya know?

      • LOL! That’s true! It’s a defense mechanism. If I didn’t know any better I’d invite a zombie to tea. The next thing you know, he’s eating my brains. It pays to judge people. It can be a real lifesaver.

  8. In terms of judging people by their looks, I constantly was reminded of how *wrong* we usually are when I did counseling at the clinic. A couple would come in, or a soccer mom in her 40s, or a young twenty-something. After awhile I would sometimes start thinking, “So her story might be…” and I was pretty much always wrong. Talking in-depth with strangers every single day really shows you that there is no way we can know, unless we ask.

    • You can never tell what’s going on under the hood, but that doesn’t seem to prevent us from speculating. Something about the way we’re hard wired, I suspect. I’ll bet it starts damn early, too. The only thing we can collectively do is keep our guard up and not let it evolve into part of our personality.

  9. I judge people all the time, and often narcissistically wonder how they judge me.

    But really I’m here to lower the tone drastically here to nerd level. What program did you use to do the circles and arrows on the image?

    • It’s a hobby, judging is. A natural occurrence. I can’t stand the thought that I’m being judged. If I find out there’s one person in the world who has an unkind thought towards me, I’m wrecked for weeks. So evolved. So mature.

      I imported the pic into PowerPoint and did the letters and objects in that. Then I grouped it and exported it as a jpeg. But you can do the whole shebang in Photoshop as well.

  10. I was really taken aback the the other day when someone in our book group said “Well, you do offend people.” Of course I suppose that must be true–he wouldn’t have just said that to wind me up–but I was speechless for a few seconds (which is not my wont!). So perhaps it’s a good job that we don’t know how others see us (friends excepted of course, who see the best and the worst).

    Thanks re Photoshop. I am on Linux and the free image manipulation tools are rather difficult to learn, for me anyway. Perhaps I’ll see if Photoshop could be wrestled into Linux.

    • There are some people at my office and in my personal life (mainly in-laws) who think I talk too much. It’s devastating. You don’t think I talk too much, do you?

Vent Central:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s