Came in on the redeye last night. No sleep at all; no can do on airplanes. Spent an hour standing in back of the 757 talking to a 6′-7″” pro basketball player from Serbia who is coaching the bball team at Feather River College in Quincy, Calif. Caught a bus from airport with surly Russian driver, $15 to Grand Central. As soon as I cross 3rd Ave —wham! — the vitality, energy, quality of the city; never fails. Get off the bus, a bit dazed (looking), and a woman says, Sir, want a cab? I nod and she hails one for me and I swear it’s Loreta Swiit, “Hotlips Houlihan” from MASH. Gives me a big smile as a cab pulls up, then hails one for herself. Oh yes!
Check into the Affinia on 7th Ave (in the 30’s) nice place, My redeye policy is not to sleep at all until the night, so head out in search of food (starving) and soon find myself down in the Village, get a not-very-good goat cheese omelette, then get a 30-minute Chinese neck massage ($30) that hurt, but loosens me up and wakes me up, so I walk to Washington Square and sit on a bench. Comfortable weather, grey skies, the city strangely quiet. Bunch of chess games. Two squirrels start chasing each other at high speed through the trees, noticed only by me and one dog. I like this very much.
Along comes a guy, 60s-ish-looking, riding a high tech scooter in front of the park benches. Um-um… I run after him and we have this great conversation about scooters, (since I ride one in cities and in fact brought mine along on this trip and plan on cruising tonight) then talk gravitates to the Whole Earth Catalog and he tells me he’s an artist and in 1990 did the light show for 12 gigs of the Rolling Stones Steel Wheels tour. Marvin Torrfield. We have so much in common I hate to see him go, a kindred spirit. Only in NY.
I first came to NYC in 1957 at age 22 (Nevada was the farthest east I’d been until then), rented a room on Morton Street in the Village and worked for 2 months on the night shift at a Durkee’s plant in Queens processing shredded coconut. We processed (cooked in cement-mixer contraptions-with-heat) 10,000 pounds of shredded coconut every night. At end of summer caught ship to France, hitchhiked to Milan, bought new Lambretta motorscooter, spent 3 months traveling all over Europe.…I do digress.
Sun now coming out, the afternoon light is beautiful. I’m in the 24-hour-with free-wi-fi Esperanto coffee house, 114 McDougal just down from Wash Sq. Very cool place.