September 29, 2017 (Friday)

by Yule Heibel on September 28, 2018

A rushed morning, we need to be ready and done with everything by 8:25 when the shuttle – yes, that shuttle – arrives to pick us up.

Another long day of massive walking yesterday for me. I went out to Queens, to Flushing Meadows Park, to visit the Queens Museum to see a scary exhibit, “Never Built New York.” New York dodged quite a few bullets during its development – although it’s interesting to think of this exhibit, with its actually rather isolated proposals for some massive tower here or a ridiculous project there, in comparison to something actually being built …say, Hudson Yards, which is where I went after leaving the Queens Museum.

After finishing my tour of “Never Built” (where, incidentally, my 60-year old self had its first ever experience of being asked if I wanted to pay the “senior” rate of admission…), I walked back through the supremely empty space of Flushing Meadows, dominated still by dreams of universalism, empty dreams like the hollow and pockmarked-by-continents-looking Unisphere. Went to the Mets-Willet train stop for the Nr. 7, which took me straight through to its other end, Hudson Yards. On the way, passengers were treated to acrobatic performances by two young black guys (of course now that I’m a senior citizen, they all look young, right?) who performed stunts using the carriage’s poles, flipping through the aisles, and so on. At least one nervous middle-aged man was upset by them; I thought they were talented.

Got out at Hudson Yards. Unlike the utopian (dystopian?) proposals of “Never Built,” Hudson Yards was (is) a blanket. Not single proposals for something here or there, but instead a massive blanket of developments spread over many many city blocks. Multiple – many multiples erections (cranes), multiples of bulldozer bait dying in soon to be removed rubble. I walked it crisscross, hither and yon, stopping to get something to eat at a corner store before making my way to the High Line’s northern terminus.

I trekked along it to 23rd – it was very hot walking in the sun. Passed a Zaha Hadid residential building – interesting, maybe; but I had to wonder how all those expanses of windows on thin skeleton frames fared under the blistering sun, or rather: what the interiors “required” to stay habitable. No venting windows anywhere, it seemed, although given the traffic noise, who’d want them. But it’s …interesting, is it not, how starchitects and their promoters get to build without any concern for obvious environmental questions. Just crank up the AC, it’s okay.

From 23rd I ventured further south, away from the tourist-drenched High Line, toward 12th. I walked into Calliope, the shop run by Caroline Ventura (other half of Michael who runs Sub Rosa). Interesting concept, but I wonder how it will evolve.

Eventually I got to Washington Square Park where an Asian male quartet was playing classic John Coltrane and Duke Ellington standards – at a remarkably high and true standard, too. Visited the Grey Gallery exhibition, and then headed back to the hotel via LaGuardia in Greenwich Village.

I walked past a café called Freud, as in Sigmund. A young man, probably a waiter or else a kitchen staff person, was on a break, sitting at one of the sidewalk tables in the otherwise empty restaurant. He looked vaguely southern, possibly Spanish; anything but “northern,” German, or Austrian. And as I pass, I hear him speak into his phone, in clear and precise Hanseatic (upper class) German, “…ich glaube die macht das irgendwie ganz unbewusst….” Unbewusst, that is, subconsciously! At Café Freud. Too funny.

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