Someone once told me that it was possible to be in love with an idea. A tableau, set on a stage of memory’s devising, with the boundaries ever-breakable, ever-limitless. There are lots of hidden edges, and what we don’t imagine now, gets added, slowly, to that miasma during our dreams. Coney Island – stretching down to Brighton Beach and beyond – I believed to be mysterious, trapped with ghosts of the past century, of the dark undercurrents of immigration clashing with the bright possibilities of a metropolitan city. A beach with ocean views extending to infinity. I imagine that some look out their windows in the morning and pretend there’s nothing between their personal slum (the crowded apartment buildings dotting the Brooklyn skyline) and the rising sun, that the dirty panoramas they call paradise can be scrubbed clean and made exciting again. That riding the Wheel and the old wooden rollercoaster, and playing Shoot the Freak, and hot dog eating contests and Fried Chicken! Hamburgers! Seafood! on the boardwalk, and go-karting and mini-golf – that all these aren’t just attempts to reclaim a lost history that possibly never existed. I’m there at 7 am on a Sunday morning, and it’s just me and the sky. Everybody else – with no exception – is an elderly Russian, out for a run or walk, usually barefoot. They clump together in pairs and trios and quartets, and presumably talk of how good the morning air is, and how the children are, and how they’re getting in better shape since they started the diet. Coming here on the D train, I notice the prevalence of Russian signs on the banners and posters. Even Western Union advertises in Russian. I think I also saw Polish, but I could be mistaken. I don’t even really know how Polish goes. I’m guessing the majority of Russian immigrants took this area as home back when they first arrived here. At Abingdon Square on Saturday, I bought a copy of Shteyngart’s The Russian Debutante’s Handbook. The Emma Lazarus Immigration Absorption Society that settles newfound immigrants, and where the main character works, soothes the fears and redirects nervous Eastern European immigrants – who live in Brighton Beach. Since the author is a Russian immigrant living in New York City, I assume his descriptions, save for obviously creative statements, are correct. There is a light drizzle, but my face doesn’t get wet, as I brought along the beret. It hides the long hair that desperately needs a haircut, and serves as a good waterproof head covering. Perfect to shade the eyelids when I prefer not to show my face. Still, I look too well dressed – I was decked out in gear that would have done as well going to bars the previous night. Which was the case. I just never changed.
There are a few sleeping bums under the pavilions, trying to sleep where they can; I understand the hardships they go through. After all, I spent Saturday night living the life of a bum. I was nursing a forty, I hadn’t taken a shower in two days, and I did my sleeping in the subway station at Grand Central and within the terminal itself, before getting kicked out by policemen at 5:30 am. I went to a couple bars earlier on Saturday evening, after seeing a couple different things in Chelsea and the Meatpacking District. Friday night, I had stayed with Anthony and went with him for dinner at the corner restaurant. We later went to Times Square. Just a relief to see life again. The huge toiling mass, pushing in and out, and life goes on. Pit stops at Virgin Records, where I buy the Jamie Cullum cd. He’s the Norah Jones equivalent in the UK, and I like his stuff. He has a very clever rendition of Frontin’ (yeah, the Pharrell piece). Fakes of Mean Girls and Harold and Kumar, but unfortunately, the sound was terrible on Harold and Kumar. Bars with friends of Anthony’s. If we hadn’t been there for only a short time, I would have tried talking to the waitress a little. Yeah, she was a little cute, but it was something to do – I felt out of place because they all were definitely gay, and I was clearly odd man out. Chelsea at night is much different from it in the day time. After helping Anthony move out (watched White Chicks before going to bed, Olympics in the morning), I went off to get down to Abingdon Square. Turns out I didn’t make it there in time, mainly because I walked a gazillion blocks “in search of…” Lunch at Boston Market, browsing here and there, people watching. I was intending on seeing a production put on by one of Grace’s friends, but that fell through for me. By the time I found my way past the pretty little Abindon Square park and the awesome bookstore (with the Shteyngart, I also bought the Seville Communion by Arturo Perez-Reverte – he’s an awesome artistic/historical/literary thriller writer, as shown by the huge difference in that book and the Queen of the South, both extremely enjoyable. The latter is about modern-day Latin America and the presence of drugs in the life of several people, including the Queen of the South herself; his other books are more historically based and are who and why-dunnit rather than a more picaresque thing.) I ended up reading in the park for a little while, before heading back to Times Square. I went to see Garden State again, because I dearly love the movie; it was even better the second time around. I also took a second look at Virgin Records, and ended up buying two more cds: Snow Patrol and Rachael Yamagata. The latter is a mixed-blood whose songs are incredible, especially Be Be Your Love and Letter Read (the song titles are not all that wrong-sounding). She has a typical guitar, drums and piano/keyboard set with her singing vocals. Snow Patrol is definitely more mainstream, and has several catchy songs. For kicks this afternoon, I put together a mix CD that was supposed to be my soundtrack for this imaginary movie. The music evokes a lot of pictures, which was why I was excited to insert my new purchases onto the thing.
In any case, I ended up walking back to 8th Ave on 42nd and catching the E train downtown to get back to Chelsea, where Anthony’s apartment was. No idea why I really wanted to go, but I found the diner across the street from the one I went to with Anthony on Friday night… Moonstruck. I found the food to be third-rate, the cheddar in the cheese omelette not as good as the cruddier-looking place across the street, and the minestrone soup to be more a potato stew. OK, but not very good. It was raining, but I ended up making my way back to Times Square station and into Grand Central for my amazing night. Being restless, I couldn’t sleep very well, and finally said, “to hell with it” and made my way to Starbucks (where I loitered for 30 minutes before it opened) to get a grande mocha frappuccino. I don’t know if this is policy, but the last three I got don’t have the choc/fudge sauce any more, which I loved to eat with the cream (cream costs an extra dollar when getting Starbucks in Asia). Then, Coney Island. The D went straight there, though it took a long time. On the way back, I fell asleep and got all the way to the last stop in Queens… I was a little disoriented, but went for a walk around Queens anyway. I’m aware this wasn’t the safest trip I’ve ever made, having brought around some valuable stuff and going into dark alleys at random times in the night and away from contact with most people. After Queens, I stopped off in Harlem, and then decided I needed a shower real bad – thus, I made my way back to the Chinatown bus stop. Getting to and from the Chinatown bus place, I always get lost. I find my way back, but only after I find subway stations with their convenient maps. And sigh, I came home, showered, and am tired. Sleep.