radical ghosts of the village
Saturday, January 3 2009
setting: West Village, Manhattan New York
Gretchen and I had spent the night in Penny and David's Greenwich Village apartment, a 5th floor walkup near the intersection of 10th and 4th Streets (one of the few places in Manhattan where numbered streets cross each other). Some time ago Gretchen had given David a book entitled Radical Walking Tours of New York City by Bruce Kayton. When Gretchen later reminded David of it, he'd forgotten she'd given it to him, dismissively saying it had been given to him by "someone" and "you can have it." This morning Gretchen was pouring over it, reading all about the many radicals who have lived and done their radical worst right here in the West Village. The only thing I knew about definitively were the Weather Underground people who accidentally blew up their brownstone. But Gretchen was all worked up about the likes of Woodie Guthrie, Emma Goldman, the Rosenbergs, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and the house whose façade played a role in the intro to The Cosby Show. My interest, on the otherhand, was mostly geographical. I wanted to see for myself how the Weathermen's house had been restored or how buildings had been lopped off to make way for the extension of Seventh Avenue southward.
Gretchen brought the book along when we went out to get my morning bagel and coffee. The weather was nice enough (at least in the sun) to sit on a bench in Father Demo Square. I gave a small bit of my bagel to a pigeon, who proved remarkably incompetent at breaking it into pieces small enough to swallow. Eventually he lost most of it to a scrappy little female English Sparrow, though the loss didn't seem to trouble him much.
We followed the course of one of the radical walking tours in Gretchen's/David's book. It was hard for me to get excited just by standing in front of a (usually nondescript) building where a famous radical had once lived, though I was intrigued whenever the architecture took a turn for the strange, such as the narrowest apartment in New York City, a three-story building built in a nine and a half foot wide alleyway. (This apartment now rents for $6000/month.)
Gretchen hadn't had a bagel, though she did drink a cup of coffee, which for her is an unusual act. It made her say things such as, "I feel like I'm on speed."
We eventually had a delicious lunch at Sacred Chow, the vegan eatery we both love over near NYU. I should mention, by the way, that our favorite burrito chain, Burritoville, appears to have gone belly-up. We visited two of their restaurants last night and both were shuttered. One of these featured a sign claiming it was retail space that was now available for lease.
On the drive back up to Hurley, we stopped at Herzog's hardware after leaving the Thruway so I could get weather stripping, a door strike plate, and more spray foam. That should give you an indication of where I'm at in my greenhouse project.
Water overflowing a gutter downspout and freezing in Greenwich Village.
New York's narrowest apartment in Greenwich Village.
Interesting freehand scale pattern on a Greenwich Village façade.
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