Thursday, November 1, 2012

After-storm days

Without the subway system, the city is one big traffic jam. Pictured here is Broadway and West End Avenue. 10:00 AM. Photo: JH.
November 1, 2012. Storm passed, grey days stay, colder weather. It was a strange day. I mean, here it was the middle of the week in New York, and the town was uncertain: it still felt like a natural disaster was just behind us. Which it was.

People were out. Trying to get to work, to run errands, shop. The sidewalks and the roadways were jammed all over town. Because there is no subway service and very little bus service, people were getting around on bikes, scooters, cars, and taxis, not to mention the trucks. You could get a cab easily in my neighborhood but the problem was getting to your destination. And the cost sitting in non-moving traffic. Ten bucks, ten blocks. Every avenue and every side street (at least where there was electricity) was bumper to bumper.
Lexington Avenue and 79th Street in a crawl at 3 PM.
Two views of East End Avenue and 83rd Street (usually empty at this hour) in a crawl at 5PM.
Not to mention the double parked delivery trucks. There was a lot of horn blowing but it was useless.

Warm vibes at Sette Mezzo.
I didn’t get to midtown but if the Upper East Side was any indication, it was hopeless there too.  I had a lunch date at Michael’s that was canceled. Michael’s hadn’t reopened anyway. Those restaurants that I habitually visit – like Swifty’s and Sette Mezzo; neighborhood restaurants – were jammed the night before at the dinner hour. Probably the same last night (I stayed home.)

A friend of mine who lives on the Upper West Side had decided she’d see if the drugstore two blocks from her apartment was open. As she was approaching the block, she saw a line stretching around the corner, something she’d never seen before at a drugstore.

Undaunted, she continued on. When she arrived at the store, she learned that the line was for a shop right next door where they sell and rent video games. The drugstore was open, but empty.

Another friend, who lives below East 20th Street called to ask if he could come up to take a shower. He’s been living without power and water for the past three days, and it was getting to him.

Last night was Halloween, and in my neighborhood and in my building where there are a lot of small children, the sidewalks and elevators were busy with little ones trick or treating (between the hours or five-thirty and eight). After that, stone quiet. All major social events on my calendar had been canceled.
Many parents took their children trick-or-treating while many New Yorkers are still without power.
Another friend called to tell me that the Hurricane of ’38, which had been documented on PBS“American Experience,” could be found on their site. I went and looked. I had seen it before but I ran it anyway. Fascinating but ghoulish, reminding me of all the millions of Americans who’d just been marauded and devastated by Sandy including my friend in his candle lit New York apartment.
Click to order "My Life As a Mankiewicz or buy immediately at Archivia on Lexington and 72nd.
I went back to the book I’m reading:  “My Life As A Mankiewicz; an Insider’s Journey Through Hollywood,” written with Robert Crane. Mank was a great raconteur (surely a genetic predisposition), an indexer of Hollywood characters and lore, creator of the immensely successful series “Hart To Hart,” screenwriter of many features including “Superman,”  “Superman II,” “Mother, Juggs & Speed,” “The Eagle Has Landed,” “The Man With the Golden Gun,” “Live and Let Die,” “Diamonds Are Forever,” “Dragnet.” 

It is thoroughly entertaining, insightful, laugh out loud funny, and subtly an unassuming portrait of a bright, smart, curious, empathic, loner of a guy who loved the jungle known as Hollywood.

Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Tuesday Weld, Natalie Wood, John Ford, John Wayne, David Selznick, Liza, Judy, Michael Jackson, Bogart, Clooney, Crawford, Dennis Hopper
 and all the Fondas – Jane, Henry, Peter; Scorsese, Sinatra, Milton Berle, Bobby Darin, Debbie Reynolds, Gene Kelly are just part of the all-star cast of this man’s life. All you need is the popcorn: Mankiewicz delivers the rest, and it seems like it’s just for you (especially when you’re laughing).

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