Social behavior 101

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Park Avenue. 12:30 PM. Photo: JH.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020. A beautiful summer day, yesterday in New York, with temps in the mid- to upper-80s plus the humidity which gave us a Real Feel in the low 90s. The heat lessened by early evening. There was a thunderstorm in the forecast, as it’s been seemingly every night. I was looking forward to it because it cools things off.

I went to dinner at Sette Mezzo with Sylvester Miniter. The Miniters and I are regular customers. I introduced them to the restaurant, although it has never been a secret in the area. The block on which it is located is Lexington Avenue between 70th and 71st Streets. Hunter College is just two blocks south on the avenue. But it is otherwise a highly residential area of Manhattan from Fifth all the way to the river and twenty blocks south and thirty blocks north.


Dining al fresco at Sette Mezzo.

On that one block there are four heavily patronized restaurants, family restaurants – if you will – as well as comfortable restaurants for dinners that may be social, may be business. It all in some way feels like family if you’re a regular. I don’t mean knowing everybody because I sure don’t. Although the familiar faces are in a very real way a comfort. We’re all in a good place, however briefly.

That block also has an excellent pizza place and on the corner across the avenue is a Corrado sandwich place, also very good. And in the middle of the block are two more take out eateries, luncheonettes. That’s just on one block. The rest are the retail shops, mainly fashion. There was another restaurant that closed during this lockdown.

They were all busy last night. All the restaurants were busy. Sette has 8 tables on the sidewalk and in the street (the parking lane has been transformed for the restaurants).


Next door at Bella Blu.

Now why am I going into all this? Dinner on a Monday night in July. So…? Because this is it. This is life in New York right now at its very best. I mean privileged best. I don’t mean money-privileged although we all know about that and it helps. I mean the privilege of being OUT in the world, in the community amongst others, not necessarily dinner partners.  And while sitting there occasionally neighborhood people pass by, and those with their friendly dogs (a woman who lives on 74th was walking a big friendly white Lab which hesitated by our table as doggie wanted to meet the table and preferably something on top of it which he obviously got a whiff of. Tail wagging).

This was a scene that you can find all over New York right now. On the sidewalks, in the side of the roads. It is ordinary but we also know/feel it is beautiful at this moment. People together, in groups of friends and relations, chatting, talking, eating. Right now the very sight and experience of this “social behavior” is a GREAT RELIEF. It’s actually a therapeutic relief, no matter how momentary. It wards off the anxiety that has arisen in the life of so many people in all walks of life, ages, races all over the United States.


20 blocks north at Vicolina.

It’s unnameable but it’s a boat we’re all in, and we do know whence it comes. And frightens. And confounds. These are emotional dilemmas that arose from the lockdown, not  from the virus  — although that became the eleven o’clock number as they say on Broadway.  

So, to get back to my point, it was a great pleasure to get out just to be around other human beings with their masks removed (so they can eat). 

Since this is at this moment the center of little David’s social reportage, there’s always something to learn. The other night I dined with a prominent real estate broker who sells residential property to people from all over the world, the majority of whom live in New York. Like the rest of us she’s been in lockdown for the past four months. But on the phone all day buying and selling properties. Her business is booming.

People wanting to get a place outside and away from the city is the story right now. People even selling their residences in the city and moving out to the “country” (which could mean suburbs or exurbs). Her clientele are the rich. For example: If the couples have children in school there is the question of where will they continue their education: here in Manhattan, or there where the new home is? The solution most are choosing so far is keeping them in both schools somehow. Damn the expense. It sounds very complicated, and listening to her explanations it sounds very unimportant to most of us.

The real estate, however, is cheaper out there in the woods. For those who have the money. A million-three will get you a great piece of real estate and even building a new house will be a lot less than what they paid for that 12 room duplex on Park Avenue, a bargain at $21 million. Those are the kind of numbers my friend bounces around on her appointments.

Another night I had dinner with a friend of mine who has been handling the lockdown-etc. with a busy daily schedule including the exercising, the Pilates, the hair appointments, the dermo, and otherwise visiting friends here and there — Florida, California, New England. On the go. Yes, alas she is independently wealthy and then some. And plays a lot of canasta both at home with the vid screen and at clubs. That is where lots of these girls enjoy the pleasure of the game and also: in the company of others. That’s the best medicine for all of us poor lambs who can’t solve these major problems that confront us. (Whatever they are).

For the visual story, my friend was dressed smartly but casually and she had this purse. I’m not into purses, even noticing them, but this one … how could you not notice. It was beautiful but it was also painted on. It wasn’t’ in the leather. It was on the leather. But permanently.


The front of a personally handpainted Hermes bag. $6,000.

It is an Hermes purse, as you can see by the leather clasp. Originally black. A woman artist out in California does it. She buys the purse and then paints it Like any good piece of art, it invites your attention, partly because it’s a painting on a purse, but also because the art itself is compelling.


Back side of the purse.

And with that I am thankful for these days. And glad to get out of the house. Even for a few hours. Try it. You’ll like it. It’s a return to real life.

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