Tuesday, April 7, 2020. It was beautiful Spring weather yesterday in New York, with temps reaching up above the mid-60s and lots of sunshine. Otherwise, the weather is the same here in New York. Weird, strange, odd, scary (at times), and you often can’t remember which day it is because a lot of it feels like Saturday and Sunday. But uninvited days off.
I went to Citarella for some groceries in the mid-afternoon. Third Avenue, like all the other avenues on the East Side, was quiet with very little traffic. On an ordinary weekday these roads are jammed right into the mid-evening and sometimes beyond.
There was quite a lot of foot traffic along the way. Neighborhoods. Almost everyone was wearing a mask of some kind. And going out of their way to keep their distance from everyone else. Aside from the reason they’re doing it, this is a behavioral phenomenon that never occurred before anywhere in my lifetime. Mel Brooks could get a big laugh (a roar) out of working this one.
There was a line outside Citarella — about ten people waiting when I got there as you can see by the photo. It’s like this on a long Summer weekend (sans the line) and it’s very nice. Except this ain’t no Summer weekend. It was about a ten-minute wait until enough people came out of the store so that I could go in. Customer In, Customer Out. Once inside, it’s quick if you know what you want/need. The staff wears masks as well as acrylic face shields.
New York is a big town of impatience. A place where you can get what you want whenever you want it, morning noon or night. That’s not entirely true, of course, but generally it fits. So, if you have to wait! outside a place like a grocery store, you never go there again! Hah! Now, once you dropped your NewYawkEse, and because you have no other choice Buster, you now have endless patience, resigned to the reality, and you’re fine. You’re even more than fine because now you having nothing but time! Ideally speaking.
Gone to the Dogs. A friend of mine told me that according to NBC New York dogs are now supposed to keep their distance from each other. Unless they’re being walked in numbers. The dog runs are closed in the parks now too, so there’s none of that. And if you’ve ever walked a dog – and I’ve walked a lotta them over the years, they sniff everything and every dog (if they can get close enough; and they often do). If they detect something dangerous to their health, they don’t discuss it, and just move on. We unfortunately lack that sense of smell a lot of the time.
I looked at my calendar in the last three and a half weeks and it’s empty. All dates were crossed off. This is the way it is for millions of New Yorkers. And for each of us, it’s a private experience because we’re literally isolated. Because we’ve never had this before. I tend to pride myself in liking my solo life. My work and my obsessions with it take up a lot of space. But more and more I miss those moments of a lunch or a dinner when I can have face to face conversation as well as see others, familiar faces, acknowledging the community in all of us. It’s enriching.
If it goes on much longer, history shows there will be other problems. Yesterday from my terrace I watched a man walking by on the other side of the avenue in the road. He’d stop by each parked car and peer into the front window, as if he were looking for something specific. He looked to be in his late 30s, early 40s. Although he walked with fatigue in his gait. His white pullover shirt was old and yellow and soiled, as were his jeans. He was not from the neighborhood. Or probably any neighborhood. He was looking for something. I thought to myself: food. Dragging himself along, he saw nothing to change things for him, and he moved on down the block in his pursuit of something needed.
Many of you saw Queen Elizabeth II give her special broadcast to the world about the Covid-19 virus dilemma that is confronting millions of people all over the world. At the time of this writing, England’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been moved into the ICU afflicted with the virus and on a ventilator. In her brief talk about the state of things in the world, the Queen expressed her concern for everyone, and emphasized that WE are all in this together, and therefore it’s best to approach it with concern for our neighbors as for ourselves, since this episode in our history confirms that.
Her Majesty spoke of her earliest experiences with international episodes that affects so many, such as the Second World War when she was barely a teenager. At the end of her message, she made a reference to a popular song of that era, song by a young British vocalist named Vera Lynn: “We’ll Meet Again…” You saw that this remarkable woman, literally incomparable, about to begin her 94th year, is perhaps the most powerful individual in the world, presenting her wisdom on the side of what is right, well, and good for all.
And to finish the job of today’s Diary we’re running a brief video to lighten up your day that came to us from our friend Catharine Hamilton …