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olt! is a way station and oasis on the ancient road from Bedlam to Bellevue, dedicated to free and open discussion of topics moving heart and spirit.
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Astor Place: Heavy pedestrian traffic funnels through snow remnants at the corner. People are forced to cross a piled-up industrial carpet covered with a rubber mat, strategically placed at the crossing. I sidle closer, address the mound: "So. You're back again!" The rather heavy-set woman struggling across tries not to let me know she knows I'm a weirdo, and misses the barely perceptible movement of the pile.
First time I saw him was some three, four years ago when I stepped across a similar mound near a construction site. It didn't feel right, visions of dead bodies came to mind. I wondered what to do. There was a pause in traffic, the carpets fell open, a very healthy-looking young man dashed to the corner news stand, bought a pack of gum, and dove back into the pile. Noticed him several times since, the last time this past summer when a panicked lady screamed for the cops after feeling a movement below her feet. I watched them talk to him, he straightened his jacked, adjusted his cap, and disappeared up the avenue.
Today I stay for a only a few minutes. There are a some funny looks from people as they make their way across; one knows. He steps over the carpets, notices me watching and shakes his head. "There's someone in there."
I do have other things to do and head south, down the avenue.
Memories. I recall this one of yours.
memories ... so many memories ...
I was looking for some oldie for tonight but got detoured watching the Yankees win, they're doing good so far this season. Got to thinking about the seventh inning stretch at home games and how I miss Kate Smith belting out God Bless America, axed due to her racist history. They have live performers giving it a try, none as inspiring as Kate Smith. They've tried replacing the anthem with Take Me Out to the Ball Game which just doesn't hack it either though I love that ditty as well. And there we get to today's memories ...
Take me out the ball game
Take me out with the crowd
Buy me some peanuts and Crackerjacks
I don't care if we never come back ..
I can't stand the smell and taste of Crackerjacks due to a traumatic childhood experience. It was my first ever airplane ride, flying from Frankfurt to New York which in those days took many hours with refueling stops in England and Newfoundland. We finish refueling somewhere in England, fifteen minutes over the ocean the Captain comes on the intercom: we have to fly back due to engine problems. I'm looking out the window. Dad, look, the propeller isn't moving! One of the four engines had failed. He tells me to be quiet and I keep anxiously watching the unmoving propeller until we land safely.
Took us 30 minutes to get back from where we started. We switch planes. All goes well after that, refueling in Newfoundland, until we finally get to New York where there is an endless holding pattern. As we circle the City Mom feeds us crackerjacks to keep us quiet after the 24 hours trek across the ocean blue. Back then I had a tendency to get carsick, the air inside the cabin gets warm and humid, the plane banks yet again, I see the earth below us at an impossible angle and my mouthful of Crackerjacks barely makes it to the sick bag.
For our trip back Dad managed to finagle cabins on an ocean liner ferrying Service families to Europe. They even had a teen club with a jukebox below deck! So much better.
The rarely seen tulip moth here shows its remarkable adaptation formed by years of evolution. It disguises itself as rain soaked remnants of a tulip, thus repelling the tulip picker parasite.
Stranded in the boondocks after work Saturday noon, the Port is deserted, no one's going back to the City so I walk: across the railroad bridge, down a long dusty road lined with huge weeds and abandoned stripped cars to the crossroads and the bus stop. All's quiet. I wait in the blazing sun. Suddenly, sirens. An ambulance screeches round the corner, disappears a mile down the road in shimmering heat. A fire engine follows. More ambulances, police, fire engines. They all fade into the distance. It's very quiet again.
Down the road, a dot dissolves into a mirage, a shimmering human figure, coming my way. Looks like dressed all-black. Yup. Tall. Huge backpack. What's that movie ... Road Warrior! Yea that's it. He comes closer. I make out dirty blond hair, a distant look. What worries me is the very clean, shocking-pink teddy bear he's carrying. I have a feeling he's ready to defend it to death.
The bus shimmers into existence, both the bus and the hiker reach me at the same time. "Does this bus go to the airport?" The guy has an Australian accent! I can't decide if he's really eager to know or is a ranting maniac. "No, no ... the bus goes to Newark. The airport is that-a-way, over the bridge to the light, make a right and then a mile or so ..." He nods, gives teddy a squeeze and heads down the road. I get on the bus which drops me off at the PATH station, which gets me back to NYC ... safe at home once more.
I love your graphic, but I prefer classic view.
experimenting ... some content doesn't show in Classic?
I'm a great fan of Thai food ever since my Service stint in Thailand and weekend visits to a friend's house outside of town, perched on stilts with a deck reaching out over the local klong. Klongs are the waterways of Thailand, a bit like Venice, a bit like the bayous of Louisiana, a river delta framed by verdant growth, brown water filled with creepy crawly things which may be good to eat but you want me to swim there? I didn't bring a swimsuit! The first time around I had to be shown how to securely tie my sarong, had no problems after that jumping off the porch and spending time playing in the waters before cleaning up and picking out a dry wrap for the feasts that followed.
Tonight on St. Marks here in New York we're feasting in a restaurant called Klong, down a few steps into a dimly lit techno cave where the food is sumptuous and inexpensive. Five of us get a table all the way in the back next to the kitchen where an all-Thai crew provides a bit of extra theater as they deal with the usual overflow metromix crowd. Go for chairs when visiting, the bench backrests need fixing, they lean against the wall giving no support, useless, and it's been that way forever all through the restaurant. Someone's design gone bad.
I start with Galanga Coconut Milk Soup to get the spices rolling. We dip Grilled Squid Legs into a chili lime juice sauce and split a plate of Assorted Golden Fritters - chicken, shrimp dumplings, some tofu bits. Five Firecrackers turn out to be crunchy spiced shrimp.
Then there is Klong Pad Thai - a stuffed crepe-like concoction, promoted as an obscure recipe from the Siamese Royal Palace: seafood in tamarind sauce with a touch of coconut milk, wrapped in an eggwhite omelet: mussels and pineapple in a mild red curry sauce rule, a spoonful of rice with that sauce is heaven.
More Shrimp come in a green curry sauce, spicier than the red one, and there are two versions of Thai Noodles, all washed down with a pleasant Cabernet from Chile.
Looking back over that list now I realize we skipped the fabulous duck I've had on earlier visits.
Did I mention this is one of my favorite restaurants?
Did my duty and am I ever so glad it's every four years now instead of the two it used to be. We deliberated for four days on an arson case which wrecked an already-wrecked house in Harlem, set by a disgruntled friend in a Collyr mansion type apartment.
Collyer brothers of New York history, I don't recall them mentioning it during the trial. They were an extreme example of The Hoarders show on tv. Back in the early 1900's they filled their house, also in Harlem, with books and garbage from bottom to top leaving nothing but crawl spaces and booby traps to crush any intruders. One of them was unable to move on his own, dependent on his brother to take care of him until the day the caretaker got crushed by one of those traps leaving the disabled brother ... don't even want to think about it. Hoarding seems to be a common trait in the City. An upstairs neighbor of mine was carted off to Bellevue the other day after eluding his captors for a time in the crawlspaces of his apartment filled with newspapers and what nots up to and through the ceiling into the crawlspace below the roof of our building.
where was I ... the trial ...
We took our duty seriously, hence the long deliberation, the only chuckle coming after a rather detailed description by a firefighter of the effort involved in removing the front door to the apartment what with three feet of burning garbage behind it. He detailed how they had to take the door off its hinges while guarding against fire spreading out into the hallway. After his testimony the officer stepped out of the stand and came to a full stop at the door exiting the court room. He couldn't open it until someone told him to push instead of pull.
The defendant was a young woman, high on crack and cheap wine, found guilty of arson, reckless endangerment (people were in the building) and menacing with a knife.