Sunday, July 19, 2009

Greenwich Village

One of the first places we went in New York was, of course, Greenwich Village. I have to confess, here, that my mental images of the Village stem from a book called The Butterfly Kid, a stoner alien invasion fantasy written in 1967 by one Chester Anderson, who is also the narrator of the book. The book is theoretically set in "the future" - actually, probably about now, and of course there is no resemblance! But I enjoyed The Butterfly Kid enough to buy a second copy when my first one began to fall apart. Believe me, the Village in that book is Very Strange.

I liked Greenwich Village. We arose from the subway to find ourselves looking at (a) a pickup basketball game, and (b) a garden, locked and walled, with a plaque commemorating a long dead pub where Eugene O'Neill used to drink. This seemed appropriate. Like the rest of New York, Greenwich Village is very dense; but it isn't very tall. Most buildings were about 5-6 stories, with some 10-15 story exceptions; no skyscrapers. There is no space between buildings here - that would be wasteful. We strolled through the Washington Mews (converted stables, and not always very completely converted either) and Gay Street (a name which predates the current usage). Gay Street is curved, and lined solid with 5 story dwellings.

It was a warm, sunny afternoon, and Washington Square (a central location in The Butterfly Kid) was boiling with people and dogs of all ages. Also pigeons. I sat on a bench to rest, and a woman near me yelped, and complained that a pigeon had just shat on her leg - I think that's the first time I've ever seen that happen. We passed a group of folkies with a bass fiddle added to the usual guitars, singing Good Night, Irene - all the people sitting and listening were singing along softly. A few yards farther along we passed a 5 piece jazz combo playing some extremely hot licks, especially the sax player; they were surrounded by a small intent crowd. The fountain was full of kids; the lawn was littered with sunbathers in bikinis.

Being in the Village, we thought it appropriate to go and look at the Stonewall Inn, and the monument to the Stonewall Riots in Sheridan Square. One memorial statue was wearing an old LinkSys router for a hat; by the time we left, a maintenance man had removed it, but I got a photo. The entire memorial is viewed with grim disapproval by the bronze equestrian statue of Gen. Philip Sheridan, at the other end of the square. I wonder what he disapproved of before they installed the Stonewall statues.

We wandered around looking for a place to eat; I don't know why this is always so hard in a strange town. I have an Internet enabled phone, and I used Google maps to try to find a place near us, but every one we went to look at had something we didn't like, or was closed; in the end we wandered down a street and saw sign reading Home. We looked at the menu, it looked interesting, we went in and dined; the food was good, rather in the Alice Waters style.

No comments:

Post a Comment