87 hours without power – 70s style NY: bicycles, blackout and a disco ball


So – she says brightly –

How is Life in the land of working lights and heat and hot water? Do send news.

We trek uptown every other day to find cell service and swim and see a movie before heading back into 19th century downtown NY of cops and blackout and a general sense of dis-ease. The rotting garbage is reaching epidemic proportions so one assumes rodents will play soon

But enough of that – let’s look on the bright side (for tis our purpose in this lovely blog) – at least we can Report To You from inside this strange-ness-post-sandy.

we are finding our way in this new world of manhattan-in-blackout and it appears to be – as friends of ours who Know These Things – an (extended) moment of 1970s style N-Y-C.

no one’s phone works (of course the 70s was a Time before the internet and cellphones) and there’s spotty service at certain junctions so one gets All Excited and tries to respond to short-messages-services and then it Goes kaput and one is thrown back into a world before consistent telecommunications and internet Access and it’s curious.

If rather Cold and spiritually-deserted but we are SO grateful we’ve got Tons of spare-bedding-for-guests as it’s Freezing at Night and we felt like a Princess under Layers and Layers of quilts and blankets and lots of night-wear, also in Layers. But so not chic, love ;)

restaurants that have found generators announce Re-Opening by posting notices on darkened lamp-posts and we had Such an amusing moment earlier in a room we visit that just Happens to have a Disco Mirror Ball and we all shone flashlights onto the silvered discs to shine starlight into the dusk-filled room.

we all laughed in the darkness.

But some people are very afraid of the Dark and there’s Lots of it between the Hours of 6PM and 7AM.

Graffiti has sprung up Overnight – some of it most imaginative – due to the profundity of wooden boards over windows for the Storm.

So many people are on bicycles, it’s Very 70s and co-operative living, and they journey into the Protected Zone (above 29th st where Life seems utterly normal and completely unrelated to our existence of cop-patrolled-darkness) to tell us what’s on sale at Barneys (yes, people still shop Up There – no shops have been open down here since sunday night).

added to that the Presence of SO many “cops” downtown and one could almost be in an episode of cagney and lacey.

Wouldn’t that be a delicious diversion, darlings?

Especially as we’re down to our last two replacement-thyroid-and-glands-pills post the operation that removed Tobias (and his sisters, the lesser tumo(u)rs) and there’s no sign of electricity yet Downtown or the chemist/pharmacy/druggist opening or deliveries

………….or fresh milk (no Fridges working since monday), we’re all on evaporated milk in tins/cans/metallicNess because we just can’t do fake-milk-powder and the remains of the coffee just need a little something – espresso, black, is fine – but espresso machines stopped working as soon as the blackout hit.

We visited a friend for tea (no elevators – we grabbed our flashlights in one hand and both paused for effect and breaths on the higher floors – but the view was worth it and the companionship much needed).

We like to take a hostess gift and found pink roses looking hopeful outside one of the delis with generators so we bought them – after venturing inside – with flashlight – to buy canned soup (needs must). It’s actually sort of amusing to roam one’s flashlight over the shelves looking for something to eat and bumping into someone and both of us laughing gently in the darkness and perhaps saying:

that tomato soup over there is awfully good

oh! Thank you. And did you know they have some individual mini swiss cheese at the front by the chocolate?

stay safe

That’s how everyone ends their conversations down here. We’ve all heard about the muggings after dark. But nobody dwells on that.

So – there you go – another eyewitness account – sadly no pictures – the grown up camera needs charging as does the iTouch – so no instagram-connecting and the laptop (we confess we cried a little while running down the battery watching Moonlighting episodes to feel warm and hopeful again).

Still. It could be a lot worse.

People are drifting into town and joining our candlelight gatherings at lunchtimes and telling awful tales of houses by the shore destroyed and the death toll that rises daily. So sometimes we sit silently and someone cries and then we all raise our flashlights on the 70s disco ball and teamgloria, for one, starts to giggle again.

As we walked uptown this morning – through a deserted washington square park and up Fifth – we smiled from under our cloche hat (agnes b – bought in paris during a trip during la vie jet set a lifetime ago) and snuggled deep into our dior-gray/grey cashmere scarf and gave a rousing “good morning!” to all the cops and tired refugees from downtown – it helped.

Being friendly always helps.

But we can see why streetlights (as well as The Vote) were so crucial for female emancipation (and comfort) – one is virtually a prisoner in one’s own home during the dark hours.


News from outside please!

We shall pick up email and comments and do another Post this time tomorrow when we head out of the Dark Zone and into the deliciousness of midtown (who knew we’d ever describe it as such ;)

chet baker, a light supper of scrambled eggs and another handful of calcium pills.


ironically, this is how we like to wind down on a sunday evening: novels, listening to 1930s music from the Savoy hotel, then Chet Baker, a light dish of scrambled eggs (and peas, we Are British after all) and candlelight – but we could do WITHOUT the intense pain, the immobile neck and the handful of bloody calcium pills every four hours (as our body isn’t making any of its own, poor body, all hacked and bruised and sad and quite frankly pretty weepy).

by the way – weird excitement – we have a burn mark below our right collarbone. swiftly we checked the other side for a similar mark – PADDLES? DID THEY LOSE US?!!

oh. right. apparently it was the heart monitor. left on for five hours it got hot and singed us.

we are Very Sensitive.

and sore. did we mention that?


ok – we gave ourselves a strongtalkingto – a week to be really sick and then two weeks to build ourselves up again.

B (another B – we know a few, actually, all special in their own way) came by at 4pm to “walk us”. sort of like an escort to the Plaza. we’re far Too Vulnerable to go out alone (and very shaky still).

felt nice with the slight autumnal breeze on our neck dressings.

ah. the seasons change.

more tea? why not.

the gift of bubble baths and deep yogic breathing.

so there was an earthquake in NYC yesterday – isn’t that extraordinary?!

the building we were in (and on a Very High Floor) started to shake.

something was happening……but we didn’t know what

there was commotion and excitement and fear (and those of us who had lived in Los Angeles tried to be all cool and experienced about the whole affair) but secretly it was truly frightening – we’d never been so high up in a skyscraper during an earthquake – usually we were in a low’ish office block, or a design studio near the beach in malibu – or a spanish-style house or a wall-to-wall 60s shag pile studio in westwood where one earthquake felt like a HUGE truck was backing into the supporting wall. we stood with our face away from the glass windows and under a strong door frame and it passed.

things change in a second.

you’re sick. you have something wrong with your body.

these words don’t take long to say. but they change your life. our life. the lives of people we love. the lives of people we’ve just started to become new friends with and Very Much Treasure (so you know we’re thinking of you today and please remember the Yogic breathing as you go into surgery…….we won’t even identify you by an initial. but we will be thinking about you LOTS.)

the greatest gifts we’ve been given are those of comfort: music (including a very delicious mix-tape!), tons of splendid books to help and amuse and tickle us pink during the 3AM scary times and soothe us.

and then there’s the gift of many candlelit bubble baths.

a box arrived with a friend last night and we didn’t unpack it because we knew it would look beautiful in the morning light – like this:

we are so grateful to have friends. especially those with delicious taste and elegance of mind and generosity of spirit.

all we can say is (see picture) – thank you darlings.