a deceptively beautiful day in manhattan #postSandy

darlings

well (she sighs, unwrapping the long grey/gray/Dior-shade cashmere scarf from her neck) – were you here in manhattan today?

wasn’t it a beautiful day?

crisp and cool and bright-shining-sunshine-on-Fall-strewn leaves.

a ravishingly blue-blue sky and clouds like powder puffs on a debutante’s mirrored dressing table (one of those with the palest of pink lined satin under which peek a couple of divine mules.)


and down on the west side highway the traffic lights paused the cars and allowed one to gaze silently in awe at the sunlight kisses on stone.

a brunch with lady-of-letters at Friend of a Farmer (excellent eggs, stunning coffee) near the tea place of Lady Mendl.

and yet.

just a day or so ago.

this was our life.

we stand in awe of the power of print.

as well as the incredible newsworthy and timely power of blogs

and photography and talent and open debate and the gloriousness of magazine journalism.

bravo, @nymag.

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

darlings

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.

Shudder.

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 ;)

a tale of two cities: manhattan downtown blackout

Oh!

darlings – we are Very Moved – we saw this sign (below), inviting refugees from downtown blackout and Power-less manhattan to step inside the sanctuary of this place of worship and charge our digital devices (and one’s weary spirit to boot)

a spare room – an auditorium adjacent to the church itself (29th + 5th ave) – full of people and power cord strips, using phones and computers and relishing the Delicious Heat and being quiet and resting for a while.

Last night was rather Scary.

We forgot how Dark it gets in Manhattan late Oct and how many hours it would take to trudge back downtown (after a blissful Swim and Shower at the health club up on 63rd – yes – we walked That Far). And we panicked a little at the prospect of a Freezing apartment so went to the movies Big Picture because when one is feeling Low, a french movie about the deeply philosophical nature of the Question of Existence, with a cameo from Deneuve, is always welcomed.

And we had fascinating conversations in Diners.

One with Dermot Brady (we think that was his name, we hesitated to whip out a moleskine and write it down) who is stranded in manhattan due to the hurricane and the 15,000 flights canceled. None back to Ireland. We had the Most interesting conversation. Thank you, Dermot.

And the other – post movie – when we walked back as far as the lower 50s and needed sustenance – only a single seat at the Counter was available, thankfully next to a Fabulous femme d’un certain age, with Carrie Donovan oversized glasses and a Deeply chic silver-gray crop. She was en route to MoMA to see a 1929 silent with Pola Negri (in no other city would one find such people doing this post a hurricane – divine).

Kindness abounds in the dark city. Even where’s there’s light and power and hot coffee and hope and heat (above 28th now) – it feels like a dark city.

But below 28th – shiver – it’s Anarchy.

We managed to hail a coach heading for Staten Island (the busses were all packed and not stopping) and the kind driver dropped us off at E13th somewhere we could not make out in the dark. Just pools of flashlights and – Not Nice – the odd ghoul mask (halloween – scary) – silent streets – nervous souls.
The odd hum from a generator around NYU.

Washington Square padlocked with chains.

And then – as we made our way into pitch black soho – crossing over to 6th at last with, thankfully red lights from cars and NYPD traffic cops with flashlights directing them through unlit stop signs – we heard a Voice:

is that You, angel?

We paused, hoisting our swimming costume bag, all our cables and laptop and devices now-charged, but Heavy on our (narrow) shoulders, and Peered into the dark, hesitating over flashing the torch into a Stranger’s face.

OH JOY.

A friend – Peter.

He’d been waiting for a car service for over two hours to take him to a warm apartment in brooklyn but the Mayor’s decree of more than 3 people per car to Cross the Bridge means that taxis have to get multiple fares before proceeding.

So we sat close, pulled our downy coats around us, snuggled deeper into cashmere scarves, and sat on a bench in the dark and had the Loveliest conversation.

There’s something to be said for kindness.

It feels so precious when one is tired and a bit scared.

Peter reached brooklyn (we got his text when we walked uptown just now), you’ll be pleased to know. And we fell asleep as soon as we reached home, waking up with the dawn today.

This post-hurricane routine is becoming clear – up early, light stove for kettle, pour water slowly into paper cone to make coffee, walk up 30+ blocks to find shower (gym) and warmth and a movie and a swim and the Most interesting people at the counters in random diners.

We have an offer of a brooklyn escape ourselves but we don’t fancy waiting hours in the dark for a car service with strangers. Plus we can be of service closer to home. Friends who have stayed locally are grateful, as are we, for twice daily companionship-by-candlelight.

Other bright sides to post-hurricane – we’re noticeably trimmer (walking and no bagels have been delivered downtown for days ;)

But we only have 4 thyroid replacement pills left.

So we hope that the Pharmacy has power on by the time our lack-of-a-thyroid becomes a Problem.

Hmmm.

waiting for the hurricane with sylvia townsend warner

remember last year’s wait-for-a-hurricane called Irene?

it’s happening again. and apparently This One is called Sandy (who names these? what’s wrong with Proper names like Augusta or Lavinia or Max – actually Max is an excellent name for a hurricane but probably only a short one).

we digress.

in the local cafe the staff are packing up to go home and working out to whom brown paper bags of vegan muffins will go (the subways are closing in three hours and most young people live at least one subway train line ride away)

and the chaps are out with hammers taking up temporary structures like outdoor patios of wood so they don’t unhinge and break Windows.

actually Rather chilling.

and what did we do?

why we stayed in – to read Sylvia Townsend Warner. but then we got all excited because one of the letters was written in New York – not far from where we are Right Now.

To Paul Nordoff 14: vii: 1939   24 Jane Street N.Y.C

My dear Paul, I am so sorry that you are having all this worry and trouble- and I don’t see how you’ll avoid it. When I read your words ‘it will be necessary for me to stay here in the city till some sort of order is restored’ I grinned a dry grin. Isn’t it odd, all artists are supposed to be so impractical, unbusiness-like, and so forth; and the moment anything befalls that has to be sorted out, who does one see stripped to waist in the midst of the mess? The artist. Is it possible that you could get time off later on to come and stay in warren County, Conn? I shall be sharing a house there for the next six weeks with two other petticoats (both of them, of course, wearing trousers). It is a completely plain-headed house, no instrument of music except a melodion in the attic, but it is lovely country, full of wild raspberries and red-haired butterflies sitting on pink flowers, and cool mountainy airs, and a general feeling of Robert Frost.

so we had to get up and out of the apartment and go and find number 24, Jane Street – instantly.

after a substantial walk in the blustery pre-storm winds, we stopped for some baked eggs, coffee and people-watching at the Jane Hotel

and then made our way to number 24.   and here it is! number 24…..Jane Street….where Sylvia Townsend Warner stayed in 1939 and wrote the letter to Paul. #24 is on the left….we looked at the names on the bells but couldn’t see anything resembling a New Yorker editor from times gone by (and we couldn’t find confirmation from whom she rented the apartment either…..fascinating to see it though, non?)

STW probably stayed there when she looked like this – all present and correct with a slightly surprising earring and a head full of poetry, politics and Valentine.   as we made our way back from Jane Street, through the Village, we became a little perplexed at the amount of very small people in costume drooping, but happy, with large bags. oh.

right!

all-hallows-eve is on wednesday but that’s a (pre)school night so they get to spring forth into the streets of greenwich-village and forage for trick or treat-ness.

sweet.

we’re going to stay in and read more letters from Sylvia – and perhaps this recently discovered short story by her – and drink hot chocolate and wait for the storm to pass.

quick question for You:

when you read something and can hear the author’s voice coming through so clearly and cleverly and distinctly, do you sometimes get the feeling that they’re there – you know, next to you, while you read, leaning over your shoulder, back against the soft pillows on your right, pointing a ghostly finger from beyond the veil, as if to say,

“Oh, I Did Enjoy writing that Bit”

in a nice way – not a scary way?

or is it just because it’s almost all-hallows that the veil that separates us from the Other world is rather thin right now?

spooky.

but do you – do You ever get that feeling?

do. tell.

 

post #Irene: 2pm. sunday.

at 10am a few hardy souls (including your own team gloria) emerged gingerly from various pied a terre (and in some newly formed Romantic Entanglements, judging from the still-sparkly shoes on one and J Crew PJs on the other or suspiciously similar vintage t-shirts and last night’s smudged mascara)………

we digress.

team gloria took a few shots (see earlier post) including extensive flood damage at west broadway.

But then – within a matter of hours – one could buy books, caffeine and vinyl once more.

Welcome back, NYC.

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a city of eight million people: looking out the window and going back to bed.

there’s not a lot else to do in manhattan today.

the east river has burst its banks. the hudson river is flooding a block into the meat packing district. the subways are closed. a cab just flew by as we looked out the window as if propelled more by the winds (CNN say 75 mph, we couldn’t possibly tell – it’s BIG anyway, out there) than by its own power.

the huge trees outside are still standing and swaying but not, seemingly, dangerously. we are five floors up so we have a view but not one that scares us, thankfully. we still have power, for now.

so here’s what we are going to do.

w        a        i       t           it                  o        u         t

tis sunday. a day of (enforced) rest.

it does feel like everyone in NYC woke up about now (it’s 8 AM), looked out the window, checked the place for damage (we had a little bit of plaster on the floor from around the AC unit), made some coffee (it IS NYC, darlings ;) we’ll have Lots of Tea later) and headed back to bed.

the only worrying thing about living in SoHo is that the bells of St. Anthony chime regularly and do sound a little like the harbingers of doom.

we just realized that tomorrow might be the first Monday ever, in the history of New York City, where everyone actually got some sleep over the weekend.

oh god, apart from the people evacuated into shelters and those who are living in fear right near either river. we are thinking of them. would you do the same, darlings? every good thought helps.

 

the serene before #Irene

got bored.

rain stopped and started and the humidity kept rising.

so we grabbed a camera and iTouch and went to see what was happening.

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emergency water supplies delivery.

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storm taped windows everywhere. A city of X shapes.

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one lone grocery store open. huge line on prepared foods (because we all use our ovens for storage)

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Hope it doesn’t get too scary ;)

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you don’t see anyone for blocks. Streets deserted. And then someone runs past with an umbrella and last minute groceries.

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Diesel went for full boarding up. In case someone loots those ltd edition dark wash modeled by Gemma A.

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Stephen kept Ground Support open and grateful Parisians (the only people left in soho it seems) crowded in for a cafe au lait.

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us locals hung out and compared war stories of disasters-gone-by.

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and we did a tiny bit of art window shopping en route home.

#Irene. Coming. In. The. Dark. Clouds. Are. Menacing.

#eek.

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full NYC subway shutdown until Sunday night.

weird. feeling.

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Lots of surreptitious flirting going on as people crowd into bars and share umbrellas. Actually very sexy out here tonight.

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wow. It has started. Dark cloud bursts. The church bells of doom (not kidding, st anthonys peals started) and sirens and police cars and fire engines flashing lights clearing the streets.

Going home now.