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Greetings from New York, New York (2)

Mencken has a nice phrase, "... as I sat down and began to unlimber my prose..." So I'm sitting down and I hope my prose will soon be as limber as a lumbering clunker like me is capable of.

My New York stay is coming to an end, alas. But I cannot complain. My goals for this trip were three-fold: listen to jazz, eat well, and visit museums. I did all three.

Monday night was the concert of a lifetime. A James Moody scholarship thing at the Blue Note. Paquito D'Rivera, musical director; guests including heavies like Bill Charlap, Cyrus Chesnut, Freddie Hendrix, Anat Cohen.

Monday was snowy in the morning, a snow that turned to rain in the afternoon. I headed up 1st 1st Avenue to 44th Street to visit the Japan Center, but it being Monday, the galleries were closed. Oh well. So I wondered around the East side of mid-town looking for a place to eat (without spending a lot of cash). I found a nice place. An Italian joint, whose cooks were Mexican, whose bartender was from Ecuador (I had a nice little chat with her) and whose waiter was (from what I could tell) Russian. The owner may have been from India. I had two slices of pizza and a glass of wine for like eleven bucks or something ... cheap by NY standards.

Just an aside, but knowing Spanish is a real benefit in NYC. I've had so many opportunities to use it while I've been here:

1. In the airport I met an old couple from Puebla, Mexico. They were waiting for their limo (their black Lincoln town car into the city). I was sitting there, minding my own business, waiting for the shuttle bus into the city, when they sat down beside me, the husband to my right, the wife to my left. I asked if they wanted to sit together, but they no. They started talking across me in Spanish, so naturally I joined in. I told them about my visit to their city and wished them the best of luck during their stay in New York.

2. At the Spanish / Mexican restaurant on fourth street, the proprietor was from Acapulco. I talked to him in Spanish, he asked me the usual questions: why was Spanish so good, where did I learn it, etc. As I was leaving, the following dialogue took place:

EL: Y donde usted vive, ¿hay muchos mexicanos?
YO: Sí, bastantes.
EL: ¿De Guerrero?
YO: No, de Oaxaca, de San Luis Potosí, y de Puebla.
EL: Es porque los de Guerrero están en la cárcel.
YO: Es por eso que no los veo.

(- And where you live, are there a lot of Mexicans?
- Yeah, quite a few.
- From Guerrero?
- No. From Oaxaca, San Luis Potosi and Puebla.
- That's because the people from Guerrero are in jail.
- So that's why I never see them.
)

3. The aforementioned conversation with the Ecuadorian bartender, who told me my Spanish was very clear, and urged me to come back. I told her about my travels in Ecuador. In fact, during my last trip to New York, a night flight was cancelled, and the airline paid for an extra night in the city, and a limo ride into Manhattan. The driver was from Ecuador, and we chatted the whole ride from LaGuardia into Manhattan, about, for example, eating guinea pig.

The morale of the story, boys and girls, is learn Spanish. Or learn something. It makes New York so much more interesting.

I always go to MoMA, which is open on Mondays. I confess I went again this time. A few pictures will soon be up on Mondo Marco.

Today I headed back to the Japan Center and saw the exhibits. Awesome. I think, like the concert at the Blue Note, it deserves an entry unto itself.


Scottish Octopus

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