We have achieved some semblance of normalcy in our new home, and we’ve walked around a bit, getting the feel of the place like wary cats in someone else’s territory.
We are a block from Broadway here, in Brooklyn we were right on Broadway. This Broadway has trees on it; the Brooklyn Broadway had a train on it. They are both busy avenues, but the pace on this Broadway seems a little less frenetic than our old Broadway, where everyone from the faux taxi drivers on Flushing Avenue to the Chinese massage women handing out fliers on the corner were desperate for business, or at least aggressive about promoting it.
I don’t know how many times the same guys with broken down dirty “taxis” shouted “taxi? Taxi?” in my face, regardless of the fact that they’d asked me a million times before and I never said yes. Whether they had high hopes or never remembered my face I don’t know, but it was annoying.
No one has asked me anything or tried to push anything into my hand here, or offered me a free cellphone or complimentary dental exam through a bullhorn. And yes, I could hear most of these characters from my window all day long, along with the sirens of ambulances headed for Woodhull Hospital around the corner, the J and M trains roaring or trundling by, and the delivery trucks constantly parked in front.
It is pretty darn quiet here. There is some yappy dog somewhere downstairs, it sounds like a Shih Tzu or something small and annoying like that. The other morning it barked for two solid hours after its owner left for work, I imagine. But it was a few floors below and the only reason I was aware of it was because the windows were open and there was no other noise at 6am.
There was a woman singing gospel in her bathroom across the courtyard the other day, but at least she sang in tune and only for a minute or two.
We went to the Bronx last week, to the Bronx Terminal Market, which is 6 minutes away by car. I took the bus there by myself Sunday to go to Bed, Bath, and Beyond and it took me only 10 minutes on the Bx 6. It took a lot longer to walk the half-mile there because I got off at the wrong bus stop, on the north side of Yankee Stadium. I’ll never do that again.
When you stand on the corner of 155th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue you can look down the hill and across the Macomb’s dam bridge at the Bronx, and if you look hard enough you can see Yankee Stadium across the Harlem River. I remember a few years ago riding in a car with friends and we were on the Harlem River drive headed to a funeral in New Jersey. There were two Yankee Stadiums (stadia?) at the time, the new one and the one that hadn’t been torn down yet side-by-side. I absentmindedly said, “will the real Yankee Stadium please stand up?” That got a laugh, so I couldn’t resist repeating it here.
Now there is only one, the new one, and a very nice park and little league field that was part of the deal for building the new stadium. It’s a very big park, and I found that out by having to walk the whole length of it to get to the Bronx Terminal Market.
In the ‘70s I new a guy, he was actually a hood who was the boyfriend of Liz Eden, a friend of mine from the bad old days, if you’ve never heard of Liz Eden you should look her up, she had a very interesting story.
This guy’s name was Tony, and he was a Bronx Italian. We were discussing business one day and I asked him to come to Brooklyn.
“Are you kidding me? I don’t go to Brooklyn. Brooklyn’s like the jungle.”
I wanted to say I felt the same way about the Bronx, which to me was a place of burnt out buildings and roving street gangs and Fort Apache. No thanks.
But now it’s where Home Depot and Target are, and Danusia loves Target. I’m a home Depot man myself. The Bed, Bath and Beyond there isn’t so impressive, smaller than the Sixth avenue store if you can believe that.
It’s a little confusing getting from place to place at the BTM, there are 6 levels and a north and south side divided by a huge parking lot in the middle. It took three minutes to cross the parking lot.
So, now I have a choice, I can shop in the Bronx or shop in Manhattan. I never shopped in Brooklyn, except to get the Güttig mineral water at the food Bazaar on Manhattan Avenue. They are the only ones who carry my favorite mineral water, so I’m going to miss that. Güttig comes in 2.5 liter bottles that weigh 5 pounds each.
There is coincidentally a Food Bazaar just across the river, near Yankee Stadium. But I’m not gonna carry 30 pounds worth of mineral water on the bus once a week, so I guess I’ll have to find some other mineral water to drink.
But the one thing I think I will do next summer is try and find my way into the stadium to watch a Yankee game. It’s been 50 years since I did that at the old stadium, so I guess it’s about time to get re-acquainted with the Bronx.
It is really beautiful up here, the cemetery is beautiful, the Hudson River is beautiful, and the Harlem River ain’t too bad either. And you can walk from one to the other in about 20 minutes. The old buildings on Edgecombe Avenue are beautiful too, and we are thinking of looking there for a real place to live, with more space than here. I like it here already.