Monday, June 06, 2005
The Chrysler Building--my favorite NYC building of all
I Love New York
I live in Boston and am very happy here. I’ve built a rewarding career and sunk deep roots into both the rocky New England countryside and the mucky, man-made fill of Back Bay and Cambridge along the Charles River. But I’m a New Yorker born and bred. I think if you’ve been born there, a part of The City goes with you wherever travel or live.
I go back to New York regularly to see family and for performances in the city’s opera houses, theaters and concert halls. I love walking its streets. I arrived once for a day at Lincoln Center and parked in my favorite garage on 63rd Street and West End Avenue. I had a lunch date at 14th Street and Union Square on the east side and walked all the way for the sheer pleasure of being there.
I spent the first five years of my life at 235 West 72nd Street between Broadway and West End Avenue. I played in the extensive park along the Hudson River and remember vividly many of the people who lived and worked in the area. We frequently ate at the Sea Cove Restaurant, at the corner opposite the subway pavilion, with its sweeping curve of windows looking out at the big intersection where Broadway slices through the orderly grid of Manhattan streets. On the ground floor of our building was Sklar, the Furrier’s shop and I played with Jeffrey Sklar, sometimes in the shop when he came in to work with his father, sometimes on the little terrace outside our third floor apartment. The Blum sisters, two older ladies in retirement, lived at the Westover Hotel across 72nd Street. Tibor Kozma, an assistant conductor at the Metropolitan Opera (who departed with his wife rather suddenly one day when word reached him that his government had appointed him General Director of the Hungarian State Opera), lived on the ground floor, rear and had the garden behind the building as his own private preserve.
When I was almost five years old, the family moved to Queens. For many reasons, it turned out to be a huge mistake. Putting together the walk to the bus, the bus ride and the subway trip, it was an hour into Manhattan. We lived in an anonymous apartment complex, there was no street life, and I remember being bored out of my mind, so much so that I had to be started in school early so I wouldn’t drive everybody crazy. Queens has some vibrant and interesting neighborhoods, but mine--heavily conservative, Irish Catholic and without a cultural life of any kind--wasn’t one of them. As I grew older, I got an after-school job in a local card and gift shop to keep me in theater and opera tickets, and spent as much of my weekends back in Manhattan as I could. There was life there and the little basement French restaurants in the theater district would serve coq au vin and put a small carafe of red wine on the table, not caring whether you were eighteen or not.
Today is my last trip of the season to New York for a concert at Carnegie Hall. I’ll connect with friends in New London, Connecticut this afternoon. We’ll all go into the city in one car and out again afterwards, back to their place where I’ll stay the night. It’ll all start up again in the fall, and a big part of me can't wait.