The French embassy in New York has a sign outside for the bookstore, Albertine. The first time I passed it, it seemed like a great excuse to check out an embassy so I went in. There is a cozy first floor with books in English and French.
The featured books looked like a unique selection with a perspective I might not find somewhere else so I looked for a book that might interest me. At the Existentialist Café looked interesting. I don’t know anything about existentialism but always wondered. It’s one of those words I hear but don’t exactly know what it means.
I didn’t buy the book but checked it out from my local library. I’m on a library kick these days and even if I’m not buying from the store I like the idea of finding out about new ideas from their curation of featured books. The book was great and I learned a ton. I’m not sure I could have just picked up a book by Sartre or Simone de Beauvoir and read it without some intro to who they are or that era of books; but At the Existentialist Café gave me an understanding of the people, in their historical context and the ideas in their books which opened me up to want to read books by these authors.
That was the first time I was in this bookstore. Yesterday I was walking by again so, might as well go visit French soil again to look at books! On this visit I noticed a staircase to a second floor that I didn’t see before. The second level is a beautiful reading room with a starry blue ceiling and soft couches with worn leather that you can sit and read in.
I decided to find another book that might interest me and that I can learn from. I didn’t find a book but did find a biannual collection of essays called Freeman’s which it turns out is also at my local library! So I’m looking forward to opening up my mind to some more new ideas and authors when I get it on Friday.
The bike share system in New York City, Citibike is rolling out a new program called Bike Angels where you can get rewards like free rides, extra time on your membership and $$ for taking bikes from stations that are overfilled and returning them to stations that are low.
I run 2-3 times a week and randomly take whatever street I feel like most days. Today I tried something new and ran to a station that was overfilled on bikes, rode to a station that needed bikes, and then did it again. Having a goal made the run more fun and I got 6 Bike Angel points. For every 20 points I’ll get a week of free membership. so if I run every other day and get 6 points each time I’ll get 90 points per month! Even if I miss a few days a I’d be able to extend my membership by a month, every month!
Lunch at Bully’s for some soul food and conversation with locals. Southern hospitality hits strong when 3 people welcome us to Mississippi and 1 gives us his card and says “If you need anything at all while you’re here let me know.” We also met Virgi Lindsay who is running for city council and her manager Bill who was doing great work politickin’.
Stop at The Shack Up Inn, a motel/juke joint that I’d love to come back to and stay at.
Check into our hotel that is just a few blocks from the famous Crossroads where Robert Johnson supposedly sold his soul to the devil so he could learn the blues.
Reds juke joint for some beers and ripping music. The musician that night was Anthony “Big A” Sherrod & Allstars w/Space Cowboy. The next day as we were driving through Duncan, we saw Anthony “Big A” Sherrod listed as one of the blues greats from that town! Born on a Greyhound bus driving through Duncan…as the story goes
Drive south and stop in Duncan, MS to take photos
We see 9 armadillo road kills throughout the trip. The Internet says that this is a common sight
Drive down the 1 Mississippi highway. Lots a cool towns, pretty country, and historic marker signs for events, music, and culture
See buzzards eating a dead carcass on the side of the road for the first time. We also see them circling in the sky later
Stop at the Great River Road State Park in Rosedale, MS. A local lady tells us it’s been leased to a hunters club but the state ended the lease because they weren’t taking care of it. As a last F U they burned down the lookout tower and the state is rebuilding it before reopening the park
Walk along historic Washington Street and look at the houses and markers
Visit the William Johnson House. William Johnson was a free black barber and diarist in Natchez during the 1800s
Cafe du Monde
Stumbled upon Frank Relle photography gallery. Great find here. Gorgeous Louisiana photos on the walls. They also have a chalk board where each day they have a quote and a thing happening in the city you should see. Clayton, the guy working in the gallery, was fun and not only told us about the photos but also gave us great recommendations for things to see
Walk around the French Quarter and Marigny neighborhoods
Listened to a hot jazz band at The Spotted Cat. It was a packed and very active club and looks like a place people know they can go to hear good music. Each time we went the crowd was a mix of people of all ages up to about 70
Stopped for lots of street musicians, all great
Passed a bar with a sign saying “Haircut and a shot $10”. We figured a Haircut was a drink but there was a salon chair bolted into the floor in front of the bar and people getting their haircut. This was at 11pm at R Bar
Happened upon Bar Tonique. Great cocktails, interesting vibe, lots of locals. (Easily my favorite bar of the trip.)
Andouille sausage Po-boy at the Quarter Grocery. It was a random local shop but great sandwiches.
Rested at hotel
Listened to a singer songwriter at Three Muses
Muffaletta sandwich (yummmm) at Napoleon House
Front row seats for the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. As a lifelong jazz fan this was a highlight of the trip. I’ve seen them before in Reno at a concert but to see them at the small room, unmiced and cozy in Preservation Hall was a big treat
Heard lots of jazz of all styles at 3 different bars back in Marigny
12am, back to Bar Tonique for a nightcap. We end up talking to lots of fun people over many good drinks and leave at 2:30am
Breakfast at Cafe Beignet
Hit the Museum of New Orleans for art and a nice lunch at the cafe
We had our work and one other. We didn’t have the money to go to concerts or movies or to buy new records, but we played the ones we had over and over. We listened to my Madame Butterfly as sung by Eleanor Steber. A Love Supreme. Between the Buttons. Joan Baez and Blonde on Blonde. Robert introduced me to his favorites— Vanilla Fudge, Tim Buckley, Tim Hardin— and his History of Motown provided the backdrop for our nights of communal joy.
This is one of the scenes that really stuck with me from her memoir about her and Robert Mapplethorpe’s time in New York City, their relationship and determination to become artists. This passage was in the Amazon sample and one of the reasons I had to buy the book.
It struck me personally because I have been so inspired and creatively energized by New York. But my time has been different than hers. I’ve had a steady income and the freedom to go out and see as much New York as I can soak in. In doing that I keep getting inspired, my mind is changing, I have more to say but when to say it? I’m always going! The scene speaks to me for so many reasons but the most direct is that it is an inspiration and example of what you need to do if you want to get what is in your mind out.
The entire book is a celebration of the desire and dedication it takes to even attempt to be an artist. You see the fun of it, the amazing people she met, the experiences, successes and failures. When I walk around the streets here I can imagine those scenes playing out today. But that scene of her and Robert working all night to the same few records over and over, that is the work that it actually takes.
I’ve been a bit of a nomad lately. I’m in my third sublet in as many months. It’s a good one and I’ll be here for another 2 months. The best thing about it is the couple who lives here has a component stereo with a record and tape player. Patti and Katie’s song has me inspired. I could listen to the records, but I think I’ll take Patti’s example and do it my way. I’ll just let YouTube keep playing songs while I and write.
During the summer in New York the wind really gets me. About once a month, I find myself riding my bike back home at night and just full on laughing and tonight is one of those nights.
You know those days where kismet happens? You overhear some weird conversation that makes you giggle. You meet some randos that take you into their group for the night. Or just see something that makes you say WOW or WTF or even WOW-WTF! Well when I have one of those nights, and I have them often in New York and then I ride home I just LAUGH. The streets are flat, it’s easy to fly, and in the people and things I zip by I see all the unique, all the weird, all the possibility in each of those moments. Each one has the same potential of some amazing bit of nature or humanity or love like the one I just stumbled on. I see all those scenes in full color like a wall of HDTVs at Best Buy. But I’m not at Best Buy. The warm wind is on my face, things just seem like they couldn’t be any better and I just. fucking. laaaaaaaugh!
2000 pigeons with LED lights? whoa. hahahaha
Is that Erlich Bockman from Silicon Valley?’ It is. hahahaha!
And in flying down the street laughing out of joy literally at the top of my lungs because I’m alone and moving and I can, I become a mad banshee and just another weird thing that all the people I pass saw in New York City.