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!
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.