Building Blocks (New York City)

We all have interesting memories of a place that we have traveled to that made an impression on our lives. Think about travel events that you consciously and ‘memory prodded’ remember that will influence your writing. Here are some reposts and new personal Building Blocks connected to New York City:

Street scene: Two Orthodox Jews – with their large black brimmed hats and black coats in contrast to the noonday heat – walking past the tourist bedecked steps of St. Patrick’s Cathedral – turn their heads to look at two blond-haired Scandinavian girls who are dressed as rodents for an advertising promotion. The models are yelling at a Pakistani taxi driver who, claiming not to understand their version of English, is explaining – high-pitched, at a feverish pace – to a policeman why he ran over their Mouse Cart. While four Chinese tourists – wearing I love New York t-shirts and carrying bags from an East European deli – are taking pictures of the hundreds of Wisconsin cheese pamphlets now littering the sidewalk. Nothing is odd when everything is unique; this is New York City.

Verbal expressions “I love”: Over the course of our lives, and those of our characters, we ‘fall in love’ with ideas. For example, in 1966 Steve was attending the 90th Westminster Kennel Club dog show in New York City. I ‘fell in love’ with two things. First, having been raised around the Fox Terrier dog show world, and even though a Fox Terrier would win Best in Show, I ‘fell in love’ with the idea of winning Westminster with an English Setter. Sadly, I have never fulfilled that dream.

While the Westminster show itself is still a yearly event, the second thing I ‘fell in love’ with is now history. At 11:30 pm on Saturday night, I was introduced to a truly world class club sandwich in the Hotel Taft Tap Room, between 50th and 51st Street and Seventh Avenue; just north of Times Square. Interestingly, in October 2012, when I mentioned the Hotel Taft and their club sandwich in a comment to a fellow blogger and author Susannah Bianchi, who lives in New York City and frequently dines out (at the time, the Carlyle), she did not remember the Taft. How strange? Then I remembered that the Taft closed in the early 1980s. Sadly the Hotel Taft and their fabulous club sandwich, which I had on several later occasions, are now a memory. The building is now occupied by the Michelangelo Hotel. While ‘Michelangelo’ is an artistic name, the Taft club sandwich was truly ‘food’ art.

“Unwanted visitor”: In 1968 a friend and I, while attending a national college television/theater seminar, were ready to order lunch at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel restaurant. At the time, be it stage, screen, magazines, etc., the Waldorf, was at the height of ‘sophistication’. As we waited to order our food, I noticed a cockroach crawl out from behind the flower vase and start walking across the table. I looked at my friend, my friend looked at me…what was the proper etiquette? I was far too old to jump up from the table and yell ‘there’s a cockroach’ to alert the staff. Thus, I did what a real gentleman would do; not to smash the bug and mess up the tablecloth, I simply used an upside down ashtray to entrap the bug. For some reason food was now history, and strangely no staff member would stop by our table. As we left the restaurant without ordering, I quietly mentioned to the maître d’ that an “unwanted visitor” was at our table.

“I bought a diamond!”: The 1968 trip to New York City also had some memorable experiences for our other college classmates. The second day there, a classmate came back to the hotel all excited: “I bought a diamond for a ridiculously cheap price from some guy standing outside a jewelry store!” While the next night, after a ‘college’ party, some ‘who are they?’ college coeds entered an unlocked hotel room and snapped pictures of some of our scantily clad ‘beddy time’ classmates who were laying ‘asleep’ across their beds and on the floor.

New Year’s Eve: I decided in 1973 to go to Times Square to celebrate New Year’s Eve in a way just about every person in the world so dreamed; yep, I went to New York City. When I checked into the hotel there was a very pretty young lady working behind the front desk. I smiled, she smiled, I smiled…instant connection. She changed the room that had been assigned to my name, to a room that faced towards Times Square. About 10pm I looked out the window and saw that every person in the world had descended within visual sighting of Times Square, even though the temperature was drooping to 28*F. Obviously, there was no way that I was going to navigate that crowd to watch the ball drop. I watched from my room. The clock stuck 12:00, and suddenly the world lit up as the ball dropped and the air exploded with the sounds of gunfire mixed with firecrackers and emergency sirens. I instantly knew that I had a better and safer view.

Think about your ‘building blocks’; we can not write without them.

Please visit Susannah Bianchi’s blog for her very interesting New York City written imagery.

6 thoughts on “Building Blocks (New York City)

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