Adios, Spanish Harlem

Our Tito Puente stairwell. Can you see the top?  Neither can we when we return from a day of trotting the concrete.  But it does offset the caloric intake which is substantial.

Here we are playing the parking game.  This is our limited understanding of it:  On Mondays and Thursdays the north side of the street gets swept and all cars must be moved between 9:30 and 11:00 am. On Tuesday and Friday, the south side is swept and cars moved same hours.  With me so far?  Ok, so after much observing we realized that what people do is double park on the non-sweeping side, wait in the car or at least close by, for the sweeper and/or 11:00 to come and then it’s a free-for-all to get the available spots.  There’s a delicate art to it and when you succeed you feel you have won a minor skirmish with the Metro Transit Authority.  This day, we did.  However, note to self:
The MTA got us in the end.  This is what happens when you forget to fold your mirrors in when you do win the parking game and score the plum spot. Between this and a midday 30-minute struggle with the keys unlocking the three locks for Apt 3A, just a tad, just a tiny tad, of the bloom was off the rose. Alabama, and one optional lock on a front door, whistled a bar of “Sweet Home” in my ear.

So we decided to souvenir shop for the kids.  Success in Harlem which increasingly feels like home in our wide subway line wanderings.  We limped off the 6 train this eve at 110th street feeling like we were with our people.

Say what you want about the man, he knows how to turn on the AC when he punches in in the morning at his tower on 5th Ave.  A coffee in front of the pink marble fountain helped us tap the reserve tank for the last neighborhood we wanted to cover – Greenwich Village.  But the picture-taking slacked off because the reserve tank was low too.

Carbs for the final stretch.

ashington Square was packed with people and street performers including one who painted himself gold and stood absolutely still on a pillar like a greek statue.  I was too tired to take a pic.  Above Andrew rests his aching feet and we listen to the poor guy to our right pour out his heart while his girl paints her toenails black and looks far more interested in them than in him.  Muy mal.

Tito Puente at 2nd Ave is quiet this morning.  Ricardo Steak House across the avenue is rolled down and sleeping after a hopping Friday night.  All the dapper gents who eased in its doors for steak and the party are barely stirring. The street fair is still, its vendors drinking coffee and planning when to shuck the corn for corn-on-a-stick.

And Andrew and I straighten up our sweet digs and hum “Big wheels keep on turning, carry me home to see my kin, singing songs about the Southland . . .”

NYC – 4th Day, 4th Borough, 3 Surprises

Surprise #1 – K-town.  Korea-town is booming and we stumbled on it by accident.  Andrew declared this the best food of the trip.  But then we’ve said that after every meal, even street snacks.

DSCN5917      DSCN5915 DSCN5928      DSCN5920
Where’s Waldo?                                                This was not fair to snap it while his mouth was full.

*Operation Walk-the-feet-to-nubs has been textbook military success.  Only it isn’t the feet.  It is everything south of the hip sockets ordering full retreat and surrender to the opponent – the pavement of NY.
*We happened upon Ktown while antiquing in a midtown high-rise.  Talk about mixed metaphors.

Surprise #2 – The Highline.
See the park on the raised railroad line?  One and a half miles of this shaded walk with the Hudson River to the west and the city to the east.  Every place you wished there was a seat to take in the amazing view of an east/west city canyon, there was one. Once again, people are amazing – the people who thought of everything and the people who accomplished it.

What a great idea to keep the tracks but as an idyll in which to breathe and woolgather.

But New York will be New York.

And then it dawned on us – the city, the river, but no traffic.  Unobstructed walking.  Any horns are backdrops and inapplicable to the moment. No, not inapplicable, but transformed into music.  Passing the Penn Station train yards sounded like YoYo Ma giving an open-air recital.

Surprise #3 – Old friends and an amazing view.
Charlie and Leslie Baldini of Staten Island (the 4th borough we hit).  And I must concede that Leslie was right; that incred pizza from DeNino’s is called “Garbage Pie” not “Garbage Can” as we have been saying for 10 years since the last time we were there.  Can we not agree that Garbage Can has more zing to it? We love these people.  Charlie’s church, Immanuel Union, is growing and through his long and faithful ministry here people are loved, served, and introduced to Jesus.

Looking good, y’all.

The Baldini Clan.  BTW Charlie is Sicilian so we were basically dining with Ray Liotta and goodfellas.

Now here’s the Wow moment.  This is us in the wheelhouse of the Staten Island Ferry.  Little Bekah, who is now a beautiful little wife and mother, is married to Kenny Bossert, the captain of this boat.  So we rode across New York Harbor with a view like none other.  And here is where we unabashedly praised the Creator and said, “Help us give You back everything we are because You are so, so good to us!”








Getting off the ferry, a little dazed with it all.

And so ends Day 4, 4 Boroughs, and 3 Gifts.  I love this city.