Saturday, March 26, 2005

Sabado de Gloria, my ass

It is the day before Easter. When I was in Guaymas, a few decades, one husband and two children ago, so long ago that Liza Minnelli was a movie star, making Lucky Lady, a title as ill-chosen as several of her later decisions, it was called 'Sabado de Gloria.' My troupe and I went to visit a nearby village of Yaqui Indians, that same tribe studied by Carlos Castenada . There we had many colorful and sem-mystical experiences, not the least of which was a deep-speaking Yaqui Indian who said he would meet us the following year, and when we asked him where, said: 'Under the tree.' We understood from that that Yaquis gave very little in the way of real information, except perhaps to Carlos, who is now also under the tree, as is my husband, the woman who introduced me to the works of Carlos, and most probably that Indian.
But I went outside this morning with Mimi in what seemed to be a breakthrough day for Spring, an illusion that was to last only for a few hours. Spring re-surrendered to Winter, and all was bone-chilling cold and cars gridlocked on Central Park South, heading for Fifth Avenue, maybe for what they thought would be the Easter Parade, Irving Berlin having greater power and longevity than the spawn of Judy Garland.
What a city this is. Crossing the street in an attempt to get to the park so Mimi could celebrate her own season, I employed my own well-practiced and nearly perfected version of bullfighting, in which one has to engage the eye of the bull (read taxi/car) turning the corner so it will not charge you. I mean really. You have to make eye contact and challenge them visibly so they don't run you down. This is beyond The City that Never Sleeps. It is the city that doesn't give a Fuck. I am happy, in a sad way, to be able to write that again, since my beloved friend Walter Wells who is editing the Herald Tribune is leaving that post so The New York Times will not be electronically intervening between me and him saying my language is unacceptable. It is New York that seems to me unacceptable, particularly since I have been working today on a story on Bali, and I wonder what I am doing here when I might be there.
The past weeks have been semi-radiant, because of a trip I made to DC to see some friends and enjoy an early St, Patrick's Day celebration at Mark Russell's, the bright songmaster who makes fun of all things political which it is blood-curdlingly easy to do these days, and a trip made here by my friends from Belfast, whom I adore, and could show New York to, as if I belonged here and could afford what makes New York magical: the best restaurants, a bus tour($37.50 a pop), the theatre, ($101 a ticket for a matinee of a not very-good show.) But once they were gone I wonder what I'm doing here, which is mainly waiting, as no one has seen my book yet, and that's hard.
When I first moved back here, a couple of years past, I grieved over a lack of community. Jules Feiffer, a really good soul, cartoonist and political philosopher said "Do your work and your community will find you." The wife of Victor Navasky, publisher of The Nation, brilliant liberal and closet pussycat, said (his wife, not Victor,) "he forgot to add if you are hugely successful." I know that to be the truth. I have never been hugely or even smallly successful in New York, although I have been both in California and know the rewards that follow are vast and bullshitty, so would doubtless be no different here, But I am intimidated by the cars that would just as soon run you down as grant you passage, and the people who seem the same, except for Victor. He is the only one who has expressed willingness to be of any help to me at all, as I try to make my way across the intersection that is fantasy(the gift of having been able to write a book in Bali) and reality(connecting with the 'right people' i n New York.)
Coming back from the park, I saw a young family, anguished at the crossing, confused and trying to figure out what to do. "You have to look them straight in the eye, as if you were a picador," I said to the father. "Because these guys would just as soon kill you as let you pass."
"I see that," he said, and emboldened by my presence, as I waved Mimi in the air, as though she were a cape, passed his family behind whatever it was we made of a veronica, and got across the street.