Friday, May 13, 2005

I LOVE NEW YORK, Or at least I'm trying to

It is the kind of day that Sinatra would come back to sing about, if he could. The air is still crisp, not yet dissolving into that murky humidity that makes the city hard to handle, the sun as I sat on a park bench reading as much as I could bear of the news, was warming, but not too. There have been a few really fine days, my birthday being one of them, but this is a day that The Singer would revel in, and reach for a new lyric that was the sunshiney equivalent of A Foggy Day, in New York though, instead of London.
All the blossoms have fallen or been blown from the trees, the fragile blooms lying browning along the paths where Mimi ambles and sniffs, and what fills the park now is a thick burst of green, lush lush lush, punctuated along the lake with intrusions of red and fuchsia, I mean really fuchsia bushes. I wonder how Nature does that. These are the colors you might expect in a fashion show. I must suppose there is in Nature some Christian LeCroix, a gifted show-off.
So seeing the beauty, I have decided to start dating New York, hopeful it might turn into a romance.
The other night, my birthday, was kind of a harbinger of what I might expect on the reality romance level. Some friends joined me at the Society of Illustrators, the wonderful club of which I am a member, started by Mark Twain, one of my major loves. Tuesday nights they have nude models and members come to sketch and there's a jazz group. I commandeered the terrace alongside the Toulouse-Lautrecky action, and had my own jazz group, though they didn't play. Bob Dorough was there, the jazzman's jazzman, my buddy since Paris when he played at the Mars Club, a boite a cote(accent on the e pronounced aa) de la Rue Marbeuf, accompanying me while I sang the songs that had been such a hit at the Bryn Mawr Junior Prom, in the first of my ancillary, unexpected careers, as prodded by Maya Angelou, whose act had preceeded me. Other close friends this birthday night at the Illutrators, were Betsy and her husband Ash, Carleen and my cousin Lori, and then there was Carol Kessie. Carol has been my friend since the book tour for The Pretenders, which took me to the Playboy Mansion in Chicago, where I first met Carol, in her secret identity as the Playboy Advisor, giving hard-nosed sex advice from the point of view of a savvy man. Her gift to me for my natal day was a suntanned, handsome, smart human rights lawyer she had picked up just outside the club with his friend, a nice guy who teaches English in the South Bronx. "Can it be?" she whispered to me, "that this handsome smart man is still available?" herself being the winner of a successful match online, finding a really nice second husband, so she can afford to be generous. But halfway through the most enjoyable evening, Chase Mishkin, the red-haired embodiment of no nonsense, a Broadway producer, murmured "Gwen, they're with each other." Oh, well.
Then last night I went to visit a friend in the Museum Towers. The door was open across the hall, a nd we were invited in to a party being given by the Quebec delegate to the US. All the men there were couples, and the art on the wall was Polaroid pictures of the artist and his lover in various sexual acts, dipped in chocolate, and covered with drippings from a double boiler. So I guess it's just me and Mimi, and the glory that is New York when you don't expect anything from it, or even hope for something, except that the weather should stay like this for a few more days. And of course that Bolton won't be confirmed, but that would be like expecting there were still unattached men who weren't gay.
From 'the other side of the pond,' as John Kerry put it when I thought he was still the hope: my friend David Alderdice, the young Lord Mayor of Belfast when I first went there and fell in love with it out of my addiction to the hopeless, stood for parliament in North Down in this past election and lost in the sweep that was the party of Ian Paisley, the out-of-control Protestant extremist, head of the Orangemen. Sinn Fein lost some ground, though Gerry Adams, the head of it, for whom I lost all respect when he walked out of John McCain's speech urging conciliation in D.C. on St. Patrick's Day, won in The Falls. "You're going to love The Falls," said Ann White, the cheerful owner of White's Tavern, the oldest in Belfast, my first guide in that incredibly hospitable-to-strangers city, where live the kindest people in the world, except to each other. I imagined it would be a place of waterfalls and forests, but when we got there it was quite simply the part of town that was Catholic, on their side of the wall. The wall had barbed wire on the top, and fearsome drawings of terrorists in black masks, holding horrifying weapons. And there were young girls in red blazers and pigtails coming home from school, careful to keep to their part of town. Shooting hadn't happened for a while, and it was a time of great hope, with George Mitchell negotiating a Peacekeeping agreement. But the fact that Paisley's party won so overwhelmingly these several years later means that hate and fear is still the defining motivater for the voters, as seems increasingly to be the case here as well. But David, for the Alliance party, which is for that, alliance, won on the local level, so he will be able at least to be a force for good, and cling to his dream of real reconciliation. I wonder if there's anyone on our side of the pond who could effectively be the same.

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