Monday, April 8, 2013

You can't go back.


...of the way we were.

We're living in midtown once again. As I walk these familiar streets, I'm haunted by ghosts of my youth. That post John Lindsey metropolis was not the antiseptic place it is now. In those days the crowds in Times Square were hookers, not visitors from Iowa. Now everywhere I go, I realize my Manhattan is long gone.

Where did he go?

We live on East 55th Street between
Madison and Park. Across Madison
is the Sony building. This homage to
post modernism was initially considered
by many a pastiche at best. Designed
by Philip Johnson it opened in 1978
as AT&T headquarters. Later Ma Bell
was forced to vacate post a government
enforced divestiture. That left a gaping
hole in Mr. Johnson's infamous design.
Really... Basking Ridge?

Sadly, a major casualty of the monopoly's demise was the 22 foot tall statue "Spirit of Communication." Sculpted by Evelyn Longman in 1916, it originally sat atop the ATT&T building at 195 Broadway. Every time I walk by the now empty lobby, I miss the handsome gentleman for whom the soaring space was obviously designed to accommodate. He now stands outside an AT&T building in suburban New Jersey.

Somewhere over 49th...

In 1934 The Rainbow Room opened atop Rockefeller Center. Spring 1979 I took my fiance there for dinner. I saved for weeks, computing the cost down to the last cent. Finally the evening arrived and the check...
For services rendered.

I had planned the total dead on, bringing just enough cash to cover that amount. However, I'd forgotten about the tip. In those days I did not have  a credit card, So, we left all of our cash, and quietly slipped out. Waiting for an elevator, our water suddenly appeared asking "was something wrong with the service"? Mortified, I promised to return with his tip the next day (which I did).
Table for two.

Today this glorious product of the great depression sits idle, a victim of the crash of 2008. In 2012 it was designated a historic site. I hope to someday dine above the stars again.
I'll take one of everything.

When I was young anybody cool shopped at Fiorucci on 59th. I can't begin to tell you what a fabulous store it was. A magical combination of high style and low prices. From 1976 - 1984 Fiorucci was THE cutting edge. The first to meld art and commerce with a collection by Kenny Scharf. I first saw stretch jeans and Disney licensed apparel there. Think the Madonna of the early 1980s and you have Fiorucci.
"We had stars then..."

The other night Frank and I dined a few
tables away from Woody and Soon Yi Allen.
Today he is just a shadow of the man who
captured city life in the 70s with Annie Hall.
When I watch that movie, it's as if a chapter
of my life was carefully preserved forever.
In those days New York was a very different
place. Celebrities actually lived like ordinary
people. Jackie O was a working girl who
daily strolled throughout city.
Don't bother, I'll walk. 

Greta Garbo lived at 57th and Park Avenue and everybody had their own Garbo sighting. Katherine Hepburn lived across 49th Street from my office. Kate was often seen crouched in the trunk of her black Ford sedan unloading firewood. Now that's star power!
Full Access.

My Manhattan of the 70's felt more democratic. I miss that city where anybody could do anything. Where any boy could wait on line to hang with Roy, Liza, Andy and Bianca.