Friday, January 30, 2004

Further notes on a New York trip 

So several people have asked what it was like to have lunch with Terry Teachout. I'm tempted to dig out an old Cole Porter chestnut as it was Delightful (the conversation) Delicious (the food) and De-Lovely (the man himself.) Somehow we crammed a lot of conversation in a mere hour, naturally much of it centering on the world of blogging. One thing we seemed to agree on was that 2004 would be the year that blogging gained an even stronger legitimacy, that more people would embrace the medium in a variety of subjects. There's a lot of untapped potential and fortunately, there's room for a variety of different, and quality, voices.

Earlier that morning, I'd killed time in one of my usual hangouts when I lived on the West Side--the 82nd Street B&N. I used to have a ritual on Friday afternoons where I'd sit in the cafe, drink a tall Americano (because it was marginally better than the coffee) and go through my "daily trash"--People, Entertainment Weekly, and US Weekly (hated In Touch because it made my head explode with the PR fluff.) Oh, and I'd watch the weird people that wandered in and out of the store and the cafe. Or listened to high-powered people (or so it seemed) talking about business deals and how much publishing sucks. This time, since it was a Wednesday, I was looking through the book stacks and the new fiction when I caught wind of a rather odd exchange. A man, probably mid to late twenties, suffering from perhaps the worst case of acne I'd ever seen calmly approached a blonde woman who was looking up at the hardcovers (A-D) when out of the blue, he asked:

"Will you go out with me?"

Her calm, matter of fact answer: "no thank you."

He ran away, up the escalator and disappeared into the second floor.

I tried not to laugh from where I was standing behind them. Had there been any earlier conversation? Didn't seem to be. Did they know each other before? Nope. As pickup lines go, it went rather dreadfully, but perhaps you can't blame a guy for trying.

Once I'd calmed down the giggles I looked through the new trade paperbacks and found, much to my delight, a copy of SHEILA LEVINE IS DEAD AND LIVING IN NEW YORK, which had been so highly recommended by Jennifer Weiner. I read fast (case in point: 4 books on the train in, 4 books on the train out. Now I won't read for days to get over the hangover, but that's a side issue) and as Gail Parent's book isn't very long I was finished in quick time. It lived up to the recommendation, but then, I love books that capture the New York of an earlier time, when rents were "expensive" (250 a month!) and the Upper West Side was the wrong side of town. The book is dated but in many ways, not so much. Women are still moving to the city to get married--certainly Jewish women are, even if they aren't admitting it. When I lived on the West Side it was a bloody meat market of single girls doing the Metrodox Tour of synagogues, shabbos dinners and set-ups. It baffled me, but then, large crowds often do and I was more of an opting-out kind of girl. But ultimately, SHEILA LEVINE struck a chord, and made me laugh--two things that are definite plusses in my reading experiences.

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