Thursday, March 08, 2007
MANNAHATTA (by Walt Whitman)
...I was asking for something specific and perfect for my city
Whereupon lo! upsprang the aboriginal name.
Now I see what there is in a name, a word, liquid, sane, unruly, musical, self-sufficient...
I see that I've got a lot of work to do. Born and raised in Texas, I was also simultaneously indoctrinated with Texas lore, in both school and my everyday life: the Alamo, et al. Now I'm looking out at the Hudson, not the Colorado, and there's a Revolutionary War heroes' cemetery two blocks down the street, with a plaque commemorating a battle on that very spot that we lost against the British. Of course I know, vaguely, about the Revolutionary War, but not specifically. It's also taken me a month to figure out what the hell "Long Island" is and where it is in relation to the island of Manhattan and Staten Island, et al. A whole other world. (Though I've enjoyed greatly walking around in 20-degree weather without complaining and having snow hit me in the face in Times Square, in awe of the blizzard against the neon billboards, and goose-bumpy at the tourists taking pictures of the blizzardy neon scene---"I'm in a place so beautiful that tourists take pictures of the scene.") The tugboats on the Hudson outside my window also remind me of the boats on the Rhine that I watched while visiting Germany as a young person 20 years ago, mesmerized by the strangeness of tugboats going by on a river.
I bought 4 books today in The Strand bookstore in Union Square: "The New York Chronology," "The Epic of New York City," "Literary Places: New York," and "Poems of New York." And then went and had some pizza while reading the new Village Voice and took a crowded subway home.
OBSERVATION (by Dorothy Parker)
If I don't drive around the park,
I'm pretty sure to make my mark.
If I'm in bed each night by ten,
I may get back my looks again.
If I abstain from fun and such,
I'll probably amount to much.
But I shall stay the way I am,
Because I do not give a damn.