I continue to find this city an odd and delightful place. Take, for example, the following occurrences on our recent travels.
Sitting at Columbus Circle, a girl takes off her overcoat to reveal and fairy-lit ballerina tutu. She starts a graceful dance along with her boyfriend in front of the fountain, and the gathered tourists. This continues for 10 minutes or so, then she dances off down the street. No money exchanges hands. It’s just for fun.
There are dogs everywhere, the oddest canine collection I’ve seen. Little bald wiry ones, dogs with outfits, packs of 4 or more towing glamorous sheer-faced ladies down Fifth Avenue. Most shops on said avenue have doggie bowls of water outside. I didn’t know Vera Wang was concerned with animal welfare, but so it seems.
The buskers here are terrible. I would think it appropriate for the city to consider some sort of interview process. Flat saxophonists in Central Park playing ditties to passing tourists on garish white horse and carriage.
On Madison Avenue, a man in a wheelchair with no arms or legs sat begging outside Louis Vitton. It made the whole glitzy, exclusive street that we had just walked along with fascination seem immediately ridiculous and stark.
I’m drinking an orange juice right now that has turmeric, ginger and cayenne pepper in it. Spicier than my taco on Tuesday.
The Staten Island ferry is free. Running every 30 minutes, carrying 75000 passengers per day, passing right by the Statue of Liberty, and it’s FOC. I mean, why? Though I’m not one to complain about free stuff, I assure you. When you’ve just paid 90 bucks for a toastie and a Caesar salad with drinks on Madison Avenue, you’ll take all the gratuity you can get.
Speaking of gratuity, this I have never seen before. On each bill comes a little table with 3 levels of tipping. ‘Below standard, expected, and generous’. The first tier is 18%, which seems adequate to me but leaves one with a feeling reminiscent of having performed poorly at the school spelling bee.
Even the tennis is weird. We went to the U.S. Open earlier this week to watch Williams, then Nadal, knock out their first round opponents. But it wasn’t like the decorus English tennis we know and love. It was like baseball-tennis where songs like ‘Eye of the tiger’ happen after points, everyone eats hot dogs, and the players are dressed like they might be heading on to a disco afterwards. It was all very disconcerting.
We have a couple of days left to explore the centre of town from our avante garde hotel in Central Park, where everything smells intensely of cedar and pine, and the lights go on using an in room smart phone.