BASE, COMMON & POPULAR
The chill finally came. Autumn in New York usually starts in October. It’s a funny, exciting time. After the lassitude of summer, activity builds to full stride, reaching its climax at Christmas.
The Upper East Side is getting back its mojo, but slowly. I’m sitting in the local McDonald’s on Third Avenue off Eighty-Fifth Street around midnight. Early this spring they remodeled it, so it looks less like a fast-food restaurant and more like a hipster hangout.
The panoply of characters, I mean customers, is great. A gang of teenage guys is toting skateboards like a miniature army. Don’t they have bedtime? A half-drunken couple is sobering up with a late meal. She (the drunk half) is resting on his lap until she has the urge to walk out and light up her pack of Camel Lights.
I joke with this cute black girl who’s wearing a dark newsboy cap and designer glasses. She looks like a smart mix of Hip-hop and preppy. I might go on, but the way she keeps checking her Blackberry tells me she’s waiting for somebody.
A woman nearby is on her cell phone crying. After a few minutes she calms down. Then she gets into a mild disagreement with the teenage boys who have uttered some politically-incorrect term like the “N” word or “gay.” She doesn’t really raise her voice but makes it clear that what they are saying is hurtful, regardless of its context.
I was worried that I wouldn’t know what to write about. Instead I see there is only one subject worth covering: us.
New York October 15, 2010