Tuesday, December 8, 2009

family at the hotel

Below is a pic from around 7PM, on the evening of Pearl Harbor Day. As you see, our family made it to the hotel just fine, thanks to flawless piloting by David and his nifty portable satellite navigation system (I drove us as far as south Jersey, after which David took over).

In the picture, you see Mom, very tired, watching TV. David, even more tired, stares blearily at the camera, while Dad is off in the kitchenette looking rather peppy.

We stuffed ourselves with dinner (much of it unfinished and now languishing in the kitchenette's fridge), and by 10PM Mom was looking exhausted. Attempts to get her to use the spirometer were futile; she was too tired to understand the device. After Dad got Mom changed and we helped her into bed, Mom went to sleep almost as soon as her head hit the pillow.

Because I was feeling so stuffed, I took a walk tonight, from about 11:35PM to 12:35AM, walking a total of 42 "short" blocks along York from E 71st to E 92nd St. I walked fairly slowly, so I doubt I did anything close to three miles, especially with all the time-stealing delays at many of the intersections (New York natives jaywalked when the streets were empty, which wasn't so different from what I've done while in DC at night). [UPDATE, 8:26AM, 12/8: the round trip was 2.2 miles, according to Google Earth.]

The stroll proved to be a fruitful information-gathering session, which gave me a small sense of this rather quiet and well-behaved part of Manhattan. The walk toward E 92nd Street tended slightly downhill; I didn't notice this fact until I began walking back to the Helmsley.

In terms of establishments, the axis between E 71st and E 92nd Streets was a mixed bag. There were restaurants and coffee shops of all different sizes and types, fruit and vegetable markets (many of which were open past midnight), a few bars, a handful of hair and nail salons; there were some laundromats, apartment buildings, schools, exercise studios, alternative medicine clinics, and other businesses. I saw at least one church. I discovered that our building was almost right next to Sotheby's, the famous auction house. I was also interested to note the number of dog-walkers who were out at that time of night: they were mostly women, and their dogs were mostly large breeds. I initially found it strange to see so many large dogs in such a crowded city (Seoul, by contrast, plays host to yappy little toy dogs-- often bought on a whim, and sometimes cast away soon after). But as I reflected on the situation, it occurred to me that the weather may have had something to do with what I was witnessing: who in their right mind would take a naked chihuahua out into the cold? Larger dogs handle the cold better; it made sense that I would see mostly large dogs on a cold night (though I still wonder why a New Yorker would bother to buy a large dog).

I also noted that there were, along that axis, at least three "duane reade" convenience stores, one of which (as David and I discovered earlier) lay just opposite the front entrance of our building. Whoever "duane reade" is, he has no respect for rules of capitalization: when his name is written out fully, there are no caps at all, but the logo for the store shows "DR," both letters being capitalized. Perhaps "duane reade" is large and contains multitudes, like Walt Whitman. We don't have any DR stores in northern Virginia, as far as I know, and maybe that's for the better. I'm not sure we simple Southerners could handle that much internal paradox.

There were also at least two 7-Elevens along the route I walked, both of which seemed to be open.

My overall impression of that part of Manhattan was that it wasn't Where It's At. I imagine there are downtown sectors that, as is true in Seoul's Kangnam and Chongno districts, never sleep-- but York Avenue from E 71st to E 92nd Street isn't one of them. Not that that displeases me: I'm not a fan of big cities to begin with, despite eight years in Seoul, and I don't mind a more sedate ambiance.

If it turns out that Mom is deemed trial-worthy, it's likely we'll be back in this part of town again, so it's good to know what's available in terms of food, shopping, and entertainment. Tonight's little reconnaissance mission yielded information likely to be of future use.



Anonymous said...

Duane Reade is the most prevalent drugstore/pharmacy chain in the city. Has been for decades. I'm betting you'll see Duane Reade in the backgrounds of old NYC movies like Taxi Driver. Also, in lower Manhattan north of the WTC site there are two parallel streets named Duane and Reade that I believe are one block apart.

Kevin Kim said...


Thanks for the info. I lived in Seoul for 8 years, but know next to nothing about NYC.