Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Walking Broadway 3
David Chapin, Hirofumi Minami and I walked a third segment of Broadway on January 7, 2013. We were joined by Scoot Lizama, a graduate student at CUNY, with years of experience looking at and photographing the urban landscape including the entire length of Broadway. Hiro had said that the image of New York, for people from other countries, is the image of Times Square, so we went to see that part of Broadway. We started at 47th Street, which is just above the square, and walked south, into the blare of lights. It was a cold morning, so it was not packed with people as it had been on New Year's Eve or as it would be on any warm day. The new open spaces made it possible to stand and examine the Square. There was much to see. Father Francis P. Duffy, who tended to the poor and destitute in Times Square, I argued that it represented a continuity of ministry. We enjoyed debating both these topics -- the use of women in advertising and ministry in Times Square, but we were getting cold and hungry for lunch, so we strolled on. We stopped to look at another billboard, apparently from a China trade mission, that give the history of silk over many millennia. I was telling David about how different this billboard was when it switched to young, scantily-clad, beautiful women in silk. It was a relief to walk south of 41st Street and enter "normal" New York. I don't think I'd ever considered Broadway in the 30s quiet, but by comparison to the assault of Times Square, it's wonderfully peaceful. Lots of people had settled into various seats in open spaces, and especially where there was a bit of sun. I saw two unconnected people who were next to each other, both, I thought, on their phones. As this has become an iconic image of our time, I was watching them. I realized that the guy was not on his phone, he was scratching a lottery ticket. I wished him well and reminded myself to guard against cliches and assumptions. We had lunch in a Korean restaurant. Hot soup hit the spot, as we'd been very cold. We reflected on all that we'd seen, and appreciated the quiet and spacious restaurant as respite from New York's Main Street and its neon heart.