Thursday, February 28, 2013

Walking B'way 4

Hirofumi Minami, David Chapin and I are doing a psychoanalysis of Broadway in five sessions. We chose to start our fourth visit at Zabar's, the iconic store on Broadway. Zabar's website proclaims, "New York is Zabar's...Zabar's is New York." While admittedly smaller than Times Square, I think it might rival it in its iconic status -- at least to insiders, most of whom don't go to Times Square and do go to Zabar's. We resisted the siren call of croissants, coffee, cheese from every nation on earth and a huge selection of cookware. Instead, we strolled up Broadway. As we were on the subject of icons, we got into a deep discussion -- which continues -- about the possibility that there is ONE iconic photo of Broadway. We all tried to imagine what it might be, and then to take that photo. I asserted that the iconic photo of Broadway was a crowd of people. That section of the Upper West Side is just full of people, bustling along and enjoying The City. In the spirit of eternal flow of people, I really enjoyed the McDonald's Walk Up Service, largely advertised on banners that you can see from far away, and pleasantly just there when you actually are parallel to it. A walk-up service is not something McDonald's offers at all locations--in other places, like Orange Main Street, McDonald's alters the pace of the street by inserting parking and drive-through service. To be part of Broadway, McDonald's turns toward the walker. Broadway more powerful than McDonald's!!!! Perhaps my photo is the iconic picture of Broadway. Somehow, I managed to convince my dear friends that Pain Quotidien deserved our patronage again! I love that chain, and its store, also carefully inserted in Broadway, was packed with people enjoying good lunch. I had warming and satisfying black bean soup and yummy bread. David shared quiche with us. I was grateful for my friends's indulgence. Since B'way 4, Hiro worked out an ingenious tool for studying our materials. He invented the "scroll," a series of powerpoint slides, like a roll of 35 mm film, that unfurls the walk and is accompanied by ideas stimulated by the experience. He invited all of us to join him in this activity, adding pictures and words to his file. It is profoundly satisfying as a way to assemble what we saw into something manageable. We have settled on this "start with an icon" thesis and so B'way 5 will start with the Dyckman Farm House in Inwood.

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