Thursday, December 25, 2014
Tonight my family and I went to see the new Annie at the Caldwell Movie Theater on Bloomfield Avenue. The street had a dazzling set of lights, but not a single store was open and not a single pedestrian was walking along -- almost a version of "...not a creature was stirring..." The movie theater had a kind set of young men who gave us good advice about popcorn -- "Get the large instead of two small and you can have a free refill." The movie was thrilling -- Quvenzhané Wallis and Jamie Foxx gave gravitas and joy to the marvelous adaptation -- and we all had an excellent time. We listened to Christmas music on the way home, feeling lucky to hear John Legend and the Stephens Family singing, "Our love don't have to change, no it don't have to change."
Tuesday, December 23, 2014
Earlier this year the NY Times published an article with the preposterous title, "Maplewood, NJ: If Brooklyn Were a Suburb." I like Brooklyn and I like Maplewood -- I protest against the reductionism that can equate America's Fourth Largest City with a small suburban town. Putting that issue aside for the moment, Maplewood and Hoboken are my favorite places for Christmas shopping. I hit Hoboken on Sunday, Maplewood today. My grandson Javi and I went to get a present for his aunt. We wound our way through the traffic, found a place to park and thought all the people would be in the toy store. But they weren't. We breezed in, got something special and got out quickly. Instead, all the people of Maplewood were in the BOOK STORE, Words. I ran into a friend and we chatted about last minute shopping as a curse of busy people. Javi and I got on line with our purchases. It was LONG. Not surprising -- the whole town was there. I couldn't resist saying to the woman on line behind me, "I think it says something about Maplewood that there are more people in the bookstore than the toy store." She looked a little shocked, and then replied, "It does say something about us." Then I noticed The Life-Changing Art of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo. I showed it to the lady behind me who said she was de-cluttering. I pointed out that it said in the blurb people who used Kondo's method didn't relapse. She seemed a little annoyed by my observation -- we buttinskis get that some times, and I haven't even tried the method so how do I know if it's true? I thought of getting the book, but I've requested it for Christmas, so I didn't. Finally I got to the checkout and had that simple moment of family pride: "Are you Carolyn or Mindy?" This, of course, refers to the frequent buyer bonus program. Returning to the annoying article in the NY Times, Maplewood is great -- it's just not Brooklyn.
Sunday, December 21, 2014
I like going to Main Street every day, but Christmastime it really gets rolling. On my way to dinner with Common Praxis at Bar Spain, I og on the PATH in Hoboken. I passed about 100 Santas, out for Santa Con along Washington Street. Santa Con has actually diversified, and now includes elves and reindeer, all sparsely dressed. Don't they know it's cold??? I got off PATH at Christopher Street, in Greenwich Village. I had a little time and decided I'd do some Christmas shopping on my way to dinner. I passed carolers, which seemed ironic, given the iconoclastic nature of the Village, but also lovely, music drifting in the city air. All the stores were full of things someone might want, and it raised the question, "Do I want that?" Invariably the answer was "No" as the only thing I want is a case for my new tablet. I got for a $1 when I upgraded my iPhone and I love having a book always at hand. They know this about people who are reading series so that when I get to the last page, it says, "Want the next book?" Well, I have to admit that is something else I want. And then I want time to sit around and read. I am re-reading Ngaio Marsh, one of the classic detective writers. Her values are of another age -- homophobia is all too present. As I was walking down Christopher Street, I passed the Stonewall, and cheered gay liberation. Some men walked by and I was so pleased that nobody would be whispering behind their backs because they violated some stereotype. So something else I want is freedom and equality. When I got to Bar Spain, my friends were upset about the policemen who'd been murdered in Brooklyn -- we all want to restore balance -- but not on the old terms -- on new terms of respect for all human life. So then I realize how much of what I am seeing on Christopher Street is what I want -- beautiful music, historic sites of liberation, a lovely night to be on the way to meet friends. May all your Christmases be bright!