September 27, 2012

EAST VILLAGE POETRY WALK and a coffee-break

St. Marks in the Bowery, LES, 09/12
A while ago I downloaded an audio file to my iPod called PASSING STRANGER: The East Village Poetry Walk. I had read about it in the NYTimes (see the Times link below) and it sounded like something I'd like to do, especially since I had been peripherally involved in 'the scene' in my hippie days in the 60s—yes, the 60s. I also, as you may or may not have noticed, still spend a lot of time, for my blog, wandering the East Village.

From The Times:
"Billed as an East Village poetry walk, the project, “Passing Stranger,” is a site-specific audio tour that guides listeners through the history of the neighborhood’s interconnected writers and shakers, with interviews, archival recordings and recitations of poems. Narrated by the filmmaker Jim Jarmusch, with music by John Zorn, it is a literary and geographic keepsake, a portrait of a bohemian community that still resounds."

If you aren't up for the walk, but are interested, the download is interactive—you can look and listen on your computer—all you need do is click the blue dots on the map to hear the recording and  enjoy vintage photographs, and real-time Google maps!

The walk starts at St. Marks in the Bowery Church, on 10th St. and Second Ave. (home to The Poetry Project, when many of 'the Beats,' and a long list of other poets, gave readings). I headed there with my camera and iPod on a most perfect Fall day.  

Reading (Poetry?), St. Marks Garden

Alan Ginsburg Lived Here, on the 4th Floor, 12th Street and Ave. A.
From St. Marks the walk takes you along 12th St. to Avenue A.

One of the many stops along the way is this building at 437 East 12th St. where Alan Ginsburg held court for many years—when you visited, Ginsburg would toss the key to the door from his 4th floor window, "embedded inside an unmatched used sock." Walt Whitman had lived across the street at 417 E. 12th.
Enough said.

The tour takes a break at the halfway mark, 7th Street and Avenue C, after about an hour of walking. I made my way back to 12th St. and Avenue A, and stopped in for a cup of coffee and pastry at Ost, a 'laid-back,' new-age version of earlier artist haunts.

I'm looking forward to posting the second and final half of the tour, soon.

New Age East Village, Cafe OST, corner of 12th St. and Ave. A.
Café OST, My Last Stop, the halfway point of the tour. 

September 2, 2012


Nothing much is 'happening' in my east side, midtown Manhattan neighborhood—and there's not a lot that's quaint or charming about it—no cobblestones, hidden alleyways, tree lined streets or brownstones... nothing in the way of outdoor cafes, pleasant little shops, or gourmet specialty stores. Mostly we've got nail salons galore, a bank on every corner, way too many Korean markets and 'salad bars,' and mediocre fast food joints. To be fair, a Pain Quotidien opened where you can sit outside (next to a bus stop) and have a cup of coffee, but that's really 'about it.' So I was happy to discover the newly opened Macaron Cafe a few blocks from my apartment. There aren't any outside tables but it's pleasant inside—warmly lit, low key and calm. You can carry on a conversation over coffee without shouting.

The coffee is good, the macaroons are fresh and pretty delicious—better than most I've sampled around town—baked by, I believe, the wife, of the young French couple that own the café (one of the three). I've tried, the lemon, passion fruit, crême brulée, espresso, chocolate, strawberry, pistachio, Nutella, and, still going... My favorite so far is the nicely tart lemon. If you'd like to try your hand at making these delicacies, they've put out a cookbook too.

Bursts of color, Macaron, Midtown East, August 2012.

Cappuccino, crème brûlée and my favorite, lemon, macaroons.

Service with a (big) smile.