This is a moving week -- me moving from New York to Virginia. I look forward to some mountain vistas and a river running near my home (buying a kayak very soon) but am currently thinking of the things I will miss in New York. They seem to be centered around books, food, old towns and nature. Some are abstract but some specific. It doesn't include friends or family, though, obviously, I will miss them most.
10. Bookstores. First, Borders. I've spent so much time in Borders pleasurably shopping or reading and drinking their unfortunately bad coffee this year, that it easily makes the list. However, The Book Revue in Huntington, New York, is my favorite bookstore in the world. I have heard it is the biggest (revenue? size?) independent bookstore in the country, but that could be hype. The racks are old and some of the selections have been around forever, but they have a fantastic military and history section, a great loft area where there is a wealth of used books and travel section as well as a little table and sofa area. Never went there and didn't feel happy about it whether I bought anything or not, but have walked out with everything from multi-set encyclopedias of mythology to ragged old novels from the 1930s.
9. Northport and Greenport. Two small and similar old towns devoid of modern chain retail stores and the other ugly stuff that makes you think you are in the same place no matter where you are. It is old building, docks, sails and sunsets that make these villages so captivating. Northport is in Huntington Township, only a short drive from Huntington Village, but much smaller and quainter. A great place to get some ice cream and sit out on the dock stretching into the water. Greenport is near the end of the North Fork of the Island with a couple of places to eat right on the water. A slow trip there past the wineries and the Sound shore is worth it tens times over. I much prefer the North Fork to the glitzier South Fork where the Hamptons are. You don't get the crowds or the noise, but that is what I like.
8. Rockefeller Center at Christmas. I don't have to tell you what that's like. Either you've been there yourself or you've seen it in the movies. For many years I went there with my daughter and nephew to skate in front of the tree. They are old enough to go themselves now, but I tried to skate last year with them and learned a lesson -- when I visit, I'll just be looking at the tree from now on.
7. Restaurants. I've traveled enough to know that the best and most varied restaurant experience in the world is right where I grew up. I've been to a Himalayan one and even an Ethiopian one, and too many Greek, Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, Spanish, Russian, Hungarian, German, Swiss, French, Brazilian-Portuguese, Argentinian, Cuban and Indian ones to count. In all these years, I can think of very few meals that weren't good and I can't say that about the other countries and cities I've been in.
6. Northern State Parkway in the fall. It's not upstate or New England, but the parkway, particularly from Eastern Nassau until its end in Hauppauge, is spectacular in October (actually, this year not until November). Nobody likes a rush hour drive, but doing it in fantastic foliage makes it much better.
5. Manhattan Island in general. They can knock down its tallest building and it is still the greatest city in the world. I went to a holographic museum once in a store front set up. St. John's untrammeled cathedral uptown is as close as you are going to get to a European cathedral in America. The Metropolitan Museum of Art was called the greatest museum in the world by art critic, Sister Wendy. I take her word for it, but I prefer the Frick House a few blocks down 5th Avenue, which is possibly an unparalleled small collection. Everyone should go there for the art, but if that's not your thing, the home itself will blow your mind. I haven't been to the Cloisters on the Northern tip of the island in years, but will never forget it. There have been days in my youth where I spent twelve hours or more walking the city streets or playing in Central Park and Greenwich Village.
4. Huntington Village. Even without the bookstore, Huntington has been my favorite town on Long Island since I could drive. It is about as old as you get on Long Island, but recently renovated, with two great intersecting main streets, and just the right combination of brickwork and flowers, eateries and shops to make it great fun just to walk around. It is usually packed in the Summer with lots of places to sit and dine outside. I counted 6 coffee shops one year, each one filled to the brim with customers. No better date town around.
3. The last three are very personal. Blydenburg Park is about a square mile of quiet wood paradise, enclosing a huge lake I couldn't walk around in three hours, with many trails. Somehow, it is, seemingly impossibly, nestled between two major roadways. Very few people seem to know it is there or, if they do, what it contains. Every season is a different look and I've captured each one on film. One Summer I walked there every single day and I believe found every back trail. There were a lot. Horse people like my daughter ride there, but otherwise, you can walk for hours and never see a soul or hear a car.
2. The end of the Greenbelt trail in King's Park. Another virtually undiscovered paradise. You drive into the old town of King's Park, find Old Dock Road and take it North down a winding road past the old abandoned mental hospital until you come to a parking lot with a boat launch and a single restaurant. Drive up to the highest parking lot and get out. This is where the Nissequogue River feeds into the Long Island Sound (and sometimes visa versa). You will see a little tiny entrance to the woods with some steps. Go up into the hills and look down at the water and sand bars. You'll think you are in Europe. Eventually you can loop around and go back, or, if you are a little more daring, go down the steep hills towards the Sound, clinging to tree branches, until you come to the end of Sunken Meadow Park where there is a huge sand bar that contains a spectacular bird sanctuary. I've seen osprey and egrets and sand pipers and comorants and heron and so forth. I can't imagine why I rarely see more than one or two people there.
1. My bagel store. Several times a week, sometimes five or six times a week, I go there for breakfast. They know what I want and get it ready when they see me. They have the only coffee I know that I like better than Dunkin' Donuts. Don't know where I'm going to have breakfast and read the paper now.
That's my will miss most list. Long Islanders and New Yorkers can tell me what else should have been on it.
Two quick political notes just for the hell of it. First, Ann Coulter's meltdown on Hannity and Colmes where she claimed she would vote for Hillary Clinton over McCain was silly and dishonest. What it also is is a sign of the civil war going on between social conservatives and security/economic conservatives. Ann, Rush et al are furious that the social conservative domination of the party may be coming unraveled. Believe me, they will all vote for McCain, if he wins the nomination, and particularly if Hillary is his opponent.
As for Super Tuesday, I disagree with pundits who say we will know both nominees after today, although I think it is more likely there will be a conclusion among Republicans. Hillary and Barack are going on for a long time, perhaps to the convention. The polls show that McCain will probably do well today over Romney, but I do not think Romney will drop out unless it looks like he is very unlikely to win later on. If he has a reasonable shot, he has the money to burn. Ron Paul isn't going anywhere, but not too many people care.
I hope to be online at my new home sometime next week.
- I started this blog in September, 2006. Mostly, it is where I can talk about things that interest me, which I otherwise don't get to do all that much, about some remarkable people who should not be forgotten, philosophy and theories (like Don Foster's on who wrote A Visit From St. Nicholas and my own on whether Santa is mostly derived from a Norse god) and analysis of issues that concern me. Often it is about books. I try to quote accurately and to say when I am paraphrasing (more and more). Sometimes I blow the first name of even very famous people, often entertainers. I'm much better at history, but once in a while I see I have written something I later learned was not true. Sometimes I fix them, sometimes not. My worst mistake was writing that Beethoven went blind, when he actually went deaf. Feel free to point out an error. I either leave in the mistake, or, if I clean it up, the comment pointing it out. From time to time I do clean up grammar in old posts as, over time I have become more conventional in my grammar, and I very often write these when I am falling asleep and just make dumb mistakes. It be nice to have an editor, but . . . .