Forty-seventh Entry



Saturday, May 2nd, 2020

The Kentucky Derby was not run today.

Spring Street, on a sunny Saturday afternoon, was much busier than it was two or three weeks ago. But it was still much quieter than “normal,” which I define as a rough average of the last twenty years of activity in New York City.

This afternoon, I went out to photograph hand-lettered signs I had seen while running yesterday. On Mott Street, one read “Closed due to the Corona Scare.” But, like the barbershop sign on Church Street—”Come visit me in Florida”—it was gone by the time I got back there.

Being out and about remains incredibly rich; there’s so much to see. The bright blue facade of a little wine shop on Elizabeth Street lured me to slow just enough to notice a bottle of amaro in the window. Nothing I needed, but I have not bought anything other than food for more than six weeks. A woman with multi-colored hair, brown coveralls, and an old three-speed Raleigh was making a purchase from the sidewalk. No one else was waiting to be served.

I pulled over and noticed a guy with a bike waiting on the sidewalk, nearly twenty feet beyond the shop—probably too far away to be waiting, but I checked to be sure. Many things are hard to tell these days. “Are you waiting, or are you with her?” I asked.
“With her.”
“She looks nice.”
“She is nice.” Then he recognized me from the Union Square Farmers Market, where he has worked as a solid purveyor of good food for many years. We had a nice chat. He was leaving his market job to work for what he called a “leftie magazine.” His companion completed her transaction, carried out through the blocked-off doorway to the shop.
I stepped into the buying position.
“How is business?”  I asked.
“Solid,” the shopkeeper replied.

Aside from the “No Cash Accepted” policy, I was delighted with all aspects of the unnecessary transaction, which resulted in a bottle of Braulio I have been wanting for a while. Hardly essential.

After making many more stops than usual, and hoping to sit and review some texts in the park, it finally seemed time to get hand sanitizer, a product I have never owned. A friend had offered me hand sanitizer on March 14 before she (somewhat reluctantly) fled to the Rocky Mountains. Her supply had been shipped from PA by her mother; hand sanitizer was unavailable in the city at that time, we shared a late lunch – my last meal out. The place was shutting down after dinner service, not because of laws, but because there were no customers. Nearly everyone had vanished.

At CVS, the hand sanitizer was secured behind the cashier, like cigarettes or razor blades. The pum-action container cost $4.50—probably more than it should, but it seemed worth it at the moment. The sanitizer was handed to me as I was directed to self-checkout. The humorless machine generated a non-optional receipt which was thirty-eight and a half inches long—for one item. Reminded me why I do not normally shop in such places.

Shootings and murders are way up across the United States.