Saturday, May 2nd, 2020
The Kentucky Derby was not run today.
On this sunny Saturday afternoon, Spring Street was much busier than two or three weeks ago, but still much quieter than “normal.”
This afternoon, I went out to photograph hand-lettered signs I saw when running yesterday. One on Mott Street 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 returned to photograph it.
Being out and about remains an incredibly rich experience; there’s so much to see. A vibrant deep blue facade of a little wine shop on Elizabeth Street caught my attention. I slowed 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 there waiting to be served.
I pulled over and noticed a guy with a bike standing on the sidewalk nearly twenty feet beyond the shop—probably too far away to be waiting in line, but I checked to be sure. Many things are hard to interpret these days. “Are you waiting, or are you with her?” I asked.
“With her,” he replied.
After a brief exchange he recognized me from the Union Square Farmers Market, where he has worked as a purveyor of biodynamic 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 on the sidewalk.
“How is business?” I asked the shopkeeper just on the other side of the makeshift Dutch door.
“Solid,” he replied.
Aside from the “no cash accepted” policy. All aspects of this unnecessary and novel indoor/outdoor retail transaction delighted me; I rode away with a bottle of Braulio, something I have been wanting for a while. Hardly essential.
After making more stops than usual, it seemed time to finally get hand sanitizer, a product I barely use and have never owned. A friend offered me some on March 14th before she (somewhat reluctantly) fled New York for the Rocky Mountains. Her supply had been shipped by her mother in Pennsylvania because hand sanitizer was unavailable in the city at that time. We shared a late lunch that day—my last meal out. The restaurant was shutting down after dinner, not because of laws, but because there were no customers. Nearly everyone had vanished.
At CVS, hand sanitizer was secured behind the cashier, like cigarettes or razor blades. The pump-action container I chose 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 toward self-checkout. The humorless machine generated a non-optional receipt which was 38.5 inches long—for one item. It reminded me why I do not normally shop in such places.
Shootings and murders are way up across the United States.