The Strand dollar racks on the corner of Broadway and 12th Street is simply one of my favorite places in the world. In the sorting machinery of New York City, the dollar rack is one of the exhaust vents, a place where excess information is discarded.
I sort through the racks often. Much of what ends up there is a sort of anonymous garbage, books that came and went with no notice from the world at large. Self published cookbooks, auction catalogs, outdated spiral bound reference books, anything no one wants or needs.
But then there are also old friends in hard times. Every time I visit the racks I see, for example, the Penguin paperback editions of any and all of Robertson Davies. During a sweltering hot and cash strapped summer, I went through the 48¢ bin of mass market paperbacks frequently, looking for classics and killing time. I’d never heard of Robertson Davies, but liked the pop art-ish Penguin covers and picked one called “The Fifth Business.”
I stayed up all night reading the strange, dreamlike story of family feuds and bohemian life in a Canada I’d never before encountered and indeed perhaps never actually existed. Next day I returned to the rack for the next book in the trilogy.
Though I happily discovered Robertson Davies in the moldering mass market bins by the Strand dumpster, I always feel a bit sad when I inevitably spot yet another book by this once popular and now little read author in the shabby skid row of the Strand’s dollar racks.
A few more days
A final Hi meeting
The local neighborhood bar has a quiet time between six and nine. It is a place that specializes in coffee, beer and seasonal menus. There is just enough of each for a satisfying snack and effective buzz. After the time when the laptop lids close and before the social gatherings start -- there is a sort of twilight*. Often this time is a fugitive ground rife with creative inspiration and meditative work -- of the kind that results in personal reward.*twilight may refer to civil, nautical or astronomical variety depending on your social or terrestrial condition
A man positions his mouse on the edge of his browser window. He clicks, holds and drags the viewport first left then right. The content of a video game promo micro site responds and adapts to the available space. To the man, this is more delightful than the game itself.
A man laboriously moves his piano down three levels onto the subway platform. Classic vocals and strided chords -- he played so well I swore he was blind. Oblivious to the heat on that August stage, he was most in touch with his audience -- whom he elevated with his music.
A woman should do exactly as she pleases no matter what a man may think.
As the Dalai Lama once said, "It is a time when there is much in the window, but nothing in the room."
"No one understands me," she said. Her grandmother was silent for a minute. It seemed she was searching for an answer in the star speckled sky. "But no one understands anyone in this world, darling. We are all unique. It is what gives us a sense of wonder."