New York Tales from Curious Borough Dwellers

008 : Michael Maiello at Washington Square Park, Manhattan
Born 1975 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Michael Maiello currently works as a writer. Why New York? For tax purposes. He digs the following Gotham bits: Reading a book on the way to work, eating the meals that others read about, bike rides through Prospect Park, the Strand and that it’s F. Scott Fitzgerald’s city. He is, however, a bit miffed by some of the friends who have lived here and left, Rudy Giuliani, people eating smelly food on the subway, the fact that there are two Olive Gardens—seriously, why?—and Katie Couric, she knows why. For more info on Michael Maiello you should send an email or visit thosethingswesay.blogspot.com.

image: E. Nagase

“Shirtless Boris Yeltsin’s skin reddens as he reads a book.”

On a late summer Sunday afternoon we sat near the fountain in Washington Square Park[1]. And as the lenses of her Dolce & Gabbana sunglasses and my nameless sunglasses reflected the sun, we nearly dozed and surely dreamt.

Lying on the cement steps across from us, shirtless Boris Yeltsin’s skin reddens as he reads a book. His lips move as he peruses the pages. We sneak toward him to see what he’s reading. It’s a book about how to flip real estate for profit. Really. Seems odd. But then we realize that Boris Yeltsin is dead. This man is a body double, intentional or otherwise.

We return to our sunning spot, disappointed that Boris Yeltsin is dead[2], and worried for his body double’s future employment prospects. Bruce Willis stops right near us, kneels, ties his shoe and then jogs off, splashing through the shallow water where the really little children (one is Suri Cruise) swim under the supervision of the Courtney Love.

Wow, that Alec Baldwin sure eats a lot of hot dogs. He should be careful because he’s not as young as he used to be (back when he was young). Boris Yeltsin’s body double could be Alec Baldwin’s body double. Seriously. If shot in shadow.

Uma Thurman is too tall to wear a Hello Kitty backpack. She’s laughing at Stephen Colbert while he eats a vanilla soft-serve ice cream cone that melts onto his hand. His t-shirt says “These colors don’t run”—and you know what colors those are.

Everybody sees Janeane Garofalo.

Everybody our age sees a David—Byrne or Bowie—never both.

The stars fade with the sunset. We walk south and then west toward Macdougal Street.

We enjoyed the show near the fountain that day and how well the actors, without knowing they’d been cast (or consenting to the work) played their celebrity roles. Average folk are so much easier to work with. No assistants, no trailers no scripts. No lights but the sun, no curtain but our departure.

referenced works

  1. Washington Square Park consists of an arch with a statue of George Washington that marks the end of Fifth Ave., a concrete fountain, a concrete square and then a few slivers of lawn. In the 1990s, it was overrun with marijuana dealers, but their ranks have thinned. The chess players there will beat you at chess.
  2. He died in April 2007, at the age of 76, of heart failure. Was it the alcoholism? We may never know.

location information


017That's when I knew I wanted to live in New York: in the midst of those fragile bralets and bodysuits.— Ling Ma

016The guns, we tell the police later, were black like ice.— Tara Deal

015...my own talisman against the folly of my youth.— Andrea Jarrell

014Y'all in a band'r somethin'?— Abraham

013Perhaps it was the lanky teenager with the bright red book-bag that made me think I saw Adam.— Carrie Teicher

012I remember flattening myself against the streaky windows of the PATH train like an insect.— Erin Fisher

011I glanced up to see another shape hit the sand.— Ken H. Judy

010Vibrating almost imperceptibly in the breeze like a woody tuning fork.— Rob Giampietro

009Then the jazz stopped and the radio said the war had started in the Middle East. — Roland Kelts

008Shirtless Boris Yeltsin’s skin reddens as he reads a book.— Michael Maiello

007Port Authority was there with open, non-judging arms.— Khoi Vinh

006His almost-loss was my almost- nonexistence.— Matthew Rand

005On the cold hard floor of the orphanage, I sang, longing for the day that they would come and rescue me.— Jen Egan

004He was a lawyer, after all.— Kristin Gardner

003The parking lot gate was open, and we ran in with the skateboard.— Lorraine Martindale

002We arrived on completely Russian streets, with Russian signs and a familiar rudeness.— Kseniya Melnik

001...the hourly clicking of Oxfords and high heels across the parking lot.— Tam Nomgum


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