New York Tales from Curious Borough Dwellers

023 : David Licata at Noguchi Museum, Queens
Born 1961 in Leonia, N.J.. David Licata currently works as a filmmaker and editor. Why New York? Because every time he leaves, he comes back. He digs the following Gotham bits: That he lives on an island off the coast of America; the pizza; the bike path along the Hudson River; the Mets. He is, however, a bit miffed by the noise from new construction near his apartment, the 20 something women emigrating to NYC to live the "Sex and the City" dream, any and all things Trump, bitter cashiers and the Yankees For more info on David Licata you should send an email or visit bloodorangefilms.com.

image: David Licata

“His children came to him but his wife, bird-like and sad-looking, did not.”

The October afternoon belonged to me, and I wanted to escape myself, to go somewhere I’d always meant to go but hadn’t. I trekked to Long Island City’s Noguchi Museum: by tram over the East River, by foot over the rusting Roosevelt Island bridge and then down an industrial boulevard, finally reaching what was once the artist’s studio[1]. On the first floor, The Stone Within, a vertical, vaguely cylindrical sculpture almost as tall as I and as wide as my apartment door, captivated me. I slid two fingers along a portion of polished black basalt and burned when I realized how much it felt like her skin.

I walked to the garden and sat on a wooden bench. A girl, seven or so, entered running, chased around the garden’s sculptures by a boy who could only be her younger brother. They giggled and their footsteps crackled on the gravel. Their parents entered seconds later.

“Stay on the path,” their mother said.

The father walked toward a fountain. “Yuki, Pedro, come here,” he said. He was younger than I, Latino, with short black hair and a chiseled, angular face. His fine clothes fit him well.

His children came to him but his wife, dressed in black, bird-like and sad-looking, did not.

“This is my favorite fountain in the whole world,” he said. He lowered his voice to the volume reserved for churches, and I could no longer hear him.

I was disappointed. The ex spoke affectedly of the garden, of the fountain, and I kept trying to see what she had seen here, to understand. Did she view it from this bench? Did her gaze wander to those bamboo trees and follow them upward? Did she think of me? Was she thinking of me now?

“Excuse me,” the father said to me, “would you take our picture?”

“Of course.”

“Mariko!” His wife joined him by the fountain. Water rose through its interior mysteriously and collected in a font, glazed over the top and down its sides and into the ground where the cycle began again. I took two photos of the family. “Great,” he said, looking at the screen. “Can you take one more?”

The family posed again. I said, “Say cheese.”

“Queso,” the father said. He hoisted the boy in the air as I depressed the shutter button; I had captured the son laughing in mid fall.

“Strangers take the best pictures,” the father said. His wife bowed.

On the N train home I didn’t think about the woman who wanted to delete me from her history, whom I desired but who no longer desired me; instead I thought about all the times the word “Anonymous” appeared on placards beside works of art, and I sensed I had done something important, something lasting.

referenced works

  1. This route is helpfully labeled “Travel to the Museum the way that Isamu Noguchi did!” at the Noguchi Museum's web site.

location information


  1. Jane Waggoner Deschner in Montana thinks: No death or illness but loss, just the same. Very nice…felt as though I could have been sitting there with you.
  2. Jennifer Chen [1] in Los Angeles, CA thinks: I love the choice of words and the dialogue. It made me miss Long Island City and sad that I never went to the Noguchi Museum the whole time I lived there.
  3. Anna in New York thinks: The last line gave me goose bumps. The whole piece is so poignant.

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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