Sunday, October 01, 2006


A Saturday afternoon in Washington Square

Washington Square Park in New York City's Greenwich VillageSetting the stage: Yesterday I had plans to meet up with a friend visiting from out of town. We were to meet in Greenwich Village, at the north side of the fountain in Washington Square, looking at the Arch, weather permitting. It's an easy spot to describe, an easy spot at which to meet, and then we could go from there to wherever we decided to eat. Weather permitted (but the photo is from Wikipedia, not from yesterday).

I chose to drive instead of taking the train. Traffic was moderately sucky, which is always likely in New York City, though it wasn't terrible. There are a bundle of ways to get there, but they all have high suck possibility, and one never really knows which will be best. The traffic reports on the radio sometimes help one weed out the most disgusting ones, but they can't cover everything, so sometimes as long as there isn't an overturned truck in flames on the road, snarled traffic won't get mentioned. And anyway, the best traffic-report radio station was covering the Yankees game. But I got to the Village, found a good parking place right away, and walked to Washington Square.

I passed Mario Batali as I walked down Fifth Avenue; he was on the street talking with his son, and was notable for his orange Crocs. That gave a good start to a half hour of people-watching, because people-watching is one of the best pastimes in Washington Square, and I arrived a half hour early. I sat on the edge of the fountain, and watched.

A group of NYU students were near me, filming a class project. Someone played a quiet electric guitar under a nearby tree, as the woman with him looked on. A young boy splashed in the fountain, despite the autumn chill.

Five women posed and roamed in matching pink skirt-suits, complete with pink fishnet stockings, pink shoes, and little pink hats. They each stuck a toe in the water. Another woman got a card from them, and I heard her tell her companion that "they're giving out 'moustache love'". I don't pretend to understand; one doesn't try to understand everything that goes on in Washington Square.

Two men tossed juggling pins on the other side of the fountain.

People stopped now and then to take each other's picture in front of the fountain, or in front of the Arch.

Over by the statue of Garibaldi walked a man in gold lamé pants, a black shirt, and a black beret. Walking through the Arch toward Fifth Avenue went a woman in boots that went up barely below her knee, and a pleated skirt that went down barely below her butt-cheeks. Despite the autumn chill.

As I turned my eyes toward the top of the Arch, I saw the quote there from George Washington:

Let us raise a standard to which the wise and the honest can repair.
Our first president, the "Father of our Country", said that. And I thought that our current president, another George W., is neither wise nor honest, and has no right to honour the same flag nor to hold the same office as George Washington.

And there's my mobile phone. My friend's running late, and we've changed the meeting place to a restaurant a few blocks away. It's been a pleasant half hour at Washington Square, and I'm off....

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