I’m standing inside the platform waiting room of the Long Island Railroad, as you might have guessed by now, it’s very cold and windy and the small room is pretty packed. There is a large contingent of Asian’s here, they seem to be disabled and are being overseen by a few folks, probably a church group. The group leaders are looking after everyone and one nervous young man in particular counts heads over and over again, maybe it’s his first big assignment. We board the train and I score myself a window seat and take out my pad to begin writing. The nervous church leader seats his people and counts heads again, he is really working hard. Then he passes out chopsticks and starts passing out long styrofoam boxes of food before sitting down next to me and opening one up for himself. He has way too many of these, I guess some people didn’t want any. But he opens his and starts to eat, it’s vegetable sushi and the large rolls are cut into about eight pieces. This is an express train so we stop only twice before getting into Penn Station, a cool thing because I’m a little hot now in my overcoat and there’s no room for me to get up without disturbing this guy’s meal.
I’m going to see the Arthur Miller play “All My Sons” at the Schoenfeld Theatre tonight but my first destination will be Prune, an East Village landmark for the downscale hipsters but also an upscale place for dinner where I saw Anthony Bourdain eat on his hit show “No Reservations” a year ago. Tony ate upstairs in the kitchen where only chefs are allowed to eat, probably because many of us wouldn’t want to eat what’s served out of fear or culinary knowledge. Thank God the brunch menu is not so scary as that!, I’m really looking forward to this meal. My seat companion is on his second boat of sushi, that’s sixteen pieces and counting folks. The day is bright and mostly clear, I’m warm now so I take off my scarf, hat and open my coat up a little to cool off. This guy next to me is up to twenty four pieces of sushi!, I mean he’s thin…how is he doin it?
There’s a young guy behind me talking on his cell phone in low, obviously educated hipster tones. He’s talking about snopes.com mentioning an accident of some sorts, he asks the person on the other end if their bone was broken or pulverized, (nice choice of words genius) I think as we roll on into Jamaica Station and then off again.
When I arrive in Penn Station I waste no time in going topside to seize the day in New York, enjoy the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. There are scores of people walking about as I try to get my bearings and figure out where I need to go. But it’s too cold to do a walkabout, right now at least, so I go down to the subway and take the seven train across to the six downtown, there are alot of people here in the tunnels waiting for a train. Families are just starting to shop for Xmas and the kids are fussing and crying over something already. So many people are shopping today, and it’s not even black friday yet! Makes you wonder where people are getting the money to spend in a bad economic environemnt as ours. Thanks all of you out there in Washington, you too in big business for messing things up, but don’t worry your pretty heads about it, the middle class will pick up the tab for you as usual, we always do… don’t we? Yes, of course we do, the only thing that matters is that you have all you need because God knows, rich people need their money!
But there I wait, in an ever rising body temperature coupled with a growing urgency to relieve myself. Nearby a one man band plays bongos and cymbal and uses pre-recorded tapes to provide the missing band members. The music is temporarily drowned out by the rush of trains coming in, but not mine yet. The train roars out and he begins a different piece, a few minutes later the six train comes in and I get on with the throngs of people. But the trains are stacked and mine has to go to fourteenth street. Because of a jam up on the lines, (too many trains I guess) so off we go passing station after station in this underground time travel device we call a subway, I get off at Spring Street and have to double back and over but that’s okay.
I find Prune easily, located on 54 E. 1St between 1st & 2nd Ave, it’s owner and head chef Gabrielle Hamilton presents with an eclectic menu of childhood memories mixed with favorites turned on their end with ingredients and flair. It is jammed, there’s a 1 1/2 hour wait to get in and by that time brunch will be over. I ask the attractive red headed hostess if I can use the rest room, and since the upstairs one is occupied I’m allowed downstairs. I descend a spiral staircase, small steps made for a time long ago when people must have been smaller overall, and find myself standing in an anteroom out side the bathroom door, to my left is a kitchen door about three feet away from a table of five waiting for their food! Down here in this small space is a table? But that’s how good it is here, every available square foot of table space is used for seating-it has to be! I use the loo and then go outside to wait for my spot with others hoping to get in. It’s sunny but cold, and growing colder and after about forty five minutes I decide to move on to my backup destination I begin walking toward Bleeker Street, to my backup eatery A O C.