Drifting and striding, in Hollywood and elsewhere, with Geoff Nicholson - author of The Lost Art of Walking, and Walking in Ruins withcholson, author of Toff Nidrifting and stomping withcholson, author of The Lost Art of Walking, considers the narrower and wider shores of obsessive pedestrianism.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

WALKING IN MANHATTAN WITH GARRY AND RON



 I’ve been doing some walking in Manhattan.  I didn’t go there specifically to do any walking but, as I’ve said many times before, New York is a place where people end up doing a lot of walking, whether they intend to or not.  And I think there’s something suitably Zen about this, that some of the best walks happen when you don’t intend to do a “walk.”



It was when I lived in New York that I first started carrying a camera with me full time, sometimes walking the streets pretending to be Garry Winogrand, or someone.  Of course, New York explodes with quirky, unexpected, eye-catching details, and characters. Even so I was slightly surprised to find this sign on a street in Hell’s Kitchen, on a day in mid-May when the temperature was pushing 80 degrees F.




It reminded me of my favourite bit of New York street art, this wonderful faux Ed Ruscha piece - not quite a mural, since it's not painted directly on the wall  - at the Gaseteria at the corner of Houston and Lafayette. 



Obviously it didn’t always have a pile of snow in front of it, but having taken the picture, that’s the way I always remember it. There’s still a gas station on the site, but it’s no longer the Gaseteria, just a BP station, thriving as far as I could tell, with many yellow cabs using it, and the faux Ruscha has gone - perhaps even to a loving home.  This is not surprising and it would have been absurd to "preserve" it in perpetuity, but still, I sort of miss it.




My wife and I were walking down Fifth Avenue and we were discussing the women and high heels in New York.   She said that she wasn’t seeing any New York women in high heels.  This surprised me.  When I lived there my impression was that the streets were full of them, and then as if to prove my point, up ahead I saw a very well-dressed woman wearing extremely high heels, a woman, it must be said, who looked amazingly short, which was perhaps why she needed the heels.

And then, a split second later, I realized this was a “famous person” – Nina Garcia – one of the judges of Project Runway (yes, yes, my wife sometimes makes me watch it) and also Creative Director of Marie Claire Magazine, whatever that might involve. Nina was struggling to find the right shiny black SUV that was there to take her wherever she was going next.  There were quite a few of them parked in the vicinity, and the streets and traffic of New York were unrelenting.  The first shiny black SUV she went to wouldn’t let her in.  She did some yelling, both at the driver and into her cell phone.  I reached for my camera. 


I got a shot, though alas I couldn't get the shoes.  I felt like Garry Winogrand, or maybe Ron Galella.


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