New York City

Dear Friends,

It's lovely to be in New York, a city where West 43rd is the street I dreamed of in my youth, since The New Yorker magazine was headquartered here, just east of 6th Avenue, and Times Square, one of the amazing sights of America, the Grand Canyon of Lights. Now I love to go there and watch the tourists. Nobody comes here to relax: it's a city for people who've had enough relaxation and want to wake up and stay up late. Walk around and look for famous people. Look at people who are arguing with lampposts --- some New Yorkers go around with imaginary friends and it's not necessarily an imaginary friend they get along with real well. Look at people being dragged around by their dogs and scooping up their poop, like slaves. Walk around The World's Largest Outdoor Museum where something is always happening that you wouldn't want to be involved in personally. As you know, New York vacuums the money right out of your pockets and does magic tricks with your credit cards, and the $24 that the Dutch paid the Algonquin Manhattan Indians was the last really good deal ---- ever since then, the natives have been sharper about money. So some visitors leave town with a sense of depletion and feeling of relief at returning to St. Paul or Hadley Falls or Woonsocket, but how can one not be moved by the grandeur of the place? Of course it helps that we're looking at the city as pedestrians, not zooming through it on a freeway. (Cars don't zoom much in the city, as you know. Notice that there aren't speed limit signs in Manhattan: I guess they figured the problem of speeding would take care of itself.)

If you get a chance, walk around this old neighborhood, with its corporate buildings salted with dives and joints and walk-up hotels that probably don't offer room service. The surviving remnants of the seedier old days. The old Belasco Theater on 44th. Bryant Park behind the Library on 42nd, one of the loveliest spots in the city, especially in warm weather. And just northwest of us, where Broadway slices at a steep angle across 44th and Seventh Avenue, you can stand and see into six different canyons, each with sheer walls of glass and stone hundreds of feet tall and covered with brilliant flashing signs and news banners and along the sidewalks rivers of people moving along, some on their way to shows, but most of them just here for the experience of being in Times Square and being in a crowd. And here we are. Lucky us.
~Garrison Keillor