Hanging on the Upper West Side

It’s been a month since I’ve put pen to paper (so to speak). I have a really good excuse for not writing lately: I’ve been spending a lot of time on the Upper West Side.
It’s clean. People don’t pee on the streets. Cavalier Spaniels do. I noticed it a few mornings ago, downtown in one of my favorite neighborhoods between the east village and the west village, around Lafayette Street, I smelled that New York smell: urine, grease, cheese, rotten food, perspiration, coffee.  The traffic whizzed by, horns honked. It was steamy and hot. I loved it, made me feel alive!
Of course I feel quite alive up on the UWS. But I don’t get that smacked in the face New York feeling. It’s very homey, restful, expansive, pleasant to walk around, especially at night, just not as stimulating as walking down Grand Street in the lower east side but it has its own excitement. Lots of celebrities live on the Upper West Side, more than any other neighborhood in New York City. When it was on the air, there was an 80% chance of coming home to a Law & Order episode being filmed on your block. I’m pretty sure I saw Joel Grey the other day. He walked out of a store right in front of me. He’s very small.
You are probably wondering why this is an excuse…so here goes…it’s too nice up here.
My senses are not assaulted every minute.  Possibly I have run out of things to talk about, sitting at a clean, upscale coffee shop on 84th and Columbus. I need to get back to Union Square and find some material.
I’m not saying it’s dull, just a different kind of feel. The proximity to both parks (and the river) is a real plus. Nice streets like West End, Riverside Drive..even Broadway up here is a beautiful, wide street. The train stations are pretty clean, the sidewalks are pretty clean. There are a few tourists, not like Midtown, but busloads will come to Zabar’s every once in awhile. Lincoln Center is close, and walking to the NY Philharmonic is really a thrill. It feels like I’m on vacation up here.  There are not as many odd characters, no hari krishnas, and no one shouting at you to save yourself before it’s too late.  One thing I have noticed that seems out of place, is a lot of homeless people. On church steps, on the street. Some are on the same corner every morning. I imagine since there is more money up here, it’s a pretty decent place for handouts.
I just read that there are lots of rats that hang out in toney Riverside Park, especially at night. It’s a nice park, right on the Hudson River. I’ve enjoyed walking around there at night, but after reading that article, I may think again about doing that.
Meanwhile, I’m going to head to the train and down to Washington Square Park to my favorite coffeehouse. And perhaps some fodder for my next blog entry.

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