Monday, May 08, 2006


On Sunday, I took my first longish walk since Easter. I got off to my usual late start and wound up doing only about 11 miles.
I walked down the Hudson River path as I always do, but cut across Manhattan at 94th Street, through the northernmost section of Central Park, exiting at 97th Street.
I craved solitude and wanted to avoid the Lennonophiles pining for their martyred leader at Strawberry Fields, along with the throngs of tourists, cyclists, street vendors, dog walkers, sunbathers, Frisbee throwers, people watchers, book readers, inline skaters and picknickers.
The park crowds usually don't come this far north except to play tennis on the vast sea of green courts parallel to the walking path.

Down in the East Village, I met up with fellow blogger and old soul An Xiao, a venerable Taoist immortal by way of the Philippines and Los Angeles. We discovered to our pleasure and relief that Zen lunatics still wander the earth. (Visit An's haiku blog for a rare treat.)

After An headed home, I walked the short distance to my friend Shiki-san's Japanese restaurant for sushi, beer and sake. We listened to mournful enka CDs and discussed our favorite samurai films.
Shiki-san, descended from an old Kyushu samurai family, told me how his ancestors converted to Christianity in the 16th century but had to practice their faith in secret once the shogun outlawed the barbarian religion.
I sat rapt, and the more I imbibed, the better my Japanese got.

Sated, I walked to one of my favorite bookstores, St. Mark's Book Shop, at Third Avenue and St. Mark's Place. The last thing in the world I need is more books. But when my brain is bathing in a sea of warm sake, browsing and buying become surprisingly easy.

I let my eyes slip from the volume of Chinese poetry in front of me to my watch. I panicked. It was 10:30. The George Washington Bridge pedestrian path closes at midnight. I still had to walk up to 59th Street and then crosstown to Columbus Circle for the A train to 178th and the bridge. And on Sundays, the A train runs far less frequently this time of night.

I paid for my books and charged up Third Avenue. It was about 10:55 by the time I got to 35th Street and realized I would never make it to the subway in time. I took a cab to Columbus Circle, sprinted down the steps to the subway station and was crestfallen at hearing the ominous sounds of construction. This would certainly mean more delays on top of the infrequent late-Sunday schedule.

A D train came by at about 11:20. I took it to 125th Street in Harlem and waited impatiently for the A. Luckily, it was a short wait.

I got to the GWB just as the guards were locking the gates to the pedestrian walkway, putting the bridge to bed for the night.


Matt Kohai said...

Sounds like a great way to spend a day... I should join you at that restaurant one of these days - there's a fair chance I already dine there, whichever one it is, since I go to so many Japanese places in the EV!

Lone Wolf said...

Even though I have shelves of books I havn't read yet, I went to a library sale the other day and bought a big bag full of more books.

I really enjoy this line you wrote: "But when my brain is bathing in a sea of warm sake, browsing and buying become suprisingly easy."

Now I know to never go to the bookstore after a few cups of warm sake.

Michael said...

Yes, it would be better if my friend's restaurant were in an area far from any stores. I give in too easily to the temptation of shopping, especially after sake.

Michael said...


Sorry to not answer your post till now. Yes, sure, you're welcome anytime. The restaurant is Shiki Kitchen, corner of First Ave. and St. Mark's Place (not on corner, actually, but one or two shops in, on northwest side).

Matt Kohai said...

I've seen the place before. I'll have to stop in - and maybe talk Kim into coming as well! We could make a day of it!

Michael said...

I would be up for that, anytime!