Going On The Account: Forty First Street Blues

So this is what life without a novel to share is like…

It’s been a rough few weeks.  In addition to the mundane concerns competing for my attention with personal memorialization of Richard Matheson (and believe me, I wish I could have gotten something better out there to share about this than this note), there was the letdown from finding a bit more time on my hands.

I couldn’t believe how not having a spot on the calendar to fill every Thursday morning, making sure the links were up and notices posted to the blog, would seem so depressing.  I have other projects I’m working on, getting some more rejection notices from paying markets and assembling something I can talk more about once I finish figuring out how to work this dang doo-hickey here, but getting the novel online, keeping hose plates spinning…

Why am I missing this?

I mean, I thought having more time was supposed to be a good thing, right?  A chance to sleep in a little, work on the next project(s), re-acquaint myself with how to be a bon vivant around town, going down to watering holes in the Village to spout off, finding myself within half a block of the Algonquin by accident and deciding on the spot, “What the hell?” and going to the bar to get a round and toast the ghost of Dorothy Parker, one BS artist to another…

I should be doing something else and enjoying the chance to do that, right?

Is it the lack of structure, not having anything to pimp hock promote?  The lack of something to define me?  Do I need the definition?

Something I considered this morning as I made my way along Forty First Street.


Everyone knows of the thoroughfare one block north, the two-way street that goes past Grand Central Station and through Times Square, celebrated in the novel, film and musical named for the way.

Forty First Street?  Not so much…

In fact, the street is famous for how much of it is not that navigable.  The street’s east end is on a rise that forms a 20-foot cliff overlooking First Avenue.  Going west, if you walk you need to take care when you get to Park Avenue, which you go under as you’re forced to one side of the street, as they only put one sidewalk under the bridge Park is carried over the street on.  You hit Fifth Avenue, you go right up the steps of the main branch of the New York Public Library; you need to circumvent Bryant Park to get back on the street.  Once you find the trail again and skirt Times Square, you then run right into the Port Authority Bus Terminal at Eight Avenue, the last detour before you finally find your way to the Hudson.

Not the best river-to-river street in Manhattan, and frankly it feels more like an alley behind its brasher sister street a block north.  That gets all the tourists and paparazzi, while Forty First gets a lot of folks just pushed off to the side for them.

And yet it’s still there.  It is still on the map, it still has signs on the corners that are left, it’s just as much right to be walked upon as anyone any place else in the city.  It may not be your main way across town, or even that high up in your mind as a place you can conceptualize, but it’s still there.

And it has its place.  It has its purpose.  It may not be the place you meet those dancing feet; hell, the only dance you ever do there is the one where you avoid walking through the remnants of someone’s failures, a meal that couldn’t be kept down or a dog that should have been cleaned up after, maybe a pet that could be loved a bit better by being walked in the park instead.

But it’s still there, and by just being there it reminds you that even without a clear way, a few detours and you’re back going in the right direction.  Maybe not as elegant a symbol of perseverance as Bob Dylan’s approach to it, but we’re letting the melodic crap go one block north, here…

And walking the forgotten street, it reminds you that some things that you do, that you embrace doing, they never go away when you stop.  They are still there to get back to doing once the detour is navigated.

So this means I’m publishing something online again?  At some point, yes; Bryant Park and the Bus Terminal may need to be walked around first, but a few turns at the corner, then…


1 Comment

Filed under Writing

One response to “Going On The Account: Forty First Street Blues

  1. Loved the ‘tour’ of Forty First Street, from someone who’s never been there but keeps thinking, one day . . . 🙂

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