When I went to collect my dry-cleaning for the first time, I had to a lot to pick up. Most of the clothes I’d brought with me from SydneyÂ had beenÂ crushed beyond recognition. I nearly failed to recognise them myself, when they were presented to me. That’s primarily because each item was smothered by a huge triangular piece of paper on which was emblazoned the words: We Love Our Customers! The paper triangle, as I’ve since discovered, comes in a variety of sizes to suit the item you’ve paid to have dry-cleaned and comprehensively packaged. It also serves no discernible purpose whatsoever.
At the grocery store, which is manic no matter which time of day or night I attempt to shop there, the concept of conserving plastic or reducing the number of shoppings bags used per customer is yet to catch on here. On the contrary, at the checkout muster – and muster is the only word for it – there are people whose dedicated roleÂ it is to place a large brown paper bag inside ofÂ each plastic shopping bag, prior to packing it while the checkout operator rings up my bill. The other day I really screwed with their minds when I brought along my ‘Norton St Grocer’ canvas shopping tote and asked to pack it myself. It made no sense to them at all.
As proprietor of Bridge Literary Services Pty Ltd, I couldn’t believe my luck in finding a light-filled and spacious room for rent in a perfect Upper West Side location from which I had a great view of the George Washington Bridge. The photo shows the view from my room, looking directly over Riverside Park and up the busy Hudson River.
I nearly bumped directly into Richard Belzer, who plays John Munch on Law & Order: SVU, at my crazy grocery store Fairway last week. I was trying to decide which queue would be the quickest when I looked up and recognised the tall, gangly, craggy-featured actor. His character is the one with all the arcane knowledge and cynical philosophical asides. Wonder why he appeals to me? For those of you wondering why I would know this show, I have to confess to a lingering fascination with SVU over several years. I burst into giggles because I recalled instantly a dream I had years ago in which the character John Munch cuts my hair poolside at some undisclosed house. I don’t know what it means, either.
It was a crowded cinema on Sunday afternoon at Lincoln Center (trying to use local spelling, forgive me) for a viewing of Sidney Pollack’s first documentary, ‘Sketches of Frank Gehry’. The two have been friends for years and Pollack is the only film-maker Gehry trusted enough to make the film. The architect’s Colombo-style scruffiness hides an intensely competitive and ambitious ego, but when it results in aÂ building like the Guggenheim Bilbao, who’s complaining? At a Q&A session after the screening, Sidney Pollack confessed that he could find only one dissenting voice – belonging to an architecture scholar in Boston – prepared to publicly question Gehry’s work. The scholar’s main criticism of Gehry is that he thinks the building overpowers the purpose for which it was built – he is not convinced Bilbao serves the art displayed there.
On a more prosaic level, my question for Sidney Pollack – Apple Girl, asking Tootsie’s director a question, in New York! – related to the artist Julian Schnabel, who was featured in the documentary. Schnabel’s appearances always caused the audience to giggle because he chose to be filmed wearing a terry-towelling bathrobe and sunglasses, reclining on a deck chair and holding a brandy. Pollack disclosed that Schnabel had been fully dressed when the film-maker stopped by, but suggested changing into the outfit he was filmed in.
I’m thrilled to see you, virtually speaking. I realised that I couldn’t have an official ‘first post’ because that implies a ‘last post’ – in my beginning is my end (or is it in my end is my beginning?) type thing. To confuse you further, future posts will refer to past events – events of the past five weeks, anyway, which is how long I’ve been in the Big Apple.
Do you think myÂ blog shouldÂ be called Apple Girl or Applesider (as in Sydney-sider in the …)? Please vote with your mouse. I feel utterly ridiculous having my own blog. But in this place of shameless self-promotion my ingrained modesty seems utterly 20th century. And so I shall parry forth with the newfangled technology. But it will have to wait until … the next post.