Condos, Big Boxes and a Senior Poet

09 Dec 2019 | 02:14

    A new kind of IMBY - Who would have thought that the survivors of department store closings would be the H&Ms and the Old Navys? And that they would be the tenants occupying the commercial space in multi-million-dollar condos, making it possible for the condo owners to keep down their monthly maintenance and other costs related to under-occupied commercial space? Think H&M at the Lucinda condo on 85th and Lex, and Old Navy at the new Hayworth condo on 86th and Lex. Perhaps living in a condo in the East 86th Street corridor makes that happen ...when residents can no longer afford to shop at and support the likes of Barney's, Bergdorf's, Bloomingdale's, Lord & Taylor. Not sure that H&M and Old Navy vendors were the type of 'vendors' the Buy and Shop Local campaigns had or have in mind. American Express, which sponsors these local shopping campaigns, will be another beneficiary of the latest condo and commercial tenant alliance - low-end big boxes and high-end condo owners - as those credit cards get slid. And shoppers will benefit if the stores don't go cashless.

    A senior's momentous moment - Forget Merriam-Webster's online definition of "senior moment" as 'an instance of momentary forgetfulness or confusion attributed to the aging process,' and its pejorative connotation. 87-year-old Peter Blaxill dispels that notion with the recent publication of his "Wherever the Wind Blows I Will Go," a book of his poetry which he was putting together for publication when I interviewed him earlier this year for Our Town's Senior Guide. Peter, a retired Broadway musical actor with a long and varied career in theater, lives at Village Care's senior residence. At the time of the interview, he was readying the book for publication. When I heard that the book had just been published, I couldn't resist. So I met with Peter at Galaxy Diner, a short walk from Village Care, and bought a copy for $15. Peter's poems are in English and there's a Spanish translation on the opposite page by Roberto Mendoza Ayala, whose Daylight Publishing company is the publisher. I asked Peter to pick a poem to use in this column, hoping he'd pick something short. He chose instead a sonnet, Ciao Italia - all 14 lines - his tribute to New York after a trip abroad. Alas, only an editor can redefine a sonnet's line count once in reprint. Here it is:

    CIAO ITALIA by Peter Blaxill

    Hello New York? I'm just back from abroad,

    footsore. Tuscany was beautiful of course and Rome?

    well yes had quite a trip! But now back home

    in my roachy flat, bag unpacked, I look forward

    to needed sleep: a fade-out from ornate, cramped hotels,

    the babble of vowely voices, our pokey bus, piazza shopping non-stop

    We gawked at Vatican halls, caught pope popping

    up waving, crowds adoring, and all those statues! All those bells!

    I'm not one for otherness. My potholed back street

    hails me: where were you rover. The corner store

    for coffee, tough buns, The Post, each stoop, each bum bummed out before

    arrested cries Welcome and each unsmiling that I meet.

    They've hooked me! Italy? No dice! Yes, some may call me gruff,

    a crude city brat and dumb. So what! It's enough.

    Bus buffet - Crosstown bus pretty empty, weekday, early afternoon. Mom and teenage daughter in upfront 3-seater. Teen sipping coffee while managing SmartPhone and struggling with the still-wrapped sammy between her knees. Mom chomping away at bulging "Everything" bagel in one hand while holding coffee cup in the other. Her SmartPhone was in the empty middle seat. How do I know it was an "everything" bagel, you might ask? Because when the ladies departed the bus, they left the salt, poppy seeds, and garlic reek on the seat. Crummy and crumby no matter how you spell or look at it.