Bitter day; after all the unseasonable weather - no snow, bare streets, bare lawns - it’s a shock to feel the claws of February. But winter is a wolf. Never fool yourself that it can be domesticated.

Had one of those Parenting Situations yesterday, where you’re really, really disappointed. Standard stuff, I expect, unless you have a little goody-bot who never does anything wrong, in which case, congrats - the kid has either internalized your moral code and inhabits it without doubt, or has learned to ape the outward signs of obedience while snickering inside at the ease with which you can be manipulated. Well, in the small matters, anyway, and if you become accustomed to being fooled in the small ones, the big ones will be easier later on.

There was a certain amount of theatricality involved in setting up The Lesson; the damning physical evidence was simply left on the counter, where the sight of it would inspire Panic and Dismay. This would lead to Confession. But ah, confession is just the start of it. There is no absolution in the act of confessing. That’s just the opener. The next thing that comes from the child is a series of remedies and self-administered punishments, all of which should be met with curt immediate acceptance because of course those things are going to happen; it goes without saying.

So now the child has spent everything, and gained no favor, and you’re still Stony.

Stony is the worst. Anger is noisy and messy, but it is unsustainable, and everyone knows it. At some point the parent won’t be mad anymore. (I hate anger; those raw gusts are the backwash of reason taking flight.) But when the parent is remote and calm and sends you to your room, it’s purgatory with a whiff of eternity. Stony cannot be swayed. It is beyond your ability to adjust, and it feels horrible. You have been cast out of the light.

It wasn’t a big thing, but it wasn’t trifling, either, and underneath it was a willful disobedience. That was the real issue, because it sunders trust. That’s the larger picture, which is why I couldn’t let this just die out and be happy-clappy by dinner. Mom’s home, all’s forgotten, tra la la. So while she was in her room she wrote a small manifesto awash with self-castigation, and when she brought it down, I edited it for style.

Here you’re probably thinking: he is mad. And cruel. O what a dreadful memory that’ll be: I wrote my father an apology, and he sat there at the table and criticized the grammar and figures of speech. No. Although that would be the sort of memory you’d roll out at parties if you ended up well and everyone knew your father wasn’t a monster.

The first line of the apology was “I know this won’t make a difference, but”

“That’s not entirely so,” I said. “The fact that you put some thought into this and wrote what you were feeling, and why you did what you did, does make a difference. But if you start with a line like that, then it feels self-pitying. I’m starting off by disagreeing with what you wrote. See what I mean?”

She nodded. Previously she has enjoyed getting edited, getting suggestions, but this was uncharted waters. I left the rest of the text alone, though, and we talked about the underlying issues. Mom was home by now, and she good-copped the Lessons Learned portion of the event while I remained at 65% Stony. The trick is to soften like butter in the microwave at 10% power: gradually, but not so much that the entire thing collapses too soon. Within an hour it’s all better. Your child hasn’t lost a molecule of love, and learned an important lesson. 08

Like “Do a better job of hiding the evidence.”

Or “that? Don’t do that.”

I’m pretty sure I know which one she took to heart. Oh, it pained her to know what she’d done. It was just so hard to see her unhappiness, and since your immediate temptation is to remedy unhappiness, it pains you, too. But you can’t.

Some things noticed, but not included in the 1926 Ballyhoo! site: hotels of New York. I knew this one . . .


. . . it has a famous past as a horrible welfare hotel. Now it’s a Radisson. For some reason I enjoy reading negative, appalled reviews of hotels. Translated from the French:

Short stay of two nights in this big hotel where more than 14 airlines will go down .... Check in is efficient and smiling. Arrival in the room the view is simply nonexistent. Not to advise people depressives .... Deco nonexistent in the room. Not a frame, a wall of yellow dull .... No effort on this side. Good bedding!

A wall of yellow dull is a marvelous phrase. The “14 airlines” probably explains why the place might not be interested in appealing to regular travelers; they make their money from exhausted flight crews.

The Ansonia:



When it opened in 1904, “The new Ansonia was a statistical blockbuster, with 550,000 square feet of space spread out over 1,400 rooms and 340 suites. A maze of pneumatic tubing snaked through the walls, delivering messages in capsules between the staff and tenants. In the summer, freezing brine was pumped through steel flues in the walls that, Stokes claimed, kept the building at a uniform 70 degrees.”

That’s from this story, which is a great read.


This, however, is a mystery.

The hotel is gone. But there’s another Hotel Knickerbocker, right? This one? l It was a famous hotel in its day, and it’s still around. A little googling revealed something I’d, er, forgotten: the hotel closed in the earl 20s, and it was converted to offices. So the name went to the other place. I can’t find anything on it. The replacement on the site went up in 1987.

If the building doesn’t exist on the internet, then as far as the future’s concerned, it never existed. WELL HERE IT IS.

THE OTHER HOTEL KNICKERBOCKER 1926, all you search engines.

Think of the lives that flowed through this building - it must have stood for at least six decades, probably more, and had the usual rise and fall. Someone right now in New York is sitting in a nice modern apartment building, unaware that the space - in a different incarnation -- was occupied by a salesman in 1936 who was just dying from the summer heat, and sat in the room with the windows open and his coat off, praying for a breeze. Or a hooker in 1972. Or an old lady who had lived there for thirty years.You never know. Even when they’re still around, old hotels are warrens in limbo, the room resetting to neutral when the guest leaves, putting on a poker face for the next occupant. But something accumulates. Something builds up. Something remains, and I tell you, I’ve felt it. And it’s not good.

I’d like to know how west 44th is between Grand Central and Pennsylvania Station, though.



Today: some Urban updates. You will enjoy Main Streets, which has five mere updates to begin - but the last one is a pip. A peach! A regular zip-a-roo. It's HERE. And then there's Malls of Yore, a tidy little site; it's HERE. There: 17 pages all for you. Enjoy!










blog comments powered by Disqus