Thursday, May 19, 2005

Purple People Eater

Wednesday 18

If you haven’t heard Judy Garland sing the Purple People Eater you probably should.

Today was yet another ‘set a target, see where I end up’ day. With vague intent to hit Macy’s / Bloomingdales / Saks 5th I took the uptown train one stop further than I have been yet and trusted to faith that I wasn't going to step out into one of the spookier bits of Harlem / the Bronx. As it turned out I was only at the bottom of Central Park. Central Park induced one of my trademark freakouts. It was unreasonably exciting to see the park, I got an angle on the Dakota and really felt I should have a big Broadway number a la ‘Im a Brass Band’ from Sweet Charity happening around me.

I skirted the park, choosing to leave it for a day trip when I have my map and a camera to get some special pictures. From the street I took I spotted the bank which is used in the filming of Ciao! Manhattan; dear Edie Sedgwick right on the edge of total burn out climbs around looking stunning amongst the ragtag of hippies in their beads and ponchos. Edie looks like an alien. Thank God for Edie, patron Goddess of too much eyeliner is never enough.

FAO Schwarz presented itself to me for inspection. That was a mixed feeling, the idea of such extravagance is still difficult for me. I’ve known what it is to trust in God to eat, something about $20,000 stuffed toys sits uncomfortably. My disregard for what I was seeing peaked when I saw the miniscule space devoted to books. A certain sadness at not having a child in my life to buy toys for stalked me all the way out of the building.

Heading along 5th next landed me at Bergdorf-Goodmans men’s store. I swallowed and decided that I wasn’t to look at all intimidated. As much as I enjoyed playing in the Galliano and the Paul Smith, there was nothing for me. I really don’t have anywhere to wear a $5000- Issey Miyake jacket. No matter how beautiful it was there are more 0’s in that price tag than I would part with for any clothing that wasn’t hand delivered by Vivienne Westwood.

Nobody in NY knows who Viv is? I had to explain her from scratch to a Saks5th salesperson who remained baffled. I don’t think Viv shows in NY but she can’t be unknown in the world’s most eclectic city?
Saks5th was much more my speed and even there it was largely stuff I wouldn’t wear except in a mental crisis. As for the prices… Too many zeroes, my dear Saks5th, too many zeroes. It probably helped me avoid insane purchases that most of the designers are trying to push the vilest of candy bright colours on us.

I don’t do bright colours very often. Circus-clown isn‘t in my repertoire of looks this year.

What I did stop for is a couple of little things from the first release of Bono's new Edun label. It’s all very PC, no exploiting the third world or sending five year olds down coal mines. ‘Eco-friendly’, no dolphins died to make these jeans, yadder-yadder. I’ve a certain respect for Bono that allowed me to have a pair of over-priced jeans and a t-shirt. Understated, up-market, street wear. I’m not confused, really.

Like any good fag son, I stopped and chose a perfume to take home in a Saks 5th bag for mother. If I even vaguely remembered what I bought I’d share. I simply chose the counters for a few of the classic houses and asked by demographic. I found a Greek-American salesperson who has spent a lot of time in Australia, even in my old neighborhood. She understood what I was after and chose the perfect small, elegant parfum in a beautifully detailed crystal-bottle. Very much a keepsake piece, now I have to hope that it smells good. My nose goes numb in those perfume pavilions.

Manhattan convenience made it’s point loud and clear when I discovered that St Patrick’s Cathedral is next door to Saks 5th! Before the guilt about spending even set in I was able to have my self-indulgence forgiven. I was just in time for lunchtime Mass in the Lady Chapel and took Mass with an amazingly poly-ethnic group of Roman Catholics. Very distinctly Irish, Hispanic and Italian forms of Roman Catholicism were all on show. It added something to my faith that we are in some sense a worldwide communion united via the Mass.

[For my new readers, I am not a Roman Catholic. I am an Anglican {Episcopalian} in exile from a heinously conservative local church governance. I take Mass with Romans happily but won’t sign up for all the Papal stuff].

By the time I walked all the way back down here I was well wrecked. Neither Bloomingdales, nor Macy’s, crossed my path. Next time. I did see Tiffany and a few of those icons. It’s remarkable how patient and efficient the staff people are at simply not seeing tourists looking for Audrey. I keep seeing shoes that are nearly the ones I want but not quite. I’m yet to find a truly extreme Edwardian square toe. There’s something about this city and shoes. Always with the shoes. I know very well that people notice I’m wearing cheap, solid, workboots with worn toes. They tell the truth about me, I’m comfortable with that.

After a little disco nap, I decided not to do a show but see what happened if I let fate take charge. The evening started chatting about libraries with someone seated in the lobby. Some local contacts dropped through and we had a few early birthday drinks for one of them. After midnight we had a few more, it was officially birthday time!

Weirdest bit of the night was hardcore StarWars fans queueing outside the cinema for first screenings at midnight. Some of the best costumed were brought in to be photographed, Darth Vader was unsettling, I had to calm myself it was only a person dressed up as an imaginary boogeyman. S/he even had the respirator breathing happening.

Daybreak approaches, best I grab a few hours before a long stretch of shows begins.


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