A Coney Island of the Mind

 

When I was in ninth grade, with extremely frizzy hair and a strange sense of style that only the early aughts could produce, I met a librarian who told me about poetry. It was a simple breakthrough in my life of books.

This librarian helped me finish an assignment for my honors english class one afternoon at our town's public library. She also serendipitously told me I should I read Lawrence Ferlinghetti's A Coney of the Island of the Mind, too

Up until that point, I'd really never had an adult show me the good stuff in reading beyond me stealing my mom's Oprah paperbacks. It ushered in a desire not just for poetry but for all kinds of books I'd hadn't been thinking about.

I loved Ferlinghetti's anti-classical form instantly, how what he wrote spoke to feelings I'd had about living in our times even if we experienced different Americas. He was nothing like the sonnets we were learning in class. I didn't need to track his literary devices. I didn't even know who or what the beats were, but I felt like I could actually read what he wrote.

I bought his book on my own after returning that library copy. I never really loved Kerouac or the other beats after that. It was always A Coney Island of the Mind for me.

Even today, I think about his style, especially in this weird time and place in the world. I still have my copy that I move with me from apartment to apartment. Once in San Francisco, I stopped in City Lights hoping I'd get a sighting of him.  Maybe I will someday.

--

I am waiting for my case to come up   
and I am waiting
for a rebirth of wonder
and I am waiting for someone
to really discover America
and wail
and I am waiting   
for the discovery
of a new symbolic western frontier   
and I am waiting   
for the American Eagle
to really spread its wings
and straighten up and fly right
and I am waiting
for the Age of Anxiety
to drop dead
and I am waiting
for the war to be fought
which will make the world safe
for anarchy
and I am waiting
for the final withering away
of all governments
and I am perpetually awaiting
a rebirth of wonder

(excerpt from I Am Waiting, Lawrence Ferlinghetti)

Inspiration for Upstate NY Adventures

For the past few years I've made time to get away to various parts of the Catskills and Hudson valley for adventures in the summer and fall . I just happened upon this fast watercolor sketch  after I climbed up Overlook Mountain sometime ago which made me a bit wistful for the close to home getaways.

I'm looking for inspiration, especially for this coming summer season that are right outside the city's door step.

Send me your ideas! I've been inspired by Only Living Girl in New York's trips to the farther afield Lake George area.

Upstate Weekend Trips Ideas Near New York City

By train:

Hudson for antiquing Cold Spring for a hike and small town Beacon for contemporary art

By car: A Summer in the Hudson Valley Ashokan for the Reservoir Big Indian NY for The Peekamoose Restaurant New Paltz to tour the cideries Westkill for the Spruceton Inn and Westkill Brewing  Woodstock for Overlook Mountain and Bread Alone

Gray's Papaya on 72nd Street

Gray's Papaya on 72nd. The best part of this year of living on the Upper West Side is exploring all The Very New York Institutions that exist up here on a casual basis. It's been fun to just see movies at Lincoln Center, walk by the farmer's market at The Natural History Museum, and sit for a slice of cheese cake at Cafe Lalo.

And in the this neighborhood, the intersection of 72nd Street feels like one of the most cinematic and iconic. Perhaps I feel this way because of You've Got Mail but I also learned that it's a background in Die Hard, too. I think my subconscious remembers that scene.

The yellow and bright Gray's Papaya at 72nd is a perfect storefront symbol for the neighborhood, an open 24/7 stalwart on the corner beaming in yellow and painted signs.

Now that the spring is really here, I feel a craving for a hot dog with mustard, but never ketchup. Yep, that's how I like my papaya dog.

-- Gray's Papaya  2090 Broadway, New York, NY 10023