Wednesday, December 14, 2005

I'm Walkin'

Like some 4,000,000 other New Yorkers this morning, I walked to work.

Our entire public transportation system is shut down due a strike called by transit workers. Cars are not allowed in mid-town unless they have a full complement of passengers. Taxis can pick up multiple fares, as they see fit.

Basically, we're in lock-down mode.

I'm reminded of the last transit strike, way back in 1980, a mere 20 years ago. That one lasted 11 days. Hopefully, this one can be resolved sooner than that.

I don't mind walking. My walk entails 31 blocks and 4 avenues, heading northwest. No big deal. I often walk home after work to clear my head, if I'm not going to the gym.

I was offered a ride within steps of my apartment by two women in a PT Cruiser. I thanked them, but told them I was okay...perhaps someone else would need the ride more than I did.

Back in 1980 I was employed by one of New York's then-premiere interior designers, Michael de Santis. Our offices were located at 2nd Avenue and 59th Street. Michael maintained a staff of 12 or so, all of us devoted to creating the deluxe designs he was rightly famous for. To this day, as I walk through galleries of once again cutting edge Karl Springer and Vladimir Kagan furniture, I know that many of these pieces were commissioned by our office.

It seems to me that my entire interview consisted of Michael asking me if I could type purchase orders. In fact I could. I started the next week. After a few days of typing purchase orders using the special hunter green typewriter ribbons we used for everything, Michael asked me to put together a table setting for Bon Appetite Magazine, utilizing advertiser's products. I had to visit shops and showrooms and assemble everything in Michael's empty apartment, so that the magazine could photograph him fixing a vinaigrette to pour over asparagus that I had arranged on a Wedgewood platter. So much for purchase orders. When people asked me what I did for a living, I would tell them: I shop!! Come on, I was 24 years old! It was very glamorous.

I was among three men in their 20's who worked for Michael.

There was Marc, blonde, and mustachioed, who was in charge of Michael's contemporary projects. Marc wound up being spirited away by a very famous prince he'd met at Studio 54.

There was Chris, chestnut haired, with an amazingly thick mustache, as well. Tall and handsome, somewhat dreamy of demeanor, Chris seemed to laugh his way through life. We were close friends for awhile. I last had word of him some years ago, when arriving to spend the night at a new acquaintance's apartment, I realized I was across the hall from where Chris lived. I mentioned this, and was asked: Do you mean, Chris C., the famous numerologist? Things change, I guess.

Lastly there was me, black haired and bearded. I took no end of pleasure stomping around the most genteel Decoration & Design building in either my Schott Perfecto motorcycle jacket and boots, or the assortment of 1940's haberdashery I was busy amassing including cashmere blazers from Bermuda and vicuna or rich jeweled toned rayon shirts. You could buy those things for a practically nothing back then.

We were well aware of the figure that we cut, as the three of us sailed down 59th Street at the end of the day. Michael's men: blonde, brown and black. Eyes met as heads turned and people stopped to watch our progress. We pretended to be oblivious to our effect on passersby.

It seems a very long time ago.


David said...

But the memory is more precious than gold. Ah the glory days.

circleinasquare said...

You still turn MY head, Super Daddy.