Letters From the Editor

Notes of Revision

In all the different things I wrote yesterday (and the day before), I remembered this note I’d meant to post:

I’d just heard about the second plane crash when a woman approached me on the street, wearing pins for Vallone (one of the mayoral candidates), and asked me if I was voting for Vallone. ‘No,’ I said, ‘I’m voting for Ferrer.’ ‘Yeah, well, good luck.’ She started walking away as I asked her if she could give me a reason to vote for Vallone. ‘Well, sure, you see, he worked for Giuliani, I mean, he did, but he’s no Giuliani. I mean, look at this,’ she said, pointing down Park Avenue to the massive cloud, ‘This is a perfect symbol for how Giuliani failed New York. He failed us because he couldn’t stop this. Because he didn’t build a radar – ‘ ‘Are you blaming Giuliani,’ I interrupted, ‘for the plane crashes?’ ‘Well, he could have built a radar…’
I don’t remember what else she said. I have the card for Vallone sitting on my desk. Another note: I was trying to read two days ago to distract myself from the news and I picked up one of my favorite books, Lunch Poems, by Frank O’Hara. O’Hara is an incredible poet, pivotal in the New York School, and a former curator of MOMA. He has a poem, ‘The Day Lady Died,’ about the death of Billie Holliday which I never really understood (or, more truthful, I’d never really felt). Yesterday, somehow, with the times, the places, and the crushing ending, it made sense.

It is 12:20 in New York a Friday
three days after Bastille Day, yes
it is 1959, and I go get a shoeshine
because I will get off the 4:19 in East Hampton
at 7:15 and then go straight to dinner
and I don’t know the people who will feed me
I walk up the muggy street beginning to sun
and have a hamburger and a malted and buy
an ugly NEW WORLD WRITING to see what the poets
in Ghana are doing these days
I go on to the bank
and Miss Stillwagon (first name Linda I once heard)
doesn’t even look up my balance for once in her life
and in the GOLDEN GRIFFIN I get a little Verlaine
for Patsy with drawings by Bonnard although I do
think of Hesiod, trans. Richmond Lattimore or
Brendan Behan’s new play or Le Balcon or Les Negres
of Genet, but I don’t, I stick with Verlaine
after practically going to sleep with quandariness
and for Mike I just stroll into the PARK LANE
Liquor Store and ask for a bottle of Strega, and
then I go back where I came from to 6th Avenue
and the tobacconist in the Ziegfeld Theatre and
casually ask for a carton of Gauloises and a carton
of Picayunes, and a NEW YORK POST with her face on it
and I am sweating a lot by now and thinking of
leaning on the john door in the 5 SPOT
while she whispered a song along the keyboard
to Mal Waldron and everyone and I stopped breathing.

Rosecrans Baldwin co-founded TMN with publisher Andrew Womack in 1999. His latest book is Everything Now: Lessons From the City-State of Los Angeles. More information can be found at rosecransbaldwin.com. More by Rosecrans Baldwin

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