Life is Large

Life is large — bigger than the both of us.” So sing The Kennedys, the husband and wife folk duo I saw last weekend in New Beford, MA at Summerfest. Today, four days later, Dave and I were standing in the heat of midday New York in front of the Javits Convention Centre. We were done with MacWorld for the day and waiting for a taxi to take us back to our hotel. Given our nature, this also involved a lot of flitting around exploring various bus options at the same time, but finally we agreed that despite the punishing heat, we would wait for a taxi. And at that exact moment a minivan pulled up in front of us. I noticed it was driven by a skinny red-haired man with sideburns. Then I noticed a little statue on the dash. Then I noticed a funky woman in the passenger seat. Then I realized that I was staring at The Kennedys, now hundreds of miles to the south, and by some freaky coincidence driving in front of me. Life is large.

Later the same day. After a taxi ride north and much needed rest at the Hudson, we headed out into the less hot but still hot New York streets in search of supper. Dave had identified our target restaurant, an Italian place called Gabriel’s at 11 West 60th. Being the de facto NYC expert of the group (having been here three times before), I unexpertly guided us to the very far side of Central Park where we discovered that the numbers on 60th St. West start on the opposite side of the Park. Magically, despite the heat and hunger, Dave and I managed to keep from killing each other on the steps traceback, and arrived, mildly exhausted, at Gabriel’s a half an hour later.

Now, ever since I went into a chi chi restaurant in Toronto when I was 18 and ordered a glass of Beaujolis Nouveau (which I can probably not spell to this day) and was laughed at, I have had a paranoia about restaurants that are north of the “family dining” space in chi chidom (I thought I was being laughed at in a “hah, you idiot, don’t you know the Beaujolis hasn’t been pressed yet” sort of way; it turns out I was being laughed at in a “hah, you idiot teenager, don’t you know that you are an idiot teenager” kind of way). So to enter Gabriel’s, from the name of which alone you can tell is going to be daunting to someone like me, required some pluck. Luckily my machismo prevented me from admitting any of this to Dave, so entered we did.

I need not have worried.

Our dinner at Gabriel’s was transcendent. The maitre’d was friendly and helpful. The server was a God walking among us. And the food was simply excellent. I had the best salad of my life (greens, walnuts, fresh dates, gorgonzola cheese), a very tasty pasta dish with garlic, tomato and Maine crab, and, perhaps best and most surprising of all, a cold plum soup with a lime sorbet for dessert. The kind of meal that makes you happy to be alive, and hopeful that you will eat this well again someday. Ahhh.

After dinner we wandered out into the still luke warm New York night. It was about 7:30 p.m. When we were planning the trip, we’d toyed with the idea of getting tickets to see the “21 Dog Years: Doing Time” show, but had opted for the Ricky Jay show we’re going to see tomorrow night instead. On the spur of the moment, however, we decided to make a run for last minute tickets to Dog Years, and looked around for a cab. As soon as the urge for a cab occured to us, a cabbie walked out of a store and said “are you looking for a cab” and guided us to his cab parked right in front of us. It was at this point that we realized we had no idea where the Cherry Lane Theatre at 38 Commerce St. was, and so we placed ourselves in the care of our helpful driver. And started driving. And driving. And driving. When our driver learned that we were from Canada, he challenged us to name any Canadian province and he would name the capital. He batted 1000. He even knew about Thunder Bay, and what the capital of Greenland was. And driving. And driving. Finally, at approximately 8:02 p.m. we arrived at the theatre. We jumped out. Dave asked about tickets. “The show’s just about to start!” they said. “We’ll take two,” we said. Hussle bussle. We took our seats. The lights dimmed and the show started. We felt like we’d mastered New York City navigation.

The Dog Years show was quite entertaining. It’s an hour and half long monologue, with no intermission, by Mike Daisey about his hiring by, work for, and resignation from He gave an energetic and interesting performance and I’m glad we caught it. It also make me feel a little like the mill workers must have felt like going to Ibsen plays about the plight of the mill workers (assuming, of course, that Ibsen did did write plays about mill workers): it was a theatrical commentary on my industry and its capacity to suck out your soul. I’m sure I will feel the after effects.

Speaking of which, last night I had the worst sleep of my life. I think it was the combined effects of being over-tired, having injested too much ice cream and peppermint-gumdrop infested muffins earlier, and a certain unease with the large collection of feather pillows on my bed. Also, there’s a very intruding air conditioner in my room. And the knowledge that I had to get up at 6:10 a.m. to be able to get a seat for the Steve Jobs keynote.

As a result of this sleep depravation, I had very weird dreams. The first one involved a secret laboratory run by Ann Thurlow in which she was cross-breeding pigeons and chickens. The second concerned an escapade in which Dave stole a London double decker bus and drove it madly over sidewalks, with Catherine and Oliver and I in the back, in a hurry to get to MacWorld. Read into all of this what you will.

After Dog Years we wandered aimlessly but, as luck would have it, directly to the Christopher St. subway stop, where we caught a subway to 42nd St. and then walked north through the bright lights of the Big City to our hotel.

I now must try and recover from the lack of sleep from last night with a healthy dose tonight. More MacWorld tomorrow, perhaps a visit to the new Apple SoHo store, and the Ricky Jay after dinner. Friday it’s home to the Island.


Ann Thurlow's picture
Ann Thurlow on July 18, 2002 - 14:19 Permalink

Of course I cross breed pigeons and chickens. Where do you think all those feathers in all those pillows came from?

Johnny's picture
Johnny on July 18, 2002 - 16:27 Permalink

Are the called pickens or chigeons?

Ann Thurlow's picture
Ann Thurlow on July 18, 2002 - 16:33 Permalink

I haven’t come up with a name for the breed yet, but the main mating pair are called Bill and Coo

Oliver's picture
Oliver on July 18, 2002 - 18:56 Permalink

Peter, your tour of all that’s fit to see and eat makes me think I’m reading the “The Muppets Take Manhattan” screenplay [PEIslander— Green Gables—Kermit the Frog…if you want to know the likely flow of my own unconscious]. But speaking of the unconcious, and on behalf of the whole World Wide Web, I’d like to invite you not to divulge your dreams… if you don’t want. I mean, the evidence suggests that your Id and darkest fantasies are just as charming as the persona we’re so familiar with, but a man is entitled to at least a little privacy. I admit I may be unclear on the concept of blogging, however.