But there’s a heart, a heart that lives in New York

I was having a pint at The White Horse (yes, I know, where Dylan Thomas downed his final drinks) near my West Village hotel last night, while doing my level best to eavesdrop on the commentary of a couple of waiters about the actress Julia Stiles, who had recently left the premises.  While their observations are safe with me, I was very much reminded of this passage from a famous essay E. B. White wrote in 1948, entitled “Here is New York.”

“New York is the concentrate of art and commerce and sport and religion and entertainment and finance, bringing to a single compact arena the gladiator, the evangelist, the promoter, the actor, the trader and the merchant. It carries on its lapel the unexpungible odor of the long past, so that no matter where you sit in New York you feel the vibrations of great times and tall deeds, of queer people and events and undertakings. 

I am sitting at the moment in a stifling hotel room in 90-degree heat, halfway down an airshaft, in midtown.  No air moves in or out of the room, yet I am curiously affected by emanations from the immediate surroundings. I am twenty two blocks from where Rudolph Valentino lay in state, eight blocks from where Nathan Hale was executed, five blocks from the publisher’s office where Ernest Hemingway hit Max Eastman in the nose, four miles from where Walt Whitman sat sweating out editorials for the Brooklyn Eagle, thirty four blocks from the street Willa Cather lived in when she came to New York to write books about Nebraska…(I could continue this list indefinitely)…

…and for that matter I am probably occupying the very room that any number of exalted and somewise memorable characters sat in, some of them on hot, breathless afternoons, lonely and private and full of their own sense of emanations from without…”

Eventually I wandered back to my room (okay, after an engaging discussion with an Irishman at Peter McManus Café) and especially considered that last bit, about memorable characters once occupying one’s very room, in light of the fact that my riverside hotel once housed the survivors of RMS Titanic (for quite a while actually, as there was an inquest) in 1912.

Love it, as I do (…sports teams aside) or Hate it, as my son does (just because…), you can’t deny that (again in E.B. White’s words)  “…New York is peculiarly constructed to absorb almost anything that comes along, whether a thousand foot liner out of the east or a twenty thousand (person) convention out of the west…”

Featured on Art Garfunkel’s 1981 album, “Scissors Cut” (and later sung at the historic Concert in Central Park with Paul Simon the following year, a mere four miles north of… oh never mind), “A Heart in New York” was written by hard-core New Yorkers Benny Gallagher (born in Ayrshire, Scotland) and Graham Lyle (born in Lanarkshire, Scotland)…

LISTEN TO TODAY’S SELECTION – Thursday 18 October 

A Heart in New York

New York, to that tall skyline I come

Flying in from London to your door

New York, looking down on Central Park

Where they say you should not wander after dark

 New York, like a scene from all those movies

You’re real enough to me

But there’s a heart

A heart that lives in New York

A heart in New York, a rose on the street

I write my song to that city heartbeat

A heart in New York, a love in her eye

An open door and a friend for the night

New York, you got money on your mind

And my words won’t make a dime’s worth a difference

So here’s to you New York

New York, now my plane is touching down…

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