city spring

the City
adorns herself
in pink and chartreuse lace
delicately gracing
her steely frame
she checks herself
in her sisters’ mirrors
—urban athletes
they wear the season
differently than
their soft
country cousins
feet clad for concrete
puddles
instead of
fecund
earth

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nyc recommendations

I was asked recently on Instagram for my NYC recommendations. They aren’t what you’d expect:

whatsup.tony
Hey jimkempster! Are you based in the NYC?? 🙂 I’m heading there to make Facebook videos and was wondering if you have any recommendations?! Thanks!

jimkempster
@whatsup.tony Recommendations?

Explore every minute you’re here. Eat whatever smells good. Attend anything hosted by artists or groups of artists.

Come up with the most idiosyncratic list of unique, bizarre, exotic, uncharted, beloved things you’re interested in and then Google them with “NYC” attached, and you’ll have 100 days worth of things to do.

It’s all here. Continue reading “nyc recommendations”

symphony

 

city dawn sq

It starts with a soft hiss
in the dark
that percolates into a jangle
like chains
being pulled through pipes
which, in turn,
complain
of growing pains
with loud clanks and bangs
as they learn
again
to radiate heat.

The sheets
and the dog are warm.
The bathroom tiles will take
a little longer to comply.
I lie awake and watch
the dark blue silhouetted peeks
wink open
as windows light
one-by-one
to the rhythm
of my radiator
symphony.

waiting

The five-block walk to the subway.
The twelve-week sale of the house.
The hours to surgery.
The years to degrees.
The decades to wisdom.
From outset to threshold
of the threshold,
of the threshold,
counting minutes,
noting stones
mapping turns,
imagining the face on arrival,
the place of landing
in fragments and smudged sketches
as a trailing dream.

A zen master would counsel
to be in each second,
to learn from each minute
to acknowledge each step.
I try, lord knows,
I listen hard.
But with each boot plod
or sole flap
or hoof suck
I hear only halts:
Not yet.
Not yet.
Not yet.
Not yet.

discombobulated

I woke completely confused, an hour before the alarm this morning. Although I’m already a week into my new job, I startled from my sleep unsure of what day my new employers were expecting me to start working.

This came after two busy days in Rhode Island helping Bob get the house closer to ready for sale, bookended by two three-and-a-half-hour train rides (which explain why we didn’t visit New York as often as we had intended when we moved to Providence), plus the added hour subways between Penn Station and Bed-Sty.

I was discombobulated much of the weekend in Providence. As I was falling asleep on Saturday night, back in my own bed with Bob and our dog Marcello by my side, I had been scrolling through Manhattan apartment listings on my phone. For a few seconds I wondered if I could make an open house or two before I met my train the next day. I had to remind myself that I was in Providence currently, and wouldn’t be back in New York until after my train.

Continue reading “discombobulated”

missed connections: losing my iphone as i leave new york

“How is that phone even working?” The fourteen-year-old son of our friend in Paris asked, staring across the bistro table at my iPhone with the kind of casual disdain that French teenagers have perfected.

He was right, of course (as all those French teenagers usually are). My iPhone’s battery had overheated and expanded, pushing up against the screen, which had detached around the edges along the top. It being a work phone, I could have turned it in for a replacement, but knowing I would be leaving the university in six weeks, I didn’t want to go through the hassle, despite risking the loss of all service and connection while on vacation in Europe.

Continue reading “missed connections: losing my iphone as i leave new york”

time capsule to my teenaged self

Dear Jim, Hello from 2015.

I’ll bet that sounds downright Jetsonian to you as a 17-year-old in 1975.

So I’ll settle one big question at the outset: we do not have flying cars.

There is, come to think of it, something called a personal computer that I know you’ll appreciate for at least a couple of its features in particular: it will check your spelling for you. Hold your tears. I know you’ll love that.

And then there’s the Internet, which is also hard to describe, but it will eliminate the need for the family’s old Encyclopedia Britannica. And there’s a whole lot of, well, anything you might ever want (publicly or secretly) on the Internet, such as movies and music and travel guides. And, umm, well, let me just say, kids your age today aren’t even thinking about agonizing over how to convince the sales clerk at the 7-Eleven to sell them a copy of Playgirl.

Yeah, I know about your secret Playgirl stash.

See, I’m you, grown old. I’m you 40 years from now.

Continue reading “time capsule to my teenaged self”

love saves the day

Since yesterday’s explosion on Second Avenue at Seventh Street in the East Village, I’ve been thinking about this photograph.

I took it about a month ago while sitting at a window table in San Marzano restaurant, looking up Second, during one of our February snow storms.

The building on the left, the former home of the quintessential East Village vintage clothing and novelty shop Love Saves The Day, is one of the buildings that collapsed. The woman with the white umbrella is passing in front of the restaurant that was the source of the explosion.

I’ve also been thinking about the staff at Pomme Frites, Sushi Park, Paul’s Burger, San Marzano and the other shops along this avenue. And especially about the residents who lost their homes. We’re anxious to check on acquaintances who work at the restaurants.

Continue reading “love saves the day”

sidewalks of new york

a field guide for taming the wild pedestrian

When I arrived in New York 25 years ago, there was a shared sense on the street that if you didn’t follow the rules you could get hurt.

Figuring out the correct side of the sidewalk and how to navigate taxis, bike messengers, and loose mental patients was part of survival in this tough City. It was also part of being a good fellow New Yorker. You felt proud of yourself as you accomplished the ways of the City. Similar to stepping confidently onto a “people mover” at the airport, you learned what “regular coffee” really meant at a street cart, how to fold your Times so as not to annoy fellow subway passengers, how brief a question needed to be for a New Yorker to answer it, and that you always stayed to the right and moved attentively on the sidewalk.

True New Yorkers knew these things. New New Yorkers wanted to learn them quickly. Visitors wanted to know so as not to draw attention to themselves. We were all in it together. And if you hadn’t figured that out yet, you quickly did, or risked being run off the curb. Continue reading “sidewalks of new york”