Snapped this tonight on 34th Street.
For those of you not familiar with New York, the area around Macy’s, whose door is shown in the photo, is bleak. The streets can never handle the number of tourists, the hordes of travellers flowing in and out of the mouths of Pennsylvania Station, and the homeless and just plain lost. Walking on 34th Street at night in winter is to stroll down an avenue on the way to one of Bosch’s hells.
Perhaps it was this way in the 1930s when Miracle on 34th Street was first filmed, which makes the idea of a miracle there all the more improbably.
Yet seeing these letters, with their period script and obvious reference to the film, made me stop like a tourist and snap this photo. In that moment, I believed.
It was Macy’s consumer advertising which made me want to go into advertising, and it’s clear they’ve still got the magic.
It’s not often these days that I get to write in places that aren’t my office, but today is one of them. Some deadlines converged unexpectedly and in order to meet them I need to be in a place where my co-workers can’t find me. Since my co-workers are in the habit of opening up the doors of conference rooms where I am working alone, in a corner, in the dark, with headphones on, that means fleeing the office entirely.
New York does many things poorly (square footage, being roach-free, public transit, politeness, smelling good, etc.) but one thing it does well is neat little street level cafés to work in, like Irving Farm Coffee Roasters, where I am alternately typing these words, and gazing out over my screen at the humanity loitering, ambling, stumbling, strutting, and zipping by. Venturing out into the world for my working day keeps me lively in a way that writing in my garret doesn’t.
And if you’re wondering what’s in the mug to the right of my computer, it’s a cup of Earl Gray, naturally.
Note the classic combo of red brick facade and black iron fire escape over my little window.