NR Digital

City Desk

And All That Mighty Heart Is Lying Still

by Richard Brookhiser
The Brookhisers stroll an empty metropolis

Sunday of a three-day weekend and the city was empty. How empty was it? When we turned out the front door of our apartment building, there was hardly a soul on the street. No doormen or porters, even to hose down the sidewalk; no nannies or parents at the tots’ school; no kids at the high school. No poor at the welfare office, no sick at the dialysis unit, no drunks at the rib place. Anyone and Anything had gone Elsewhere. The only person was a young bum, sitting on the sidewalk, pounding an upturned plastic pail. Thoreau heard a different drummer. Here was that drummer, playing merrily away. No one stepped to his music, and he did not care one bit.

We had breakfast at a sidewalk table of a restaurant with a ringside view of the park across the street. Here was some traffic afoot, and some people to watch, but the volume was much reduced. How reduced was it? There were no farmers with their trucks and produce, peaches giving way to apples, and so no flocking shoppers. Home-leaving college kids took a day off; the ark-like SUVs of their anxious parents were otherwise engaged; the grey plastic carts ferrying furniture and stuff into dorms had a break. No audience for street musicians; the kitchen-sink bluegrass ensemble was not foot-stomping today. There were as many dogs as people. Fashion in ugly dogs is poised between Frenchies and pugs; both have bug eyes and bandy legs; the issue will hinge on what is uglier, and therefore more appealing, wrinkled snouts or pointy ears?

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