...Continued from page 1

photo, outdoor toy shop, jackson heights, bollywood Toy shopping in Bollywood, Queens.

I think I slept all day Friday until it was time to go to Water Taxi Beach again and photograph the sunset. For some reason there was no visit to Astoria. Just as well because it was back to Flushing the next afternoon with Joel from DC and Cookie from Philly and Z's sister and we were all in Spicy and Tasty and then off to Shea Stadium to see the Metzies quit fumbling late in the game and beat the Colorado Rockies. Only Cookie was up for going to Astoria.

On Sunday I got $120–worth of silk shirts made in China from Macy'sin Elmhurst for $26.48 after all sales, bonuses and discounts were deducted. Suitably attired on Monday I rode the 6 train north for hours, to the Bronx. At the end of the line I then got a bus for City Island and had an exciting walking tour of inspection there, passing 78 fish restaurants and glimpsing many fine views of the Bronx waterfront.

Luckily there's a bus from the Bronx to Flushing. This provided a sort of shortcut to the old–time Cuban restaurant Rincon Criolla in Corona. This is close to Louis Armstrong's house that I would later visit on a cloudy day, but first I had to have a Cuban sandwich at El Sitio on Tuesday. I needed a garlic booster.

Wow, this is getting tiring. I'd been to Water Taxi Beach, three times in Astoria, at B & H Photo, got some nifty shirts and seen a Mets game. What could be left?

I must have been feeling guilty because I went to Coliseum Books on 42nd Street on Wednesday, to get something for my mind to play with. After a wasted Thursday on Friday I took a PATH train from 33rd Street over to Hoboken in New Jersey, looking for French cigarettes. Except for the Hoboken Cigar Company it seemed like I landed in a no–smoking zone. It's worth a visit if you want to see what America looked like in the late 1940's.

photo, louis armstrong house, corona, queens Louis Armstrong's house in Corona, Queens.

That pretty well left going out to Flushing again, but in the pouring rain, for the first day of the US Open. By then tropical storm Ernesto was playing itself out but 20,000 tennis fans standing in line for the security bag check were unimpressed. Hours later when we got inside the rain had stopped and the sun was out in the afternoon. I'm glad I waited this long to see a tennis match. Another ten years and it might have been too late.

Yeah, so the next day it was Satchmo's house, followed by taking in a Bollywood movie at the old Eagle cinema in Jackson Heights. On Wednesday I met Nigel again on Prince Street in Chelsea. He wanted to look for his old girlfriend's place in Sullivan Street in the Village but he couldn't find the bar he used to run out to in 1966. We went to the Café Figaro because it was handy and had cheese sandwiches and then a Jamaican hustler tried to sell me a condo on the Bowery. Promised to pay me 'thousands' out of his own pocket too.

This kind of only left the tugboats races at Chelsea Piers on Sunday. I wish I'd gotten there in time to see them. A towboat–type guy told us some 9000 horsepower boat won. After walking around looking at five zillion dollar cruisers registered in the taxless Cayman Islands and seeing the insane golf driving setup on one of the piers – four stories high! – we crossed town and caught the line 6 subway for the ride up to 103rd Street in Harlem, to have a listen to some cool jazz outside in Central Park. That was pretty mellow.

So low stress in fact, that we arranged with Z's sister to meet at Junior's in Grand Central station, so we could top up with some outrageously huge New York–style sandwiches – with frites! – and finish off with monster slabs of cheesecake. Gulp.

photo, 1st day, us open, french player Grand slam in Flushing Meadows.

Bare with me. On Monday the search for folks selling pieces of roasted pig on the sidewalks under the elevated along Roosevelt Avenue in Corona scored zero. Weekends are supposed to be better for it, but it was Labor Day and a holiday. Tuesday was quiet, until the evening in a bar named Nuova with a wide–screen TV showing a Mets game on the sports channel. A last chance to have black beans and rice wasn't to be wasted so it wasn't. The Mets lost, but they are so far ahead it didn't matter.

Not even the pouring rain for the ride in the black Lincoln limo to Kennedy on Tuesday put any damp on my bones, insulated as they were by spicy noodles, cheesecake, black beans, tacos, sour pickles, grilled chicken, gallons of orange juice and enough cold coffee to keep the Vatican awake for centuries. Then the girl in the terminal bar said their espresso machine was broken. I remembered how Jackie Gleason used to say, "How sweet it is!" and just let it go.

A bientôt à Paris
signature, regards, ric

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