Welcome to The Epic! I am launching this blog as a manifesto for and a guide to living well. The title and motto of the blog are taken from the Epicureans, at least some of whom believed in the notion that not one minute of the future was guaranteed to them and that as a result they had the duty to live life to its fullest every moment.

I believe in discovering fun and pleasurable things wherever I find myself each day and I am told I have a knack for unearthing them. My hope is that by sharing in my pleasures and some of my ways of finding them you will begin to collect all the riches that lie in the moments of your life. They are there. Take them! All our lives should be.....Epic.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

New York, Part Two: Flaneur Morning

Moving in silent desperation.
Keeping an eye on the Holy Land.
A hypothetical destination.
Say, who is this walkin' man?
--James Taylor

I was born to be a flaneur. An ambler. Particularly in a city like New York. On every trip to a favorite place I try and steal some time to wander about. Look at things. Absorb the vibe. Make the scene.

On my recent trip to New York I spent a very pleasurable morning strolling mainly down Lexington Avenue, from about 75th Street down to 45th Street. My plan was to begin with the book stalls along Fifth Avenue at Central Park South, but threatening weather had them locked up tight. On I went, new micro-camera in hand.

The first thing I happened upon was the World War I monument to the 7th Regiment, 107th Infantry. I recall an article I read recently about the WWI monuments scattered about New York, but this is the grandest and most visible. My first attempt with my new camera was a miserable failure:
What a disservice to a great monument. Although this is a fair representation of what I would have seen after happy hour some time later. With the help of the Central Park 2000 website, this is what the shot SHOULD look like:

This monument always takes my breath away. Read of Ypres or the Somme and it will have the same effect on you. A fine place to launch a contemplative wander.

A good ambling session must include multiple stops for refreshment. The occasional nibble, sip or outright quaff. Flaneurs must have their sustenance. Just like mountain climbers. Well, not just like mountain climbers. Forbid. In any event, after cutting over to Lexington Avenue, I came upon a marvelous diner called Neils at the corner of 70th Street. As it was still the morning, a bit of nourishment was required in the form of coffee (in those GREAT diner china cups with the single stripe of brown around the rim), a scrambled egg, and toast. Great food at low prices. Even for Manhattan. Restored, I regained the sidewalk but not without a fond view of Neil's sign:

If you have a feel for these things as I do, this sign tells you all you need to know.

After popping in and out of some little shops and purchasing the random trinket, I found myself right in front of the actual armory of the 7th Regiment. This is a fabled building. Suitably inspiring...

Now THAT is an armory. As I stood there I wondered about generations of swells that went off to duty from that building. A block or two later, I was delighted to discover a corner completely overrun with..."Punkins"!! According to the sign stating the price. And according to the way my Dad used to say it. Eight bucks each. Decently sized, too. Imagine my surprise when, upon returning to my home town, I discovered that the same size of punkin was just the same price. Except, of course, that when you buy them at home you don't have to discuss the matter of your prized flaneur punkin with airport security when you try and carry it on the airplane. Trust me, they do not understand flaneurs. Or punkins.

The punkin patch made me hungry. Luckily, I happened across another lovely little place called Mon Petit Cafe on the corner of 62d Street. I deposited myself in this tiny, welcoming place for pain au chocolate and cafe au lait. And a dose of the amazing French accent emanating from the pretty young woman bringing these essentials to my table:

I know. Another pretty marginal shot. This is intended to depict the pain au chocolate in the upper left, the cafe au lait lower left, and the menu from Mon Petit Cafe. The young lady did not seem that pleased about a photo opportunity. Ah, the French. I meant to return to Mon Petit Cafe for lunch or dinner but I never made it. Next time.

More shops beckoned. The dedicated flaneur exerts. Puts a hoof under it. Not speedily. Just continuously. Which creates an occasional need for rest. Even without food and drink. Thus, the need to explore furniture. One of the things that amazes me about New York is the furniture that is for sale. How about this little thing in your living room...

I do not make a habit out of entering a store and inflicting myself upon a defenseless piece of furniture that I have no intention (or means) of purchasing. But I had to sit on this. Plus, my feet were tired. The sales fellow did not have a sense of humor about it at all. Wouldn't take my picture. Sort of ran me off, no doubt on his way to a job in airport security. But, man what a swanky sofa! Or this...

Another place of respite. More hospitable sales staff as well.

After a long stroll with many pleasant detours, I was astounded to find myself considering the entrance of

an iconic New York steak joint. I was astounded to find myself there, I tell you. What else could be done? Lunch called to me...

Wandering back to my club some time later, I saw this very pretty flower bed on.......Park Avenue:

There is something about beautiful flowers in the midst of automotive traffic that speaks to me. And makes me thirsty. An about turn took me to a well deserved rest at the bar of my friend Jerry at

Clarke's. Just the thing to take the edge off a few hours of exertion. The thing about being a flaneur is that it constitutes perfect individualism. Go where you want. When you like. Make the scene. Soak up what is about you that you never noticed before. Some amblers look like this:

At least in Munich. Some look more like me...

I blocked out my head to remain incognito. The point is that no matter what we look like or where we are, if we will just go out and wander aimlessly about--anywhere--we will see and hear and notice and experience. And live. That is what Epic life is all about.


Ben said...

Great post. Too bad I don't know the City well enough to be familiar with what you saw.

This reminds me of a walkabout I took on a down day during a week of depositions in Vancouver. Strolled around and let the day unfold around me. Great city. Settled the case favorably after that week too. There's nothing like opposing counsel sitting down to a cocktail after a long day of Q&A, and seeing each other's perspectives.

I wish I travelled more for work now, but alas I don't. I look forward to your next post.

M.Lane said...

Thanks! Man, I love Vancouver. That Fairmont that overlooks the harbor is fantastic. I almost went to chef's school there but that is another story...

I find that my business travel is either too much or too little at a time. Probably the same as everyone else. Thats why I try hard to have a spot of fun. And, I agree about cocktails with o/c. Long ago, it was customary. It seems people got along better then...

Petunia said...

What a nice day! Thank you for the photo tour of NY! :)

Unknown said...

Sounds like a lovely day in NYC, one of our favorite cities. When you have a chance please stop by my blog, I have tagged you! Best, Becs