Saturday, November 9, 2013

Voyage of My Pequod


My Pequod
Don’t call me Ishmael. On the other hand “whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul” – or, when long, contentious political campaigns come to an end – I jump on the train and head for the Isle of Mannahatta. Or, as it is becoming known in some parts, Berkeley by the Hudson.

What was my precise destination? It is not my habit to always have one; the train and its movement southward is enough; I know that I am going somewhere away from the smallish place from where I came, a good thing to do periodically. No apparent practical reason is required.

Alighting in Grand Central Terminal, I let my feet lead the way to the #4/5 Downtown Lexington Avenue Express to Brooklyn Bridge Station, hard by City Hall, itself the subject of a recent campaign for occupancy, resulting in a landslide that caused many to exclaim, “Yippies!” And, no, that is not a typo. Voters of a certain age will recognize the reference.

Visitors Logue

The Mysterious Bookshop at 58 Warren Street, between Church and West Broadway is a short walk from NYPD HQ, which makes it a perfect place to put a shrine to crime, mostly murderous crime.

I began frequenting the shop at its old location on 56th Street, during many a lunch hour hiding form the acts of the criminally deranged executives trying to run my former company into an early grave.

Midtown rents and a growing desire for prosperous people actually occupying Wall Street jobs to live closer to their work downtown, led MB owner Otto Penzler to emigrate some years ago.

The new shop is far more roomy, with higher shelves filled with new crime paperbacks, pre-owned hardcovers, and a large selection of Sherlock Holmes-related books. It’s a great place to browse and make new discoveries, but on this occasion, I was looking for two specific things: books by Alan Hunter in the George Gently series which I enjoy watching on Netflix, and a title by Leonardo Padura, the master of Cuban crime novels.
Armor Lux

No Hunter was available, surprising since I usually find exactly what I’m looking for at MB. Otto’s trusted colleague, Ian, pointed me to the Cuban books.

Next, I walked north to West Broadway and White Street to visit LiquorStore  a J.Crew men’s shop designed by Andy Spade, of Jack Spade (and Kate, his wife, and David, his brother) fame.

Having just purchased a perfect pair of cords and a black merino crewneck online, I was only there for a look-see, which I must report was disappointing.

While the J.Crew women’s line manages to keep updating classic looks in a way that seems contemporary and new, these men’s things, while being similarly derivative, lacked the contemporary,
except the “pant” sizes, of which there are three: thin, thinner, thinnest. 

Boomers, I refer you to the “straight fit”  online at

I have been purchasing notebooks and picture frames at Muji , Broadway near Grand in Soho, for a number of years. On this trip, I did replenish my own notebook stock, and then bought an extra one and a few inexpensive household items as presents.

On my way to McNally Jackson, probably New York’s best independent bookstore, at Prince, near Mulberry Street, I was overtaken by hunger and had a slice at the excellent pizza emporium at the corner of Mulberry and Spring streets. Then I retraced my steps to a little hole-in-the-wall store I’d spied called
Westerlind/Armor Lux at 232 Mulberry.
Armor Lux, as the delightful Swedish manager, Waldemar Aspman, explained has been making
The MJ Store
clothing for the French military and police for some time. It is very similar to the Saint James line.

While I was there, I had a chance to speak with Waldemar’s parents who were here for a visit from Sweden. Did I mention that the shop also sells terrific Swedish rain jackets, fleece-lined slippers, and wool scarves and caps? They do.

BTW, Waldemar’s parents run a sheep farm back home in Sweden, so this young man knows his wool.

Waldemar mentioned that McNally Jackson owner, Sarah McNally, has opened a little gem of a shop at 234 Mulberry, Goods from the Study, where you can find specialty notebooks, pens/pencils, all things for the desk and  writing, including furniture.

Finally, I did make to McNally Jackson itself, bought a paperback novel by Jane Gardam, “A Long Way From Verona” (her novels highly recommended) and a few cards from M-J’s excellent stock of mostly locally grown greeting/note cards .


After all of this, I had a thirst, which meant a visit to The Crosby Street Hotel for an afternoon pot of tea in the bar, which happens to be situated just about exactly where we used to park while dining at nearby Balthazar. I can gaze out the high window in back and see the old ivy-colored wall we saw while parking.

Tea at Crosby Street is a great value, $7 including tip and three cookies, and reminds this reporter of the days when he stayed at its sister properties in London, Charlotte Street and Covent Garden hotels

A nearby alternative tea-stop is Harney's at 433 Broome, near Crosby:

A quick text to 266-266 told me I could make the 4:14 p.m., and home I went, sated, if only temporarily. 

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