Through the Roof

Beekman Palace

Above is a photo of old Beekman Palace, looking through the “plein air” rooftop.

Next week Thor Equities, which is selling or making a show of selling, the unfinished “penthouses” planned for the grand, new Beekman Palace has invited those in the neighborhood for…I’m not sure what. Wine and cheese at their pop-up real estate office where Incredible Edibles used to be? Or perhaps a slideshow of what the five star hotel will someday look like.

But what I’m hoping for is a tour of the place now, which from the street looks as if all the rooms are gutted.  The atrium, which I never saw–my husband took that picture–supposedly will be “open” to the public.

I asked Manny, “Really? Free for all?”

We shall see. Because I highly doubt  the homeless people who sleep under the scaffolding even in the coldest weather will be cajoled to come inside and relax in the elegant chairs. Enjoy the free Wi-Fi.

When I talk like that, some people feel compelled to tell me quite seriously that the homeless are often, well, mentally ill.

Have you looked at the book of  Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)?  Social anxiety qualifies. I thought everyone was socially anxious, although some hide it better than others. Possibly, they’re only socially anxious when engaging in conversation with me.  I have been told I make others extremely anxious, because I’m so anxious. Not only is it a disease–it’s contagious. I’m not disputing this.

Nevertheless, I wonder about “Oppositional Defiance Disorder.” Apparently, being defiant as hell doesn’t make the grade. A true head case show  opposition first, then defiance.

Do not imagine I take mental illness lightly. I’ve known brilliant, lovely people who lost all interest in life.  Growing  up, I had at different times three different  friends who were later institutionalized and have never, to my knowledge, recovered.  I wrote a flash fiction, not about an actual friend, but about seeing great promise followed by irrevocable loss.  “Guaranteed Happiness.”  I read it once for an app of streaming interviews and the young professional men running the show tried hard when I was finished to say my story was not necessarily “a downer.” Flash fiction, after all–“who knows what happens afterwards?”

So perhaps yes, the man who sits on a stoop and stares at his feet for months at a time will be welcome  inside the all new Beekman Palace atrium. I supposed I’m cynical.

Although, fewer homeless people wander around these streets now than last year. The Dunkin Donuts that was open 24 hours recently closed for a month and reopened–hours six to midnight.  “God’s Favorite Sneaker Store” has closed and so have all the women’s clothing stores that sold high-fashion dresses for $9.99.


The Crane


The previous post showed a picture taken by stealth of the dilapidated Beekman Palace atrium.  The past two years (at least) have brought nonstop renovation: demolition crews filling the air with stoney dust that stings the eyes and clogs the lungs; constantly rumbling cement trucks; rotary saws chewing metal; scaffoldings, and enormous shrouds protecting the building’s guts while men hang from cables with heavy machines to blast the exterior–I’m supposing–clean.

Last week–another treat! For three or four days and nights this crane sat at the intersection beneath our apartment. (We’re behind the window I’ve colored green.) The crane, its attendants, several trucks, massive lights, and numerous plastic barriers extended down the entire block. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get an aerial shot. Because this mammoth crane extended to the roof of the building where another (seemingly smaller) crane waited. One passed stuff to the other. First up, then down. Possibly, vice versa. Both cranes are now gone.

The work, of course, continues. As an additional kick, this year outside our windows is a platform where workers arrive Monday through Friday. I wake and although the blinds are down, I see them, making up batches of mortar to reinforce every brick in the 15-storey hive of residences. Once upon a time, our little apartment was part of the bottom floor to a printing operation bought by Samuel Morse’s sons. His patents came through after he died in poverty. A century later, the fable goes, a brick fell somewhere in Manhattan fell and killed a pedestrian. So every five years or so, brick structures are glued back together. If it saves a life, I’ll smile at wave at workers. They can watch me write or jump rope–an advantage to living on the first floor. Nobody complains if I jump for hours. Well, through “Sign of the Times” or a “Soundmix” of hip-hop, without which, I doubt I’d jump more than three minutes.