Ignoring the News, A Walk Through Little Italy and Soho

An errand on Spring Street took me out of the apartment today and fortuitously away from television, because the worsening financial crisis has turned me into a CNBC couch potato. If I had known in advance that the day would bring non-stop breaking news coverage, I would have never gotten off of the couch.

And a lovely day it was to stroll the streets of Little Italy and Soho. After walking past the shops and bakeries of Spring Street near Crosby and Lafayette (Balthazar, Pylones, Ceci Cela, etc.) and looking into many windows, I continued on to Mulberry Street and roamed south toward Little Italy. A clear day with intermittent clouds rendered the sky a deep azure, and as it was a Monday, the pace was less hectic on the street than during the weekend's usual frenzy. Many diners were taking their seats along the Italian outdoor cafés that line Mulberry, and everyone seemed relaxed. There was a sense of quiet, however, a mood that seemed not serious so much as reflective. Many people had a glass of wine out in front of them. Though Little Italy has lost population over the last several years, and the outward gestures of the wait staff indicate a dire dependence on the tourist trade, the food stores and cafés here still cling to whatever authenticity they have left. Looking north along Mulberry it's wonderful to see the Empire State Building in the far distance.

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From Little Italy I made my way west on Grand Street, and while walking past the old Police Building and the Landmark Coffee Shop and Pancake House, it dawned on me that walking Grand Street from west to east would make a particularly fine walk. The street traverses the cast iron buildings of Soho on the west and the old stores of the Lower East Side on the east, so the walk would be fun and provide a great education into New York neighborhoods. What's this Pancake House like? Anyone know?

Winding my way back north through Soho, I wandered down the curious Howard Street, curious because it's only four blocks or so, and the well-worn appearance of its buildings makes the street look charmingly forgotten. If I had some money, and after today it's hard to know if anyone will have any money, I would adopt the street and spruce it up. I was happy to come across the Pashmina Mall on Howard, because like many New Yorkers, I always can use and can almost always afford more pashmina scarves.

The final leg of my route home took me up Broadway where I stopped into a few stores to look for a jacket or blazer. I was on this very street yesterday buying blue jeans. Broadway south of Houston to Broome could be one of the best stretches of streets in the world for shopping for jeans - expensive designer jeans, cheap jeans, low-waisted ones for young women, or the mid-rise Levi's boot-cut variety for types like me. I bought three pairs of jeans in different shades of denim at OMG. Today I was browsing through Zara and Banana Republic looking for a tailored fall jacket when I heard repeatedly the chime of my phone indicating a breaking news text message. I did my best to ignore it, but my curiosity won. Upon seeing that the House of Representatives had voted against the bailout package and the Dow had fallen 600 points (later to finish down 777 points!), I decided it was time to go home and rejoin our previously scheduled programming. I'll continue my search for a jacket tomorrow. I think what I want is something more uptown, so I'll plan on taking us there.

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