Greenwich Street & Charles Street

14 Feb

Due to the existence of high pressure systems, low pressure systems, wind, and probably Canada, it’s really fucking cold outside. Oh yeah, and the whole Northern hemisphere tilting away from the sun thing. I guess that plays its part as well. But that doesn’t mean we have to give up hope. Call me an optimist, but I think we’re already at the time of year when we can start looking forward. Each step taken is that much closer to warm weather. Let’s call it warm-er weather at least. So I say bring it on! If I can have fun when it’s fifteen degrees out just imagine what I’ll be doing when it’s ninety. I don’t know. Probably pretty much the same thing — except in a t-shirt. A t-shirt people!

I imagine there are those who’d say the city is a particularly pointless place to be in the winter time. Something to the effect of getting all of the negatives with none of the positives — barring those who go ice-skating at Wollman Rink or Rockefeller Center. It might be better to spend winter at some farmhouse, cross country skiing every day. I would want mine to have huge windows facing the sunshine. My grandma could live there. She’d make me hot chocolate. Not real hot chocolate mind you – this isn’t the old country I’m talking about. Just that shit out of the bag. It doesn’t matter; it’s still delicious. But what about a farmhouse in the city? Can we agree that might be some kind of perfect compromise? Some insane fantasy?

Guess what? It’s real. There is a free standing farmhouse in the city, in the West Village nonetheless, at 121 Charles, by Greenwich Street. It’s surrounded by a high brick wall, with a driveway and a front lawn. The house is about 200 years old and actually originally stood in the rear lot at 71st St. and York Ave. It was moved here in its entirety in 1967. I guess its biggest claim to fame is that Margaret Wyse Brown lived in it in the 1940s. She’s the woman who wrote Goodnight Moon, and you know, thinking back to that book, the aesthetic of a farmhouse in Manhattan seems to fit just right. It supposedly even has its own name: Cobble Court. How many people these days live in a house that has a name? Especially in this city?

Although you know what, nix that. A lot of apartment buildings in New York have names. Just across Greenwich Street from Cobble Court in fact, at 135 Charles, is Le Gendarme apartments. Those are housed in what used to be this precinct’s police station, erected in 1897. You can still see signs of it all over the facade. It might just be the name, but Le Gendarme puts me in a European mood. Forget the farmhouse; maybe I’d rather spend my winters over there. I’m picturing a window that opens up onto a courtyard. I don’t care if it’s gray and rainy. In fact I think that’s perfect. I could live in a garret — like all the poor young writers used to. Are you kidding, a guy like me? I’d love a garret! My grandma could live downstairs and rent out some of the other rooms. She’d make me hot chocolate. What kind do I mean? I don’t know, whatever kind she wants — she’s an old lady. She’s my grandma. But wait a minute, grandma, hey grandma, can you at least just throw some marshmallows in there?

(Originally posted Jan. 16th, 2009 on Takethehandle.com)

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