Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Me & Rupert, Living High on the Hog in Manhattan

Occupy Wall Street Protests Outside Rupert Murdoch House

That's one thing Rupert and I have in common: homes in roughly the same neighborhood. I spent the night in a house in the 50's in Manhattan once -- that is, a whole stand-alone building which housed a single family, somewhere around the middle of the east 50's. I was homeless and it was the blizzard of '95-96 and this guy said I could spend the night. The house was pretty much gutted. He said it had belonged to his family and was now being sold to the Republic of Kazakhstan. I think he said it was going to be the Kazakhstani consulate. If it was then their consulate has moved at least a couple of times since then. The neighborhood had a distinctly opulent feel, I think many if not actually most of the buildings were still single-family townhouses as they had been when they were built. He showed me to a room that still had a bed in it, went off and found some blankets and a space heater for me, then went off again to sleep elsewhere in the house. In the morning he fixed us some breakfast; then, knowing I was a bookish fellow, he indicated a box of books on the floor destined to be given to charity and told me I could help myself to anything in there I found interesting. I took a slender paperback volume with a yellow cover, slightly taller and wider than a mass-market paperback, with its pages sewn in instead of glued: The United States in 1800 by Henry Adams, published by Great Seal Books. Sixth printing, 1961, $1.25. It's the first few chapters of Adams' History of the United States of America During the Administrations of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. It's an interesting book, I still have it. If the entire History is as good as these first chapters then it's very impressive indeed. And I say that as one of no doubt very many who found the style of The Education of Henry Adams quite tedious and set it aside after a few pages, so if you're one of the many you might not want to give up on Adams solely on the basis of the Education.

He was a nice guy, that townhouse owner, that night and morning were more pleasant and less difficult than many for me that winter. I'm sorry that I don't remember his name.

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