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The Intensely Special Urban Musings of Amanda Duarte
Here at AIX:TISUMOAD, we are INUNDATED with media requests, mash notes and fan mail, and the most common question we are asked, by FAR, is, “Amanda, how can I get a body like yours?!?” Now, a lot of other celebrity women are asked this question in acclaimed literary publications such as InTouch and InStyle, and they try to snow you with answers like, “I just eat right and get lots of exercise!”, “Eight glasses of water a day and plenty of sleep!” or my favorite, “I just run after my toddler!”- when the truth is, “I crush Adderall and snort it, and what I can’t throw up or suck out of my asshole with a hose, I get liposuctioned or Fraxeled off!”- but as a person of principle who has dedicated her life to seeking even the most unpleasant of truths, I’m not gonna lie to you- having a body like mine requires a strict adherence to a pretty detailed regimen. But fear not- it is an achievable program, even for the body-having novice! Kindly allow me to break it down for you in these few simple steps.
Although I wouldn’t usually give two sharts about a chain store’s closing, yesterday I found myself gut-punched by the sight of the shuttered Barnes and Noble on 6th Ave and 8th street. Even though it was a chain, it had a neighborhoody feel to it, and, well, it sold books. Which people just aren’t buying anymore. Which sucks.
In between appointments, I walked around the Village for a few hours, just looking at the buildings and the businesses. I stopped at Grey Dog for a cup of coffee and some reading time, and was wedged between screeching NYU girls, rich white mommies with $1000 strollers taking up four-tops with their wailing infants and idly yapping into their phones, and finance guys whose conversation bored a hole in my skull and then came out of my eye. All of them alternated between shouting, screeching, and tapping at their phones. “OMIGOD!”, tap, tap, “OMIGOD!”, tap, tap. It was impossible to think, much less read.
The record store on Bleecker is closing. The bookstores are closing. The dry cleaners and markets and butcher shops. The HOSPITALS are closing. And one after another, they are replaced by four things- Starbucks, TD Bank, Chase, or a frozen yogurt shop. All on the ground floor of a giant glass condo tower. To house these people. And give them what they want. Which is apparently to make the city more like the towns they came from. To pay quadruple the rent to suck down burned coffee and yogurt and fucking cupcakes and screech into their phones and not read. Which for the fucking life of me I just don’t understand.
People used to move to New York from their small towns so that they would become a part of the city, be changed by it, become cosmopolitan and cultured, discuss ideas and expand their minds and their experiences, to be inspired to create and contribute and lubricate the urban landscape with innovation and poetry and music and literature. The Village was the epicenter of this for a long, long time. It just isn’t now. Who on earth would write a song about a Citibank?
You can see the old B. Dalton sign where the Barnes and Noble sign has been taken down. This building has housed a bookstore for a really long time. It won’t now, nor probably ever again.
I went over to the French Roast on 11th. I sat at the bar and paid two dollars for coffee that I drank out of a ceramic cup, and which they refilled without my having to ask. I read my book and people-watched. I was the youngest patron in the place by about twenty years. The customers looked each other in the eyes and had lively conversations. Not a single person in the place was touching a cell phone. They played Frank Sinatra and it was heaven. I read and thought and wrote and it was paradise. I struggled to put out of my mind the thought that it couldn’t possibly last. That within five years it would be a Citibank. Because this just isn’t what people want anymore. Conversation. Books. Ceramic cups.
Oh, come on. Give an old lady’s ovaries a break.
I am the first to admit that I am a forgetful idiot. Six months ago, I was the first to inform the house manager at the Belasco Theatre that I am a forgetful idiot when she refused to allow me to go to my seat without relinquishing a shopping bag I was carrying filled with spices from Kalustyan’s. ”Food is not permitted in the theatre”, she said. I told her that while spices are technically comestible, I had no intention of snacking on raw Vietnamese cinnamon or whole Szechuan peppercorns during the production, and would be neither disrupting my seatmates nor, more to the point I think, denying $8 in munchie sales to the concessions stand.
Because I live in New York City, and my social circle is comprised primarily of homosexual males and career-minded women in their late twenties and early thirties, and also because I (owing to complete sobriety, daily exercise and nightly slathering with assorted fairly-traded tropical oils) look so impossibly dewy and youthful, I have been heretofore able to remain in a comfortably-furnished denial of my calendar age and its commensurate biological realities. However, I recently had a birthday. And a few days after this birthday, I made my biannual visit to my very cool gynecologist, to whom I have been opening my legs and my wallet for several years and with whom I enjoy, as one would hope one would with one after opening one’s legs and wallet to one for several years, a friendly reparteé.
She welcomed me with her usual genial élan- “Amanda! How are you? Oh, it looks like you just had a birthday! SIT DOWN.” Terrified I was about to be handed the news that I had somehow contracted another STI- and really, there’s only the one left, and it’s the big one, so I was all “eek”- I braced myself and gingerly took a seat.