I schlepped into Manhattan late last Thursday afternoon to deliver the finished manuscript of my Damn France Book.
I took a train into Manhattan, and a taxi to the Flatiron Building, and when I got to my editor’s office I took a photo of the Damn France Book sitting in her guest chair:
One of the reason I hand-deliver my manuscripts is because I get such a charge out of hanging out in my publisher’s offices, because my publisher is Bloomsbury, and Bloomsbury’s offices are in the historic Flatiron Building in New York City. You know the Flatiron:
Built in 1902, it’s been famous since it was erected on a peculiar triangle-shaped bit of land on 23rd Street in lower Manhattan.
In 1903, the artist Alfred Stieglitz made the first iconinc image of the Flatiron in a snow storm using that new fangled technology: photography.
In 1904, the artist Edward Steichen paid homage to Alfred with his iconic image of the Flatiron, using that new fangled technology: color photography.
The Flatiron is situated at the heart of lower Manhattan, where Broadway (an old Indian trail that slashes its age-old way diagonally down the isle of Manhattan) crosses Fifth Avenue.
See how the Flatiron is built like a triangle? Like a flatiron of yore? (Photo of a flatiron of yore to follow.)
On this visit to Bloomsbury, I was on a mission: I wanted to penetrate the inner sanctum, get to the heart of this publishing culture. I wanted to get here:
I wanted to get to the head office.
Well, they are very nice people at Bloomsbury. My editor, Kathy Belden, was more than happy to take me down into the pointy part of the building. Turns out that the Publisher of Bloomsbury, George Gibson, has his office in Bloomsbury’s front wedge of the Flatiron, on the third floor.
This is what a distinguished literary Publisher’s office looks like:
This is George’s desk, in the cradle of the Flatiron Building.
If you step carefully over George’s lateral filing system on the floor, and look out his window (which faces uptown, north, towards streets that number 24 – 220th, the highest street number on the island of Manhattan, by the way; anything higher is in the damn Bronx), this is the view:
And then I was out on the pavement, heading up to 29th street to check out the latest hipster haven in Manhattan, passing through the Fifth Avenue plaza at 23rd street:
My destination was The Ace Hotel at Broadway and 29th street.
The Ace is the anchor to Manhattan’s newest (and some say, last) new neighborhood — NoMad.
NoMad was the only stretch of un-named real estate left in Manhattan, a dreary stretch of streets north of 23rd and south of 34th that are full of discount perfume stores. The area is north of Madison Square Park = NoMad.
I wanted to see the Ace Hotel because the Ace chain (of four hotels in America so far) was founded by Portlander Alex Calderwood for Portland-ish travelers — cultural travelers— who travel to see film, design, art, literature, food, and music.
The sidewalk evergreens have fetching little blue lights in them.
Inside the hotel it’s very dark and word is, there’s a hip bar scene going on in there.
It was so very dark in there that I didn’t take photos, but I wasn’t there for the bar scene. I was there for the Stumptown Coffee bar.
Stumptown Coffee is famous in Portland , Oregon — a strictly hometown institution, full of Portland ethos and style and insider jokes (Stumptown is an old nickname for Portland, from when it was a pioneer town and the developers were cutting down trees and the locals, already showing signs of their peculiar brand of Portland tribalism, decided to come up with the least catchiest town moniker ever).
So there I was, standing in the middle of the Stumptown coffee bar in the Ace Hotel, and I start shooting pictures, and this is what the barista does:
That is sooooo Portland, soooo Stumptown coffee.
And yes, all the baristas wear hats.
One last picture, not related to this post at all: I walked to Penn Station on 34th Street, passing the Hotel Pennsylvania on my way to Penn Station to catch the LIRR home to Long Island. And on the sidewalk was the cabin crew for Air India, waiting for their bus to JFK airport:
I just loved the sari -ish uniforms — in turquoise!