I enter Southern Hospitality, a bar at Second Avenue between 76th and 77th Streets. I had noticed it the day before on an About.com site listing inauguration events in New York City. Of all the ones listed, this seemed the most random, with promises of "Obama shots, Hillary Pickelry (fried pickles), Left Wing Right Wing platters." All the TVs inside are tuned to CNN, and there are two random bunches of balloons attached to the beer taps. There are maybe 20 customers, and I don't think anyone is watching TV.
I leave Southern Hospitality and walk north up Second Avenue. At Pie, a place offering "pizza by the pound" between 80th and 81st Streets, there is a "recession special" offer of a small cheese pie for $10. There are five closed-down storefronts between 81st and 82nd, two between 82nd and 83rd and three between 83rd and 84th.
I go into Two Little Red Hens, a coffee/pastry shop on Second Avenue between 85th and 86th Streets and start reading the Times.
I order a small mocha. There are a wide selection of $4 cupcakes available, and one man behind the counter tells a customer that everything is "super-homemade." I hate the Upper East Side
I finish my coffee and the Times. The place is quite busy despite its small size, with a steady stream of customers moving through. A woman sitting near me has engaged the workers in conversation. She has discovered that all of them are not native New Yorkers. They're originally from Missouri, California and Virgina. Two elderly men sitting behind me are discussing "abstract existentialism." I think I hear Picasso mentioned. The woman who was talking to the workers starts talking to me about the Times and asks whether I think there will be any Tuesday editions left on news stands. She worries that they'll be sold out because of the inauguration. Her 94-year-old mother had requested she pick up one. I tell her I think the Times probably ordered a larger run than usual and that copies are still available.
I leave Two Little Red Hens and go to an apartment building at Second Avenue and 85th Street to tutor a student for two hours. We sit in her living room. Her TV is turned on and muted, tuned to CNN until I leave. We discuss vocabulary, geometry and reading.
I leave the apartment building and walk south on Second Avenue. Between 83rd and 84th Streets, I notice a bar called Ship of Fools. It has a notice in its window advertising newly acquired Australian beers. I go in and order a James Boag's, a Tasmanian brew I like and haven't had in years. It's tremendously overpriced. There are about 10 customers in all, most lounging around the bar. There are also 15 TVs, all showing sports, but no one is watching intensely. The bar is a typically bland Upper East Side establishment.
Someone switches one of the TVs to CNN, where Anderson Cooper is blathering with some pundits.
A man walks in and sits down two tables to my right. He asks to see the Tennessee-Vanderbilt college basketball game, so the TV that was on CNN is switched to ESPN.
I hear three guys at the bar talking about CNN's political coverage, but before I can really start following their conversation, the bar starts blaring a bluesy rock song that drowns out the sound of anything else.
I leave and walk south to 79th Street to catch the crosstown bus.
I get on the bus and dial up a friend in California. I talk to him throughout the bus ride.
I get off at Broadway, still talking to my friend. He's considering moving back east and taking a job in Massachusetts.
I get to my apartment building and pick up the mail before taking the elevator home.
I finish talking to my friend.
I talk to my brother. He says that he watched the inaugural address at work, where everyone ceased their efforts for several minutes to watch the speech. He says he enjoyed how Obama began by thanking Bush but a few minutes later completely trashed his policies by saying achieving security does not mean sacrificing our ideals. That was followed by a cut to Bush looking peeved. I also enjoyed that moment.