Originally uploaded by madabandon.
Today my errands took me to the East Village. I used to spend a lot of time there in my early years in the city. Today, maybe because of the extremely cool autumnal weather, the lack of crowds, or something less easy to pinpoint, I felt some of the old charm of the neighborhood. I purposely avoided St. Mark's Place and the spots where new condos are sprouting and stuck to the side streets, where I saw some true East Village characters: an old man in a leather jacket, boombox sitting in his bicycle basket, dancing disco-style on the corner at Avenue A and 7th Street; an old woman pushing her cart full of plastic bags purposefully ahead of her, muttering and smiling; a homeless guy, looked like one of the Tompkins Square Park anarchists of old, being quizzed by a little boy while the boy's hippie-ish father looked on bemused. I felt happy.
Maybe I was in this good mood because last night I took my brother to dinner for his birthday, belatedly but not too much so, and we had a fine and funny time. We went to Alfama, a very charming Portuguese restaurant in the West Village, where I got to chat with the cute and flirty bartender, recently arrived from northern Brazil. He had a kind of innocent friendliness that one doesn't encounter much in the city these days.