I spent this past weekend working in Midtown Manhattan, offering some begrudging and lackluster support to a smaller pharmaceutical client as they maneuvered through the mire of viable clinical development and commercialization strategies to expand their lymphoid and leukemia portfolio. Bizarre, these types of projects, so invested in the flow of blood, yet so removed. For me, this meant furiously editing and creating some presentations, and then feigning interest in conversations about children at a nearby steakhouse restaurant. Living less than an hour from one of the greatest cities on the planet, I frequently spend my weekends gallivanting through her streets, meandering through restaurants and bars and museums and galleries with a crew of friends, or just holed up in an apartment stocked with wine and cocktails of some variety. Brooklyn is almost as familiar to me as some of my oldest friends. Rarely, if ever, though, do I venture into Midtown, a mecca of tourism and commercial consumption, fleets of visitors paying homage to the four-floor stores, flooded with massively produced merchandise, eager to lay their wallets prostrate, arms open to receive paper bags of stuff.
My clients, colleagues, and I stayed at the New York Palace Hotel, on Madison. It was the busiest hotel I believe I have ever visited, the lobby a perpetual bustle of pilgrims, their wares, speaking various tongues, some from Eastern Europe, others simple American English tinged with accents from the South and the Midwest. Every time I swept through the ground floor, there was a deluge of people, old and young, almost a microcosm of the city itself, constantly busy, living, breathing. The kinetic energy is almost dizzying here, suffocating, a sort of claustrophobia, for me, induced by the towers of steel, the sheer height and volume of the neighborhood. The mass. It is massive, stacks of buildings, each containing stacks of people and objects.
With imminent arrival of a purported storm of the century, being in this type of environment was almost surreal. The entire transit system was suspended, flights were being canceled from all the airports, the streets were stymied with the flow of taxi cabs and rented cars, all desperately trying to disperse, seek refuge elsewhere from the violence and destruction of Hurricane Sandy. Years ago, hurricanes were named only after women, a not completely unwarranted personification of their nature, unpredictable, tempestuous, strangely beautiful and alluring. My train home no longer a viable option, I stood with my luggage just before the revolving doors of the hotel, amidst the frenetic stream in and out, the air ripe with adrenaline, perfumes of panic encouraged by the media and greater mob, a calm, waiting for her judgment.
(image taken from Art Deco Architecture)