Thursday, February 5, 2009

new york fixtures

everyone has a couple of new york fixures in their life. these aren't items, they are people who are unique figures in the neighborhoods they occupy or in which they run their business. their regularity is comforting and they make people feel at home with their personality and quality offerings.

take ray, for instance, who works in a tiny hole-in-the-wall shop on avenue a. among my friends, he is known as the frozen yogurt man. others refer to his shop as the belgian fries place and still others refer to him more formally as ray alvarez of ray's candy store. when i lived nearby, in a shoebox apartment in the east village, my roommates and i would find any excuse we could to wander over for a late night/weekend afternoon/substitute for dinner treat. i would even trek over by myself during snow storms to get my froyo fix. after we moved away and into our own apartments boroughs away from each other, we would still meet there for froyo. because of my love for this shop and the memories i have, it scared me to hear recent news of ray's poor health and finances.

every time i loose one of these people or their livelihood is threatened, i feel as though the misfortune has happened to a close friend and someone who is actually part of my life. the news of joe ade's death this week was heartbreaking. if the name isn't familiar, he was the vegetable peeler man. you can probably recall seeing him sitting on a street corner, happily peeling away and belting out his sales pitch. he was one of those people who was a mainstay in the city-someone who was constantly around and made you smile every time you saw him. it isn't that ray or joe are taken for granted; it's just that you don't consider passing by without them being there. to me, it feel as though a part of my belonging to the city has been chipped away and i am forced to scramble to find a substitute.

"save ray" tshirts will be on sale at ray's candy store to benefit ray (or just go buy some yummy fries or froyo). a memorial for joe is planned for saturday. if you missed your chance to get a peeler, you can order them online.

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