No W at all this AM, and the N was running only every 20+ minutes, or so it seemed. The 7:24 was uncommonly packed, but not insufferably so.

I ventured around again yesterday, this time being more cautious about the heat. Sunday found me in areas with no shade, noplace to purchase beverages for hydration, and the grim possibility of passing out on the ground and not being found for a good long time as my body cooked in the 95-degree scorch.

Yesterday I stuck mostly to Manhattan, no plan really. Hop a bus, hop a train. Penn Station’s payphone still works but how long before renovation comes to the Central Corridor, taking the phone with it. The Hotel Pennsylvania, once a mecca of sorts for phreaks and hackers, is all but demolished, with only the foundation being attacked by jackhammers and sledgehammers. The old COCOT outside the Sbarro at the 33rd street entrance to the 1/2/3 station is no more. It left behind a unique series of fingerprints and signatures, though. I could not find an old payphone TTY at the 34th Street 1/2/3 but I remember being frequently confused about its precise location. The payphone TTY at 14th Street Union Square remains dead, but is this permanent? I do not know.

I went into the Sam Ash store on 34th Street near B&H. I’ve been there a number of times the past few months, to try out the Roland that is siad to feel so much like an acoustic that it’s just weird. I don’t think I agree but it is a damn fine instrument for what it is. I was playing on it when one of the other musicians there remarked “We don’t hear Bach and Moussorgsky too often in here. Rock on.” It was cool, but my replay was honest: “It’s pretty rusty.” Playing through the opening of “Pictures at an Exhibition” I could feel where the muscles just are not there any more.

But why should it matter? Why must I play that kind of repertoire today when I played it 30 years ago. If I were to resume concertizing in any form I could settle into Schubert and Bach and Chopin and Liszt and myself without getting into something like “Pictures,” which I always found rather ungainly in its piano writing. Orchestral more than for 2 hands. It seemed like one of those arrangements that people accepted, for reasons unclear to anybody.

I’ll look forward to the video I made walking up 8th Avenue thinking it was 7th Avenue. I thought I’d be reaching Times Square soon but when I saw ARBY’s I knew I was lost in one of the stubbornly decrepit asshole parts of Manhattan around the Port Authority on 8th Avenue. The whole time spent walking from 34th up toward 42nd I had no idea where I was or what activities and scenarios surrounded me. I described it as reverse solipsistic moment, in which the world does not exist so long as I am in it.

I walked to TImes Square via underground Port Authority tunnels, sharing my mini-hack at avoiding stairs to get from the A/C/E to the N/R/W. You just take the stairs down to the 7 platform and get on of the very long escalators that gets you up to N level. Not the most novel MTA hack but I like it.

My more favorite MTA hack is to take a bus into midtown and make a free transfer to a subway for the return trip back to Astoria. I used to do that a lot when the 181 was still alive in my life and I would make quick trips there just to pick up the mail. That hack is obviously not possible for all scenarios but if it saves one fare it’s good for something.

It is 8:30. Time to skedaddle.