I'm a born and bred New Yorker and more and more I'm lamenting what the city's becoming.
New York used to be a collection of neighborhoods. Yes, we were the city that never slept, but there were scores of mom and pop stores, sole proprieterships. You could become a "regular." I'm reminded of Tom Shachman's book Around the Block which looks at the businesses around a single NYC block, mostly all gone now. If you can get your hands on the book. It's worth a read.
In any event, here's a story:
Yesterday. JonAlf and I were at the Apple store on Fifth avenue talking about CSTUY. We had four of our talented students presenting their work.
After the event, JonAlf had gone and one of our student presenters had left with his parents. I was left with our other three presenters.
I told them that I'd love to take them by this amazing chocolate shop a few blocks away and I had to explain why:
A number of years ago, after a morning in Central Park, Batya, Natan, and I were winding our way home. We ended up passing Myzel's Chocolates on the south side of 55th street between fifth and sixth avenue. That's when we met Kamila, the shop owner. We chatted for a while got some chocolate and went on our way. Kamila was amazingly warm and sincere and the chocolates really really good. I noted that we would have to return.
That didn't happen until months later but when it did, I was shocked that Kamila remembered us, what we were doing that day and we just picked up the conversation where we left off.
This pattern repeated over the years. We didn't get to that neighborhood and thus Myzel's often, but whenever we did, we had to stop by. Great candies from a truly special person.
Alas, my schedule has been such that I hadn't been back to Myzel's in years. I think three or four.
Now, I was with Nadia, Miranda, and Leslie - three of my incredibly talented students. They just did an awesome job presenting their work and I figured I could give them some thank you chocolate as well as visit one of my favorite places in the city.
I told them that Kamila probably wouldn't remember me but I recounted my story of Myzel's and how amazing Kamila and the store were. I got the feeling that they didn't believe me when I told them about Kamila and the store.
We got to Myzel's went in and started to place our order. When Kamila came out, her first word to me was "professor…" and we picked up where we left off. As usual, she was charming and sincere. We reminisced and chatted and then we were off.
In a city that's fast becoming cookie cutter we need more places like Myzel's and more people like Kamila.
Unfortunately rents are rapidly dispatching shops like Myzel's and people like Kamila are few and far between.
So, when you're around City Center or midtown in general, please treat yourself. You won't be disappointed.