How refreshing it is to get around Rockaway and see friends, family and neighbors again, and not just half their face but the whole enchilada! I feel terrible for parts of the country still under strict protocols, and I hope we all get to the point where this is a distant memory. But in Rockaway, at least for now, it’s great to go to a restaurant or to see live music again, and to go to parties again too.
I had two opportunities to get off the peninsula recently and see what life is like elsewhere. The first was because a neighbor decided enough was enough and took the initiative to book a bus for neighbors to go into the city to the Bitter End to see a Grateful Dead cover band.
You had me at party bus, and as Ken Kesey once said, if the bus comes along, get on it and go further! So, I did, and actually the mermaid joined me and about 40 other intrepid travelers down Flatbush Avenue for a fun-filled ride into the city. When we got there, the poor bus driver didn’t realize that all those tiny Greenwich Village streets got narrower with the extension of the restaurants out into the streets. Turning on those blocks is normally hard, but the driver made the impossible believable and we found ourselves on Bleeker Street. And what a scene that was. People out all over the place like it was VE Day, celebrating, smiling, laughing, having fun. It was heartening to see. I believe the reports of the city’s death have been greatly exaggerated! The city is alive and vibrant. We later walked over to West 4th Street and the party scene was still exploding. Oh, and by the way this was a Tuesday night. A Tuesday night!!!
The second opportunity was an invitation from an old friend from Greenpoint who also decided enough was enough and called upon the old gang and said, “Hey you schleps, get your wives and put on a nice shirt, we are going to dinner.” Times being what they are, I accepted the invitation, and so did six other couples. And so, this group of twelve, not to be confused by any stretch with other groups of twelve, found themselves at Bourbon Street on Bell Blvd.
Now, I typically don’t like driving as many of you may know, but the drive to Bell Blvd was pleasant enough, when suddenly as I was cruising at my usual 40 miles-an-hour I spotted a huge building by Belmont Racetrack. I realized then that this was the UBS Arena that the Islanders will be playing at. The arena will host concerts too, and it’s pretty close, this could be good! But back to Bell Blvd.
I normally don’t go to Bell Blvd, it’s kinda out of the way, and I never found driving back home a fun thing. But I have to say that the Blvd. was alive with people and the restaurants were many and varied, and it was a happening scene. And I have to say Bourbon Street was very good too. I haven’t been there in a while, and everything looked brand-spanking new. Suffice to say that everyone had a good time, catching up on whose kids were getting married, who’s retiring, what new grandchildren were here now, all the stuff of life that we had to share only with ourselves because of the pandemic.
It is great to be human beings again!! We are truly social animals. Oh, and this was a Wednesday. Two days out, very big week for the mermaid and me!
It pays to be careful and safe, but having returned to the peninsula, I am here to report that there is life happening on the other side of the bridges. The sun doesn’t shine every day in Rockaway. Don’t be afraid to take a rainy-day trip and see what’s happening!
By Lou Pastina