Thursday, October 6, 2011

Manatus

Don't worry. It's not vanishing. But I thought I'd better get a bite here soon, as luxury encroaches on this block of Bleecker.



The place is quietly busy at lunchtime. Men in couples come in, older men wearing t-shirts for leather bars in Fort Lauderdale. They are greeted as regulars. One man sits alone at the bar and orders nothing but a glass of water. The waitress knows him. She chats with him. They talk about the heavy rains and how scary it is to have yet another major birthday.

He says, "You were born exactly one month after the death of Marilyn Monroe."

"But I was in Greece at the time," she says.

"Doesn't matter. That was a global event."

They talk about Jack Kennedy, the handsome womanizer, and then the waitress goes to take care of a table. The man continues to talk, though no one is there. His voice is low, his tone cordial and conversational. I can't hear what he's saying to himself but I imagine it's about Marilyn and Jack and that day in 1962. His lips continue moving.

I think: These are the men lost to the new Fedora, not the same men, but similar. Here, they have a home. No matter what. And then the atmosphere changes.



A well-heeled French couple sit at the sidewalk tables, plunk down their Bleecker shopping bags, and order cappuccinos. They've brought their own bags of pastries and begin to eat. The manager sends a waitress out to tell them they can't eat another business' food at the restaurant.

The man protests, "We were here earlier. I asked if you have croissants and you said no. I asked where we could find a bakery nearby and you said nothing. So I found a bakery myself. We're just going to sit here and eat our croissants and then we will go. Why didn't you tell me where to find a bakery?"

The waitress entreats them to leave and take their croissants with them. When she explains the policy again, the Frenchman shouts, "I don't give a damn! We will just finish this and go."



There is no budging them. They have come to Bleecker to shop for luxury goods, to get what they came for, and they will get it.

20 comments:

John M said...

That's a disgusting ending to a post with a wonderful beginning. I don't advocate violence, but sometimes...

Anonymous said...

I shouldn't have read this first thing in the morning—makes me want to throw up. It reminds me of how (*&@#$ disgusting Bleecker Street is—a blight on one of the beautiful and lively streets in the (old) West Village.

BrooksNYC said...

May I offer you un peu de PEPPER SPRAY avec vos croissants? Kshhhhhhhhhhhsssst!

Here's your check. No rush. Whenever you're ready.

Jim Chu said...

This really is unfortunate, and is hardly the sole provenance of French tourists. I own a restaurant in Nolita, and had a young woman open up a pita wrap while having a glass of wine one evening. I approach her, and unprompted, she states "I can't have this here, can I" and proceeds to eat it while her friend says she has an "organic diet". She eventually puts away the food after being reminded, has three rounds of wine, then complains about the bill (SCREAMING), (where all the prices are consistently marked) and about how she was never coming back. Fortunately my regulars had the presence of mind to tell them to just leave.

If it were me I would have grabbed the croissant and thrown it into the street.

Katrink said...

Infuriating. Same thing happens at Ruby's on the boardwalk. Folks walk up with their Nathan's goodies, buy a beer and sit at the Ruby's tables! Until they are asked to move. Sadly, we won't be witnessing that little comedy any more....

JAZ said...

Not at all surprised, unfortunately. Manhattan has become a luxury shopping mall for tourists and pretty much any area downtown has become a trendy background theme for gentrifying hipsters.

Spartacus said...

I would have called the cops and had them removed for trespassing. Hey. If it works on Wall Street, why not Bleecker?

Brodsky Organization said...

Such a sweet story with a bitter ending. We're curious to know what the man was saying as well, from the sounds of it, it could've been fascinating! It looks like the food was delicious, as usual.

Phil said...

Jeremiah, you scared the crap out of me with this...
Thanks for sharing my film.

glamma said...

they should have called the police on those f*cking ingrates.
ANIMALS invading the streets, ANIMALS>

James Campbell Taylor said...

Manatus is another place I need to check off my egg cream list. Maybe I'll pop over there this weekend.

It's often suggested that Europeans are more worldly and open-minded than many Americans, but here's proof that's not always the case. Sadly the image of New York as a luxury product has already extended globally. It's no longer a matter of where you come from. Rather, as they say at Eisenberg's, "You either get it or you don't."

Marty Wombacher said...

If karma is real, someone spit on their croissants before they served them up.

Goggla said...

I guess that guy won't mind then, when I sit at his kitchen table to eat my IHOP pancakes.

Eric Brasure said...

Why did they come to New York to eat croissants? I didn't go to Paris to eat bagels.

BaHa said...

Cochons!

Anonymous said...

I had a French tourist come up to me in front the Stock Exchange and ask if the screening booth in front was "a private entrance" to the subway.

During the hurricane my husband and I were sitting in a French bistro - the only other customers were 3 European tourists. They left without tipping, but forgot something and came back. When they returned the owner told them they had forgotten to tip.

They nodded - then began to study a subway map (none were running, but if they had tipped I might have been inclined to help them). When they left for the second time I stopped one and said: You know it's customary here to tip? Right? You know if you don't it's like stealing right? That apparently embarrassed them sufficiently. Off they went to catch a (non) train.

onemorefoldedsunset said...

People do that all the time now. They're so damn special they can do whatever they damn please. They make me feel older & more bitter than ever (sigh). Julius still seems like a nice friendly refuge that suffers no fools.

Anonymous said...

In the vanishing bleecker street whre traditions and historical estabs are dying...We should all together appreciate the hard work about the renovation and the reinassance of Zito Bakery now Pizza Roma.

We can't always spend time cying about what is gone or passed away. We should sometimes contribute and be part of the new "good" things.

Deafeatism and critic doesn't really help!

Steve Reed said...

I read this post a couple of days ago and I've been mulling it ever since. I'm going to say something unpopular, here -- I don't really see what the French couple did that was so bad.

They DID order coffee, after all. And the food they brought was something the restaurant didn't offer, and it was a pastry -- not a full-scale take-away breakfast. If I were the manager, I would have let them have their pastry. What's the big deal?

There may be cultural differences at work here. I don't think getting pastry in Europe and taking it to a cafe would be seen as an unreasonable act.

Granted, I did not hear the man's tone or witness his demeanor, and perhaps that left something to be desired. But I think the restaurant made a mistake by asking him to leave, particularly after seeing that he was from another country.

James said...

Agreed, Steve. Unlike Mr Ice Water, the french couple actually put money in the till.