Tag: Penn Station

Lives for Public Consumption

Last week I spent a few days in Brooklyn and Manhattan. It was just the thing to kick away the winter blues. I went to the Rubin Museum and saw an exhibition on prayer beads; I had a perfect cappuccino at Amy’s Bread. I sampled lots of cheese at Murray’s Cheese Shop, and then had a leisurely lunch at Murray’s Cheese Bar. And shopping—Richie’s birthday is Valentine’s Day (sweet!) so I wanted to see what I could find in the little shops of the West Village.

When it was time for me to leave, my host generously escorted me from her home in Brooklyn where I had been staying through the subway maze to Penn station. (She is adept and brave in subways—I am not.) Walking from the subway through Penn station, I noticed the large glossy ads lining the tunnel. Each advertised a movie, a fragrance (with celebrity attached), a TV show. All displayed the ambitious shining faces of humans who are eager to live their lives for public consumption. The display put me into mind something the novelist Somerset Maugham said after he returned from a stint of writing scripts in Hollywood. He said the money was good, but he got tired of the endless parade of tawdry egos.

I can’t even imagine at this middle age of my life, wanting to, or needing to be validated by a general public. But I wanted to when I was younger; I remember feeling it strongly.

I think that youth have a visceral need to belong—it’s part of who they are. I hope, though, that they are mature enough know the price before they commit to the sale.

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