Susan Braudy: Manhattan Voyeur: A Writer’s Journal

I’m Susan Braudy. Writer. Urban Voyeur. Streetwalker.

My beat is Manhattan. Even though I am an insider, this city always surprises.

On Manhattan sidewalks, and even in restaurants, people don’t notice when you cross the line between looking and staring.

When I hit our electric streets, I feel the bingo bam buzz, an instant adventure in thought, sites, sounds, and people coming at me. Models and murderers. Pets and kids. Okay, I’ve admitted I’m a voyeur. I love eavesdropping on intimate conversations in French, English, and a hundred languages I don’t speak. I love to write about New York city and its gems– hidden and in full view.

Even indoors, I am thrilled to look down on Central Park stretching out long like a rain forest as people and cars move in synchronicity.

Living in Manhattan is better than living by Niagara Falls or by the Grand Canyon.

Black Swagger, French Aesthetics– Whoopee I Am in the Center of The Material World As I Think I Know it

Sometimes–not very often–your Manhattan Voyeur takes a deep breath and realizes she is in the best of all places. Standing on the corner of 57th and Fifth Avenues I find myself in the red hot center of the material world.  It’s more fun being a voyeur here than at any fashion museum or display at the Met or faux exciting haute couture show.

Forget Tiffany’s.
57th and Fifth Avenues  photo
The stuff on display in one corner of the first floor of Bergdorf Goodman and on each and every floor of nearby  Niketown are treasures of our earth. Looking at them, touching them is free.

What luck. Of course temptation lurks–buying is dangerous because prices are sky high.

First off, Niketown’s full of customers from all over the world with great and mysterious foreign sneakers and jackets and haircuts but more important to me are the young African-American salespeople with college degrees and street cred. They are all beautifully dressed–no matter what they are wearing, they emanate BLACK SWAGGER. They have great manners. I got high-fived twice today. I’ve watched them for years, and I have worn Nike sneakers and running pants forever.

I love watching the young salespeople.  I love talking with them. I can’t help interviewing them.  Many are working here part time while they attend college. They are the golden ones, their skin color more beautiful than that of beige people like myself.  Wearing Nikes becomes something one must do–imitating them. Indeed our whole culture imitates them one way or another.

african american style photo

At Bergdorf Goodman a few steps away I screw up my courage to walk into Van Cleef and Arpels with its iconic Alhambra jewelry whose resale value is nearly identical to the price you pay in the store.  Wearing the gold Alhambra charm around my neck makes me look prettier. Or am I a retail victim? Will I ever work up my courage to spend the money for the charm? It’s beautiful and a Manhattan status symbol. Am I that shallow or insecure that I need a status symbol? Time may tell.

Still inside Bergdorf’s I walk a hundred feet away from Van Cleef to the Verdura jewelry counter displaying its iconic strong link bracelet said to have been worn by Greta Garbo. I actually bought a vintage bracelet on 47th Street but it was still too expensive and too heavy on my arm. I called it my Donald Trumpette bracelet. I returned it. I miss it.

After watching people and stores in our streets for decades I am amazed that these best beauty spots nestle so close together.

Next to the Verdura jewelry display is the Hermes scarf counter. These scarves are art.  The blazing colors are blinding and the combinations are the best. I bought my first scarf last week. It goes with my pink brimmed hat from J. Crew. I haven’t had the nerve to wear it yet.  To wear it means I am obliged to keep it.

Will I or won’t I keep it?

A few steps toward 58th Street is the Lora Piano display of the finest cashmere money can buy.  During a recent sale I agonized over a black scarf. I never saw anything so plain and so mysteriously splendid.

Who’s done this, who’s plunked these precious things so close to each other? No other department store comes close.

On another sunny day I will stroll over and luxuriate in the man-made beauty at this corner.  And if I get a yen for natural beauty I’ll walk two short blocks to glorious Central Park. In the lake are the turtles sunning themselves on the same rock every time amiably close to a duck fast asleep with its head under its wing.

Photo by j-No

Photo by Jeffrey

Up Against The Centerfold

Hugh Hefner living the Playboy lifestyle

Hugh Hefner freaks out in a memo about the women’s movement and the “extremely anti-sexual unnatural thing they are reaching for.” He vowed to “destroy them before they destroy the PLAYBOY way of life.”

Dump Trump: Independents Can Vote Against Trump In Republican Primaries

The buffoon, Donald Trump

Donald Trump scares me. He stands for the Devils of our natures. I propose a Dump Trump movement. A vote against Trump is an act of philanthropy.

6 of the Best Insider Cleaning Tips for Clothing

laundry hanging on the line

Your Manhattan Voyeur likes to eat while reading a book. So dry cleaning blouses and sweaters could become an expensive necessity. Fear no more. Dishwashing liquid and a little COLD water AND a good rub take out every stain I’ve inflicted on treasured clothing.

A Joyful Noise: Pope Francis Arrives in Central Park

Pope Francis

Standing on my balcony 16 floors above Central Park I waited for Pope Francis to ride by. Hundreds and hundreds of fellow New York people squeezed together on lawns and lanes down below.I trained my binoculars on the Seventh Avenue exit to the park.

Beauty and Ugliness In Manhattan

One thing I love about our streetscapes is how ugly stuff and great beauty exist in such proximity. Never a dull moment.

No Room In Manhattan Streets for Bicyclists

traffic light on red- STOP

Why is it that bicyclists get away with running red lights endangering pedestrians. After being nearly mowed down by one, I’m pissed. Where’s the justice?

How to Get Smarter: A Tip from Susan Braudy

A book recommendation from Susan Braudy to help you be smarter. Television is the New Television by Michael Wolff. About what’s up in the new and old media.

Tinnitus can be stopped

man holding his ears to block the sound of tinnitus

Tips For Living From Susan Braudy Joan Pfitzenmeyer, a savvy PT and Feldenkrais practitioner, told me a trick. I simply hum the note the ear is ringing and presto it stops ringing.  Also an ENT doctor can help by cleaning out wax.

Haughty Karl Lagerfeld

Drawing of Karl Lagerfeld

Haughtiness carries you to the finish line. It makes artists out of arrogant boobs. Isn’t it time someone pulled the plug on Karl Lagerfeld. He looks like a monster, a vampire. Or worse. What kind of taste must he have if he pulls himself together to look so creepy. Why is he an arbiter of…