...the end of an era. The end of one of the best, most accommodating, comfortable and interesting outdoor people watching and interacting porticos in New York.
The wonderful take-away prepared foods, soups aside > the best "simple" baked goods baker in the city; responsible for absolutely unequaled Chocolate Chip Cookies with dries cherries and my personal favorite; again, simple; baked good in NY, their perfectly balanced in tastes and textured Maple Cookie, will remain a treasured taste in my memory for some time to come. No one even, to my knowledge, attempts a maple sweet of the type and for my ccc cravings I'll have to depend on my no. 2 > a very very good one at Baked in Red Hook.
What certainly wont be able to be even approximated is what G N P To Go was to the neighborhood / The City > it was the scene of the place.
It was an outdoor meeting hall for the cream of NYs working and hopeful actors, writers, producers and general New York characters. The talk wasn't so much of where the best this or that food stuff could be found (although there was good and plenty of that) but who was mounting what and yes, who was mounting who. Open auditions where? He's doing a showcase when? She sold her book for how much? When does your gig start?
On a single, ordinary but not typical day this past summer while enjoying a coffee and lingering with a maple cookie watching the world > seemingly the entire world, pass by:
A couple sat at a table next to mine and began a conversation while I unapologetically eavesdropped, which began with an older gent saying "when I was working with Huston on that Falcon Picture..."
A bit later that same languid afternoon... 2 woman came out of G&P with soup and salads (one a pristine garden salad and the other with a 1/2 pint container of always exceptional, the precisely perfect amount of Extra Heavy Hellmans added, tuna. Both had clean white cardboard take-out containers of tomato corn bisque. Both women were immaculately groomed, every subtle dyed hair in its perfect place, their pocketbooks shared an unused chair covered with an open paper napkin for protection. You got a sense of care and longevity being required and carried-out by the pair. Their conversation began with one women after tasting her tuna saying, " when I was dating Aldo Ray he made the best tuna salad... he used to put in a small bit of grainy mustard." "It was a spicy mustard". Her friend interjected with "spicy like Aldo"; without missing a beat her friend continued, chuckling "spicy yes, like Aldo, this tuna is so good". Their conversation turnned to the present talking about not Aldo or the Tuna > "did you know that upstairs at Sardi's on Tuesdays your SAG card will get you a $12.00 dinner"? "No?" "And it ain't bad".
The Dunkin Donuts guy; the guy who's got to get up to make the donuts, walked by wearing a Woody Allen all weather floppy rain-hat and waved hello to a guy with a parrot on his shoulder a few tables back from me.
The cutest poppiest pop queen jumped out of a cab; no she actually sort of sprang, spring-loaded out of a cab and jumped into the arms of a girlfriend who'd been patiently preening and making nice to her cell phone while nursing a fresh roast turkey sandwich with a ruby red slice of tomato edging its way out of the sandwich. Jumping in olympic acrobatic precision "I got the commercial, I got the commercial, can you believe it I GOT THE COMMERCIAL?" Everyone within earshot busted into applaudes > people, kindred spirits who'd walked the road were obviously reacting to the joyousness and understanding that she'd got a paying gig. Her Big Break. You know many resumes were updated that night.
As the sky was darkening I was on my last couple of sips of coffee, an hour and a half past since I'd planted my ass; mostly unread Times at my side (all that was going around was much more interesting then the latest politico bashing; being bashed by...) And my fixation on the maple goodness, I was getting ready to call it a day. Yes, by the way; to this point, all I'd related above had taken place in just an hour and a half or so.
...So, as the sky was darkening... I'm getting ready to head home; a guy struts by with a stack of magazines under one arm and a flute under the other and a guy calls him > "Yo Mat, my man Matty; my main man Mr. Mat, what's happenin', how the hell are ya"? Matt > "Cool man, cool man, cool man; got to run". Where are you going? Matt > there's a Bette Lavette show in Madison Square Park. My ears perk at hearing this. Understand, that I really dig Bette Lavette (I won't go into who she is or why anyone / everyone who's the least bit into soul / R&B should know who she is). Although her music is never too far from my machine I've never (in her or my 50 years seen her live) I whip out my smart phone (thrilled I had a purpose to use it other then as a phone or to check my e-mail) Google Bette Lavette + Madison Square Park. Sure nuff > in 20 mins. Bette Lavette is giving a concert in Madison Sq. Park. A FREE concert at that! I run downtown > amazing show... small intimate crowd... met a "swingin" girl from Norway...
...Why so much about a concert; why so much excitement and what does it have to do with the closing of Good N Plenty to Go? Well for me; just matter-of-factly hearing; no overhearing, about a concert; a free concert, in an intimate location, of an artist I really like but have never seen live, from someone on the run; not even speaking to me which started in 20 mins. when I was just getting ready to hit the B Train and head home... well that's New York.
And Good N Plenty To Go was New York. A New York that's quickly becoming Old New York and I for one will miss The Old New York which will be extinct in the blink of an eye; with the combustion of scoring a first tv commercial. "The" Big Break. Every dreamer only has 1 very fast Big Break and then its gone. But like G&P To Go; it should be remembered and savored.
Once upon a time there was the automat at 34th Street and Good N' Plenty To Go on 44th. I remember once a long time ago an assistant director on The Maltese Falcon was talking to a friend. I was eating a maple cookie the likes of which you'll never know...