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Howard the Dog3 2


A 1980s New York Story—Linda Reminisces

A 1980s New York Story — Linda Reminisces

In those days, there was a Boots pharmacy off Madison Avenue in the Sixties. All wood paneled with proper cabinets and drawers, and it delivered, which was unusual then. A few blocks up was The Right Bank, a walk-down-a-few-steps neighborhood hangout where a glass of wine and a Bank Burger with fries really hit the spot. Sometimes Al Pacino, a neighbor, would be there. Once, I saw him with Robert DeNiro and some guy named Harvey Keitel before they all reached god status. Marigold was our go-to lunch place and there was actually a dry cleaner on the corner before Halston moved in, foreshadowing the invasion of luxury storefronts that supplanted neighborhood needs.

I lived on Sixty Eighth Street on the top floor of a limestone building. There were only two apartments on the floor, and I lived in the studio with an eccentric Harvard Business School grad and his dog, Howard, a black lab-greyhound mix that was more human than most humans. You couldn’t walk Howard during morning rush hour because no brown bag carrying a bagel mit schmear was safe from this speedy retriever… we had to wait until at least 9:00 to take him out, after all the walkers had made their way down Madison to their retail and ad agency jobs.

I think about those years a lot now, and I’m not sure why — time’s winged chariot, I suppose. The 80s had their ups and downs, like all eras, but this one has remained with me a lot longer than most. There were Jerry Rubin’s Tuesday night salons, first at his Upper East Side apartment and then at Studio 54, where we talked about how to change the world. There were new ventures appearing on the scene that would change the way work – and everything else – was done: personal computers, modems, fax machines, cell phones the size of a loaf of bread. It was the beginning of the Me” generation and the accumulation of wealth seemed paramount. 

And then there was Black Monday, on my boyfriend’s birthday in 1987; we found out about it while we were celebrating at some ridiculously expensive Indian restaurant that’s no longer there. The world was changing, and we knew it. We held on to what was good through music and career building and lots of exploration in lots of ways, some of which seem completely nuts in retrospect.

But most of us survived. I spent 17 years in the city, 11 of them in the heart of Manhattan. I only get back once or twice a year now and, while the city has a whole new raft of problems, it’s still (as the Schuyler Sisters sing) the greatest city in the world right now. But I often wonder what happened to all those dreamers and their dreams, all of us living above our means, all of us crazy, lonely insomniacs perilously happy, in our own way.

Thank you.