This morning, a ranting man on the downtown D train (“Does she think I’m crazy?  I’m not taking any shit from that bitch!”) confirmed it: the 4th of July weekend had ended, as the madness and crowds returned to infuse Manhattan with its usual, challenging, atmosphere.

            But while it lasted, oh the glory.  My spouse’s July 6 birthday meant turning the weekend into a celebration that started with a 4th of July early afternoon screening of Iron Man at Union Square.  Robert Downey Jr.’s presence more than justified the wall-to-wall explosions, leavening the chaos with genuine wit and star quality.  After, came the calm of an East Village walk devoid of the usual crowds, as close to a ghost town as NYC is ever likely to get.  Checked out the new John Varvartos store that’s housed in the old CBGB’s—an oasis of rock-star chic stuffed with gorgeous clothes few of us can afford, and wall-to-wall music memorabilia crowned by a chandelier dripping with crystals the color of dried blood.  Further down is the New Museum of Contemporary Art.  Sad to say it’s a disappointment, a good idea that turns out to be surprising null in the context of its surroundings—the neighborhood, and the artists deserved a touch more excitement than a stack of white boxes, perforated cladding excepted.  A few browsed shops later, J and I post-mortemed over tea and a dessert sampler at The Cupping Room on West Broadway and Broome Street.  Outside heavy showers swept away the remaining cellphone trend-oids.  Peace—the patter of rain absent the clatter of crowds, my idea of a true holiday.

Photo, Jack D. Lail