Sunday mornings I drive to buy The New York Times. I could subscribe to it online or have it delivered, but I don’t. It’s a habit that goes back to my childhood when my father and I would go out for bagels and lox and the Sunday papers. In those days it was The Times and The Philadelphia Inquirer. Now I drive to the Ipswich River Store and the bagels have been replaced by a breakfast treat called a clamshell, whole wheat dough baked around a combination of scrambled egg whites and sautéed vegetables.
I’ve always loved the Sunday Times, especially the magazine, which I’d pull out and read first, kind of like eating dessert before dinner, but in the summer of 2007 my relationship with the magazine changed. After that, up until just few months ago, the first thing I would do is flip through the sections, pull out the magazine and set it aside. I’d skim the front page of the paper, read the Sunday Styles, followed by the Book Review, and the Arts and Entertainment section. Then I would finish my coffee and steel myself to face the magazine. I’d open to the inside front cover and my stomach would twist as I wondered, Will it be a single page, or a two page spread this week?
Week after week I confronted ads for luxury apartments for sale at the iconic midcentury modern Manhattan House on East 66th Street. They began running shortly after my uncle, a well known Madison Avenue antiques dealer, jumped to his death from the twenty-second floor of the building, just short of his ninetieth birthday. To say that his suicide was a shock is an understatement. Having to face advertisements for units in that building every Sunday was an ongoing perversity, profit and loss, made more ironic because I spent years designing similar ads for similarly luxurious apartments; some of them listed by the same agents who represented the Manhattan House.