For Art’s Sake

The art of the perfect egg cream.

At Veselka Coffee Shop in New York City’s East Village, Eddie explained that we came in at just the right time, because his is the real deal. None better.

How long did it take you to reach perfection, I asked, watching him furiously stir the seltzer, vanilla and milk into a froth. A few years, he said, ha ha. Everybody loves Eddie, said the waitress. Eddie, said the counterman, your wife is calling on line one.


The art of coffee in a takeout cup.


There are those people who truly grok a to-go cup, light, no sugar, and others who will never understand. Those who get it will survive.

The art of the handcrafted athletic shoe. Boris works out of shoebox of a shop on St. Mark’s Place, customizing Converse sneakers. This must be one of his masterpieces.


The art of the display window.

doll window

Maud and I made our way all around the East Village today but couldn’t convince ourselves to venture inside this storefront. I do, however, believe in the cause of Free Pussy Riot, the truncated message displayed on the sign – two of the three rockers are still in jail in Russia on some trumped up charge of fomenting unrest and making people think. Free Pussy Riot!

The art of the subway mosaic.

astor place beaver

New York’s subways house some splendid creative works, usually related to the locale of the stop. The Astor Place subway walls display ceramic plaques of beavers — made by the Grueby Faience Company in 1904 — because fur baron John Jacob Astor’s mansion stood nearby, and his fortune derived from the beaver-pelt trade.

The art of the old-time luncheonette.

It sometimes seems as though everything old, dear, and genuine in Manhattan has been driven out, but once in a while a gem like the Lexington Candy Shop Luncheonette survives. It has been serving up milk shakes and lemonade since 1925.

lexington luncheonette

The art of the tooth-hurting truffle.

We grazed the cherry caramel samples at the counter of Vosges Haut-Chocolat, which sounds French but is actually out of Chicago.


Admired the pure silk hankies they use to wrap up the really important custom gifts.


Then we each had a truffle of our own. Maud’s was the Rooster, with taleggio cheese, Tahitian vanilla and organic walnuts. Mine was a Woolloomooloo, featuring coconut and macadamia nuts. Gil’s getting a bacon/chocolate confection for Father’s Day.

The art of instilling disquiet.

rooftop people

The rooftop garden at the Metropolitan Museum currently features one of the most wonderful, most disturbing installations I’ve seen. The Pakistani artist Imran Qureshi was inspired by escalating bombings in Lahore when he spilled and splattered blood-red acrylic paint across the nearly 8,000-square-foot open space of the Metropolitan’s deck. Elegantly dressed European tourists traipsed across the blossoms of blood as if they were nothing.

rooftop paint 2

To me they called up the times I’ve come upon a recent deer/car collision on the highway, with the pavement still a wash of gore. Or the searing images from Gil’s book Aftermath, Inc., in which he describes the stains that occurred following trauma events, such as murder or suicide. The artist Qureshi has said, “Yes, these forms stem from the effects of violence. They are mingled with the color of blood, but at the same time this is where a dialogue with life, with new beginnings and fresh hope start.”

The art of water vapor.


Far above the paint, the New York clamor, the scene, serene, inviolable, sublime. Art for art’s sake.


Filed under Art, Culture, Fashion, History, Jean Zimmerman, Nature, Photography, Writing

8 responses to “For Art’s Sake

  1. Lori

    The red blossoms are … thought provoking. They will probably be gone by the time I get there, so thank you for letting me see. Still loving the blog!


    Hahaha… I know so little! (Pardoning the split infinitive here… ) To grok /ˈɡrɒk/ is to intimately and completely share the same reality or line of thinking with another physical or conceptual entity. Author Robert A. Heinlein coined the term in his best-selling 1961 book Stranger in a Strange Land. In Heinlein’s view, grokking is the intermingling of intelligence that necessarily affects both the observer and the observed. (Now I know!)

  3. We wished you were there. Next time!

  4. Thank you! Inching up on hot coffee in a paper cup is iced coffee in a plastic cup — half the people on a given New York block have one in their hand. It’s an addiction.

  5. I bet yours are great! I hear they still deliver those glass seltzer bottles in NY but I haven’t seen one.

  6. Nora Balaban

    I wish I could have joined you guys! I was working .. sounds like a great day .. I have to hear all about Maud’s trip!

  7. Love the Then I had coffee photo 🙂

  8. Lisa Senauke

    I just taught my son, 16 year old Liam, the art of making the perfect egg cream, just as my mother taught me, and her father (aka Grandpa Max) taught her. He owned a little candy shop somewhere in Brooklyn. Sadly, I do not have New York seltzer water in a glass siphon bottle; I only have my soda stream. That said, they are pretty good! And now, he can teachnhis kids–when he has them.

    On Jun 5, 2013 9:21 PM, “Jean Zimmerman” wrote: > > jeanzimmerman posted: “The art of the perfect egg cream. At Veselka Coffee Shop in New York Citys East Village, Eddie explained that we came in at just the right time, because his is the real deal. None better. How long did it take you to reach perfection, I asked, watch” >

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