Thirteen Moments From Kate’s Paperie



561 Broadway, Ny, NY 10012

Neighborhood: West Village

Elisha Cooper, our staff illustrator, spent two weeks, though December 22, 2000, sitting at a small table amidst the bustle of Kate’s Paperie in Soho; he sat there all day in front of a stack of his book, A Year In New York, signing and drawing (everyone who bought one got a small portrait of themselves on the front page of the book). He sent us a note listing thirteen memorable moments he witnessed.

2) I draw the female DKNY model, whose eyes are closer to her ears than to her nose.

3) Girl has me draw her lighting menorah with a blowtorch.

4) Customer, looking at my name on book jacket: "Is your name Ed?"

5) A woman says to her friend: "You have beautiful eyes. I would have noticed them last year but I was medicated."

7) Man walking past me, carrying shopping bags, yelling: "Lisa? Anne? Where are my fucking kids?!"

9) Story told to me by Kate’s worker, unprompted: "My cats are huge, big. They were sitting in our kitchen, in the sun, playing it cool, looking out the window. I was trying to take their picture but they were playing hard to get. My girl cat is in heat, though I don’t know if she and the male cat have consummated the relationship. Now, out in the back yard is this line and the neighbors attached their bird feeder to the middle of the line because of the squirrels, see, and the cats were watching. These are determined squirrels, and this one guy walks out on the line, he falls twice, but keeps going, and he’s out there on the line eating seed with one hand and holding on with the other and the blue jays on the fence are watching and the cats are watching and I would have taken pictures, but, I don’t have time for that."

11) Monica Lewinsky rushes past my table. She’s wearing a black hat, sunglasses, and carrying one of her bags. She’s on a cellphone. She stops, says, "Wait, I’m losing you…" turns, walks out of store. The weird thing is I’d seen her that morning at the café in the village where I was having breakfast. She was reading the Post, with its "BUSH WINS" headline.

12) Customer: "If you don’t work here, then what the hell do you do?"

13) I’ve been counting toupees and nose jobs. The count as of Thursday: toupees, three. Nose jobs, seventeen.

A second installment, fourteen notes, from my last week at Kate’s Paperie in Soho.

1) I sign a book for architect who designed the moldings for the garbage room of John Bon Jovi’s house in the Hamptons. She says, "He really put a lot of effort into the garbage room."

2) Kate’s saleswoman: "You’ve been shopping so hard!" Customer: "Yeah." Saleswoman: "And you’ve come so close to getting what you want." Customer: "Yeah." [pause] Saleswoman: "Men are hard to shop for. They¹re so simple."

3) A man has me draw him in black two-piece bikini on Venice Beach surrounded by weightlifters from Gold¹s Gym.

4) I sign a book for a man and his alter ego "Mr Vanity."

5) A pug – wearing a green wool sweater with orange and green polka dots and a gold collar covered in shiny silver bones ­ snorts on my leg. Even though the dog is named Henry I can’t sell the owner a book.

6) Girl gives me a porcelain duck.

7) Pregnant woman takes my chair.

8) Dental student draws me a sketch of a "pterygopalatine fossa," which I think is part of the mouth.

9) Girl has me draw a "smelly cabdriver" in her book.

10) Announcement on Kate¹s address system: "Attention customers. Jennifer, return to the ribbon department. Please. Return to the ribbon department."

11) A man with a mass of curly blond hair, a dark beard, and a strong handshake: "I bring people together. I’m a writer, a motivational speaker. This book is for Barbara. She works for me. She’s my organist. Music, draw music, yeah. I’m a minister. I try to inspire the meeting of business and the spirit. I get people together. Random House, Bertelsmann. I have people realize their inner-consciousness. Elijah. He was up on Mt. Carmel, wrestling the priests of Baal. Now he thought he was too big so God says, "I’m the big guy" and he takes him home. That’s where you get "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot." But Elisha. He’s out in the field and he doesn¹t do much and that’s you. He calms things down. See? This is what I do."

12) By my estimate I have heard the music system play "Have yourself a merry little Christmas" fifty-six times. I’m starting to lose it.

13) My friend Josh comes and takes over for the last fifteen minutes one day. He’s better at being me than I am. Sometimes he¹s creative. Example: "Thanks, I appreciate your comments. Yes, I love making children’s books. I’m working on a book on ice cream [true] and after that one one on nuclear Trident attack submarines [not true]." The customer leaves. Also: "Thank you very much for asking. In my spare time I’ve been developing a line of boutique cheeses. Rochefort. Camembert"

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