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I was scheduled for a radio interview with Paul Harris of KTRS in St. Louis via Skype. Two minutes before, the producer calls as expected and then asks me to turn on the video function because they like to stream their interviews.

Panic! Under the impression that no one would be able to see me—because it was, how you say, radio—I was sweaty, wearing no makeup, had my hair scraped back, and was sitting next to a window in full daylight so all wrinkles looked like crevasses.

There was no time to run upstairs to remedy the situation but I was desperately bargaining (like with Death) for a moment to at least put on some lippy and brush my hair.

This strikes me as another illustration of the gap between how men and women experience the world. It wouldn’t occur to most men that they might need to prep their appearance before their image was sprung on an unsuspecting public. However, I think it would occur to most women.

But then I was saved by technology, or should I say under-performing technology. The connection wasn’t fast enough to deliver a clear picture so they decided to abandon the visual aspect. Saved!

The interview itself worked out well and in fact I will be speaking to Paul again on Sunday morning at 10:45 on his syndicated America Weekend if that plays anywhere near you. No Skype and no video, he promises.

Some things about New York never change.

It’s still hard to know whether those droplets from on high are the start of a shower or air conditioner condensation.

Manhattan still runs on doormen, who are to New York what concierges are to Paris, only much better-tempered and more helpful. And with a mystical ability to find taxis. As for New York buildings that have “concierges”,  they’re basically doormen who don’t go outside and hail taxis. What’s the point?

But some things are different.

Street hot dog stands increasingly seem to be giving way to street fresh fruit stands. The proprietor of same near 96th and Lex is a devout Muslim. I say this only because  he would place a small  none-too-clean prayer rug on the sidewalk behind some building scaffolding and pray several times a day, presumably accessing the divine in the middle of the (literally) pedestrian.

Grand buildings formerly occupied by banks or civic institutions are now giant drugstores, which are drugstores only in the sense that they have a small prescription dispensing area. The rest is full of over-the-counter remedies for ailments you didn’t know you had, like diet aids (one aisle over from the giant bags of candy) and the kind of miscellany you used to find at Woolworth’s.

Just as the population is being divided into the superrich and the financially insecure with no middle ground, so retail is being divided into giant brands and very small independents eking out a precarious survival. The US may have won the Cold War, but our cities are looking more and more like Soviet Russia, with limited consumer choice sold in giant outlets.