Turtle Diary

Living near Ginger, Ray, Greg, Cindy, Dag Hammarskjold, and all that

 LOCATION Turtle Bay
RENT $803.30 [rent stabilized]
SQUARE FEET 264 [studio in 1920s walk-up]
OCCUPANTS Thomas Aveni [graphic production and digital designer]

Dag Hammarskjold Plaza Park is right near here. I adore Dag. He was the second United Nations secretary-general. What a peacekeeper! He died in 1961 when he went to stop the fighting in the Congo and he and 15 others perished in the night when their plane crashed near the border between Katanga and Northern Rhodesia. I've always been taken with Dag but I couldn't sit in the park because it was raining. Which then brought me to the Japan House, which is all black with dribbling fountains inside, so I meditated a bit and adjusted the insole in my shoe. You are so lucky to live near the U.N.—the center of international excitement. I haven't been since I was a kid, on a field trip. I grew up in Smithtown, Long Island

If I lived here, I'd go all the time. I remember the gift shop from my youth. I got miniature carved wood camels and they were linked to each other with small gold chains. There used to be 60 nations who were members and now it's 190-some. There's no room in the Secretariat—well, it is pretty thin—only 72 feet thick—so the Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki is designing a $330 million addition. Security's pretty intense now. I park my car on Beekman Place. I know all the doormen around here. We save each other parking spots. I moved here in 1995.

Thomas Aveni in Turtle Bay
photo: Shiho Fukada
Thomas Aveni in Turtle Bay

The World Trump Tower, all mirrored gold. I wanted to visit the World Bar, but you have to walk up all these stairs. [I look around.] You don't have a lot of possessions. Yeah.

You do live here, don't you? Sometimes I stay in Florida for a month. My friend Ellen has a place in Hollywood, near Ft. Lauderdale.

You don't have any books. I love to purge.

You do have these two enlarged magazine covers with women on them. One was from a party I went to. The other was out in the trash.

Who are your neighbors? A lot of doors have American flags. This building looks like where someone would have a secret hideaway. I've seen models come in and out, but they're just transient models. The woman before me was here for 17 years. She's Asian. She used to work at the Waldorf. Then she moved downstairs because she was tired of walking up the stairs. Here's a list of what I thought would be interesting to you. [We look at the list.]

Ginger. You know, from Gilligan's Island. She walks her dog around here.

Is she glamorous? You can still tell she's a movie star.

Ray Liotta. He has a light-yellow Rolls convertible that he parks on the street. He's so hysterical. I've seen him in slippers at three in the morning running out to get cigarettes. I always say hello.

Cindy Adams. She was downstairs in Summit doing a review.

There are so many dark, grown-up, expensive restaurants here. Probably for U.N. officials having affairs, though I'm sure Dag never did. You listed the Fu Bar. It's a hangout on 50th Street. You can go play pool. When Ellen from Florida comes up, we go.

Then there's Katharine Hepburn's apartment. One of those townhouses with hidden gardens on 49th. There's a For Sale sign in front. Not too many people I know could come up with 3, 4 million at this point. The double-deckers come by every five minutes. We could throw water balloons at them if we wanted to. Greg Brady's on the list. He's ridiculous. He was at some party. It was actually closer to the theater district. I don't think he qualifies for this neighborhood. I've taken my mom to see Broadway shows. The bus goes west on 49th. Every Sunday, I'm at my mother's on Long Island. I mow the lawn. [We discuss some more names on the list.] I go to Spring Street to visit my friend. If the parking situation here is bad, I go down there for an hour.

 
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