As the plane approached the runway the Manhattan skyline was draped in pink gauze, lit by a limpid sun beneath a blanket of grey clouds. The first two sentences I overhear after landing are “How many cars did you bring” and “Can I borrow your phone? None of mine are working”. The city is dripping. The Long Island Railroad ticket woman is a gladiator with bleached blonde hair. On the subway a girl obstinately cries, making variegated demands on her father, to the collective amusement of the carriage. In the supermarket an old Jewish couple wear matching t-shirts in bold white print on black: “Prosecute Rumsfeld” and “Prosecute Bush”. One of the local homeless is having a detailed conversation with a store-boy on the varieties of milk. It is just about midnight, and the supermarket is packed full. There is no pattern to the people. They are well dressed, poorly dressed, young, old, alert, asleep, in groups, alone. Flip on the radio and WNYC has Wordless Music with a live recording of Nico Muhly followed by New Sounds and then Overnight Music. Voices are echoing out of apartment windows opened to let the air through. There are puddles pooled at the curbs. Businessmen loosening ties. People looking in at the window display of the bookstore, now well after midnight. With timezone shifts, I've now been up all night. This is the greatest city in the world. image