Photo by myself at the Bluewater Grill in Union Square, around Broadway and 16th Sreet.
I rarely carry an umbrella. First, carrying one requires planning and knowing what the weather will be. Second, I'm overladen with other crap - purse, wallet, keys, cellphone, camera, gum, Airborne, New Yorker Magazine.
My habits may soon change. This Spring, we'll be seeing a new umbrella on the streets. In last week's New Yorker, Susan Orlean, author of The Orchid Thief, wrote an article about the Boston sculptor Steven Hollinger. His new umbrella design is modeled after the aerodynamic shape of a bicyclist's helmet.
Rounded on the front end to deflect wind, the umbrella tapers at the back. It has gutters. It's narrower than it is long, so that people can walk the sidewalks without bumping into each other. Hollinger's prototype was made of shiny black fabric on the outside and a bright red fabric on the inside, to make the user feel cozy (!).
Just imagine the ramifications. No more crumpled metal skeletons along the streets after a rainstorm. No more hawkers selling cheapo umbrellas for three bucks. No more heaps of anonymous black nylon at the doorways of restaurants and galleries.
I'm skeptical but curious. The image of New Yorkers waiting on a street corner for the light to change, huddled and glum beneath their flimsy umbrellas while traffic hurls by will soon be history. Hard to believe.
I'm sure there will be a few hold-outs at first, carrying their antiquated three dollar nylon umbrellas. And there will be those of us who carry nothing at all.
Top photo by myself at the Blue Water Grill, in Union Square. The jazz club Metropolis used to occupy the downstairs. Metropolis is no longer, but the restaurant features live jazz in its lower dining room.
Lower photo showing the rounded end of the new umbrella design, from Steve Hollinger's website.