Our office is located on what must be the least populated semi-wide street in all of Manhattan, a no-man's land just far enough from two fashionable neighborhoods to be considered part of neither. Wind gets stuck here. At twilight, crumpled newspapers scuttle across the pavement like giant crabs. Plastic bags advance in tumbleweed fashion. Sometimes it feels like the edge of the world.
We occupy the middle three floors of a nine-floor building, at the uneasy intersection of two quasi-avenues, which merge without clear signage. Further complicating matters is the abundance of honorary street names for people you've never heard of. Rabbi S. Blankman Street? "Mama" O'Sullivan Road? Who were these colorful figures of yesteryear? Cabbies throw their hands up and think of turning in their medallions.
The Starbucks just down the road, uncomfortably situated on a corner between a boarded-up bar and a boarded-up locksmith, looks like a bordello. We call it the Bad Starbucks for it's low-impact saxophone music and an absence of natural light combined with doomed, possibly improvised original drinks like the Pimm's cup chai.
The Good Starbucks, two blocks farther in the opposite direction, also looks like a house of ill repute, but with better ventilation and more freebies, little paper cups of cake.
We're within five minutes of two subway stops, but at such illogical angles to them that we have difficulty instructing people how to get here: You go left and then cut across the second parking lot, not the one that says PARK.
To make it easier we tell them we'll meet up by the newspaper stand right outside the subway station three blocks away. We ask them beforehand, What will you be wearing? We describe ourselves: Glasses, dark shirt. This could be anybody.