Thursday

"How 'bout we go for a walk after dinner?" "Okay." ... "Hey, it's colder out here than I thought and kind of misty." "Not good walking weather." "Let's at least go to the drugstore so I can drop off this disposable camera for developing." "Okay." ... "You know, it's not that cold out here. Instead of walking around the point let's just loop around a couple of blocks so we're closer to home in case it starts to rain?" "Okay." "Want to walk down Ridge Blvd.?" "Sure, we've seen Third Avenue a thousand times already." ... "Hey, you're veering right and we've only gone three blocks already, let's at least go to 80th Street." "Okay" ... "C'mon, one more block, please?" "Okay" ... So we turn down 79th St. and I see this unique golden pagoda made out of what looks like a spray-painted camper top for a pick-up truck. At first I thought it might be some kooky separate entrance for a Chinese plastic surgeon, but getting closer we discover that the pagoda only tops the glassed-in display (about 9' x 6' x 6' high) of George's Art Creche of Crete. Stopped in my tracks by the multitude of tiny things in the creche: a sea of light blue... are those aquarium stones?, the island of Crete made with towns, streets, bases, houses, small seedling plants, plastic cars, little white Christmas lights, seashells ranging from big impressive conches to tiny shells glued into the shape of letters, paper cocktail umbrellas, at least one plastic mermaid, many boats. Now I always thought Crete is pronounced "Creeet," but when we meet George, who is standing peaceably in the damp May dusk of his garden-ified Brooklyn driveway, he repeats "Cree-tee, Cree-tee" over and over as he tells us his version of the mythology of the first mermaid, the giants of Minos, the lost isle of Atlantis, how the creche won a contest in 2003 and was written up in newspapers and called "art" so now he calls it art, his career at Gucci (where he outfitted "Mr. Paul Newman, Mr. Frank Sinatra and Mrs. Frank Sinatra" as he proudly tells us more than one time) his family in Greece and Long Island and the special wine he has made from a mix of the varieties of grapes he grows right there trailing over his garage. He shows us more and more about the Creche, all detailed and small: a rainbow and clouds you have to duck down to see up to, the waterfalls he can switch on and the sprinkling rain ceiling system with which he can water the plants. One time he purchased a number of butterflies which he let loose over Crete. They took beautiful photographs, but he forgot to close the hand-cut window vents and overnight they escaped.

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