What’s New in Pleasantville?

Pleasantville Astrology opens for business on February 1st 2024. And we are running an Opening Special.

Pleasantville is a very fine town in Westchester, north of New York City. It has a great transport link in the shape of the Metro North (Harlem Line) railway and it takes a manageable fifty minutes to get to Grand Central. So is it a dormitory town for commuters working in the city? Only up to a point.

The town of Pleasantville links to the great NYC, but it has its own vibe, its own virtues. The Jacob Burns Film Center is a flagship point of focus. The Burns has a creative programming policy, they show the most interesting of the latest commercial releases and they combine that with quasi-obscure indie movies from international sources. There are quiet dramas, niche documentaries, quirky comedies, and if you’re a member you get free popcorn on a Wednesday.

It could have gone another way … The property now occupied by the Burns was being eyed by a chain clothing store, and the word is that the popular vote would have gone that way, but a single elected representative stuck out and stuck up for film art. The town is better for it. Because it’s a destination. 

Wheeler Avenue has one of every kind of restaurant; Asian fusion (Actually 2 of them), a Pizza place, one of three in the wider municipality with one more on the way; a couple of delis, a trattoria, a micro brewery, a steak house, a fish and chip shop (alas now closed; I cried; it’s a British thing), and more delis sprinkled around corners, a sushi place, a Southern kitchen, an unusual meld of French and Indian (You don’t believe it? Catch a train up here and I’ll show you). And you can get tacos and take-out. But there’s more.

Of the seven emporiums selling alcoholic refreshment there is one advanced establishment which serves Irish Whiskey aged in Guinness casks (think of it!?!).

And there are five denominations amongst the churches; Catholic, Presbyterian, Methodist, Lutheran and Episcopalian, plus a synagogue, oh six if you count the Korean place now closed which has turned its grounds into a community garden and a place to do al fresco yoga in the summer. At the Presbyterian church they host a FREE chamber music performance from top-notch musicians, four times a year.

There are three or four dry cleaners, a gym, two nail salons and a car dealership. But there are only three national chains (Dunkin’, Starbucks, 711 ) and they nestle a real live coffee shop where you can borrow a book, or take it home, or leave one for someone else. There is a farmer’s market every week. Fresh fish, all kinds of produce, cheeses to sample on friendly plates, bakers, Tibetan steamed dumplings, grass fed beef. There is a vegan food-to-go spot too, where you can get wheatgrass shots and an excellent mulligatawny soup. They have a bicycle shop here, and there are dentists and psychologists should you need them.

Pleasantville Community Television produces an eclectic mix of local small screen stuff. There’s a swimming pool. And don’t forget the Norman Rockwell type diner, glistening in chrome and marble in Memorial Plaza. A car mechanic. An opportunity shop. There’s more … The Jean Jaques bakery in its third generation makes amazing quiches. You can buy lottery tickets at one of the four gas stations. I only ever do so when the jackpot reaches nine figures, after all, you’ve got to have a reason to cross the road.

We have a barber, three or four hairdressing salons, three vintners and a supermarket. There is a volunteer fire department, and every now and then someone over there sounds a base-note klaxon which is reminiscent of an elephant farting. (Not that I’ve ever heard an elephant fart.)

One town down the track, the aptly named Valhalla boasts a magnificently landscaped cemetery of several hundred acres with a pond and ornamental trees. Al Hirschfeld’s last remains rest there, as do Danny Kaye’s.

One town over towards the three thousand acres of semi-wild managed woodland that is the Rockefeller Preserve, is the village of Pocantico Hills where the Union Church (another denomination) boasts half a dozen stained glass windows by Chagall, with a Rose Window by Matisse. The Preserve itself was a sanctuary during the lockdown, Trish and I walked there in all seasons. At Pocantico there is an internationally known restaurant called Stone Barns – it wasn’t known to me, and when I asked if there was a table for two for lunch, the charming lady on the door told me that bookings for lunch were running on a six month waiting list.

There’s a great library.

The Pleasantville schools are sought after. Young and growing families move here from urban pressure-cooker situations where micro spaces go for late-capitalism macro rents.

There’s a theatre too. Arc Stages is in the middle of a capital campaign to raise funds to improve the space. Lots of town kids want to act, so there’s a youth group that supports them, and a couple of times a year the season is sprinkled with Equity members. Usually theatre economics means that the Equity shows are limited to two-handers, but they are balanced by the community shows which boast big casts.

There’s a yearly music festival and there’s a table tennis centre run by a man – the only one I’ve ever met – who designed his own degree at college – the puzzle master of the New York Times and beyond, Will Shortz.

Not far away in Chappaqua there is a walk in the woods that takes you up to a cascading waterfall. And there is a maze.

If ever there was a town which lives up to it’s name it’s this one. Pleasantville. I remember reading about Smallville where Superman came from (after Krypton) when I was a boy in England. Now I wonder if the super-hero equivalent  here is the lady who runs one of the last physical bookshops in the county. It’s just not the same buying online is it?

All kinds of goods and services are available here in Pleasantville. There was a dojo where I did T’ai Chi for a little while. Sadly it fell out of service in the lockdown. But the town is thriving. In Memorial Plaza, where flags wave, a recently completed new apartment building with 70 or more deluxe places with deluxe rents has just opened for business.

Parking is an issue. I mean in civic terms. At town meetings there is spirited discussion on parking. I say nothing. Except, if you want to do parking, try it in north-west London, UK. That’s parking.

And in the Black Cow coffee shop you’ll find copies of Natural Awakenings, the holistic listings directory. Holistic dentistry, divorce counseling, Reiki, nutrition, yoga, and more.

And amidst all this variety and life. Was there an astrologer available in Pleasantville? 

There is now. 

Take a look:

Pleasantville Astrology
42 Memorial Plaza, Suite 131, 2nd floor