Blog thots about New York City
By Jim Watson
A last-minute week in NYC
Above: Zucotti Park, former home of Occupy Wall Street. Below: Bowling Green - the birds were taking public baths in the puddle.
Above: Gehry NY, a tall residential tower by City Hall. Below: MoMA sunlight and looking up at the AIA Gallery.
A somewhat crappy exhibit, but nice atrium at the Guggenheim.
Shots from tours of City Hall and Madison Square Park.
Frank Gehry's second building in Manhattan
New York by Gehry, the tallest residential tower in the Americas, in the Financial District of Lower Manhattan.
His first building in NYC: the offices of IAC Management, between the Hudson River and the HiLine park:
The new Camper store in SoHo
Branding (an attitude in the viewer's mind) of a product, company, or store can be achieved in many ways. In this store in SoHo in New York City, the entire store is exploited to reinforce the brand name and logo. The corporate logotype, layout, and color are exploited as the interior theme.
Above: Viewed from the street or upon entering, the customer sees very little merchandise - the dominant element is the wall with the brand logo and colors. But, after walking in a few feet, the eye is drawn back to that red wall which has now become a cover for the shelves of display shoes.
Below: The wall opposite of the shelves consists of sliding mirrors that fill the blank walls between the windows. The mirrors slide open to reveal storage closets. The back wall, behind the green counter is also mirrored, creating almost an effect of looking into infinity.
A few January days in NYC
I wanted to experience a 2013 Presidential Inauguration (story and fotos). Instead of staying in an expensive hotel in DC, I took the train from New York. Bonus: I got to spend the rest of a week in Manhattan.
Chess at Union Square. Towers, including the Flatiron Building, at Madison Square.
I had recently downloaded the Rio version of Angry Birds and, as usual, was somewhat obsessed with freeing the innocent caged birds. I took a break to go up to Union Square to get afternoon coffee. I looked up from my table - see what was painted on the truck on the street? Those dang birds. The fotos are of two Starbux: Union Square on the left and Battery Park on the right.
Below: Sunset over South Cove by the apartment. Lady Liberty is tucked between the tree trunk and the lamppost on the left.
Light sculpture in Madison Square Park
After buying some stain at Home Depot - I needed to seal and protect the wooden chairs on my balcony - I was walking along 23rd Street to the subway stop at the Flatiron Building. As I approached Madison Square Park, I couldn't help but notice the glowing geodesic ball in the park. Inspired by the work of Buckminster Fuller, Buckyball by Leo Villareal applies concepts of geometry and mathematical relationships within a towering 30-foot tall, illuminated sculpture. Buckyball features two nested, geodesic sculptural spheres with 180 LED tubes arranged in a series of pentagons and hexagons. Individual pixels located every 1.2 inches along the tubes are each capable of displaying 16 million distinct colors and will be specifically tuned by the artist's own software, creating a subtle and sophisticated palette. Link to more info.
A small fraction of the people using the subway system in NYC:
Two of the very best shows I've seen on Broadway
The new Disney musical Newsies about the newsboy strike against Joseph Pulitzer in 1899. I place Newsies in the top tier of current Broadway musicals, with Phantom of the Opera, The Lion King, Wicked, and The Book of Mormon.
Evita with Ricky Martin, is about the rise to power of the First Lady of Argentina, Eva Peron.
New, but more enjoyable, weight loss plan
I have been trying to eat healthy and lose some weight. This was dinner at the Doughnut Plant in the Chelsea Hotel on 23rd in NYC: Tres Leches (half-eaten) and Peanut Butter & Banana.
The hottest ticket on Broadway since it opened in March 2011, The Book of Mormon was conceived, written, and scored by the creators of South Park and Avenue Q, it tells the story of two young Mormon missionaries sent to a remote village in Uganda, where a brutal warlord is threatening the local population. Naïve and optimistic, the two missionaries try to share the Book of Mormon - which only one of them knows very well - but have trouble connecting with the locals, who are more worried about war, famine, poverty, and AIDS than about religion. In desperation, the more ignorant missionary (and with a more active imagination) makes up stories, things the people want to hear, and they become interested and choose to be baptized. The show ends with yet another new religion, one based on those made-up stories.
Granted, it is so easy to make jokes about the Mormon Church: Golden plates - that no one ever saw - buried in a backyard in upstate New York, men who can become Gods and rule their own planet, sacred underwear, men with multiple wives, and more. Even though the Mormon God cursed some people by giving them dark skin, in 1978, the Mormon Prophet got a new revelation from God that Black people were okay, after all.
The parallel to today's ChristRepublican Party is clear - if you lie and tell people what they want to hear to support their pre-existing biases, you will gain ardent followers.
The musical was hilarious and very entertaining.
Fall Break in New York City
During my escape (from the election madness) to New York City, I was eager to check out a temporary art exhibit at Columbus Circle. The artist, Tatzu Nishi, is known for his installations that give access to our urban environment that radically alter our perceptions. For his first public project in the United States, Nishi focused on the historic statue of Christopher Columbus at the southwest corner of Central Park.
Nishi built a fully decorated living room around the colossal 13-foot-tall statue of Columbus that stands atop a 75 foot granite column. The statue was unveiled in 1892 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Columbus's first voyage to the Americas. Despite its prominent public location, the statue is visible only as a silhouette against the sky or at a distance from surrounding buildings.
Discovering Columbus was quite Dadaistic in that it forced the viewer participant to see a standard NYC statue icon in a whole new way - a new context, a new orientation, and a new experience.
Nishi even designed wallpaper inspired by memories of American popular culture, having watched Hollywood movies and television as a child in Japan.
The exhibit was sponsored by the Public Art Fund. In their logo, on the left, is a unique treatment of text only, forming an arrow pointing up, possibly to suggest that experiencing art is uplifting and a contributor to growth and aesthetic enlightenment.
Notice the point where the three words are in close proximity - the inside corner. If the words were spaced evenly (in the middle), the arm of the T would prevent the vertical stroke of the T from tucking under FUND. There is then a trapped awkward space formed by the T and FU in FUND. One solution would be to make a ligature of the T and F, tightening up that space (on the right). But that creates an awkward clunky letterform. The logo designer wisely separated the words into sections thereby creating a square dot that sits in the corner as a focus. That dot serves as the barb in the logo to provide uniqueness and memorability.
One of my most eccentric habits
I had spent much of a day wandering through the massive Museum of Modern Art. I took a break for an afternoon meal at Terrace 5, one of three eateries in the museum.
After a meal of salmon bruschetta, shrimp noodle salad, and an apple cobbler sundae, I arranged the unbussed items in this straight line. The order and alignment felt right at home in the museum.
I spent an afternoon in Central Park, talking over the nation's ills with Seth.
Below: Panorama of Union Square on a cool October afternoon.
Photos of my August trip to NYC
The beginning of the fall semester was approaching. Uh oh, I better get out of town. Watching the Olympics made me long for a trip to a cosmopolitan city. I needed a NYC fix.
The new WTC Tower as seen from the dog park by the apartment. In Battery Park, sits the sphere that used to be on the WTC Plaza. It is about to be moved (maybe just put into storage) and there is much discussion about moving it back to the WTC site. Some (including Mayor Bloomberg) feel there should be no signs of destruction on the Memorial site. Others (myself included) feel there should be - as a tangible reminder of the historic site. On a lighter note: the solid concrete building in the background on the left served as the Headquarters for the Men in Black.
A sunny afternoon in Bryant Park. A shot of a couple of tired tourists.
South Cove by the apt. My lunch at the Met - a delicious salmon salad overlooking Central Park.
The boardwalk and beach at Coney Island. I was there in 2006 - it was time to get back to the ocean. More fotos and stories here.
The NY Public Library had an excellent exhibition on Lunch. Included was this original section from a Horn & Hardart Automat - put a nickel in the slot, turn the knob, and retrieve your item. These were all over Manhattan in the 1950-70s. There are none left. The Library's website.
While in the library, I spotted these relics - phone booths, with pay phones. These may become obsolete. Although, I hope the concept of a booth in which to make phone calls comes back. Wouldn't it be great if people were considerate enough to step into a soundproofed enclosure when speaking on their cell phones.
Scenes from June trip to New York City
A War of 1812 circular fort with the skyline above. The esplanade along Governor's Island.
The skyline of lower Manhattan. 1 World Trade Center reaching up and to its right, 5 World Trade Center under construction.
Through the windows at the Museum of Modern Art. South Cove in Battery Park City. The WTC Sphere with the new 1WTC tower rising in the back. MiB headquarters is the solid building with the US flag.
The Shuttle passing the Statue
Last week, on its way to its new permanent home at the Intrepid Museum in New York City.
Scenes from the March trip to New York City
The largest Apple Store opened recently in Grand Central Terminal on 42nd in New York City. The Terminal prohibited too much altering of the historic structure, so Apple kept the store very minimal - the Terminal stone walls and marble floors. Apple moved in their standard store fixtures and furniture and mounted some signs on the walls and in glass pylons on the floor. The Genius Bar, One-on-One classrooms, and accessories are each in separate rooms, some beneath the globe chandeliers in the background.
Trivia, Part 2. Grand Central is named a Terminal because the train lines terminate (end) at that location. Penn Station is a station because the lines pass through (under) the facility. It is a station on the rail line, Grand Central is a terminal.
Nice use of the mirror at MoMA. A symptom that shows that the designer considered the location where the slogan signs would be mounted. As all designers should - the surrounding environment is an integral factor in the success of any design project. The other sign was directing museum visitors and bathroom users to download the MoMA app. I served on a focus group that tested a beta test version of the new app. I enjoyed the opportunity to provide some input and suggestions on how to improve the app.
I had read about the Doughnut Plant on 23rd Street, at the base of the Chelsea Hotel. Had to try it. The filled peanut butter and banana was my favorite.
People do lots of things while riding the subway, but this was the first time I had seen someone open up and use their laptop.
Occupy Wall Street
This quote from Adbusters says it well: Our system of economic growth, of ineffective democracy, of overloading planet earth, of unfettered corporate greed plus a trillion dollar ad industry urging us to consume ever more - this system, our system - is in the process of eating itself alive.
Negro Burial Ground
During construction for another Federal Building in 1991, some graves were discovered. It was a part of a much larger burial ground used by African immigrants to early America. An estimated 15,000 Negroes were buried at the site until it was closed in 1794 when the land was divided and sold as lots. in 1992, 419 graves were dug up, researched, and reburied at the site and a memorial and National Park Visitor's Center was established. Well worth a visit - fascinating stories, artifacts, and the very well-executed visitor's center is free. Website.
New entry to the flagship NYC Apple Store
Steve Jobs had explored extensive use of glass, beginning with the staircase in the factory for NeXT Computers. When he Returned to Apple, he took the glass fetish with him. It is now a trademark icon of the Apple Stores. Steve was never quite satisfied with the glass cube at the entrance to the store on Fifth Avenue by Central Park and the Plaza Hotel - it had too many panes. In the fall of 2011, the cube was removed and a new one, with fewer panes, was installed.
Critics and advisors told him to not invest in retail stores - Apple only had a few gadgets and computers on sale, why store? People said there wouldn't be enough traffic to justify the expense. The store is open 24 hours and often has to use queue lines outside the store to manage the crowds. All of the product info is now on iPads.
An evening at the Metropolitan Opera
I love music by Philip Glass. I first heard it while watching Koyaanisqatsi in the 1980s. Mesmerizing. I had been hoping to catch a Glass concert in NYC, but they never coincided with my visits there. This fall, The Metropolitan Opera produced one of his operas, Satyagraha. Great. A Glass opera at the Met. I'm not a huge opera fan (heck, I'm not even a small opera fan), but The Met and Philip Glass. Gotta do it. It was a fun evening. People were really dressed up. I no longer have dress-up clothes so I wore a white dress shirt and khaki slacks. I felt a bit self-conscious, so I walked up to the upper levels where the cheaper seats were. People up here looked more like me. Aah, I could fit in a bit better. Right before curtain time, I walked back down to the dressy sections and took my seat. It was a long opera: 8p - 11:50p, with 2 30-minute intermissions. During the first, I bought a delicious sandwich of smoked salmon and cream cheese on pumpernickel bread. I took it outside and sat under some trees and enjoyed my dinner at the Met.
Astor Place lightpoles
This is a great area of Manhattan. It is between NYU and Washington Square and the East Village. Going off in one direction is St. Mark's Place where Jimi Hendrix played and Madonna lived. To the south is Cooper Union, both the original classic building where Abe Lincoln spoke and the new building where the Herb Lubalin Study Center is located. Nearby are McSorley's Bar and Bill Graham's Fillmore East concert hall. Milton Glaser did huge murals down below in the Astor Place subway station. It is a center of creativity in the busy city. Here are light poles ablaze in bright colors. Simply cable ties wrapped around the poles.
Holiday trip to New York City, December 2010 - January 2011
The tree at Rockefeller Center. Inside St. Patrick's Cathedral.
Update on progress at the World Trade Center
The building under construction is One World Trade Center. As of December, 2010, it is up to 52 stories and 3 lower floors have the reflective glass skin installed. In the foreground is the dog park by my apartment building, which is to the left.
Rendering of the site, testing the water in one of the Memorial fountains.
One World Trade Center.
Planting the 'Survivor Tree' from the original site, other trees planted as part of the memorial plaza. December 2010
Interesting signage in SoHo June 23 2010
Art, a car, and a tart in the park
i was enjoying the latest art project in Madison Square Park: Event Horizon by Antony Gormley. Numerous life-size statues perched on tops of buildings overlook the city. It was fun to seek them out and very dramatic to see these characters out of place. There was a crowd gathering so i asked what was going on - Carmen Electra was going to shave guys' chests as part of a promotion for a Norelco shaver. Carmen Electra? Damn, i felt so old - i thought Carmen Electra was a Buick. Seriously.
i was too embarrassed to ask anyone there (who all seemed quite excited over the prospect of seeing this Electra person . . or car). It wasn't until i got home later that i researched her: born Tara Leigh Patrick, married to Dennis Rodman, Playboy model, and movie star who got her start in the chorus line at an amusement park in Ohio.
But, back to the park. i decided i better stick around to see the eventness of a celebrity with an entourage. i was standing in a prime spot - i purposefully got back by where i assumed they would lead her up on to the temporary stage. i didn't care about seeing the guys getting shaved, i wanted to see a star in the city. She is quite stunning, i could see why Rodman wanted to pork her and why she was a bunny, and why guys in the park were so excited. May 2010
Michael Jackson Memorial at the Apollo Theater The media trucks continued around the corner and up the next block. The line of people continued the other direction, also around the corner and up a couple of blocks. 125th Street was closed to all traffic but buses and emergency vehicles. The photo below on the right is from the newspaper.
1967: Joe Jackson drove his sons from Indiana to the Apollo Theater so they could perform during amateur night at the famous Apollo in Harlem. They had very little money. He wasn't even sure where they would spend the night. The youngest of the Jackson 5 was Michael, 9 years old. They performed and won. The Apollo wanted them to come back but the Jacksons couldn't afford it. Soon after, Diana Ross saw them perform and she introduced them to the rest of us. The Tuesday after Michael died on Thursday, the Apollo Theater held an open house memorial from 2pm - 8pm. It was part respectful memorial, part party and celebration, and part shopping mall. I went to participate in the event. Michael Jackson's music formed much of the background soundtrack for me in the 1980s. Larry Lewis, one of my high school students, treated me to a ticket to the Victory Tour concert at Texas Stadium in 1984. It was a phenomenal concert. MJ can wow a crowd. Even in death.
Facts: 1. MJ was acquitted - found innocent - of all charges in one of the 2 child molestation charges.
2. The other case was settled out of court to avoid the negative publicity.
3. The mother of 2 of his kids, his family, and friends have all emphatically stated that Michael is not a pedophile.
There is no evidence that he molested anyone. There is precedent, however, that some adults will exploit celebrity millionaires to get money.
4. He did not 'dangle' his baby off that balcony. He had a firm grip around the child. Dangle is the term the media used to sensationalize the event and millions of gullible viewers bought it, without thinking that it was the wrong term. I wonder how the media would report it when dads toss their kids up, "Father abandons child in air" or "Dad lets go of child in mid-air."
Michael Jackson had an unusual childhood, a domineering father, success as a star at the age of 9, etc. Of course, he's going to be eccentric. But what talent. An incredible entertainer. And a great humanitarian. July 1 2009
An accurate recreation of Henry Hudson's ship, the Half Moon sailed up the Hudson River on a overcast day. While he was British, he made this exploratory excursion for the Dutch East India Company. i June 7 2009
Spent a great day on Long Island: Sagamore Hill, the home of Teddy Roosevelt, lunch of fried clams while sitting outside and sharing stories with a local Islander, and the beach above. Beau, a UCO grad and Battery Park City naber, messaged about taking a train trip on Memorial Day. I replied that I had my car, so we drove. (Fotos by Beau) i June 2 2009
So, Thursday evening of spring break, I was wandering around Times Square. I had gone to get a ticket to 39 Steps, a funny comedy; I decided not to and, instead, just walked around with the flow of the crowds. I went into the Marriott hotel to use the bathroom. When I came out, there was a small crowd across the street, right at the end of Shubert Alley, next to a couple of Broadway theaters. Several men held shoulder mounted video cameras and others had some 35mm cameras with pretty good-sized lens. I stopped to see what was going on. Two of the people in the crowd moved towards me and stood right in front of me, within inches. I was a bit baffled. I looked at their faces. One was Matthew Broderick. The other was Sarah Jessica Parker, his wife. I looked down at her scalp - she is a short woman. They both looked sad. There were a few other people near us that I recognized. Very familiar faces, including her mother, Vanessa Redgrave. Then it occurred to me what was likely going on. They were friends of Natasha Richardson who had just died. As I learned later that night, the lights of Broadway theaters were dimmed for one minute in honor of the actress. This group was standing at the best place in Manhattan to see the most theaters. There are about 6 or 8 theaters within sight of the spot where we were. I suspect the lights were dimmed while I was inside the Marriott. Then a tall man came up and hugged Sarah (is it Sarah or Sarah Jessica?) She whispered, "Thank you, Liam. How are you?" Liam Neeson, Natasha's husband. He, too, was sad. "15 years." He kept saying, fifteen years - they were married in 1994. The crowd of celebs took turns hugging and kissing him. One of the well-known faces asked him what he was going to do now. He said he was going to an Irish bar and get a drink. "You know, a traditional Irish wake." Broderick asked him where. He wasn't sure. This was going on all around me. I just stood still, right in the middle while we were circled by the photographers. The footage was aired on the news later that night. With one goofy looking Okie right in the middle. One videographer bumped over and around me - probably hoping that I would move. I didn't. I was tempted to pull out my iPhone and snap some pictures but I didn't want to look like the other tourists around who were sticking their phone cameras into our circle. Liam gave a few more hugs then walked off down Shubert Alley with a friend. The photographers didn't follow him. They left him alone. i 45th Street, Times Square, 8:10pm, March 19 2009
Me and some drunk passerby, club patron, or vice cop - I just don't remember. Curiously, it looks like we're singing something. Jim taking a short nap on 42nd Street.
To respond to numerous requests for more information about the Lace strip club in New York City (8th Avenue, just north of 42nd Street):
• Yes, you might get special treatment if you mention my name. That can range from a waived cover charge to a stud discount in one of the back rooms. However, if you do mention my name, be aware that they know me only as Rod Thrustenberger.
• In the reference above, I mistyped - Lace is not a strip club, its a Gentleman's Club or Gentlemen's Club (its spelled both ways on the signs in the foto). As far as I can tell, a Gentlemen's Club is just a strip club with better cocktail glasses.
• Please keep in mind, I was there only to assess the design of the Lace logo (as seen on the awning canopy in the foto). Anything I know about what goes on inside is only from stories I've read and heard. BTW: the logo is awesomely superb. I think.
While in New York City for fall break, I spent several hours at the Museum of Modern Art. I took a break at the Terrace Cafe on the fifth floor and looking out on a spectacular fall day in Manhattan. I had a lunch of bread, coffee, and organic deviled eggs: black caviar, pickled red onions, and herb creme fraiche. I don't usually eat caviar (hardly ever) but I love deviled eggs and splurged on this. They were delicious. I ate all but one before I decided I better get a picture of a caviar deviled egg. The foto on the right is how I stacked my dishes for the server. i October 7
Wall Street 2008. Even though it took quite a beating this fall, the street looks festive for the holidays. Normally a large flag is draped in front of the NY Stock Exchange, but it is replaced by lights around the columns for the holiday season. Christmas, with its excessive shopping and spending, is now truly a patriotic American holiday. The tree is about 6 stories tall, but the Do Not Enter sign is not 3 stories tall, as shown here. i December 13
Note how the newer buildings on the left respect the older buildings with the alignment of the ornamentation bands.
Across 5th avenue from the Met. Downtown in the Financial District.
A bad location for a memorial sign On the left is a foto of the ventilation grates for the Battery Park tunnel that connects West Street to the FDR drive (the orange sign details some upcoming construction in the park). The sign on the fence, however, states 'Korean War Veterans Memorial'. If you look real closely in the right foto, off in the distance among the trees, you can just barely make out the Korean Memorial - a cut-out silhouette of a soldier. The sign clearly suggests that the Korean War memorial is a large ventilation grate in the grass. There has to be a more appropriate and respectful place for the sign that would still grab the attention of tourists walking by but more accurately direct people to the memorial.
One weekend in I decided I would be quite decadent and act like a tourist kid. Just to have fun. I went to 42nd street between 7th and 8th Avenues. This area was notorious in the 1970s and 80s for being the epicenter of porno theaters and sleaze shops. True story: In 1981, I was leading a study tour and we stopped at the corner of 42nd and 8th Avenue. I told each student to be careful but to notice what goods might be offered to them as we walked the one block to 7th Avenue. I polled the group - every single student had been offered drugs, sex, or both. Fortunately not one of them accepted the enticements. Soon after, the city of New York set out to clean up 42nd Street. Disney was lured in to renovate one of the theaters (the New Amsterdam) and the other theaters were slowly reverting back to legitimate uses, one porno is now even a children's theater. 42nd Street is alive with fun amusements, restaurants, and shops (if you're interested, some of the sex trade moved around the corner to 8th Avenue.) There are 2 movie complexes - one with 13 screens and the other with 25 for a total of 38 screens on this one block of 42nd Street. But I went there to see the 3 amusements pictured above.
A Chorus Line(an excellent show) at 2pm. That was enough time to be amazed by what had been collected and displayed in the Odditorium. After the show, I went back to the 'Amusement Park' and had an early dinner at Applebee's - the appetizer sampler. Dawg, it was good. Then on to Dave & Busters to play some arcade games. But, shoot, I couldn't find Pong, Frogger, or Asteroids. Not only did I not recognize the new games, I couldn't even pronounce the names of some of them. I asked an attendant if that had any good old pinball machines. "Pin-what?" Apparently they didn't. I finally found a game more my speed - one where you shoot coins onto a pile and when the mechanism pushes some of them into a trough, you win. This I could play. I did and I won. I actually got to where it was enjoyable and fun to play. I took my winning tickets (shown below) to the in-house store and bought some tacky crap. I had played so long, it was time to go home and walk the dogs. But I went back on Sunday to see Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum. This was even better than Ripleys. Spooky likenesses, so realistic - more than once I got caught off guard expecting a figure to move or turn and look at me. The settings and info cards were also very well done. After that I went back to D &B, this time to play Trivia. I kicked butt. People would stop playing because I kept winning the rounds. It was a great weekend. And look at all the shit I won.
'Push the coins over the edge' game. Some of the tickets I won at the coin push game.
The Trivia game. I sat at chair number 4 - my lucky number. The crap I bought with my winnings: 2 interesting books on Ripley's oddities, a black push-button fart machine, 5 sets of green train track layouts with 5 wind-up cars and trucks, Homer and Bart dolls for the dogs, and 124 squooshy-spiky balls.
"Where's my face. Everybody stand still. Don't take a step. I can't find my face." Fortunately, two older men and one really wrinkly old lady calmed me down and told me it was hiding behind that ugly thing between my ears. Whew. There it is, right where I had left it. You never know when it might come in handy. Like when you have to eat or blow your nose. Think how hard either of those tasks would be if you had truly lost your face. Thinking that I had better get out of the garden, I headed inside to the gift shop. One of the security guards snickered as I went by. "Yes, I'm wearing shorts!" (Snickered sure is a silly word - snickered.) In the gift shop I bought a t-shirt, not because I needed it but because I was tipsy and this is America where we just buy stuff. I also tried on some cologne but because the bottle was facing the wrong way (or the right way if you were standing behind me and a bit to the left) I sprayed again. Oops, too much. It was a scent called 'At the beach' and it smelled just like Coppertone suntan lotion. So now, too much to drink, I smell like Coppertone, and I'm in line to buy a t-shirt that I don't need. Damn. The guy behind me took a step farther back and told his wife that it smelled like suntan lotion in here (Hey, it was a Garden Party). I suspect he, like many of the men there, was jealous that I was wearing shorts. June 20
The garden behind the Cooper-Hewitt with Central Park just beyond. People simply refused to obey the signs. Or maybe they thought that since they didn't have a flat geometric black hand, the sign didn't apply to them.
The wine was very good. The snacks sucked. This man in the awful green sportcoat tried to distract us with that way-too-big blue hat. It had already knocked down the guy in the blue shirt. And, as I found out later, the security guard to the left is escorting him to a nearby store that offers complimentary hat alterations.
Even the kids were in long pants. People, its a fuckin garden party. Since these women are each looking in a different direction, I assume they are bored with each other's company, have had too much to drink, are struggling with botched botox treatments, or a combination of any two or more of the previous options.
Easter in New York: I thought St. Patrick's Cathedral might be all decked out, so after my morning coffee at Starbucks in Union Square, I subbed up to Fifth Avenue and the Cathedral. As I approached from a block away I noticed the side street was barricaded. Sup with that? When I got to Fifth, the street was packed with people. An Easter parade (I thought that was just a movie)? protests? street fair? alien probing seminar? Nope, just a bunch of people doing New York. Then after I noticed the second and third outlandish hat extravaganzas, I realized people had spent time and money making spectacular Easter Bonnets and they were just parading and showing them off. Others were snapping pictures and touring the various millinery creations. It was a beautiful day. I never did get inside the Cathedral cuz the line was too long for the next service but I was spiritually inspired by the funky hats. i April 2006 and 2008
While riding on the subway, a woman got on with a large trash bag full of something soft - maybe clothes. Even though there were several empty seats, she scrunched her bag and set it on her lap so she wouldn't take up two seats. People were leaving the seat next to her empty, thinking she might want to set the bag there. But she never did. She was so considerate and mindful of her space and the needs of others. I couldn't help but watch this sweet woman. She also had a very nice smile to go along with her demeanor. I was somewhat envious - this woman, with her big load, still managed to be polite, courteous, and considerate of others. I so wanted to say something to her but i couldn't think of the right thing to say. I thought i would at least tell her she had a nice smile. But then my station approached and a crowd came between me and her as i stood to get off. Another opportunity missed. How often i wish i had acted on my impulses. March 24
A herd of tired art lovers at the Museum of Modern Art.
At the Macy's Flower Show was a large paint brush with green bristles and paint of flowers. Below is a model of the Macy's store made out of twigs and bark.
It was overwhelming. The colors, the sweet aroma everywhere, the arrangements. It was one of the most beautiful events I have experienced. It is a week-long event with activities and presentations. And lots of people. I shot the above fotos (of phlowers?) with my iPhone so the resolution doesn't quite do justice for the plants. March 22
The New Museum in its new building in its new location between SoHo and the Lower East Side.
A somewhat hidden narrow stairway that is an architectural delight. Wall graphics next to the elevator - a neat way to show the directory of the building and the floor where one is currently.
Edgar Tafel was one of Frank Lloyd Wrights apprentices at Wright's Taliesin school in Wisconsin. When Wright was commissioned to build Fallingwater in the forested countryside outside of Pittsburgh, he assigned 3 apprentices to oversee the design and construction of the house. Edgar was 24 years old at that time (he was born in 1912.) Well, I went to his 95th birthday celebration at the AIA (American Institute of Architects) Gallery near SoHo/Village. But not too impressive since I had no idea who Edgar Tafel was until I held the door open for him and his caretaker. I was going to the AIA to see 2 films about Fallingwater, one of which starred Edgar. The birthday party was just a nice surprise - it turned out to be pretty neat. One of the films was a reunion of the three apprentices talking about the building of Fallingwater; the other was about the process of rebuilding the cantilevered terrace that juts out over Bear Run Creek. A fun, educational, and inspiring evening out in the city. March 20 2007
Bodies The Exhibition was much better than I expected. Wow, eerie and fascinating. Bodies are immersed in acetone, which eliminates all body water, then placed in a large bath of silicone/polymer and sealed in a vacuum chamber - the acetone leaves the body in the form of gas and the polymer replaces it, entering each cell and body tissue. A catalyst is then applied to the specimen to harden it. It was very educational - seeing how complex the inner workings, billions of cells each doing their specific task, day after day for decades. Makes me tired thinking how much work they do. Weblink i March 23 2007
The Brooklyn Museum and sculptures by Ron Mueck (rhymes with Buick). A London-based photo-realist artist, he worked in special effects for Jim Henson's Muppet movies and the film Labyrinth. Mueck then made models to be photographed for advertisements. Now he uses resin and fiberglass to create his own artwork. And they are astonishing - the detail, the emotion, the eerie presence. The sleeping head is 3 feet tall, the brooding figure is 7 feet tall. One expects them to breathe, snore, blink - any sign that they are not mere sculptures. The super-realism and the awe at the technique of sculpting and producing such large and detailed figures is what viewing great art is about - it allows us to transcend the norm and the expected into an imaginary realm of possibilities. i January 1 2007
A Chinese New Year Holiday Spectacular. I saw an ad in the paper and thought it could be cool. So, I went. It was half cool - it was a vaudeville style collection of acts, both western and eastern. About half of the acts allowed me to take a nap while the other half were fascinating, including a Chinese drum dance and a fan dance. Overall, it was fun to experience rituals, music, costumes, and dances from another culture. The narration and the program were bilingual and much of the audience was Chinese. It was sponsored by New Tang Dynasty Television and performed in the 3,000-seat Beacon Theater on Broadway in the Upper West Side. Built as a naberhood vaudeville theater, the Beacon is quite opulent. i December 23 2006
There is now a serious police presence in downtown Manhattan - and not ordinary police, but these decked-out military style soldiers. There are also National Guard kids stationed throughout the city. Seeing these quasi-soldiers on street corners and in Grand Central reminds me of seeing soldiers in Egypt - a third-world, unstable government. This is the United States of America. What is going on? Is it paranoia? Security precautions? Overreaction? Have we yet acknowledged that terrorists have made a major impact on our culture and lifestyle? July 30 2006
Two interesting conversation phrases - almost everyone in New York City says Good morning instead of hello, hi, ugh, or any other morning greeting.
Also, I rarely ever hear No problem - its almost always You're welcome. July 12 2006
Summer 2006 with no television. Well, there is a television in the apartment but the antenna only picks up a slightly fuzzy educational station from New Jersey. To get good reception you have to subscribe to cable and I have yet to do that. It doesn't make sense for the few weeks that I would use it. But, okay, here's the real reason - I just hate the cables that are stapled along baseboards and over door trim to get to the television. The jack in this apt is on the opposite wall from the TV. I played with a different arrangement to get the TV by the jack but it just did not work as well. Anyway, a summer without television has been sorta nice. I can go down to the club room to watch the big screen as I have done a couple of times to watch Desperate Housewives, Boston Legal, and The Office. I am much more productive without the regimen of television and enjoy my evenings much more walking along the Hudson, talking with people, and interacting with the city instead of with equipment. I will see how much of this carries over when back in Oklahoma. I will try to watch less television. July 8 2006
I know that spending time in New York City is a privilege I would never have had if my parents had not sacrificed and saved and given to me and my brothers. I thank them every day. July 8 2006
I often see people looking at maps, looking at street signs, or just looking lost. I will go ask them if I can help them find something. I have yet to be stumped. In my naberhood there are many questions about the World Trade Center and how to get there - I guide them there and tell them about the exhibits and models of the memorial and new office towers that are on display. I guide people to subway lines, Brooklyn, Times Square, Little Italy, etc. Someone pointed out (while waiting on me to help some lost folks) that it is the teacher in me, wanting to help and guide people. I also wonder if it is the training I got for 4 summers while working at Six Flags to help guests. Whatever, I enjoy it. I want these tourists/visitors to have a good experience in New York and to not think all New Yorkers are abrupt and rude (I don't let on that I'm not really a New Yorker) More. July 8 2006
I wonder - are these guys 'undercover' security guards, scoping out the area, or are they on the lookout for a shoe store. July 8 2006
I talked to a woman today in Battery Park and she commented/assumed that I was a New Yorker. I nodded yes. It was the first time I had acknowledged the identity of being a New Yorker. Weird but sorta neat. July 8 2006
Part of the July 4th festivities in NYC was this 'concert' at the pier in Battery Park - it may be the worst attended performance ever. I'm hoping that this is the singer's mom and not just some woman waiting for the ferry. 2: The latest model of the recently begun Freedom Tower. July 5 2006
There is a subtle move that people (mainly males) do in New York City - I call it the Pocket Pat. Its to check, when leaving one's apartment, to make sure one has keys and phone in the pockets before the apartment door locks behind you. Its a quick movement to check for the bulges - simple pats on the pockets. May 19 2006
I was sitting at the Border's Books on 59th and Lexington (I had just come from seeing the Frank Gehry collection of jewelry at Tiffany's on Fifth Avenue). I was watching people meander around the store when one person approached this narrow passage, stood on the floor, and the floor moved. First it moved her forward about two feet (her feet didn't move) and then - and I'm not making this up - the floor she was standing on began to move up at an angle, like a staircase but she didn't have to climb the steps. By golly, she just stood there. What a great invention that is. You stand on the floor, don't move, and the floor takes you up to the next level. You just stand there. Holy cow. What's next - a small room that goes straight up and down? April 14 2006
Drove with Frank to upstate along the Hudson River. We stopped at a state park and climbed the Deco tower with great views of NYC on the horizon, saw Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, toured Franklin Roosevelt's estate of Hyde Park - saw the room from which some of the fireside chats were broadcast, deer in the back yard, and Russell Wright's ceramic studio
Spent some time with boring people - made me a bit uncomfortable and sad for them - how one can have so little enthusiasm in this great city. Really touching to see Yoko Ono up close - we passed each other during intermission. She got up onstage and danced to Give Peace a Chance at the end of the new musical Lennon.
Felt sorta useless until I started doing some serious writing on essays for the website. That was the original intent for having an apartment in NY - inspiration and focus on writing. Now, its happening. It is such a thrill to wait in a hot subway station, anticipating the air conditioned cars but hoping you won't have to stand in a crowd, then looking into the car as it pulls in and seeing three empty seats - room to sit with one on either side for breathing room. Glorious. August 2005
Two months and 5 days, 66 days total - my summer in New York City is coming to a close - for the moment; I will be back. This has been one of the best summers of my life. It ranks right up there with the 4 summers that I worked at Six Flags as a Ride Operator and the summer when I was 8 or 12 and I slept in my underwear so that in the morning I could simply step into my shorts (that were on the floor next to the bed) and a tee-shirt. I was ready to go play with my friends all day. Interrupted only by my mother calling me in for lunch and by my father who, after dark, came outside to tell us that "tomorrow would be another day" and to come in and get ready for bed. This summer, 2006, was as good as that. Even though my mom didn't prepare my lunch and my dad didn't remind me when to go to bed. But still, they are responsible for my being able to enjoy this summer so much. August 5 2006
Gettin' into the flow. There is a fluid energy that permeates the city - there is a beat, a rhythm, that should be tapped into. If not, its easy to bump into people, to be a nuisance, to be like a tourist. But, once the rhythm is established and one gets into that groove, once can navigate tight openings in crowds, cross streets without disrupting traffic.
So many people are plugged in - they've got headphones on - listening to all sorts of input. This headphone culture has developed a new etiquette. Communicating to people on the street (sales people, passersby) must be done non-verbally - a nod, a smile, mouthing 'No, thank you.' Hearing people is possible but one must work a bit harder to decipher what is being said. Talking to people with earphones on (the dangling wire is the clue) requires a bit more patience.
Listening to music on the iPod makes the entire environment seem a bit surreal. Sometimes the music fits the people, the pace, the activity. Sometimes it defies those things. Either way the music puts a unique twist on the reality of the here and now that is going on.
Sitting in the sun in Union Square. Listening to the Favorites playlist on iPod. Watching people. Got surreal. Time was altered, slowed down. Some were reading. Playing music. Sunning. Soliciting. Seeking petition signers. Cell phoning. Conversing.
Everyone seems to have a cell phone stuck to their face.
To slow down, stop, and sit, you have to put it on your to do list and make an effort to make it happen.
People move with a purpose - where are they going.
So many people - where are they coming from. And Why.
Sometimes there is just too much to do.
How many cups of coffee are served in one day.
How many pretzels.
Where is the Wal-Mart?
Music. Sound. Horns. Traffic.
Why does this big city attract people.
What is the draw.
Snapshots of people alone in the crowd.
Smell of fresh coffee, the river, hot 'everything' bagels.
Helicopters overhead overheard.
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