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Monday, May 31, 2010

Old Friends, in Alphabet City

Crossing the Street, Alphabet City
Photo by myself at Avenue B and East 10th Street, in Alphabet City.

The fellow on the left was helping his friend cross the street, yesterday. It was a sunny day. The city was quieter than usual due to the holiday weekend.

New York is not an easy town for older people. Walking down crowded flights of stairs to the subway is dangerous. Sidewalks are also unevenly paved, and the weather fluctuates between extremes. Most older people and those with disabilities take the bus, and stay within their neighborhoods.

I would love to speak to these two fellows. Alphabet City has only recently become a safe neighborhood. I'm guessing they have many war stories to tell.

Related posts: Older Birds, Fifth Avenue, On Tenement Life and Cable TV and The Jazzman, 34th Street.


Sunday, May 30, 2010

Old New York, on the Lower East Side

Lower East Side, NYC
Photo by myself at Orchard and Broome Streets, on the Lower East Side.

The Lower East Side is a neighborhood known for its old fashioned character. It has not succumbed to chain stores or Starbucks. Thank goodness.

Some streets are still paved neatly in cobblestone. Faded old signs mark textile stores that have existed for generations. Quirky new bars and restaurants have moved in, during the last several years.

Related posts: Meat Market, Ninth Avenue, Visions of a Cheeseburger, Midtown and Shoot the Freak, Coney Island.


Saturday, May 29, 2010

Soaring Above, the New York Times Tower

New York Times Building
Photo by myself of the New York Times Building, around 40th Street and 7th Avenue in the Garment District.

The sun was setting, and all the buildings were a mix of sepia tones against the blue sky.

The facade of the tower is made up of white porcelain tubes. The tubes form screens in front of glass curtain walls. The building has a nice amount of detail for passersby, while remaining distinct from faraway.

I took a closer photo of the front and signage here. Of course, people have tried to climb the tower. So far none have been successful.

Related posts: Climbing the Times, A Tale of Two Towers, the Chrysler and Empire State and The Rooftops on Central Park West.


Friday, May 28, 2010

Outside the Elizabeth Street Gallery, in SoHo

Elizabeth Street Gallery, SoHo
Photo by myself on Elizabeth and Prince Streets, in SoHo.

A grassy clearing is full of sculpture and architectural remnants, in the middle of SoHo.

This restful, quiet spot is home to the Elizabeth Street Gallery. All sorts of large, old and beautiful things can be found here, many of them salvaged from buildings in New York.

Need a pair of 19th century cast iron gargoyles? How about a 17th century safe that's in the shape of a wooden barrel? Or perhaps just a stately pair of 18th century Italian iron gates?

The gallery's brick warehouse had once been a bread factory. Now it's full of stuff. I haven't been inside, but judging from their website, it's a fascinating place to while away an afternoon.

Related posts: From the Corner Deli, in SoHo, Baked Fresh Daily, in SoHo and Down Broadway.


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Last Wash, Brooklyn

Last Wash, Brooklyn
Photo by myself in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

To most New Yorkers, a washing machine is a luxury item.

Trekking down the street with a bag of dirty laundry is a common urban experience. Most people pass their time at the laundromat by watching tv or reading. The fellow above looks to be plugged in.

Some New Yorkers splurge by dropping off their laundry to be washed (you are charged by the pound). I was never comfortable with someone else handling my underwear!

Dishwashers are luxury items too, but washing dishes by hand is a whole lot easier than washing clothes.

Related posts: On the Pricelessness of New York Delis, A Work in Progress, Midtown and On Rain and Baseball.


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Is it Art? on the Lower East Side

A bike cozy, on the Lower East Side
Photo by myself on Essex and Rivington Streets, on the Lower East Side.

Not the greatest photo, but one I just had to show you. Someone with a lot of time and yarn on their hands made either a bike warmer, or a work of art.

I have to wonder what the non-covered bike thought to itself. Was it jealous? or relieved its owner doesn't have knitting needles?

Related posts: Tied Up, Scooby Doo, in the West Village and Strange Skies Above Sunset Park, Brooklyn.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Sand Artist, in Washington Square Park

Joe Mangrum, Washington Sq. Park
Photo by myself in Washington Square Park.

The artist Joe Mangrum was in his element last weekend, in Washington Square Park. He had a small audience while working.

Joe creates original spontaneous artwork, using colored chalk dust. Basically, he takes a fistful of dust and sprinkles it on the ground, to make these fantastic, swirling patterns.

I saw Joe in Union Square in January, working on a large design and surrounded by onlookers. He has since published a book with his work, called Painting New York with Sand.

Related posts: Village People, in Sheridan Square, On Public Art and Other Freebies and Street Art, Soho.


Monday, May 24, 2010

Breaking Down Walls, in Nolita

Storefront for Architecture
Photo by myself on Kenmare and Lafayette Streets, in NoLita.

The walls of Storefront flips out during nicer weather. The tiny, triangular space is actually a contemporary gallery displaying drawings, images and models of architectural work.

Located in NoLita (the area North of Little Italy), the gallery was founded nearly thirty years ago. The current exhibit includes photographs of five cities: Istanbul, Beirut, Amman, Cairo and Dubai.

Related posts: Duane Street, Tribeca, Enjoying a Ride, in Central Park and Off in the Distance, 59th Street.


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Across the Treetops from Central Park South

Central Park South, NYC
Photo by myself from Central Park West, around West 80th Street.

From Central Park West, looking south over the treetops, you can see the expanse of buildings along Central Park South, some 20 blocks away.

The tower with the sloped top is the distinctive Citigroup building at 53rd Street and Lexington Avenue, over thirty blocks away. The tower is nearly 60 stories high and is done up in stainless steel panels.

The short white building further to the right is the Plaza Hotel at Central Park South and 59th Street. The Plaza is an extremely ritzy building that has been partially converted into million-dollar condos. Here's an earlier close-up view I took of the Plaza.

Most people consider Central Park a public space, however often it functions as a precious object. The closer you live to the park, the higher the value of your apartment. Only a select few have these privileged views.

Generally speaking, the northern and southern edges of Central Park are not as well known as the east and west, since they are much shorter in length. The southern edge marks the beginning of Midtown, while the northern edge marks the beginning of Harlem.

Related posts: The World Above Central Park, Enjoying a Ride, in Central Park and Off in the Distance, 59th Street.


Saturday, May 22, 2010

Looking Down from Midtown Comics

Midtown Comics, NYC
Photo by myself in Midtown, around 40th Street and 7th Avenue.

Good to know that superheroes are still looking out for us in Gotham City.

No, Midtown Comics is not the home for comedians. I've never ventured in, but I've heard that you can find anything related to comic books and graphic novels in this second floor shop.

Not sure where Batman and Superman were this rainy day last week. Perhaps they were out catching the bad guys?

If you can't make it to the store, Midtown Comics sells their goods online, here.

Related posts: Crazy Fantasy, Anyone?, The Quality Mending Company, Soho and Now on Sale, in Midtown.


Friday, May 21, 2010

Painting the Town, in SoHo

Painter in SoHo
Photo by myself in Soho.

A painter worked the streets this weekend. He was lucky to have perfect weather and gorgeous light to work by.

The half-finished painting on the right must be of the Flatiron Building, many blocks north. The building has a distinctive silhouette.


Geez, this week has just flown by once again. Happy Friday, everyone!

Related posts: Under the Gaze of Jay-Z, in SoHo, At the Brooklyn Museum - The Dizzying World of Murakami and Painting By Numbers.


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Sweet Dreams at Economy Candy, Downtown

Economy Candy, Lower East Side
Photo by myself outside Economy Candy, at Rivington and Essex Streets, on the Lower East Side.

This one-room store is chock full of candies from floor to ceiling.

Tucked away in the Lower East Side, the walls of Economy Candy are decorated floor to ceiling with gummies, huge lollipops, giant Pez dispensers, jellybeans and chocolates.

Have an itch for candy buttons or a weakness for gummy cola bottles? Or do you prefer gummy sharks and chocolate nonpareils? This store even has chocolate covered gummy bears, thereby solving two cravings at the same time! Take that!

Enter only if your willpower can handle it.

For the Economy Candy online store, click here.

Economy Candy, Lower East Side

Related posts: Russ and Daughters, Lower East Side, Beer, Wonderful Beer and Much More on Food.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

On Needy Causes, in Midtown and Beyond

Taking a moment, in Midtown
Photo by myself in Midtown.

Unfortunately, the needy are not an uncommon sight in large cities.

This fellow was taking a break during a busy rush hour.


Speaking of needy, if you've ever given a thought to helping children in the city, now is the time.

I've been told that a generous sponsor will match donations made before June 30th to The Fresh Air Fund. That means every donation made before then will be doubled.

The Fresh Air Fund places needy inner city children in greener surroundings for two weeks during the summer. You can also host children in your home, if you live in the Northeast. Close to 5,000 lucky children were able to take a break from the city last year.

I've heard about this organization since my first days in New York. It's an absolute thrill to speak on their behalf. Merely making a child aware of a bigger, more beautiful world of possibilities can be life-altering.

For a look at the colorful Fresh Air website and to make your donation, click here.

Related posts: Life in High Contrast, Man and Companion, on the Sidewalk and Worthy Causes.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Family Moment, in SoHo

Family in Soho
Photo by myself on Lafayette and Spring Streets.

A picture-perfect family lounged in front of a boutique in SoHo, this weekend.

The little girl was wearing a pink tutu, and there was something very Norman Rockwell-esque to the scene.

Related posts: On a Stoop, in SoHo, Street Serenade, SoHo and Watch Where You're Going, in SoHo.


Monday, May 17, 2010

Strike up the Band, in Washington Square Park

Street Musicians, Washington Square
Photo by myself in Washington Square Park, in the Village.

A folky group of musicians played, while their tattooed lead singer belted out a song.


We've had a beautiful weekend here in New York, the kind that's sunny and breezy and perfect.

Just about everyone was walking outside enjoying the air. All the restaurants and stores had their doors and windows flung open, so as you walked, you could see a hundred different worlds going on.

I wish every day could follow suit, but alas, we're New York and not California! The typical summer weather here is hotter and humid.

Related posts: City Portrait - Washington Square Park, Pulling Strings on the Subway Platform and Subway Jam Session.


Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Hua Mei Bird Garden, Chinatown

Hua Mei Bird Garden
Photo by myself at the Hua Mei Bird Garden in Sara Delano Roosevelt Park, at Chrystie and Delancey Streets.

If you're ever in New York during the warmer months, stop by the Hua Mei Bird Garden on your way to Chinatown, Soho or the Lower East Side for a little taste of nature.

A small enclave of cages are suspended around eye level, each containing a tiny song bird. They jumped about very quickly while emitting bright peeps. Other cages were placed on the ground for larger songbirds, which sang more complicated songs. The result is a small cacophony.

The birds, an assortment of white-eyed finches, blue jays, starlings and sparrows, are owned by a group of 20-some Chinese men, who bring their pets during the week and on weekends. While I was there, one gentleman lovingly fed his bird live worms.

The birds were first displayed in the park in the mid-1990's. Since the tradition began, there is a designated area called the Hua Mei Bird Garden.

Hua Mei Bird Garden
For an article about the park in the Times, click here.
NPR did a short broadcast about Hua Mei, which includes some of the birdsong:

Related posts: Odd and Colorful Birds, in Bryant Park, On Rupert and the Wild Parrots of Brooklyn and Getting the Goods on Canal Street.


Saturday, May 15, 2010

On a Stoop in Chinatown, and Some Law and Order

Elderly Asians, in b/w
Photo by myself just north of Chinatown, around Elizabeth and Broome Streets.

A group of older folks were sitting outside in the warm air. It was very humid on Friday, after a week of cooler temperatures.

Elderly Asians, in color
I wasn't sure if I preferred the color version or the black and white. What do you think?


Well, it had to happen at some point. The 20-year old New York-based television series Law and Order will end this May 24th.

I can't say I've watched a majority of the 450+ episodes. However the show has been dependable entertainment, when not much else is on. You can flip between the classic flavor, SVU and Criminal Intent, often running at the same time.

Each episode followed the same format - a crime is committed somewhere in the city. The address is displayed as a subtitle. Gradually the detectives bring the suspect to trial, before justice is more or less served.

I'll miss seeing the film crews on the streets and the myth of New York as a dangerous city. Not to say there won't be years of reruns in our future. But you know what I mean. It's the end of an era.

Related posts: Case Closed, Nearly Perfect and The Formula.


Friday, May 14, 2010

Casimir on Avenue B

Casimir, Alphabet City
Photo by myself in Alphabet City, around Avenue C and East 7th Street.

There's no shortage of bars and restaurants in New York. Every neighborhood has its mix of ethnic, chic, dive-y and classic places.

Casimir in Alphabet City serves up a bistro fare, with escargots, duck confit and steak tartare on the menu. Mmmm...good!

I'm sure this place is much more inviting when the gates are open.

For a peek at their tasty menus, click here.

Related posts: Food for Thought, Duane Street, Tribeca and Live Poetry on the Lower East Side.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Eating on the Run

Breakfast, NYC
Photo by myself, somewhere in Midtown.

A fellow who may have been a bike messenger chowed down breakfast.

Gray's Papaya, above, offers all sorts of special deals. This chain is known for its hot dogs and papaya juices. You can also get two eggs on a roll for 99 cents.

Related posts: Lichee Stand, Sunset Park, On the Menu and A La Carte.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Sunset, Outside Battery Park City

Sunset outside Battery Park
Photo by myself on the West Side Highway, outside Battery Park City.

Here's a photo I took while we were driving on the West Side Highway. The day was ending and we were heading back home to Brooklyn. The buildings to the far right are across the Hudson River, in New Jersey.

Unfortunately all the buildings in Battery Park City were built at once and look very similar to each other. Individually they aren't so interesting and as a group they form an imposing mass of towers.

Perhaps the best part of this area is Battery Park, along the water's edge. The grounds are extremely well kept, and you can walk (or jog or bike or rollerblade) quite a distance, with great views out to New Jersey and the Statue of Liberty.

If you want to have a serious driving experience, take the West Side Highway or FDR Drive along the East River. These are fast, twisty-turny roads, teeming with aggressive drivers and cabbies. Not for the faint of heart!

Related posts: All Abloom, in Battery Park City, Running Along the Edge of Manhattan and On the West Side Highway.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

On Crowds and the Commute, in Midtown

Crowd in Midtown
Photo by myself in Midtown.

Most New Yorkers catch a subway or bus home to other parts of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx. A select few will then take a ferry over the water to Staten Island or the suspended tram to Roosevelt Island.

Those living further away take buses or trains to New Jersey, Connecticut or upstate New York. Some folks commute one or two hours in each direction.

The real minority walks to work. I mean, they walk down streets, across avenues, and not just to a subway stop. They hoof it.

Some do it for the exercise. Some walk because there isn't a convenient subway or bus route. Others walk because it's the least expensive commute of all.

These lucky few are to be envied. They walk, come rain or shine, or even ride their bikes. (I have yet to encounter sled dogs!)

Related posts: People, People, Everywhere, Crowded Sidewalk, Midtown and We the People.


Monday, May 10, 2010

The Canyon of Heroes, Downtown

Canyon of Heroes, NYC
Photo by myself along the Canyon of Heroes, around Broadway and Rector Street.

The Canyon of Heroes is the parade route for large tickertape parades in the city, held for New York sports teams and notable figures. The area is named for the parades for New York heroes and the 'canyon' created by the tall buildings and narrow street. Confetti rains down from buildings along lower Broadway between Battery Park and City Hall.

Each parade since 1886, over 200 in all, is commemorated with a granite strip and stainless steel lettering embedded in the sidewalk.

Walking up Broadway, you can read through the history of New York. Click here to read more about the plaques along lower Broadway.

I took a close up photo of one of the granite markers, here.

Related posts: Remembering Memorial Day, Trinity Church at Dusk and The Flatiron Building, in Detail.


Sunday, May 9, 2010

Looking Like a Tourist, in Midtown

Yawn, Midtown
Photo by myself in Midtown, around 34th Street and Fifth Avenue.

A man stifles a yawn. It was early morning when I took this photo.

I imagine these folks are European. Funny to think a New Yorker was taking photos of visitors.


The dead giveaway that the folks above are tourists is the way the ladies have their bags strapped across their bodies. I can understand the anxiety of going to a new place - you feel vulnerable, even when it's safe. But there's no need to fear of purse-snatching.

Yes, there are crowds, yes there are all types of people. I've heard of break-ins and one completely random car jacking, but I've never heard of a purse being snatched in the many years I've lived here. Perhaps it happens, but it's very rare.

Some New York women walk about half-asleep with their bags wide open and stuff hanging out, while talking on their cell phones. Not to worry, it's perfectly safe here.

Related posts: Passing the Time in Times Square, Lost Near Macy's and Flower Power, Bryant Park.


Saturday, May 8, 2010

On Collecting Cans and a Rupert Update

Can Collector, 26th Street
Photo by myself in Chelsea, around 26th Street and Sixth Avenue.

You can make money from collecting aluminum cans on recycling day. At 5 cents each, I imagine this fellow did all right. A shopping cart with cans is not an uncommon sight.

Most New Yorkers do not return their cans to collect their nickels. Most supermarkets do not accept cans for return, and it's just too much to carry even more stuff when you're walking around without a car.


I realize I haven't posted a photo of Rupert in ages. The last one was from the winter, when there was snow on the ground.

Panting after playing
After a good time playing, Rupert takes a break. (Pardon his muzzle, he needs a shave!)

Here he is after a good morning of playing. It was a humid last weekend, and he was pooped. His favorite outside toy is a big orange ball with feet.

My fiance Mark has been away for work for two weeks, now. Rupert has adjusted well, though sometimes he'll see someone with a similar silhouette and stop in his tracks. I've been running home everyday after work to feed Rupert dinner; caring for him has been more consuming.

Animals adjust so brilliantly to their situations. I am certain there will be much jumping and going nuts when Mark finally returns in a few days (and I mean both the dog and me!).

Related posts: Searching for a Bargain, at the Strand, Movie in the Making, in Alphabet City and Life Goes On.


Friday, May 7, 2010

Open Spaces, in Chelsea

Flea Market, Chelsea
Photo by myself in Chelsea, around 26th Street and 7th Avenue.

Unlike the urban sprawl of some cities, New York is an island with limited space. Every square foot has the potential to be something.

Empty lots, the few that exist, are often used for parking. And not just parking, but cars piled on top of one another, in large steel parking contraptions.

Some open lots have been taken over by the city and turned into community gardens. Others host flea markets. The one above is almost non-existent, but there are other decently sized markets in Chelsea, the Upper West Side and Soho.

Related posts: Lost in Translation, Watch Where You're Going in Soho and Crazy Fantasy, Anyone?.


Thursday, May 6, 2010

Snapshot from Koreatown, 32nd Street

Koreatown, NYC
Photo by myself in Koreatown, on 32nd Street and Fifth Avenue.

Just a few blocks in Midtown comprise the neighborhood known as Koreatown, affectionately known as 'Ktown'. Stores, restaurants, karaoke bars and supermarkets cater mainly to Koreans.

The restaurants here tend to specialize. Some restaurants are known for their tofu casseroles - soups thick with tofu and various goodies like kim chi or seafood. Others are known for barbecue, where you grill your own meat at the table, creating a smoky, hearty meal.

Many restaurants here are open 24/7, since Korean businessmen tend to work hard and party hard. I love this area and can never tire of Korean food. It's much less oily than typical Chinese food, and there is a huge variety to the diet.

Koreans love their beef, but they also love fresh vegetables, tofu, raw fish and anything made from rice. Flavors tend toward spicy, but you can customize it to your liking.

For a good primer on some of the popular restaurants in the Ktown area, click here for a guide in the Times.

Related posts: Lost in Translation, On Broadway and In the Streets with Silly String.


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Looking the Other Way, Below 34th Street

34th Street, Penn Station
Photo by myself at the subway station below 34th Street, in Midtown.

New York is nothing but a study in contrasts.

Some New Yorkers live in Park Avenue penthouses. They have private gardens, large eat-in kitchens and deliveries ushered in by multiple doormen.

Other New Yorkers struggle to live without permanent shelter. They carry all their belongings in carts and bags. They have zero privacy and few certainties to rely on.

Though New Yorkers can be extremely compassionate, they generally just tolerate those in need. It is difficult to be truly empathetic when you see homeless people every day.

I realize that photographs of the homeless can be seen as unkind. To some, photographs are exploitative or dehumanizing. To me, photographs attempt to illicit compassion. To photograph something is to say 'This is important. Please take a look.'

Related posts: Could You Keep it Down?, Castaways and Homeless Man, in Central Park.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Hovering Above Park Avenue

Above Park Avenue, NYC
Photo by myself, above Park Avenue on the Upper East Side.

What a view!? Notice that many penthouses have terraces full of trees and flowers. It's a nice luxury to live so high up and enjoy your own open space and garden.

I always associated Park Avenue with limestone, but as you can see, there is a lot of brick on this street, too. Park Avenue distinguishes itself for a planted divider that separates traffic in each direction. At the moment, purple tulips and leafy trees are in full bloom.

Also, unlike many north-south avenues, Park Avenue north of Midtown is completely residential. No bodegas, no boutiques, no supermarkets. The benefit of this is that there are no distracting signs or lights at night. The drawback, of course, is that you can't just run to the corner store for a gallon of milk.

There are other purely residential avenues in Manhattan, including West End Avenue, Riverside Drive, Columbus Avenue and Fifth Avenue.

Related posts: The View from on High, High Above Bryant Park and The World Above Central Park.


Monday, May 3, 2010

I *Heart* New York, Downtown

I heart NY
Photo by myself, in Alphabet City.

Mosaics are pasted up on many traffic poles in Alphabet City and the East Village.

Very often, these small art pieces commemorate New York or 9/11. They are moments in the city, hardly noticeable unless you really look.


Saturday night, a potential car bomb was found in the Times Square area. Propane tanks, wires and gunpowder were found in a car, and a bomb squad was called in.

I had friends over Sunday and the topic came up. We talked about how the car was found (a street vendor saw smoke coming out of it), where it was parked, how the streets were shut down.

Nothing was said about how we felt. I won't lie. Recently I've felt anxious on the subway for no real reason. Suspicious people and gestures have made me very, very jumpy.

What I want to know is, what is it that New York is guilty of?

Why is New York receiving these threats? I don't quite understand it. We are a symbol of capitalism? Of America?

New Yorkers will wake up Monday morning and slog it out for another week. We'll keep doing what we do, since we know nothing else.

Related posts: On Street Corners in the East Village, What Makes Your Skin Crawl and Grains of Sand, in Union Square.


Sunday, May 2, 2010

Cowboy Dancer, in Midtown

Cowboy dancer, NYC
Photo by myself, somewhere in Midtown.

A man in a cowboy hat and face paint was available to perform, for a small fee.

His sign reads, 'Does money make me dance? Or is this the Twilite Zone?'

Related posts: Shall We Dance, 34th Street, Acrobatics Below 34th Street and On Tippy Toe, Union Square.


Saturday, May 1, 2010

From the Rooftops, in Madison Square Park

'Surveillance' installation in Mad Sq Park
Photo by myself in Madison Square Park.

Looking very much like people about to jump off buildings, the installation called 'Event Horizon' is attracting attention, skywards.

31 bronze life-sized statues have been placed around Madison Square Park, many looking down from rooftops. One statue placed on the Empire State Building had the fire department rushing to the scene, thinking it was someone about to jump.

The human figure is unmistakable, even from such a distance. Seeing these statues in such unlikely areas is striking.

Antony Gormley installation, Mad Sq Park

'Event Horizon' coincides with a video installation held in the same area, called 'Surveillance'. Video cameras have been placed around the park and giant tv screens display the live feed. To onlookers, it seems like one massive installation. One could imagine the bronze statues bearing video cameras.

Ernie Gehr installation, Mad Sq Park
A video installation by Ernie Gehr runs until May 15.

Antony Gormley installation, Mad Sq Park

'Event Horizon' continues through the summer until August 15. For an article in the Times, click here.

'Surveillance' ends May 15th. For more about it on the Madison Square Park website, click here.

Related posts: Atop the East Village, Looking Up, in Park Slope and Village People, in Sheridan Square.