Saturday, November 26, 2011


Walk the Speedway!

Our Next Public Tour has been rescheduled for Sunday, December 11, 2011. We will meet at the end of the # 3 subway line, at 148th St. and 7th Avenue at 10:30am, and walk along the Harlem River and enjoy the fruits of the NYRP, and the development of what Mayor Bloomberg has called the "Sixth Borough:" the waterfronts of New York City.

During our walk (about 4 miles) we will remember the stories of other walkers who would make this path part of their constitutional.

We will end at the Indian Road Cafe where we can enjoy brunch or lunch (at your expense). We will be near the No. 1 subway, and a short walk from the A train at 207th St. The walk should take about 2 to 3 hours, and lunch may extend our time together.

PLEASE! You must register by e-mail: and please include your cell phone number.

Cost: $20 cash, or $20.75 by credit card (or PayPal)

Meeting Time: 10:30am Place: 148 & 7th Ave.

Please note! We will wait only 15 minutes, so please call (917-921-9273) if you expect to be late!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Long Hot Summer in the City ....

Yes, yes, it's been a while! I have been busy leading visitors here and there, over yonder and just around the corner - all kinds of places, for a great variety of people. But there were scenes that couldn't be missed ... like the sunset on July 4, over the heads of people anxiously awaiting fireworks, and our glorious Hudson River:

Yes, it truly was a harbinger of a glorious fireworks - which I couldn't get a decent shot of, alas! - but also of a warm and bustling summer in New York.

In fact, there were a lot of happy people coming to New York, and celebrating just for the heck of it!

Stephanie Kyle and Michael Squillante
at the White Horse on Hudson Street @ W. 11th Street

Yes, sometimes when I introduce visitors to my great city they can find on their own reasons to be happy in New York. After all, what's not to like?! After all, Mr. Softee serves chocolate ice cream!

Although I have to tell you that sometimes Mr. Softee can be hard to find - especially if you're returning to the city after a hot day in the country. But, maybe we should stay in town?

See? Bikinis in Washington Square Park - cooling off on a hot summer's day. In fact, just to the left is another wonderful spot:

Yes! Right there in Washington Square children are splashing around, and getting really cooled off. And believe me, the temperatures were in the 90s for almost weeks straight, in July.

But what's great about this park, and this fountain, is that it's simply a continuation, and in a great way an improvement of an existing structure and plan. Established on July 4, 1826 by then Mayor Philip Hone, on the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence (and the very day that both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died!), Washington Square has been the center for many occasions - although now it's most known as the informal campus of the nation's largest private university, New York University.

But it's the summer, and few people are thinking about school!

We have to walk our dogs, make sure they're fed and watered - and if we train (and love) them well enough, maybe it's true; they will be among your best friends.

After all, with dogs, you can be the leader of their pack - but only if you get their respect. Love them!

And if you go to Broadway this summer, perhaps you will drop by Ellen's Stardust Diner - for a bite to eat for breakfast, lunch, or dinner - but also to hear Broadway performers like this young lady break into song right after serving you!

This is, as Mayor Lindsay used to say - although it seem a little forced back then, it's not now: New York is Fun City!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The High Line - and Other News

Good day! It's June 15 and time to record what's up with this town. After all, one week ago today the second part of the High Line (and believe me when I admit that I almost wrote "the second half" of the High Line!) opened. And a very curious interval it is.

Not quite as breathtaking as the first part, I must aver, but still a compelling addition to a revolutionary beginning.

First, this rainy warm spring has created a virtual bath of luxurious green up there - and what are these conical flowers? A friend of mine recently asked what they were doing there - "aren't they native to South Africa?" I don't know, although there is a list - the June Blooming List - that can tell any curious flower lover all the names, in Latin and English, of all that's blooming.

I was walking there on Sunday (after spotting David Byrne riding his bike down Ninth Avenue - helmetless! - but with a smile and sitting comfortably behind his basket) with a couple of visitors from London, England. I had to point out flowers to the English!

But there are also the birds. And here, as my visitor saw, were some interesting contraptions - bird feeders, they were. In fact, you can spot a small golden chunk of - sweet potatoe? Very curious!

Some, as we saw, were content to ruminate on other things, and rest upon the benches so gently placed at the edge of a wonderfully green and soft-looking lawn. The lawn was off limits that day, however. As I learned later, it was closed off to walkers (and liers, rollers and somersaulters) for Sunday, Monday and Tuesday because of its wetness. The High Liners are most anxious that their new lawn gets the rest it needs to weather the enjoyment of thousands the rest of the summer long. Very thoughtful, don't you think?

The High Line was quite popular Sunday, too. Everyone wanted to see what would be the nature of the extension to what had become in its first two years perhaps the most popular park in the City (after Central Park, I would suggest - but it would be close in a certain demographic).

A lot of people!

But the High Line on this stage of its progress has an interesting feature: the Flyover. Check it out:

After walking onto it, I looked back, and down - and it almost seemed as if I were walking over the "original" High Line - when it was abandoned, and the tracks were barely visible through the grass ("weeds"?), and small trees were surviving above all the city grime. But, now, we were above that. Very nice touch. Worth spending time just contemplating change and adaptation ... and many other things, perhaps - but when it's less crowded!

We did reach the end, and did talk to some New Yorkers (down from their high-rises for a walk, no doubt), but the very end isn't quite what it will be. The Related Companies have a grand project for Hudson Yards (as the tracks are called), which will become visible within the next two or three years.

But perhaps the potentially most memorable moment wasn't ours after all, but to see it was charming nonetheless:

You can't make it out? Let's make it a little easier:

I hope she said yes!

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Last Night at Elaine's

You'll never believe it, but this was also my first night at Elaine's. Perhaps - well, perhaps any number of things. Maybe it was something like what Graydon Carter said about the likelihood of his taking over to continue the tradition:

"If you live downtown, 89th and 2nd Avenue is really a serious hike, and ultimately, that was the deciding factor." Although he did say that he just felt no one could fill Elaine's shoes.

But, then, what did I feel about the place - for the hour I was allowed to stand at the bar before they rotated us out? First of all, it was a beautiful night, and I had just finished performing a wedding at the Ladis's Pavilion in Central Park in front of 25 people from England, and had walked all across town to meet Alison and Bonnie at Elaine's - it was for me a very nice evening,
and why not have a drink? And we were virtually the first in line.

The bartenders weren't exactly cheerful, but they were there and able to serve us relatively quickly. But, they did seem, how you say: as if all this attention, while welcome for the night, as a bartender would always feel, was on this occasion a bit too patronizing to really be appreciated. Go figure!

We met some new people - and everyone was new since we'd never been there before! Everyone was taking pictures. One new friend, who had been a customer within the past five or six years, but who had perhaps not seen Elaine's in its hay day, was very helpful.

Bonnie is helped by Philip with her camera - and a new friend is made.

The drinks were good, and the one bartender whose name I got - Alex - was humorous in a wry sort of way as he went about his last night at Elaine's bar.

And me? Oh, I was happy enough - it's really spring now, and the rains seem to have left us, and so has the chill of that ridiculous April we had this year!

So, what more is in the offing? I will be more up to date - but on the 11th of June I am planning for another walk - but a walk through the Nature Center of Tenafly, New Jersey - to which we'll bus it! Fun for bird lovers - and general nature walkers too.

See you soon!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Spring Days are Here - Let's Walk!

I can't emphasize this enough: when the weather's good, we in the Northeast feel a peculiar anxiety to make the most of it. I realized this years ago when I visited a friend at Stanford University, in Palo Alto, California, during August and discovered that when every day is beautiful a most calming feeling began to surface. I didn't feel that rush to go out because the sun was shining ... because it would be shining tomorrow, and the day after. No worries. Not like back home!

So, this past weekend was a great weather weekend, and, since I am indeed in the Northeast, I took full advantage of it!

I called my friend Philippe(walking on the left, in the picture at right), and we were out early to walk the George Washington Bridge to Tenafly on a sort of Spring '11 Test Walk, a preview of the "Real" walk on April 16 (see my Public Tours).

The weather was magnificent, and the temperature did achieve the mid fifties I believe, but the trees still are wanting their buds of green. I hope and trust that in two weeks green shoots will be leaping out all over! We looked down on the northern reaches of Riverside Park below:

The greenest green isn't grass, which is at the bottom of the picture; it's the tennis courts. The railroad track is to the left, and our North River (the Hudson to most of you!) is of course to the right.

But look again: where's the city? Miles away! We're leaving that metropolis for - ew, the suburbs??! Not so fast!

Yes, off to our left is the sheer rock of the Palisades, right below the site of the old original Fort Lee. Note the road cut into the cliff: the Henry Hudson Drive, which goes all the way up to the Alpine Boat Basin - but that's for another time!

We continued on, and eventually left all the noise of traffic and the hardness of the pavement. We entered ....

- the woods! Sure, it was brown, but it was wonderfully relaxing to stroll through the trees.

We noticed, however, that there seemed to be a lot of fallen brush and branches, even trees, that testified to a rather rough season just gone by. It didn't look quite to rough last October. Hmm. But it was cleared enough for us to walk very pleasurably on the path.

This experience finally reminded me of my boyhood wanderings, and comforted me in the way that familiar things often do. As if I had discovered an old book that I had loved as a kid, or remember a time when a friend and I had explored the woods behind my house and discovered hidden caves in rocky hillsides, or just walked on comfortable with not having any destination, yet confident that we would find our way.

And so, Philippe and I walked along the Palisades.

We looked out, toward the Bridge from the railing in Allison Park. And, it's true, we were almost out of our woods interlude. But, the wonder of it all!

Philippe had always wanted to see what was in Englewood, and what kind of homes were there. So, we did see some ... and this one wasn't the largest:

Can you imagine whose this was? Nope! Not telling! Either you walk with me on the 16th, or at least you ask me via the comment section! I'm getting tough now ... so, any takers?

We walked on, and Philippe was beginning to miss the nature that we experienced, and that we both loved, on the trails along the Palisades. But, we were not completely out of nature:

Here are two of the four deer we saw ambling across a lawn in the "suburbs." And, before we even completely left the Palisades we saw more than two geese - we saw two wild turkeys! So, nature is alive in the New York Metropolitan Area - walk with me on the 16th of April and see it all as it begins to bloom!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Believe Me: Spring is Coming!

Yes, I'm telling you that it is definitely going to be here just as Punxsutawney Phil said it'd be: earlier rather than later. So, what should we begin to do immediately? Get back into shape!

We're walkers, right? So, let's make sure our shoes still fit, and that our socks are clean and whole (and not hole-y), but more than that, let's begin to make a new habit of walking to anywhere that's less than ten blocks from us.

What's 10 blocks? Figure about a half mile. "Oh, I can't do that!" Sure you can!

After all, I plan on taking many of you (!) on a nice longish walk in the middle of April, only 6 weeks away, and I wouldn't want you to be unprepared. In fact, although we're really not going to be doing any real serious hiking, I should let you know that the Appalachian Mountain Club has published just today an article entitled Get Coordinated Before You Hike - and I think it has a lot of reasonable pointers for you. Check it out!

After all, you do want to hike with me here, right? Want to know where - make a comment below! I'll be telling you soon!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Still Another Public Tour!

Sunday, February 27 -Walk the Upper East Side- Let's explore the "homescape" of those who were successful in making New York the city we know today. After all, our mayor Mr. Bloomberg is another February birthday, and lives happily near Central Park. We'll explore the Gold Coast, from E. 70th Street on up to Carnegie Hill - and learn just how close Tricia Nixon is to San Francisco rock music! (And consider this picture: what is there now?)

Meeting Spot:5th Avenue & 70th Street: the memorial for Richard Morris Hunt on the Central Park Side of 5th Avenue at 11:00 am. Cost: $20 per person.

Please contact The Street Teacher by e-mail to register and confirm. Rain or Shine - but leave a phone number in case of emergency!

Thursday, February 17, 2011


Sunday, February 20 - Abraham Lincoln's East Village, and More - Let us continue our Presidential Month by beginning our walk through one of the "best neighborhoods

of North America" near the site of Lincoln's famous speech which won him the Republican nomination for President. We will also walk through this great neighborhood and hear stories of its past residents, and wonder of their dreams as newcomers either to New York or the United States - or both!

Meeting Spot, Time and Cost: Astor Place, near the Mud Truck on 4th Avenue and E. 8th Street, next to the uptown #6 Subway at 11:00am: $20 per person.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Should Teachers Have Tenure?

Good morning! This Month's "Talk of New York" begins with a somewhat unusual piece, perhaps, but I think I should publish it here (I have written it as an on-line commentary on an article regarding teacher tenure in the New York Times on 2/1/11) because I feel it relates to everyone's experience as a walker in the city. We all educate each other, in some way, and I wanted to declare my attitude toward this major issue of the day. Please comment as you wish!

As often as there are under-performing teachers, or even bad teachers, I am struck by the lack of attention to the influence of parents in this complicated process of education. In other words, I believe that the neglected element in this equation is the parents, particularly in the "lower performing" districts.

If education is valued highly by the parents, and if the benefits of education can be demonstrated by the examples of the parents (either by their professional stations or the respect accorded them in their every day activities, preferably both), then that is one great advantage.

But, if the parents have not had the good fortune of education, and by that measure are unable to demonstrate that education works, then that's where the life-long effort to be educated and to improve one's station in life is at least as powerful a lesson to impart on their children as simply the inherited advantage of prior education - perhaps even more.

So, I feel it is a responsibility of a community, and I do mean the elected officials, to be instrumental in the education of those parents - in the improvement of their lives.

Departments of Education shouldn't concern themselves solely with the children of their populations, but with everyone's continuing education.

Just as our society seems rooted in our pursuit of the "American Dream," we should understand that it is largely a fiction created at least in part to keep the large majority of the population striving on a treadmill that only guarantees profits for the owner of that treadmill, and stasis for everyone on it. If that pursuit were to be accorded as prime a place as we all seem to agree it deserves, then other priorities should be recognized in their proper rank.

Such as:
1. Raising children: child development, skill acquisition, the importance of and definition of unqualified love.
2. Making a home safe: children first, parents second, elders third
3. Creating and maintaining self-supporting neighborhoods: economics: raw materials, productivity, profitability and investment in that community
4. Community relations: internal and with neighboring communities
5. Inter-community relations: "foreign trade"

Just those 5 elements seem to me to be the priorities. Teacher tenure? Desirable, even a great idea - but who is the real teacher of the children: the parents, the community, every person with whom that child interacts each day is that child's teacher. Each of those interactions reflects an important element of each child's curriculum: the values of his or her community. A child should be able to sense what his or her family, friends, neighborhood, and greater community holds as desirable - every day. The teachers are really now in an unwarranted and exalted station in their student's value scale: we would hold those teachers up as the ONLY ones responsible for their education, when they are only one element.

Perhaps it's important to realize that of all the teachers our children may have, it is their most important teacher who has lifelong tenure, and who can have either the most positive impact, or a very negative one: their parents.
From the Vigeland Park, Oslo, Norway
We should not "fire" them, of course. But, as with teachers and other professionals, our society should require continuing education of our children's most powerful teachers, their parents, and accord them the respect that implies.

And now! Can you imagine the conversations we ALL would now have - if ALL of us were involved in our continuing education in - developmental psychology! in child development! in disease prevention! in international relations! in reading and communication!

And here's the most important element of our New Curriculum: in listening. Ah, the peace that shall come from ... understanding!