Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The High Line and Water - Part One

Good evening everyone!  In case you didn't notice, it is officially Summer!  So, get out there and be summary - I mean summery, if that's possibly a state of being that one can try to be.  Hmm.

I went out yesterday and journeyed to the High Line to witness, again, just how almost incredibly that elevated and derelict former freight line is doing.
And it is busy and bright with happy visitors - mostly young women?!  I didn't notice that so much until just now!

Well, the High Line is busy.

I had come there for a purpose, however.  I wanted to observe a little more closely how water is managed up there on those "old" railroad tracks.  After all, there is an awful lot of lush greenery up there:
This grasses, seemingly reclining in various sensual twists of luxurious green strands, is probably Mexican Feather Grass (as I learned from the gloriously helpful High Line Blog, for it is a Plant of the Week).  The spring rains seem to have really powered them with green juice!

Which made me wonder: how are these rains controlled?  Or do they just come and spread themselves randomly over the ground and everything?  Do they just, well, ebb away?  How do we manage the inevitable dryer periods? 
A drain?  Or part of a catch-basin.  I must investigate! 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

A Glorious? Spring!? Or is it Summer Already!

All the talk of Global Warming has, I think, begun to be appreciated by all and sundry, so I expect there will at least be people noticing when there might be energy being wasted when they feel open doors and air-conditioning, or when they see smokestacks belching coal soot and smoke as they drive across the Appalachians on their summer jaunts in - their Priuses! (Or should one write "Prii"?)

Regardless, those of us enjoying the asphalt comfort of the city in Summer - and who are looking forward to Shakespeare in the Parking Lot, and summer movies at the space atop 55 Water Street, as well as numerous events all over the metropolis - will no doubt have reason to get wet.

After all - there's Coney Island!
The familiar Luna Park smiler! 

Oh boy!  Let's fly! 

Ruby's is 80 years old this year - time for a Ruby Beer! 

But you have to go to the beach too, you know - for this is a destination not to be missed.

Unless you want to take a ride on the New Thunderbolt - which, I don't think, is not finished yet - or at least I didn't see it running yesterday (June 7, 2014).  Maybe soon?

You must spend an hour just walking the boardwalk - 

- preferably in suitable attire!

Or ... you could fly over it!

Really - and you don't have to be alone! 

But no one has dropped in a parachute from here in more than 30 years. 

Coney Island - it's a place to see! 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Good Day Everyone!

It's been some time since I've contributed an article - a blog - to this site, but let me say first that a lot has happened.  I have an excuse.  It's almost as if relationships have begun and ended in this period - but that would be wrong.  Relationships have only begun - it's been a positive gestation period!

I've been back to Paris - and inside the Cluny Museum.  Let's talk about history, why don't we - and then let's remember all that's come before us ... and let's remember the last 14 years.  I'm ranting a little here but I'm trying to come to terms with what many older people - eek!  that's me! - may be sensing: while the world may seem too much with us, getting and spending, nothing has been learned from the past wars and intervals to enable us to plan a peaceful retirement from this sphere.  

Ever think that the 1950's were anomolous? 
Then what about the sixties?  Did you ever take a ride - or even drive - a 1965 Ford Mustang?  If you were of that car-envy age at the time of those cars - did you really think they were cool?  And they were, weren't they?  Unless you were a snob and only thought the 289 V8 was worth a look - but, an automatic?  

And then, when you graduated from High School, were you accepted at an Ivy League College? Like Columbia - but in 1968 when you left High School there were the Strawberry Statement riots and all sorts of proper kids withdrew their acceptances and you got in from the waiting list?Remember the war in Vietnam?  

But you had come to New York!  The world was opening then - even though, as you recognize, the picture here is of New York in 2012 and the World Trade Center is in the midst of being rebuilt because all manner of happenings and destruction has happened since those halcyon days of your anxious adolescence.  You know, that adolescence that mutated into adult-hood without moderating your pride?

So, it's probably the right time to remember the Edsel - here chaperoned by its designer Roy Brown (NY Times 2/24/13), Jr., who died in February of 2013 at the age of 96 - believing his design was good.  Would you believe that the element of his creation that debuted in 1957 that endured to become standard equipment on every car sold today is - the seat belt.  

So, brave, risk-taking souls out there, what have you done lately - that has been at the risk of your life and limb?  I'll bet you probably haven't even walked a mile. 

Old crock here: "And you know, I walked a mile to school, and back home for lunch, and to school again, and home again, every day of my school year.  4 miles every day.  No problem." 

Just saying .....

Friday, February 14, 2014

And Whose Fault is This, Hah?

Yes, more snow.  Ya gotta problem wid dat?

Yes, that's how I imagine my erstwhile E. 78th Street neighbor Jimmy Cagney (albeit before I was born or moved in around here, but - whatever!) might have remarked when one of his mates commented on weather like ours yesterday (2/13/14).
This was yesterday morning at about 7:45 - and I thought I would be heading uptown to Fairway - but no!  Too much wind!  

But look at this: 
A walker with not one but two cups of coffee - powering herself through the growing snow - and maybe diminishing brain fog of her morning? - to work.  And I noted: the school buses are out - indeed! No more snow days for our munchkins! 

Which reminded me of a great story I relate when I give a tour down E. 78th St.   Some of you may remember that big storm in February of 1978, right?  Well, were schools closed then?  Oh, not all of them.  As the New York Times reported on February 7, 1978 in an article with this headline: 

Keep a Stiff Upper Lip, Chaps

"'It's a question of fiber," said Desmond F. P. Cole, headmaster of the Allen Stevenson School at 78th and Lexington.  "We never close," said the tweed jacketed Mr. Cole over coffee and chocolate biscuits in his study  "It's a matter of principle.  A little snow does a chap no harm at all.'"

And just who was this Desmond Cole?  Well, quite British, he was, indeed, and he was in his third year as headmaster.  According to his secretary he was quite "distressed" that 71 students were truant that day - and most of them lived in the neighborhood! Just the day before, when a mother was escorting her son out the school door, when she asked Mr. Cole if school would be open the next day (and most other private schools were planning to close), what did he say?  "Why, yes, what else would you expect?"  After all, the school's motto is fortiter et recde (strongly - or boldly - and rightly).

And, considering this is a school for boys K through 9, most of the absentees were older boys.  The shame! 

Just stay alert!  

But get this in today's headlines (that is, February 14, 2014 - Happy Valentine's Day!): 

Schools Stay Open; Mayor Gets New Headache

And why, you wonder?  Many things, you might say, if you are aware of the Bloomberg withdrawal symptoms that seem to be widespread.  In addition to questions about why DiBlasio called the police directly when they arrested a friend there were the comments by weatherman Al Roker, who blasted him for not closing school when he predicted a foot of snow, and predicted (and later apologized for) that he would be a one-term mayor. Hah!  

But, perhaps unconsciously echoing Mr. Cole of 36 years before, the new schools chancellor, Carmen Farina, had decided on Wednesday night to keep city schools open, declaring their plans earlier than the typical early-morning notice. The first paragraph in today's front page article in the New York Times captures the sentiment perhaps perfectly: 

[Diblasio's] education chief declared Thursday "a beautiful day" as sleet poured down on parents wondering why schools had not been closed.

Sound familiar?  But in fact, New York City has not had a practice of closing schools in most snow storms, so this should not have seemed so unusual.  (Anyone among my readers care to differ?  I welcome comments!) Builds character!  Ahem!  (I wonder if Ms Farina made that comment over coffee and chocolate biscuits.)

My suggestion here is: have we become spoiled?  Where is our character? Does a little snow do a chap any harm at all?  Only 45% of children were in attendance yesterday. I hope all of them had a good and memorable day! 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Good Cheer At The Gas Pump

Click on this below - you won't believe it:

Good Cheer At The Gas Pump

This just has to be the most cheerful way to begin the day - and a compelling push to all of us to just get with the program and live it up - day by day!  Cheers!

I wonder … might we see some of this in … New York?

Sunday, February 2, 2014

It's Winter in New York!

These past few weeks have seen some real evidence of winter - and people may have thought it belied global warming - as if it were a hoax.  Not so, friends, because we're witnessing extremes, which is a consequence of this unusual weather patterns.

But as far as many of us are concerned - and I look back especially on January 25th when we in Manhattan celebrated with our Winter Carnival in Central Park - things were as they should be!
Yes - before any carnival or planned event we had a real snowfall in the city! Kids and their parents found their sleds and brought themselves to Cedar Hill in Central Park and took to the Hills!

So, you out there in the "country," really, think for a second: are you really in the country with hills and sleds and kids playing - 
- and parents with them, dragging sleds all the way out to wherever to really enjoy the snow?  Like we do in New York City?
Oh! I'm sure you do - but I just want you to know that when it snows here - we're out there too! 
 So, walking along from there, on my way to where the actual carnival would be, I hiked through the snow up a hill.  Passing two benches - but I veered to the right and struck out for Bethesda Terrace and the Fountain:
Did I tell you that it has been freezing here lately?  Temperature almost in the single digits (Farenheit, that is).  So, as I looked at the boys above I imagined them walking on the ice.  But, I think the fountain was drained.  Ah, well.  
Beautiful! Someone has made a beautiful ice sculpture!

Ha!  But I don't think these three sculpted it.  Yet, I am enjoying their excitement as they marvel at this work.  That's what children should do! Marvel at the world and its creations!

So, as I continued up the walk I walked toward the Mall and discovered more people - but one especially who seems to have known just what she should do: 
This is Hanne, who is Danish and a multi-media artist working in the East Village - and she's definitely equipped to enjoy the snow in the city!

And there's more in the Park! 
 Snowboarders and skiers try stunts off a man-made hill near the Sheep Meadow -
 Looks daunting to me ....
- but they do what they do!  Sometimes they fall, but all in all (as they used to say at my summer camp) they had a good time! 
And perhaps most surprising of all, to me at least, were those who were really playing - soccer! 
 They even had their two goals out there too - because you had to be accurate with your kicks!
No, this wasn't just an ordinary day in the Park - but it was Saturday, January 25, and you had to do what you had to do! 

Now, there is another institution in the Park that is due to re-open soon - perhaps this winter.  I hope the snow hasn't slowed it down too much.  But, here is what it looked like on the 25th: 
This is a picture of the "garden," where the Crystal Room used to be.  There is some kind of glass cube in that place now.  I can't tell how it will be utilized.  From the front, however, the building - for those who remember its former incarnation (and there have been several, including that with Warner Leroy), you will note that much has been removed: 
Not only is there no awning from the front doors, but the Park Room is gone.  Originally called the Elm room, after the elm it was originally built around, this was part of the major overhaul of the interior performed in the late 1940's and early 1950's by Raymond Loewy, the legendary father of modern industrial design (whose team designed the 1953 Studebaker Starliner, voted the 20th century's most beautiful automobile).  But the entire building has been gutted, all the slates on the roof replaced, in the spirit of bringing it back to the original features of the design by Jacob Wrey Mould, who worked with Calvert Vaux in the designing and building of many other features of the Park, like the Bethesda Terrace.  

So, we await the opening of the new Tavern on the Green!  

We could also note that the 25th was the first day after many before the horses could return to the Park: finally the temperature was above 18ยบ F.  But, you may also wonder, didn't our new Mayor De Blasio vow to rid the park of our equine friends, supposedly for their benefit?  I guess we shall have to wait for news regarding that too!

 We walk on through the Park, now down toward the Lake - fully frozen over it seems!
The Beresford Apartments at 81st and Central Park West loom in the distance above, just as the twin towers of the San Remo look down on the Lake from the west.
But, finally, as I reached Bow Bridge in my circuit through the Park:
 Who's this, I wondered!
It's "Rexington," all the way from England with its owners - who were wandering through that day!