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!