Posts Tagged ‘new york’



New York is the no. 1 Thanksgiving destination — four years in a row now. Crowds of all ages were ebullient despite the coldest Thanksgiving weather in 117 years. I really hadn’t taken in what a humongous block party the city would be.

I managed to get a few photos of Macy’s Parade participants getting ready and a Brunhilde dressing up just because. But it was impossible to get near enough to the actual parade to see the bands or anything not floating way high up. Folks in the know brought ladders. Next time, maybe.

The police, first responders, and other security experts seemed to anticipate every eventuality and the parade went smoothly. Besides huge sanitation trucks blocking streets, there were trash cans and mailboxes locked to prevent dangerous deposits. That’s what we’ve come to, Dears. Let’s just be grateful that human ingenuity continues to find ways to let us carry on.








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OK, New York is not a beautiful city in the sense of the traditional song (Dave Van Ronk sings “Oh, What a Beautiful City!” here), but that spiritual has been playing in my head today because I really like New York.

It’s definitely not a clean city. Every day of the week there are so many trash bags on the sidewalk that the garbage trucks often leave half behind for a later pass, and not-civic-minded New Yorkers toss last night’s take-out on the heap as they walk their children to school.

The electronic kiosks that I love featured a relevant quote by Fran Lebowitz this week: “When you leave New York, you are astonished at how clean the rest of the world is. Clean is not enough.”

Speaking of clean, Asakiyume once pointed out that the business that attracts almost as much creative naming as beauty salons is the porta-potty business, so the first photo below is for her collection.

Next I have two indoor photos, followed by several from beautiful Central Park. Having been warned never to go near the park when I walked the Corgi in the morning decades ago, I’m always astonished that today one can walk there early in the morning and join many other people — runners, bikers, dog walkers, children headed to school, sometimes a solitary practitioner of tai chi chuan.

I love the shadows at that time of day and the greenery, the park’s architectural touches, the benches with thoughtful quotes, the paths that beckon. It’s pretty magical.

Riffing off a Lawrence Block quote, another kiosk asked what was “the thing about New York, if you loved it, if it worked for you, it ruined you for anyplace else in the world”? New York doesn’t ruin anywhere for me, but I feel challenged to answer what is the main thing I like about New York: it’s just that it’s always interesting.

(More quotations about New York City here.)













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Yesterday was beautiful in New York, and my sister was feeling fine, having been off chemo and radiation a month. New treatments start today.

We took the subway from the Upper West Side down to Chelsea, which she says feels like a whole different city to her. We went to a very avant garde museum, walked around, met up with childhood friends, had tea at an indy bookstore, and admired several subway mosaics.

In the first photo below, a New York crowd is watching a cameraman who is making a movie of the woman in the second photo. Then there are several shots of a long city-life mural. I was especially struck by the man in the red tie, who seems to be riveted by a miracle that only he can see.

Next come New Year’s Eve revelers. The added sticker is a sign of how very eager New Yorkers are to vote right now, longing for a miracle.

Next come two unusual church signs. The first is in the graveyard of the Basilica of St. Patrick on Prince Street. I’m guessing they wanted the sheep for mowing the grass. The second is from a Greek Orthodox church on West End Avenue that has a service called the Falling Asleep of St. John the Theologian.

Finally, someone’s tortoise is running like a hare from paparazzi.

That’s New York for you.











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Photo: Nathaniel Brooks for the New York Times
Jodi Mulvaney and Sean Mulvaney watch as their son Brendan Mulvaney, 7, served lemonade to a customer in Ballston Spa, N.Y. When the health department shut down the lemonade stand in July, an uproar ensued.

Pity the poor bureaucrat just trying to do a job! Nobody is glad to see you. But here’s a tip for for state health inspectors everywhere: Never mess with a kid’s lemonade stand.

As Tyler Pager reported at the New York Times in August, “When a 7-year-old boy’s lemonade stand was shut down by a health inspector [in Ballston, NY] last month, it became the talk of the town … and the roadside drink entrepreneur’s photo was splashed across newspapers around the country.

“But, at the end of the day, Brendan Mulvaney just wanted to sell lemonade. So, on [August 18th] Brendan and his family reopened the lemonade stand for one more day. Instead of raising money for a trip to Disney, as Brendan had planned to do the first time around, he and his family sought to capitalize on his newfound fame to raise money for a local family in need.

“Last month, Brendan set up his lemonade stand on the side porch of his house, just as he had done for the past two years during the Saratoga County Fair. This year, Brendan hung new signs, printed by a family friend, and with the help of his parents, added water and snow cones to the stand’s menu.

“But an inspector with the state Department of Health soon told the Mulvaneys that they needed a permit because their venture was similar to those of permitted vendors at the fair, said Jill Montag, a health department spokeswoman. … Brendan’s lemonade stand closed.

“But after Brendan’s dad, Sean Mulvaney, posted on Facebook about the interaction with the health inspector, the news spread quickly, leading [Gov. Andrew] Cuomo to issue a statement that he would personally pay the fee for any necessary permit. The Department of Health later clarified that Brendan would not need a permit if he wanted to sell only lemonade. …

“On Saturday, Brendan’s lemonade stand was back in business. Coinciding with the World’s Largest Yard Sale at the Saratoga County Fairgrounds, Brendan raised $946 for Maddy Moore, a 12-year-old battling Blount’s Disease, a growth disorder affecting bones in her lower leg. …

“By noon, as elected officials and media outlets descended on the Mulvaney’s porch, Mr. Mulvaney said he was worried the attention was distracting from the ultimate goal. … Mr. Mulvaney said, ‘My son’s loving it. But now we just got to get back to selling lemonade and try to raise as much money for Maddy.’ …

“State Senator James Tedisco introduced ‘Brendan’s Lemon-Aid Law,’ which would exempt people under the age of 16 who have lemonade stands from the health department’s permit requirements.

“ ‘When I was kid, probably half the people here had lemonade stands in front of their homes,’ he said. ‘Nobody ever complained.’ … The mayor of Ballston Spa also visited and presented Brendan with a key to the city.

“The buzz around Brendan’s stand achieved the goal the Mulvaneys had hoped for: customers. … As for next year, Brendan plans to resume operations for a fourth year. But, next time, he will return to a simple menu. Just lemonade.”

More at the New York Times, here.


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Photo: Magnolia Pictures 
In the film Skate Kitchen, the introverted Camille (played by Rachelle Vinberg, left) finds her tribe of skaters in New York City. The filmmaker found her subjects almost the same way — instinctively.

What I especially loved about this article on making a female-skateboarder movie was the director’s sixth sense. She hears girls on the subway talking in a wildly creative way and experiences vibes that direct her to pursue a new path of possibility.

Lakshmi Singh reports at National Public Radio, “Director Crystal Moselle made waves three years ago when her documentary The Wolfpack won the grand jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival. The film told the true story of six brothers growing up in confinement in Manhattan’s Lower East Side — and it all began from a chance encounter Moselle had with the brothers on the street.

“Her new film comes from a similar place. Skate Kitchen follows a group of teenage girl skateboarders and activists rolling their way through the streets of New York. This time, she met them on the subway.

From the NPR interview:

“I learned to understand my instinct. There’s this thing that happens to me. …  I’m like: Oh, this is something. This is interesting. I just — I have to explore it. …

“I was on the train in New York City. I was on the G train. And I heard this voice that just — you know, sometimes there’s a voice that’s so charismatic, you just have to figure out who’s talking and what’s happening. I mean, that’s how I am. And I look over, and there’s these three teenage girls, and they have skateboards. And Nina [Moran] — she’s telling a story. I can’t remember what the story was about. I think maybe it was about a party she went to or something that happened in the park that day. And she has that kind of voice that almost silences a room where you want to — just everybody stops what they’re doing and they want to see who’s talking.

“And so I — just out of curiosity and out of this instinct that I’ve kind of gained from my past project, I just — I feel like there’s this moment where I sort of know that there’s something there and I have to figure it out. And I went up to them and asked them — I just said, hey, you know, introduced myself. I said, my name’s Crystal. I’m a filmmaker, and I’d love to talk to you guys. Maybe you guys would be interested in doing some sort of video project at some point. [And] — I don’t remember saying this — I said, is there more of you? …

“They’ve found all these really interesting pockets [of the city], and they go to these skate parks, and they have these, like, spots that they skateboard and they just use the architecture of buildings. And you know, people chase them away. And it’s just, like, this kind of really riveting scene. And I would just start hanging out with them and experiencing it myself. They’d even, like, make me jump on the skateboard. They’re like, if you’re going to hang out with us, you have to skateboard. Here’s the board. Skate down the block. …

“The girls actually met through YouTube. They would be commenting on each other’s videos and, you know, that’s how they would create these communities because it’s difficult. Like, if you’re a girl living on Long Island and there’s no other girls around that skateboard, you can go to, you know, a social media platform to find other women that also do the same thing that you do that’s, like, something specific. …

“I think that it’s actually a really positive thing to be able to find people that are, I guess, your tribe. …

“When I was with Rachelle one day — Rachelle Vinberg, who plays Camille. She was skating with all these boys. And they all rolled by, and the little girl [watching the film crew] didn’t notice them at all. And then Rachelle rode by with her hair just like in the wind. It was just an epic moment — she’s, like, carving down this hill. And this little girl, like, stopped in her tracks and just watched her and, like, saw the future.”

More here. I love how this director is drawn by curiosity to pursue things that are unfamiliar and interesting. Having something interesting to think about is apparently as essential to her as food.

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Photo: MTA Arts for Transit
Faith Ringgold’s mosaic “Flying Home: Harlem Heroes and Heroines (Downtown and Uptown),” 1996, is one of the pieces of subway art featured in a PBS documentary.

I’m always amazed by the beauty of the mosaics in the New York subway, even the ones that merely tell you what street you’re at. It makes me happy to see that the city values them, too, and periodically cleans up the oldest ones. They go back as early as 1901.

My sister alerted me to an excellent PBS documentary about recent additions to the art in the subway system. You can read about it at the website Mosaic Art Now.

“For a delightful immersion into the history and current activities of the enormous underground museum that is the New York subway system’s Arts For Transit program, treat yourself to WNET Channel Thirteen’s free one hour video called ‘Treasures of New York: Art Underground.’ …

“Mosaic artist Steven Miotto gets major face time. His decades-long collaboration with artists of all stripes is a fascinating story in itself. When selected by a commissioned artist as a collaborating partner, he gets into their minds and hearts, leading them through the complex process of translating their vision and their graphic designs into mosaic ‘paintings for eternity.’ …

Faith Ringgold, speaks eloquently and nostalgically about the series of paintings – now mosaics – that portray the heroes of her Harlem childhood. Writers and musicians fly across the cityscape in flattened but vivid characterizations. I had the opportunity to interview her when she was in Miami last year, and she spoke about the challenges of trying to ‘make it’ as an African-American artist dealing with political themes at a time when the galleries favored the abstract.  Click here (http://bitly.com/yxGJ3R) to listen to that interview with her.”

See some of the beautiful new mosaics and watch the video here.

If you are up for more on transit-system art, be sure to check out an excellent article by Sarah Hotchkiss at KQED about what’s going on with San Francisco’s Transbay system, here.


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Photo: Celeste Sloman for The New York Times
Camryn Cowan and Jordan Millar, 11-year-old students in the Philharmonic’s Very Young Composers (VYC) program, received a burst of media attention after being featured along with their compositions in the New York Philharmonic Concerts in the Parks.

The young composers in this story got a boost for their musical talent thanks to a New York Philharmonic program. Just imagine what could be accomplished with similar programs in all areas of the arts — playwriting, painting, poetry, sculpture, etc.! Giving kids an opportunity to blossom benefits us all.

Joshua Barone described the experience of two gifted girls in a New York Times article: “It was the kind of debut most musicians only dream of: a world-class orchestra, tens of thousands of listeners.

“At its outdoor parks concerts [in June], the New York Philharmonic performed works by two 11-year-old girls, Camryn Cowan and Jordan Millar — newcomers to the world of composing. They won over the crowds, who gave standing ovations. Anthony Tommasini of The New York Times gave them an effusive review. …

“Where does a composer go from here? Ms. Cowan and Ms. Millar — two students from Brooklyn who are part of the Philharmonic’s Very Young Composers initiative — followed up on their victorious tour of New York City by, well, returning to class. …

“Both girls … were confident in explaining their works, originally written for a Harlem Renaissance-theme program earlier this year. Ms. Cowan, who was 10 at the time, said that her ‘Harlem Shake’ was an exercise in layering, but with saxophone improvisations that nodded to the neighborhood’s past.

“Ms. Millar’s ‘Boogie Down Uptown’ conjures stepping out of the subway onto the streets of Harlem for the first time, with musical textures inspired by the shadowy movement of Aaron Douglas paintings. (For all this seriousness, they are still children: Ms. Millar said her fascination with Douglas’s art comes from her favorite Disney movie, ‘The Princess and the Frog,’ which borrows its aesthetic from his paintings.) …

“Jon Deak — a composer, the Philharmonic’s longtime associate principal bassist, and the founder of its Very Young Composers initiative — said that … all children are creative. ‘People ask whether I’ve found the next little Mozart, and I say yes, I’ve found dozens of them,’ he said. ‘They’re all over the place. We just need to listen to them.’

“Participants in the program come from about 15 partner schools in New York. … Eventually, they graduate to writing complex scores that they workshop with one another and try out at Young People’s Concerts.

“In the process, Mr. Deak said, the students have to become leaders: ‘Look at a 10-year-old who comes up to a bassoonist’s kneecaps and says “That’s too fast” or “There’s something wrong with that note.” They have to defend their pieces, and boy, do they … do it.’ ”

More at the New York Times, here.

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