The floating city; a mirage in the heat of a summer day

lower Manhattan as viewed from Governors Island

My brother came to visit for a few days. We had an adventure-filled weekend, and I’m thankful for his visit, as I was when my older brother and his family were here earlier in the month. Not only to have spent time with them, but also because visitors ensure you get out and do things. Jon and I crammed a lot of summer into three days.

Above is the view of Lower Manhattan from Governors Island. Seen this way, it seems less an island than a mirage or some kind of magic allowing myriad structures to float upon the surface of the water.

Houses on Governors IslandChurch on Governors IslandView of the city from Governors Island

Continue reading “The floating city; a mirage in the heat of a summer day”

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There was no ignoring such a noisome spectacle

jack o lanterns on an iron fence

The severed heads had been put on pikes for all and sundry to see; made examples of. The unseasonably warm autumn weather made grotesques of each— death masques submitting to rot and gravity; to the punishments meted by the state.

Passersby turned their heads, and covered their faces with kerchiefs, but there was no ignoring such a brutal and noisome spectacle.

jack o lanterns on an iron fence

The swishing of cars and in the distance, church bells

pedestrian bridge in Windsor TerraceAnd then there are parts of town that don’t quite feel like New York at all.

I’m always looking for what elements are the disparate ones; what are the real culprits that make it feel different. Sometimes it’s scale; of buildings, of the street or space around the buildings. But sometimes it’s something more invisible. A certain type of window or siding. The way the garden is planted and decorated. 
highway overpass
Every now and then you come upon a whole city block, and the little shops along its length sport cloth awnings all identical, and you have to look around to assure yourself you’re still in Brooklyn. 

The church bells are all pre recorded these days. From far away they sound real enough, but sometimes the volume is up too loud, and if you’re nearby you can hear the distortion.

Continue reading “The swishing of cars and in the distance, church bells”

Scenes from the Bushwick Country Club

Bushwick Country Club interior
What was intended to be an excursion into Bushwick yesterday afternoon left us stranded in Williamsburg as the L train chose to go no farther than Lorimer. So we began with a beer at Union Pool, into which I’ve not stepped foot in many years, and whose backyard has greatly improved.

We followed that with a visit to Bushwick Country Club, new to us both. Not in Bushwick, nor a country club, but a cheeky dive bar, where plastic dinosaurs serve as proxies for the second of each two-for-one happy hour drink. The tall narrow window that looks onto the yard brightens the otherwise cave-like interior during afternoon hours.

(Dr Who was on the television)

In the yard, a petite mini-golf course crumbles voluptuously, having seen better days before the ravages of seasons. No doubt it retains some of its erstwhile cheer on sunnier days.
mini golf Haunted House at Bushwick Country Club
mini golf slide at Bushwick Country Club

A wander through Gowanus

photo of apartment windows
Some geometric compositions from a quiet wander last Saturday, late afternoon as the light drained from the sky.
photo of apartment windowsThis building has such gorgeous moulding.
bridge girdersbridge girders
bridge girdersThe Ninth Street subway overpass is weirdly beautiful, too.bridge girders
Morbid anatomy facade
Morbid Anatomy facade

Colors of the city : day to night

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Here are a few photographs of beautiful buildings, trees and windows in Park Slope at eventide.
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Artifacts from an evening wander

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Magic hour in Park Slope
South Park Slope mini park 18th Street
South Park Slope mini park 18th Street
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Nice color blocking, SoSlo!
A fine, high-ceilinged front room in a North Slope brownstone
A fine, high-ceilinged parlor in a North Slope brownstone— and proper, not hiding behind curtains or blinds!
Wonderful details on this stone-carved entryway, North Slope
Wonderful details on this stone-carved entryway, North Slope

A walking tour: Chelsea to South Slope

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Work took me to the isle of Manhattan today. As the meeting was in Chelsea, I availed myself of the opportunity to walk the High Line. A fine afternoon for it, though I wished awfully I had dressed more appropriately for the [delightful] heat. Happy tourists; many languages overheard.
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003004I took a lot of photos. It’s what I do anyway, but at this point I’m practically a tourist myself in the big town. I tend to stick around Brooklyn a lot.

Everywhere is under construction. This city is forever shedding its skin.

005A long stroll south on Hudson Street, then inland, and through TriBeCa.  (Avoid the hydra of traffic all round the Holland tunnel; 3:30 is rush hour on a summery Friday; mass exodus.)
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City Hall. A tangle of angry motorists with their fists on their horns. Cacophony! A thousand arguments for public transport right there.

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009The perennial wind crossing Whitman’s beloved bridge is welcome today. And, observe: this curious Parisian custom has followed Lady Liberty across the Atlantic.
010012Ten or so miles to arrive back in my neighborhood, with slightly aching feet. (Why spend 45 minutes on the train when you could spend three hours on foot, seeing so many neighborhoods and people out and about?)

amsterdam

Ben and I arrived yesterday to a sunny, warm day and did much walking and wandering (after a nap at Wouter & Brandon’s house, as we were neither of us able ot sleep a wink on the plane.  I wanted to put some photos up from our first day, and just went to retrieve the USB to mini-USB that I brought, only to realize that the mini end of it does not fit this camera! (It’s one of those cables that comes with everything from cameras to cell phones, etc, but I never realized one could be proprietary at only one end.) Well, I tried. I shall have to wait and borrow one.

Today is of the overcast variety, and we shall be taking the bikes out (post seat-adjustment). It’s amazes me anew each time–  to witness people of every age and stripe using bicycles as transport; last evening we saw an older, grey-haired woman in sequins coming from the opera house, riding just ahead of a throng of teenagers, whooping it up.  Just everyone here rides. There’s something cheerful about a country full of folks on bicycles.

Right now it’s 6:45 am our time (EST), but 12:45 here, Sunday afternoon.

Harbor Day– Holland on the Hudson

Pennants flying on masts of boats at Governor's Island, Harbor Day

Pennants and masts in the harbor at Governor's Island
Pennants flying in the breeze from the masts of boats at the harbor, Governor’s Island

What a beautiful day was Sunday! It’s been 400 years since the founding of Nieuw Amsterdam, and on Sunday the city had celebrations of various sorts going on around the city’s harbors– including free ferries to hop on and hop off to explore them. These pennants are flying from the masts of some beautiful boats docked at Governor’s Island, which opened to the public last year as a sort of re-made park and preservation area. (The proposal to make it a public park was first proposed in 1897, but was rejected by the Army Board of Engineers, citing the Island’s indispensability “for military purposes.”)

After a picnic and wander about the island’s grounds (during which my camera’s battery dies), I hopped another boat to South Street Seaport, and took a stroll through New Amsterdam Market, which was packed with people, and will be held again monthly through December.

Finally, wound up waiting in line for a ferry back to Fulton Landing in DUMBO (the first line I experienced all day for a ferry– it was on the whole very efficient). I realized later it would have been more fun to get on one going elsewhere, so that I could have just been on boats for awhile longer! But, I landed back in Brooklyn, and proceeded to walk back to my neighborhood from there. It was the loveliest day of weather in weeks, and a nice return to summer sun.

The Admiral's House in Nolan Park
The Admiral’s House in Nolan Park

The boulevard adjacent to Colonels Row
Sun-dappled, tree-lined boulevard adjacent to Colonels’ Row